Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Ornamental Cabbage and Kale Challenge, in my garden

You knew my ornamental cabbage and kale plantings would include Agaves right?

Last week I announced the Ornamental Cabbage and Kale Challenge. I've had a shift in attitude about how I think of these plants and I'm whole-heartedly jumping in. This spot, right next to the front door, is the area I targeted for a few OC&K plants. There's a bit of bare ground because my Rheum palmatum was sulking after the hot summer. You can see it (with just 3 small leaves) to the left of the Agave in the container. Shortly after this photo was taken it was dug out. Hallelujah!

I'd been thinking on getting a couple more Agaves in the ground (even though it's not the ideal time of the year) and this proved to be the push I needed. This Agave americana...

And (if my records are correct) this Agave americana var. protoamericana were both planted out.

There is a lot of existing Euphorbia rigida to be worked into the new plantings.

As well as a stunning Datura meteloides 'Double Lavender'.

The area on the other side of the front steps provided a little color inspiration, although that Amsonia hubrichtii needs to be cut back a bit, it's playing bully to the Agave ovatifolia.

The players (warming up on the bleachers)...

And a post-planting shot from far north.

I am positively in love with the combination of the Euphorbia rigida, Agave americana var. protoamericana and the ornamental Cabbage 'Osaka Red'...

Opening up the shot and the Agave americana joins the fun.

Makes me so happy...

There's also a container planting mixed in, because why not! I channeled my inner Paul Zammit and managed to cram in two ornamental cabbage, two Salvia alpiana, a Leptospermum namadgiensis and a Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues'...

The sunshine does obscure the photos a bit, but there's no way I'm going to complain about sun in October. The sun-flare just adds to mood...

I brought an amazing Salvia alpiana back from last Septembers trip to the Bay Area. It's stayed lush and lovely, but these more woody and slightly stressed plants have their own beauty.

I think it works together well...

That Datura I mentioned? Well it's now blooming, and fits in with the color scheme nicely.

Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Waleuphglo' (aka 'Ruby Glow')

Looking north, at the sea of Euphorbia rigida attempting to play nicely with the other plants.

Across the sidewalk is another autumn vignette, although it includes a couple of tender plants that will need to be lifted before temperatures drop.

I love how this grey-green pumpkin works with the cabbage colors.

And the colorful gourds set-off the Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' and 'Red Express' Cabbage. A small Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki' behind the Yucca baccata continues the color scheme.

Did you notice the harsh sunlight disappeared in the last photo? I hustled out to take more photos on an overcast drippy morning.

The container planting is settling in nicely.

More Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' with Geranium maculatum ‘Elizabeth Ann', Eryngium maritimum and more of that Euphorbia rigida.

A look at the overall planting. It's a bit haphazard but when you're faced with filling in around established plantings with both new plants that will live on for years, as well as a temporary fixation (the ornamental cabbage and kale), well...this is what you end up with. And as I said before, it does make me happy.

What about you, have you planted any ornamental cabbage and kale? Why not join up with The Challenge and send me a photo (spikyplants at gmail dot com)...could be great fun!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Shortly after seeing my friend JJ's carrot gate I started dreaming of having an Agave gate. I sketched a few ideas, and tried to get in touch with the artist who did the carrot gate (she's also done a lot of the metal work in this garden). Well business must be good, because I never could get her to call me back.

Still the idea didn't die and Andrew finally took up the cause. He decided my birthday present this year would be the Agave gate. He worked on a few drawings, refining and refining and finally we settled on a design. He has a long list of excellent local craftsmen that he works with through his position at Schoolhouse Electric. We had the pattern we designed laser cut, in heavy aluminum, by Scientific Research Company, they did a great job. This was the exciting moment when it came home, on August 21st...(the best birthday gifts don't always arrive on time, this one was about a month late)...

This is the gate we've been making due with since 2009, when Lila came to live with us and we needed something to keep her contained. I didn't want a wooden gate, and Andrew thought the chain-link went nicely with my love for shiny metal planters/stock tanks (I wasn't convinced but didn't have a better idea then so I made due).

I've grown various vines on it over the years, to help make it a little less Whiskey Tango. This year the regular old Virginia Creeper was doing a fine job.

Here's Andrew's final drawing.

And then CAD version after a talented friend did a little refining.

It need to be solid, to help keep the critters out (and one adorable one in), and I love how the metal works with the stock tanks.

Once we had the metal panel done there was still another step, the neighborhood cats have managed to pee on every metal surface they can find, etching the metal in a way that I have not been able to clean off, ever, no matter what I use. I did not want that to happen to our gate. Below is an example of the damage from the side of stock tank.

Andrew decided we should have the panel anodized to help keep this from happening, Electro-chem did a great job. The only draw back is that it's slightly less shiny/metallic now. Here it is installed...

It was always the plan to use the existing frame from the chain-link. I think it worked out quite well.

And the shadows! I've always loved the shadows my plants make, now the gate does it too!

The flying insect is an Andrew touch, coming from a repeated theme in his artwork.

I am nothing short of thrilled with our new Agavegate!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, October 2, 2015

My Garden, Tour 2015, Part 2 - The Private Parts

So here we are, walking into the back garden 2015 style (2014 tour here).  I split this year's tour into two parts (yesterday covered the public side) because I have so many photos of the back garden that I wanted to share, that's your warning - this post is going to be a long one...

Looking to your left, the brown wall is the side of our garage.

And to your right.

Having walked a little further down the pathway toward the patio I've turned around...

This is kind of a confusing transition, but if you look back at the top photo you can see I'm now in the corner opposite the entrance. If I had just walked straight ahead this is where I'd be. The Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' was perfect this year. It filled the available space, but yet played nice with the neighbors.

I can't ever remember the name of the dark leaf plant. I've grown it as an annual for a few years now and love it. Maybe I'll try digging and overwintering it this year. Maybe.

The Trachycarpus fortunei has also had a good year.

You might recall the strip in front of the palm was all newly planted this spring (about 2 and a half feet out), it's filled in considerably.

I purchased a pair of tiny Rhododendron sinogrande and planted them somewhat near this older one. Someday (far far away) there might be a little R. sinogrande forest here.

Lupinus albifrons

The dead-end - which some of you thought I should plant up - however since Lila loves to hide half in the Hakonechloa and half out, I think this area will stay as it is.

Clifford celebrated his 10th birthday this summer!

To the right as you head down to the patio, an Agave-mound.

Euphorbia bicompacta var. rubra, another one that I look at and wonder about letting it go, vs. digging it up. We'll see.

As I write this post, on September 30th, most of the Syneilesis aconitifolia is yellow, what's left that is - I've cut some of it back.

Love this plant!

The Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato vine) never did really take off with crazy growth. It's probably in too much shade.

And down to the patio...

Looking back at last year's tour I am shocked at how all the things planted in the "former privetlands" have grown. Or maybe the better way to say it is, this is the size I always thought they were...I'm shocked at how small they were last year. At the bottom of this photo is one of the original Agave-mounds...

Aloe dorotheae

A glance back at the upper yard and the house.

So much growth! Next year the Paulownia tomentosa gets coppiced...

I wonder if the PVC hut I fashioned for this Agave ovatifolia last autumn will fit this year? (he's grown a lot). Guess it's time to be looking into that...

While not completely hidden, the neighbors offending garage paint job is at least obscured, yay for that!

One more angle on this area...

And we turn to get a look at the shade pavilion,

Have I shared this little guy before? I picked up both the plant and the pot from two different vendors at the The Oregon Cactus & Succulent Society sale at Portland Nursery in July. I thought they made a great pair.

New growth on a Schefflera delavayi.

Aralia cordata 'Sun King'

A chair is missing from the table, I took it out to the driveway for one of the tour volunteers to use.

As I've said before (many times), I'm going to miss sitting here (almost daily). This summer has been grand...

And with that, the tour is over...thanks for visiting!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.