Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nomen est omen... moving soon to Singapore

It is a glorious spring, probably the finest I've experienced in my four years in Seattle. And I'm too busy enjoying it. The reason is that I'm actually preparing to move to Singapore in July - getting the house ready to be sold, sorting out things to be donated or sold, filling out countless pages of immigration forms, school admission application forms for the girls and who knows what else administrative stuff that always comes with relocating internationally. At least my US driver's license can be easily converted into a Singaporean one;  I've already taken driving tests in Finland, Australia and USA (Sweden luckily let's one drive with a license from another Nordic country...), so told my husband that I'm not taking one single test again but showing all my four license that they can choose from.

So somehow, the name of my blog - The Intercontinental Gardener - really feels appropriate at last. It really was a bit of a joke in the beginning, even if I already then had gardened on three continents. At the same time, I felt sometimes that the name was a bit pretentious, as I've mainly been blogging about my gardening life after I moved to the US, and not so much about other countries I've lived in or even visited. But the name stuck, and now it seems more befitting than ever, even if I'm probably not going to be able to grow much else than orchids on a balcony in Singapore.

I'll try to update my blog somewhat regularly, even if it is quite hard to find time to really sit and think about other than these 'earthly matters' of life for the moment. But that will only be temporary - and I really can't wait to be able to 'report' about all things related to gardens from Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries soon! 

Above - Magnolia salicifolia 'Else Frye' in full bloom in Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Peeking through a knot-hole...

I know one is not supposed to peek through other people's fences - after all, that is why they are there, to give privacy from curious passers-by. But tempted by a gorgeous Magnolia in full bloom, I just had to see how the little back-yard completely engulfed by it looked like.

After a while I spotted a tiny knot-hole in the fence and peeked through it. And I wasn't disappointed; old, thick Magnolia trunks gnarled upwards forming a huge, blooming umbrella. In the soft shade under it, a carpet of lush Hellebores were just finishing their abundant show, pips of lily-of-the-valleys were eagerly pushing upwards accompanied by unfurling ferns and sky-blue Pulmonarias. How wonderful it must be to sit on the little wooden bench this time of the year and see the garden come alive under the canopy of soft pink Magnolia flowers. The present owners surely send some deeply thankful thoughts to the gardener who planted it what must have been over a century ago... 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Royal Azaleas from Korea are out...

I'm full of cold, and in no form of reporting anything more advanced - but the Royal Azaleas from Korea, Rhododendron Schlippenbachiis, are out and just amazingly delicate and exquisite.
Oh, was there ever a more radiant spring day as today; the sun is out together with the mountain (you need to be from Seattle to know that this means Mount Rainier being free and visible from the heavy clouds so common here) and it is warmer than it has ever been so far this all too soggy year. Just fantastic - now I just need to know why they are called the Royal Azaleas... need to clear my head from this cold before I'm up to any reseach. Sigh.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A borrowed soulangeana...

I've caught a huge cold and feel miserable, so this view from my kitchen windows is about as much I can manage to blog despite all spring ephemerals sprouting up in my backyard.

My next door neighbours' - a couple in their late 80s - amazing Magnolia soulangeana is just starting to open its shell-pink buds. This probably 50 years old tree reaches up to at least 8 meters into the sky and provides a breathtaking show every spring - we live uphill from them and get to admire its large goblet-formed blooms at "eye level", which is fantastic. 

Magnolias must have been the "it-plant" in the 60s when many of the older homes in this area were built; I think they would definitely be a good enough reason to buy any of the houses when they come to the market; you can always redo the house, but you can't buy 50 years of "Magnolia time" in any other way. Unfortunately, most house buyers of my generation don't share my opinion and rip them off from the way of their all too large, new mansions.

Another old house close-by that I could buy just for the sake of the huge Magnolia in front - my definition of 'curb-appeal' is a bit different from most real estate agents, I guess... I would put a wicker chair under it and sip some champagne under its amazing canopy of shell-pink blooms.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A drippingly delicious star magnolia...

A dripping Magnolia stellata in my backyard - she seems to take the weather better than I do...

If you can't beat them, join them - or maybe "if you can't change it, embrace it"? Yesterday, there was a sudden and unusual break in the continuous downpour, but I was too busy and missed documenting one of the most glorious days of this award-winningly wet spring (already over 17 inches of rain so far, compared to the average of 13...). Oh, well, at least now I know the sun still exists; today, it is as grey as ever again.
A bit irritated on myself for missing out a day of perfect photographing weather, I tried to "embrace what I got" and create some drippingly delicious Magnolia portraits with the help of a new little umbrella that attaches directly to my camera. Alas, it didn't save me from getting drenched, so I had to give up after a while. Here are some of the results, and I hope the rain will tire itself out soon again so that I can make a new try. The Magnolia soulangeanas are out and some of them are just stunning...