Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WWTT Number 4

This WWTT post features pictures of a lovely front yard, but it has me sympathizing with the person who mows the lawn. Surely you’ve heard the advice… when creating new borders take a garden hose and use it to make the curves for your planting beds. I think they did just that, these are graceful curves…there are just so many of them!
here are even grass islands. Very hard to get the mower to grass islands. Especially when the ground cover fills in. WWTT?
And how will they edge? I’m exhausted just looking at it.
Lucky you! Today we have a WWTT non-gardening bonus! Just ½ block away from the curvy lawn a trio of dare-devils were attempting to get this metal ‘wheel’ to propel them down the street. A brave (and foolish?) soul would set on the seat in the middle of the wheel and pedal like mad.
I heard screams. I couldn’t watch. WWTT?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The strange and the beautiful at RPR

I recently had an unexpected opportunity to visit one of my favorite places, Rare Plant Research in Oregon City. They were open for a day in June…unusual because they normally only open to the public 1 weekend a year, in May. This was a great visit for a couple of reasons, mainly because went with a friend who had never been. I’d gotten a bit jaded, having walked through these greenhouses each spring for the past several years I’d gotten used to seeing the strange and the beautiful. To be there when someone else sees it for the first time was really fun.
This visit also stood out because it was later in the season, the leafy tropical things were the show-off’s this time rather than the spiky plants. The Eucomis, or pineapple lily’s were blooming.
This spotty Eucomis (Eucomis vandermerwei 'Octopus'?) was still holding its blooms pretty tight.
Someone (MulchMaid was it you?) told me about propagating Eucomis with leaf cuttings. Here we have a visual of it in progress; I think I will have to give this a try.
If money were no object…
That fabulous Furcraea and the turquoise pot would be mine.
So many colorful leaves! This one is a Musa 'Siam Ruby' not all the leaves were split like this. Wouldn’t it be cool if they were?
Canna 'Stuttgart' (below). I bought one of these years ago, and mine have never looked this good. Figuring out the right amount of light (to much and the leaves burn, too little and they stay small and insignificant) seems to be the trick. These were striking.
Just when I thought I’d overcome my lust for Cannas I had to run into these colorful green and red leaves.
And here’s my old friend Colocasia gigantea…
And this small plant caught my eye. I have no idea what it is but I really loved the little leaves on the edge of the leaves.
Have you ever heard of Araeococeus flagellifolius? It’s a Bromeliad!
From the sign…”medium growing upright bromeliad perennial, best in sun, does well in containers, blue flowers in summer, rare grass-like bromeliad turns red in sun, zone 11”

The most interesting thing about this plant though is right at the base…are these berries or seeds left from last years flowers?
Of course I had to bring home a couple of things. Since I am still mourning the loss of all my giant Colocasia from last year I got a replacement…
And because I couldn’t resist the shocking red of the Canna leaves, one of them came home with me too.
If you still haven't made it to Rare Plant Research they are now selling plants online... and they've got another event coming up in July...a garden party!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Portland Acupuncture Project – art and acupuncture for the city

A week or so ago I noticed a huge installation piece in the park by our house. I was intrigued. A short stroll to the park revealed this is part of a project “exploring the interface between art, regional planning, traditional Chinese medicine and the health of a city. Needles appearing across the city will bring attention to the some of the city's most challenging problems, greatest assets, as well as places with enormous potential.”Here is what the artist has to say about this particular site…

Point Name: Field of Neighborhood Dreams
Meridian: Small Intestine
Location: Fernhill Park/Old Whitaker School

This empty parcel of land is the site of the old Whitaker - Adams School, torn down 3 years ago due to mold and radon problems. Now the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods are pressing for something to happen here that benefits and empowers the local community. This could be another school or college campus, a community center, affordable housing, or commercial development that provides services and jobs for this neighborhood.While we were there the giant needle was certainly drawing a steady stream of interested folks who stopped to read the sign and test out the rigidity of the needle. And it’s true, casual talk with our neighbors does turn to the latest word on “what the city is going to do with the site”… if you want to learn more about the project click here or to find the other needles around town click here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dragon Lily

My Dracunculus vulgaris (Dragon Lily) is blooming! I might have missed it if not for the fact that Lila was VERY interested in the smell of rotting meat coming from the corner of the garden.
I went to investigate what she was so drawn to (fearing the worse) and instead found this beautiful, if olfactorily disgusting bloom.
Isn’t it beautiful?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tetrapanax are like rabbits…

For any other gardeners out there like me, who are praying that their Tetrapanax multiplies and creates a little forest, this one's for you…Walking by the gardens at Kennedy School last week I counted over 30 plants in an approximately 8’ x 8’ space.
They had cut down the tall ‘trunk’ from the biggest plant last year (I’d estimate it was about 15’ tall) and this year’s growth is rebounding fast. Let me say it again, there are over 30 plants!!! All volunteers. Wow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It’s come to this…(another visit to Cistus)

