Friday, May 29, 2009


I fell like I’m pretty in tune with what is going on in my garden, but there is nothing like spreading mulch or doing a little supplemental watering to really get me noticing things. Like for example what’s been eating on my yucca (above)? It was very destructive, only the very newest small leaves are not sliced through. So sad.

This happens every year, the sacrificial early canna leaves. Once the plants get a little taller there are no problems but the bottom leaves are fair game.
I gave up on the leaves of the Petasites japonicus a long time ago. It’s behind the bamboo stock tanks and the only way you can see it is to climb back there (which I did recently while pulling bindweed). I think of it as a natural alternative beer traps for the slugs. If they can munch to their hearts content on this why travel into the rest of the garden? Are slugs logical like that? I love the bright fresh green of the leaves on my new (this year) Rose of Sharon, especially against the dark rich compost!
And the color of the Samual Blue hostas is looking really good right now too. Last year I was really happy with the way the black Mondo grass I planted between these guys sort of feathered through, the colors were so great together. This year the hosta are so happy they’ve grown taller and wider and hidden the Mondo. Hard to be upset about that I guess, but I do miss the combination.
Isn’t the little bloom on this Sweet Flag, Acorus gramineus, ‘Ogon’ just fabulous! I’ve never seen it like this before. There are several but this is the only one I could manage to get in focus.
I also noticed that my inherited peonies are looking a lot pinker this year. Last year they were almost white. What’s going on here? The first year, when the peony started coming up, I decided I didn’t like where it was. But wanted to keep it, so I moved it. I did not do such a great job! Now I have the this one where I wanted it...
And this one where the original plant was, looks like I missed a little? This will be the first time they have both bloomed.
Lastly, this fell out of the sky yesterday! I found it on the patio; Andrew says it’s a hummingbird nest. It’s made of dryer lint, twigs and moss. There are also bits of egg shell inside; I hope that the former occupants are safe. I feel so bad for the little guys who lost it, all that work and they have to start over again!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Other people’s gardens

One of my favorite things to do when visiting other cities is to drive, or even better walk, around neighborhoods to see what they’re doing with their gardens. There is sometimes a loose regional style that I can pick up on, a plant that is obviously an area favorite or excitement of seeing plants not commonly found at home.

The other day I was running work errand in downtown Vancouver, Washington. I’ve lived in Portland for almost 5 years now and this is only the second time I’ve been to Vancouver! While finding my way back to I-5, I ended up in a neighborhood that just begged to have a few pictures taken. Like the image above, I wonder what his name is?

Love this happy row of iris. When I see iris growing sculpturally like this I really want to plant some!
This lovely tree caught my eye. I have to admit I am rather tree ignorant. I’ve always loved these, I’m sure a few of you can tell me what it is…
This house has the most amazing collection of palm trees! Seeing them, and the pile of fronds in the alley made me feel like I’d ended up somewhere besides Vancouver! In fact there were several houses within a few blocks of each other that had large established Trachycarpus fortunei.
I like how the plantings and rock flow from the yard into the parking strip, not my style but very well done. And the smell of the iris! Wow….took me back to my grandmother’s yard.
Ok we’re back in NE Portland now, I couldn’t stop taking pictures! I love this garden. It is always very clean and crisp, I could never exercise this much restraint! The owner has a few flax that were damaged last winter but unlike me he has the patience to leave them and hope they grow back.
The first time I drove by this corner I thought one of the lots on either side was extra wide and they had decided to turn the corner into a jungle. Nope, there is a house back there. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one because I couldn’t get a picture that shows it!
Lastly a fence and a retaining wall that have caught my eye.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Veggies lovin the heat

It’s been 3 weeks since planting the veggies and things are coming along nicely! The top picture sends me to the kitchen to grab a bottle of salad dressing and a fork!

The peas are starting to climb the trellis, and yes, they need to be thinned. It is such a leap of faith for me to think all the seeds I plant are actually going to sprout, I couldn’t help but plant too many. Non-veggie alert- the square planter on the right with the sempervivum has a canna in it – nothing happening there yet, I hope the heat will get things moving. On the left is a colocasia that I had almost given up on but it looks like it’s making a come back.
The corn (in the black, center, planter) is coming along and the tomatoes are really responding very well to their little water filled greenhouses.
A warning if you are using these covers for the first time, like me. When you take them off the plant is going to flop over like a wet noodle, the stem has completely lost its rigidity. Luckily I had a tomato cage near by; this really is a 2 person job! My neighbor is going to leave her covers on all summer but I want to see the tomato plants, not plastic, plus I need the soil around the tomatoes to plant basil, currently there are just a few radishes mixed in.
It’s almost time for the peppers to come out of their green house too, and look there is already a yellow pepper!
The tiny arugula tastes peppery already; I’ve been thinning and eating every time I go in an out of the backdoor. I really need move the planter to a shadier area though. Maybe I should get another small planter to go here and plant more basil since it’s a sunny spot. I've pinched the mint back twice, since I didn't have mojito fixings on hand (why not!?!) I cut it up and made mint ice cubes, for when I do have the fixins!I planted more mesclun mix and arugula around the base of the bamboo in the driveway stock tank; I don’t think you can have enough of this tasty lettuce mix.
There are mini carrots in the round planter in front. Can you can see the 3 little cucumber dicots at the edge of the stock tank (below)? I hope that they will flow over the edge of the tank and co-exist with the bamboo. We'll see!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who’s going to water all of these?

What a beautiful long weekend, 3 days of glorious sunshine! All the basement grow-light prisoners are acclimated to the summer sun and life on the patio. I’ve potted up all of last weekends Rare Plant Research purchases and summer is in full swing!

OMG how did I end up with so many containers full of plants? And more importantly who the heck is going to water all of them?...ya I guess that would be me. It’s a good thing we aren’t planning any lengthy summer vacations this year! And for the random weekend jaunt we’ve got the worlds best neighbor who, for an occasional bottle of wine, doesn’t seem to mind garden duty. Still, I think I need to stop. This is a little crazy! (my apologies as the harsh sun does nothing to help the romance in these pictures)
The tall freaky looking one in the metal pot (below) is an Imperial Bromeliad that used to be in the lobby of the building I work in. When I repotted it I noticed it’s producing a couple of pups, hopefully the summer heat will help them along.
The 2 pots with only gravel showing (below) have Caladium bulbs planted in them. I’ll have to move them to a shady area once they start growing but for now I’m hoping the heat gives them a jump start. Last year I planted these bulbs directly in the ground and they rotted before they actually did anything.
I really love the color of this Echeveria. I potted up the tiny agave pup in one of these juice cans to brighten my husbands desk while he was working on his artwork in the basement studio, he decided it needed to come out to the patio for the summer too, so I planted another for fun.
I just moved the Horsetail into this larger, non draining, bowl. They were so completely root bound in the tiny pots I had them in last year, hopefully they will take off and fill the bowl. I added an Umbrella Palm and a little moss to help fill it up. I usually lean to one type of plant per pot so looking at this now I am wondering if I made a mistake. It looks a little like there should be a little porcelain castle, dragon or something in there, a cutesy “style “of container gardening I just detest.
These 2 blue agaves were dug up from my in-laws house in New Mexico, there is a 3rd visible in the first picture up at the top. All 3 fit in the larger black pot their first year (2007).
This was my mystery plant purchase at RPR, never have figured out what it is but it’s starting to bloom!

Monday, May 25, 2009

0 for 2

Before I left for work I made sure to look at the Voodoo Lily. The bud was bursting. Today would be the day. I moved it to the shade so the heat of the sun wouldn’t ruin it. This year I would finally get to see it blooming!

Fast forward 10 hours…I get home. I’ve got a car full of bags of mulch and dry cleaning to unload. Lila, (dog) is scratching at the door and wants out! Who can blame her? She’s been inside for hours and wants out NOW! However she can’t be trusted, if she sees something more interesting in the street then she’ll dash out. A flat Chug is not a good Chug. I put her in the back yard and close the gate while I unload the car.

Funny. I’m done but she isn’t standing at the gate watching me like she always is. I open the gate and still she isn’t running towards me…where is she? That’s when I see her. She is standing next to the Voodoo blossom. It’s broken and she is chomping on something. OMG. I have a faint memory of the word poison. I grab her and run inside, consult the computer and sure enough. All parts of this plant are poisonous! I go back out and piece together the flower. Nothing seems to be missing but there are marks. Teeth marks? Something has been at it.

Lila seems to be ok. We watch her. We take her back out and put her by the bloom. Food is her middle name and nothing stands between her and food. She isn’t at all interested in the flower. She’d rather play in the grass.

Thank god she’s fine. All I have to show you is a slightly chewed and deformed flower, not the “beauty” I was hoping to see this year, but I do have the same slightly grumpy but adorable Chug that I had this morning. I count us lucky and know that next year the Voodoo Lily goes away, out of dog reach, while it blooms its rotten meat scented bloom. Safety first!

Friday, May 22, 2009


The other night I put a different memory stick in the camera, one I rarely use. When I downloaded the images there was this random one from September 2006, in with the pictures I took that night, how odd! I know I’ve used that memory stick several times in the last 2.5 years, where has it been hiding? And why did it show up now? I’m taking this as a sign I should do a plant picture post about our trip to Italy! The flashback picture (above) was taken from the roof top of our hotel in Rapallo, Italy; I loved the collection of potted plants sitting on the cool green tile and I wanted to see what was on the other side blocked by the building!

I’d been planning a trip to Italy for years. The obsession started when I saw Cinema Paradiso, simply the BEST movie, ever. I came close to going alone in 2002 but then I bought a house and it wasn’t really financially possible. In the end it all worked out perfectly because I got married in 2004 and the trip was so much better because I was able to experience it with my husband.

We flew in and out of Milan, making a big circle of Milan to Venice to Florence to Rapallo and back to Milan. Milan was gorgeous and so damn fashionable! Everywhere we looked there were beautiful people, buildings and things. Venice was magical. I’ve heard so many people talk it down, referring to it as an “Italian Disneyland.” For me that was not the case at all. There were tourists sure but you can see past that and concentrate on the beauty of the place. I would go back in a heart beat.

Florence was my least favorite city. It suffered by comparison to Milan and Venice, but was still wonderful. Maybe if we had spent more time touring around Tuscany I would feel differently. Rapallo was the random pick for our stop on the coast, on the way back to Milan. I had never heard of it and knew nothing about it. We got lucky - it was a gorgeous little town and we loved it.

Our hotel room in Milan opened into this courtyard. Doesn’t it look like a movie set? I totally expected Sofia Loren to lean onto one of the little balconies and start yelling in Italian at someone below. There were fabulous private courtyards all through the city, we caught glimpses of many when a car would enter or exit but I never managed to get a great shot of one of them.

This empty pool was in a park in Milan, I thought it was so beautiful. Better filled with leaves than water.

Another “movie set worthy” balcony shot in Milan.

Now we’re in Venice. Just random happy pictures with happy plants.

A basil plant at the end of the train platform in Venice. You could tell there were others at one time but they had been eaten. There were tomatoes in pots on the next platform over. Can’t you just see an employee coming out and picking tomatoes and basil for their lunch?

Florence - this was the first thing we saw arriving at the train station. Nice huh?

We looked out at this apartment from our hotel. That was their kitchen, I loved watching them move around the kitchen and pluck the herbs from the window sill.

A plant at the Uffizi, growing in a light well at the end of a hallway. After looking a painting after painting of baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary this was a welcome sight to rest my eyes on.

The Ponte Vecchio seen from the Uffizi, I loved the manicured green space along the Arno.

The Boboli Gardens, it was nice, but a little too formal for my tastes.

On to Rapallo. I loved this green bridge and parking strip. There is an enclosed garden under it; you can barely see a huge agave next to the light pole.

That’s me next to a bunch of gnarly big agaves.

A parting shot of the gulf. The last shot before leaving the next morning. I can't wait to go back!