Friday, November 5, 2010

a sunny gift from the sky

November 3rd and it was 70 sunny degrees here in Portland (okay officially 69.3 but I’m rounding up), I was in heaven! No big deal you say? HA! It was a big deal. We’ve only made it to 70 degrees in November three times in the past 70 years, which my friend makes it most definitely a big deal.Of course this means I cleared my calendar, yes this is one of the benefits to being unemployed, you can recognize days like this as the civic holidays that they should be. While I toyed with the idea of visiting a nursery or three I also remembered all the horrible predictions I’ve heard about the upcoming winter. So instead I chose to stay home and putter around the garden, after all today was yard waste pick up day and my container wasn’t full. I do firmly believe that it is a sin during the busy months of spring and fall to put a yard waste container at the curb that isn’t positively bursting at the seams. Thus I got out early and got to work, pausing now and then to note the beauty of the day. Like the golden color on our Japanese snowbells (Styrax japonica, above), I believe this is the first year ever they’ve turned such a lovely shade in the fall.

The color on the (still) tiny Cotinus just keeps getting better and better. I am even more impatient for it to grow! Can you even imagine how gorgeous a big tree/shrub would be if it were glowing like this?
I spent a good 5 minutes staring at this trio of Agaves hoping that some voice from above would speak to me and tell me what I should do.
Last spring I planted them in the ground as an experiment of sorts, they were looking pretty pitiful in their containers and they wanted to be set free. They were gifts from the in-laws in New Mexico, and I planted them knowing they may not live through the winter. But now that winter is approaching I don’t know that I can willingly let them suffer. It would be different if was predicted to be just another winter but all the voices "in the know" are saying bad bad things. What to do. Leave them? Dig them? I’ve got to decide.
But I am leaving that decision for another day.
It was time to tidy up the pond and prepare the plants that need to be pulled for overwintering elsewhere. But as I came around the corner the horsetail stopped me in my tracks. The sun was lighting up the individual stems and they were positively glowing.
The Rodgersia and Syneilesis have a damaged sort of fall beauty to them.
As does Clifford our Magnolia macrophylla. He just sort of clumsily tramples into fall. Never looking particularly glorious.
And I mowed the lawn for what will most likely be the last time this year. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m pretty much tired of mowing, even our little patch of lawn mowed weekly (with a reel mower) gets old. Still, knowing that I won’t be pulling the mower out again until spring makes me a little sad.


  1. Looks like a lovely fall day!
    Here, too ;-)
    Would love to be looking forward to a Friday night Happy Hour in Portland, but alas.
    Next summer..?

  2. Dang! WE are colder here in North Florida than you are...Love the colors in the first few photos. Why not plant one of the Agaves up and let mother nature have her way with the others? I have been taking cuttings most of the day today with the hopes that I will have some plants ready to plant outside before the others wake from their winter's nap.

  3. My wife suggested I take the day off from work for garden chores during this great Portland weather. I wanted to SOOOO bad but we have a deadline this week. Now the forecast for this weekend is rain. I've got so much to do! New bulbs to plant, old bulbs to re-plant, leaves to clean up, perennials to transplant and divide. looks like I'll be getting wet this weekend.

  4. ha! "visiting a nursery or three". i love it. i also think it's great that you grow horse tails! do you keep them in a container?

  5. Looks like a lovely day. IF you are worried about the agaves, but don't want to move them, can you cover them with little cloches to keep the rain off.

  6. The horsetails look like a bizarre form of those neon green glowsticks the kids play with - great shots.

  7. The horsetails are gorgeous. That's got to go on my got to have it list for next spring...

  8. Alice, you're on!

    Darla, really we're warmer? I think I might do just that with the agaves, although I'll probably be able to hear the cries of the abandoned one(s) while I'm digging the other.

    gnomiscience, I am sorry! Deadlines suck!

    Gina, yes I do. They are in a large stock tank. The first year I grew them they were in a small container that I had to break to get them out...they are tenacious buggers!

    Spiky O, true, and I might go that route. But I'm also worried about the cold too...serious lows predicted.

    RBell, exactly!!! I was going to make that comparison but decided not to and see if anyone else saw it. Thank you!

    Whimsical, yay! They are amazing plants...but highly invasive, be careful!

  9. The yellow of the snowbells with the vivid blue sky is a gorgeous shot. We also had it warm during the middle of the week down here in the bottom left corner of the country and even broke a record yesterday. It feels like the last month we've been playing darts blindfolded, randomly throwing darts towards a map and sharing the weather of whatever town the dart hits. Chicago? Portland? Death Valley? Weird, I tell you. The agaves are a tough call. Yes you could dig them up and overwinter them this year. But what happens when they get bigger each year? Do I see a greenhouse in your future?

  10. Great post, Loree. The Cotinus and horsetail with the sun shining through them are just magical. I too loved the sunny days. By Friday the sun was reluctant to peak out from the lingering fog but we had such a nice few days that I didn't feel I could complain. :)

  11. How nice to have such a gorgeous day at an unexpected time and, even better, the time to enjoy it. I hope you get a few more.

  12. Hi--I've been enjoying your blog for some months now! I'm a transplanted Californian living in Schenectady, NY; envious of what you can grow. Have a rather out-of-control garden here with bamboos, grasses, willows & yuccas, yuccas, yuccas & unfortunately, big maples that make things difficult. First snow today --yuck.

    I'm taking the liberty of sending you this very funny article about the perils of shade from Dave's Garden -- you will recognize a fellow danger gardener:

  13. James, we flew into San Diego yesterday after spending a few days in Nashville...I SO wanted to get out there and explore your part of the world, but with only an hour and a half between flights that wasn't possible. As for the greenhouse...we joke about buying the house next door someday and renting it, but annexing the back yard for a greenhouse space. It's nice to dream.

    Grace, that's the great thing about the weather, there will always be another opportunity to complain just around the corner.

    Pam, me too!

    Hi Jean, thanks for the nice words and link, I will definitely check it out. You went from Cali to NY? Wow. I'm not sure I could do it, you are a brave woman.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!