Monday, May 31, 2010

Less is more

I do think the fewer words you use to express yourself the better. I know that must be hard to believe, since my writing here on danger garden can tend toward the wordy. So this week I’m challenging myself to come up with posts using no more than 3 pictures AND sticking to the 140 characters allowed in a tweet, everyone’s favorite (it seems) succinct communication tool. Of course this little intro doesn’t count, so…on with the challenge!

A trip to Cistus confirms garden color doesn’t always come from plants and flowers. And sometimes specimen plants die, and are hard to hide.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Observations on three trees and their blooms

First, Clifford our Magnolia macrophylla. After last year’s exciting first bloom I really thought this was the year that the entire tree would be covered in flowers. Not the case. Just this one lonely bud. At least this year its right over the pathway to the patio, so it’s well positioned for maximum enjoyment.
With all the rain we’ve been enduring here in Portland I can also attest to the umbrella like qualities of this trees 18” long leaves. If caught in a downpour there are worse places you could find yourself.
Second, our Japanese Snowbell trees (Styrax japonicas). We have a pair of these planted in our hell (parking) strip. They were here when we moved in and both of them have reliably bloomed each year since we’ve been here, until now, year 5. This year the one on the north end is covered in blooms, like normal.
They are hard to see in the above picture but they are there, a lot of them.
The one on the south end. Not a single bloom to be found.
Well, ok…there are these 4. But it took me 5 minutes to find them, it’s weird.
Next (#3, if you are keeping track)…I’ve never been much of a Dogwood fan. They’re fine and all…but nothing to get excited about. But if they all looked like this…
Well, I’d be buying one.
Compared to the size of the tree these blooms are simply ginormous.
And beautiful.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What’s a girl to do?

It’s raining, again. I have things to do outside in the garden but I am trapped indoors, again. As if that weren’t bad enough I can’t leave the house because we have an electrician here working. And to add insult to injury…our internet service is down. No gardening, no leaving, and no online activities. Well, I guess it’s time to organize the plant tags I’ve been accumulating for about 9 months. That will kind of be like I’m gardening, sort of. When it comes to plant tags I am so old school it’s a little embarrassing. I even use masking tape! They get taped on the page and notes are made as to where they ended up. Unfortunately sometimes another note (dead) gets scrawled under the first.
The green polka dot notebook I’ve been using for years is almost full. Next I move on to this fun notebook! ‘Practicing Plant Parent Hood’…made from an old book cover that I saw online and turned into a label for a blank notebook. It makes me smile every time I see it.
How did I get so behind in my tag filing!? To start I sorted the tags into related piles. Things that were bought together (Hardy Plant Society sale for instance), or if that failed, things that ended up planted near each other. So many piles. Try not to look at the prices…I certainly tried not to.
As for the rain, I think I must have been a weather forecaster in another life. I am a weather junkie. I can never get enough information! Here are a few little tidbits stolen from a local forecaster’s weather blog

“It will probably end up the wettest May in at least 5 years and the coldest in about 10 years. For those of us that are weather-savvy, what’s probably most noticeable is the lack of “heat waves” or at least warm spells. We have only hit 76 so far this May…I also just now noticed the two wettest Mays ever were followed by hot summers and severe fire seasons in the Pacific Northwest.”

He isn’t painting a very pretty picture is he? In this mornings newpaper I see that with yesterdays moisture we’ve topped the 4” mark for rainfall in the month. We have had more rain fall in May than we did last December, December usually being the wettest month of the year. What’s average rainfall for May in Portland? 2.03”…

Later yesterday afternoon, after the internet service was back up, the electrician left, and it stopped raining long enough for me to venture outside for a little look-see in the garden this is what I found.
A soggy Madagascar Palm, broken in two from the unbearable weight of all the water it has soaked up. I picked up the top half and brought it indoors. I don’t know why. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I hope this is the one and only danger garden casualty of May 2010.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WWTT Number 2

I just can’t figure this one out (click here for more info on the WWTT posts). It’s all so precisely laid out yet…so empty. Except for the weeds.
And what’s with that bridge to nowhere?
Obviously some time and money went into this design. Someone knew what they were doing, building-wise. But WWTT?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A field of clovers

The other night my husband brought me a flower. I was making dinner, and upon returning home from walking our dog he presented me with a lovely crimson blossom. It was clover.There is an empty field not far from our home, usually the city keeps it well mowed (it’s attached to a city park). Mowing doesn’t seem to be in the budget this year, and the clover is taking over. I love it. There is pink clover…
Plain old white clover…
A fancy petite white clover…
Lavender clover…
And the crimson clover, which is my favorite.
(Are you hearing the Joan Jett remake of Crimson and Clover (over and over) right now in your head? I am, I adore Joan Jett).
I picked a handful and brought them home.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Urban walls and planters

I’ve come across an interesting collection of garden walls and planters recently. It all started with this one at the AIA Center for Architecture in the Pearl District (Portland). I’m such a sucker for metal…
The plants are not all that inspiring, but it doesn’t matter…the rusted metal and dark painted brick carry this show.
Cement block and stucco are other favorite materials. I saw this out of the corner of my eye cruising by at 40 mph and had to turn around to get a better look.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I love the wall…with the peek-a-boo squares; it’s the iron bits that I’m not sure about.
But no doubt about it, I love their choice of plant material, Horsetail rush. Contained by cement it can’t possibly get out of hand right? And these folks are serious about keeping it upright…they’ve ran strands of plastic filament to keep each of them in check.
It's no secret, I do love stock tank planters. This one set on the sidewalk unplanted for months. I’ve lost track of how long it sat there. Since it’s next to a restaurant I thought they might fill it with herbs, or veggies. Nope.
The shocking turquoise wall called out for some striking plants, like this Opuntia. I have to say it…this combo is just yummy. Yummy.
The lime-green Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' is also a nice contrast to the wall color.
I drive buy this cute little house after leaving one of my favorite nurseries. The small retaining wall in the lawn, painted to match the house, is a nice touch.
Around back they have a privacy wall surrounding their patio.
I really wanted to peek through one of those windows to see what the patio looked like. But that just seemed a little rude.
I did stand just to the side of one of the windows to capture this image…don’t you just love how the wavy trunks inside the wall mirror the wavy metal?
The last wall is really more of a fence, although fences generally keep people out, animals in, or some combination of that sort. With its large gaps this one doesn’t fulfill that prerequisite. Maybe it’s a screen?
It does establish a boundary and give a sense of enclosure to the front patio.
And it seems to be successfully keeping the Tetrapanax out!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I’m ready for summer!

The patio was looking so empty, and lonely. Several sunny warm days in a row and I decided it was time to bring out the furniture, the container garden, and get summer underway!But the bad thing about wooden patio furniture is eventually it needs to be re-stained. The sun and rain (even the very little rain we typically get in the summer months) combine to bleach the color away. This kind of maintenance sucks, I’ve never been any good at it. Right now there were so many other things I would rather be doing! But at least the before and after is dramatic enough that I feel like I actually accomplished something. And being outside working in the warm sun was nice.
Finally…the patio is open for summer entertaining! …(yes it looks wet, I hosed it down prior to moving he furniture out)…the agaves, aloes and other tender plants (does that include me?) are ready to celebrate the sun.
And wouldn’t you know comes the first patio weekend of the season, my friend Erin is visiting from Seattle and winter makes a reappearance. Rain rain rain...
Cold temperatures, strong winds and rain. So much rain that I’m wishing I hadn’t brought these guys out from under cover.
I was all ready for summer, where did it go?