Friday, December 31, 2010

WWTT #10

I think this is WWTT #10, somewhere along the line I kind of lost track. For me this garden is the very definition of someone cutting loose and going with their vision (there is a vision here, I am sure of it), as crazy as it may be (and yes this one is crazy, certifiably). Gardening as they want to and not caring what the neighbors think (and my god what must they think?). That’s why I chose to use it as my New Years Eve post…after all what is a better goal for the New Year than to be true to yourself? Even if it leaves others wondering "what were they thinking?" I hope you enjoy. I took these pictures a few weeks ago, when the autumn leaves were still falling. The garden with the fiery tree isn’t the one we are visiting; it’s the one just beyond. We’ll start with the parking strip.
And it’s recycled grave sticks (or whatever they are). I have to believe it has something to do with keeping the evil spirits away.
And back to the front of the house.
This is the owl circle.
And here is the frog and duck circle.
If my memory serves the yellow accents were starting to fade and recently received a coat of paint. That must have taken awhile.
So… Happy New Year, go forth and garden with wild abandon in 2011! (just don't move next door to me okay?)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas

I never thought I would get the opportunity to quote the Reverend Horton Heat here on danger garden; but it just goes to show you never know who might be a defender of the spiky plants.
The Rev is performing tonight here in Portland and our local newspaper had an article/interview in the Arts and Entertainment section last week. What caught my eye is a title on their latest album, a song called “Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas.” When asked by the interviewer, Ed Condran, the Rev explains… “That song is one that someone had to write. The saguaro cactus grows in Arizona. But you see pictures of them in places all over Texas. I remember being in a restaurant somewhere in Texas, and what did I see? I see a picture of a saguaro. People think that cactus is in Texas, but it's not. It's because of Hollywood, which thinks anything (east) of Palm Springs is Texas. You see old films and what is supposed to be Texas, and there's a saguaro. My cousin is a botanist and loves the song. I had to right the wrong.”

The Reverend Horton Heat, setting the record straight.

Sadly the only photo I have of a Saguaro is the one above, taken from the car window as we sped along the freeway (in Arizona, of course). I love how they look like an army of cacti marching across the hills.

I guess I could also share a photo of my Saguaro glass, part of my vintage Arizona Cactus dinnerware collection. Note: Arizona Cactus…not Texas Cactus. It says so right on the glasses and plates. The Rev is right.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And the winner is…

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway by commenting with their favorite botanical term, so many great words! You are a creative bunch, although it appears some of you couldn't resist the adolescent know who you are! Here are your "entries"...

agave guadalajarana
Amorphophallus titanum
santolina chamaecyparissus
autotrophic nutrition
look at the peduncles on that kolkwitzia amabilis
Ilex vomitoria
Glycine max
deodarand cotoneaster
Agave tequilana
Dracunculus vulgaris
Gossypium hirsutum
Araucaria araucana
Liquidambar styraciflua
anything with virginiana in the name
Dog Vomit Slime Mold/Fuligo Septica
Euphorbia amygdaloides
Humulus lupulus

The husband just got home from work and acted as the impartial name drawer...(insert drum roll here)…the winter is: Congratulations Ryan!

A Zone 5 Garden at Christmas

We flew to Spokane, WA, on Christmas Eve and I was happy to see a white snowy countryside as we landed. No snow fell while we were there, but the accumulation on the ground was enough to paint a Christmas scene. My nephew visiting from Arizona even got to make a snowman, although he was starting to melt by the time I got around to taking these pictures.
I am happily back in Portland in time to prepare for our upcoming cold weather (nights in the low 20’s), naturally I had been concerned that cold temperatures might move in while we were away and I wouldn’t be home to protect my semi-tender plants (and my husband thinks I am a worrier, ha!). As luck would have it things were nice and mild here over the holiday.
My parent’s zone 5 garden was looking good, with plants showing off extra color due to the cold temperatures (like the sedum above), adding winter interest with their tawny foliage, and even a few with flowers. My father is the creative mind behind this tomato cage art installation. They are hanging next to the vegetable garden ready for next summer.
This once healthy fern specimen decorates the back of his shop.
My mother reports that up until a few weeks ago the poppies actually had buds, the foliage sure looks healthy.
My yucca love was inherited, mom tells a story about rescuing a truck load of yuccas that had been pulled out of a garden and headed to the dump. She inquired about them and the next thing she knew they were hers.
They look great no matter the temperature.
While I didn’t inherit any love of pansies I could appreciate its perky purple flower in the dead of winter.
Bergenia is another plant that gets incredible color when the temperatures dip.
It seems everyone’s Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ looks great in the winter except mine.
I believe this is a Mahonia…I have no idea which one.
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle).
A freeze-proof/wind-ready bird bath.
I remember mom falling for this Saxifraga at a Hardy Plant Society of Oregon plant sale. We were unsure of its hardiness but encouraged by the vendor she purchased it…looks like it’s doing just fine.
These expired seed heads add great texture!
As does this grass.
Another tough flower, a yellow primrose.
And more beautiful grass.
I’m guessing this may be a Cotoneaster? I really should have asked my mom for id on some of these plants but the visit went so fast I missed doing several things I meant to do.
Sempervivum are another plant passion that we share. In fact my brother and I joke that my mom is a “hens and chicks pusher” (as opposed to being a drug pusher). She is always ready to dig a few and send them home with us.
Up on their deck were the remains of a once beautiful Cordyline. And a terra cotta pot that shows the effects of the freeze/thaw conditions.
Unfortunately so does this Agave. Another purchase from the HPSO spring sale in 2009 it had a good run. Who knows maybe it will bounce back and live to see another hot Spokane summer?
For a tour of my parents garden in the summer click here, pictures from a visit in June of 2009.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This is what failure looks like...

The objective…propagation of my doomed (by winter) Echiums by taking (and rooting) cuttings. I began with the best of intentions, I even consulted a professional. But, I failed. I employed two methods. One based on the suggestions of the professional, the other involving a product I picked up at a local nursery called Gel2root.
It promised success in 6 steps: cut, trim, pierce, insert, root, and plant! Simple. Failure.
First the pictures of the cuttings I attempted to root in soil. Everything started off fabulous.
It was very satisfying to go out in the garden and whack of stems of my beloved Echiums before the cold could damage them. I thought it would be difficult to murder a perfectly beautiful plant but in some twisted way I enjoyed it. I was filled with the knowledge that they would live on in next seasons beautiful plants. I was a fool.
I was (I thought) careful to keep the cuttings slightly moist in their little plastic bag home. I figured too much moisture would be the kiss of death.
I opened the bags occasionally to let air circulate.
But evidently not frequently enough as the tips started to brown about 2 weeks into the experiment.
By the time another week passed this is what they looked like right before they were launched into the yard waste bin (soon to be joined in the bin by what had remained of the mother plant outside in the garden…turned to brown waste by Mother Nature, a poetic rejoining of both pieces of the doomed plant).
So what about the cuttings in the Gel2root? They started out looking swell.
Look at their happy stems tucked in the gooey gel.
But I soon realized they needed more moisture so the leaves didn’t completely wilt before the roots started forming. They went into a plastic bag too.
And they eventually looked like this:
Same problem. Same short flight into the yard waste bin.
By the way I checked before I tossed. Not a single root had formed on any of the cuttings.
The moral of the story? Professional propagators are professionals for a reason; those nursery guys are skilled craftsmen. I will be handing over more money to them in the spring as a sort of reward for their skill (in exchange for more healthy Echium plants).