I am such a lucky gardener; there are so many fabulous nurseries here in Oregon, many of them very close to my home. Of course one of my favorites is Cistus, and this year I’ve had several opportunities to visit. Over the past year I’ve blogged so many times about trips to this nursery (4 actually) that I’ve stopped, lest you all get bored with me carrying on about them.
I will share a bit about the latest Cistus purchases…when the in-laws were in town we took them out to Cistus (pity our visitors if they don’t love plants), the drive out there and the island location make it a nice tourist destination, plus there’s always the possibility of discovering a new must have new plant, or four. Since I had just been there a couple weeks earlier I was pretty familiar with the inventory. Not that there weren’t several things I would have loved to take home, but there was nothing exciting and new that I instantly fell in love with. I did find an agave to add to my collection. It’s pretty fine…
From the tag...Agave funkiana 'Blue Haze' selected for its striking foliage, toothed and narrowing to a sharply pointed tip with a pale to nearly white mid-stripe on the powdery blue leaves. Rosettes can reach up to 2 ft tall and wide. Sun and well-drained soil required. Drought tolerant but occasional summer water speeds growth and generally enhances the appearance. Frost hardy to 15F, mid USDA zone 8. Otherwise a happy container plant.
This new agave purchase got me wondering just exactly who has the largest private agave collection in Oregon? I want to know…and where does the danger garden rank? And how would I ever go about finding out? These are the questions that keep me up at night! Okay, not really…but I am curious.

Anyway…as we were getting ready to leave my husband noticed the large Pseudopanax ferox growing in the main greenhouse, in the setting room (as I like to call it). A smart blogger would have taken a picture, but I did not. It’s that tall plant with the frequently downward pointing brown “leaves” that looks a little dead. Like this…(picture borrowed from somewhere off the internet, and I should give credit...but I can't remember where I found it)...
Well that’s all it took. I had noticed a couple in the nursery and been flirting with the idea. His interest just pushed me over the edge and now we own one.From the tag...Pseudopanax ferox toothed lancewood, one of those cool dinosaur plants found down Kiwi way that catches the eye and triggers the lust gene in plant geeks and adventurous gardeners. Juvenile leaves are dark brown, long, very narrow, stiff, and saw-toothed, growing downward from a central stem -- odd indeed. Slow growing; trees reach 20 ft in 20+ years, only then producing adult foliage, shorter, wider, and green. Sun to dappled or bright shade and regular summer water. Frost hardy in USDA zone 8b in a sheltered location, though even in Portland we keep most of ours in containers and shelter during winter cold.So it’s come to this. We are such plant geeks that paid $30 for a pot with a few dead brown sticks in it…or so said my mother-in-law.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everything looks better with a wall around it...

My in-laws were visiting a couple weekends back and we decided to take them to Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. A few years had passed since we’d visited the garden and it was a lovely day to wander in and out of the dappled sunlight.One of the most striking things about the garden, for me, is that it’s right in the middle of downtown Portland yet feels so secluded (especially if you don’t look up at the tall surrounding buildings).
The walls surrounding and enclosing the garden elevates everything inside to a higher level.
When placed in front of a white wall even the simple leaves of a Cast Iron plant look more elegant than usual don’t you think?
During the visit I added a few new plants to my lust list, and put a couple others back on the list. You know, ones I’d passed up when I had the opportunity to purchase, but after seeing them here I won’t make that mistake again. The new plants I’m lusting after:
Impatiens omeiana (Mt. Omei impatients)…“Introduced in 1983…this herbaceous perennial is a welcome addition to any deep shade area. The red and green foliage makes it a great contrast companion. In late fall small bell shaped yellow grace the plants growth tips. It was collected from Mt. Emei, in southwestern Sichuan Province, a place that has long been a favorite of plant hunters…”
Paris polyphylla...from the Garden’s monthly plant guide “rare Chinese native…relative of the Trillium it is grown for its unusual solitary spider-like flower and bright seed pod. It has a whorl of narrow green leaves below and another whorl of 4-8 narrow green tepals above with long whisker like stamens” (that's it on the right in the first pic)
And the last one, well unfortunately I don’t know what it is! There was no sign but a kind volunteer looked up the name in her gardens species list. She said it was a Lysimachia, which my research shows includes Creeping jenny and Loosetrife which look nothing like this plant.
The full name she gave me was Lysimachia paridiforus, which turns up no search results. Does anyone know what this plant is?
And the ones I won’t pass up again include Podophyllum pleianthum, Chinese Mayapple. These are everywhere in the gardens, shown to great advantage.
And although I left without a picture there were several large leaved Rhododendrons in the garden. I will be getting one.

Although this specimen wasn’t labeled I saw one at Pistils Nursery a few days ago….Japanese Emperor Oak, Quercus dentata ‘Pinnatifida’ an extremely rare oak $50. I won’t be adding this one to my list, but I do love it.
Here it is at Pistils...
I also left the garden with the strong desire to go home and get creative with some of our rocks. Look at all of these wonderful patterns!
In addition to the plants there was another treat. The graphic design junkie in me loved the booklet they gave us when we entered.
It was not only full of useful information but so well designed.
If you find yourself in Portland you really should visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden!