Thursday, March 17, 2011


I figured this term was too catchy to not already be in use; sure enough it defines a style of veggie gardening where urbanites can grow fresh-from-the-garden produce on a tiny bit of land. This is not the kind of micro-gardening I’m talking about!

My micro-gardening definition is two-fold. First, the staring at the ground for signs of life kind of micro-gardening. Any sign of life, no matter how small, is a micro-gardening victory to be celebrated in a macro way. That small red stem (above) is the Impatiens omeiana I planted last summer right before a mini heat wave. Not a hugely impressive little stem but I thought maybe I’d lost it, so seeing that gives me big hope. Here’s the same plant last summer. These little red bits are signs of life from an Oenothera macrocarpa (Missouri Evening Primrose) that was a gift from my mom. It too has had a rocky past, I gave it up for dead once, but it’s looking like its going to make it! I just discovered these exciting little treasures yesterday. Syneilesis (Shredded Umbrella Plant) isn't it cute? They grow up to look like this… For weeks I’d been searching for signs of life from these plants but finding nothing. When, at the annual Hardy Plant Society of Oregon meeting last Sunday, Ritchie Steffan showed a slide of some about 5” tall and said something like “this performance is probably going on in your garden right now” my heart sank. Mine were MIA. But no more!

I think this small red thing maybe returning Macleaya cordata (Plume poppy)? I’m hoping so. Not so little anymore is Veratrum Californicum, it first peeked out of the soil right before our February 18 degree night…not fazed in the slightest! Here is is last year shortly after planting. You can see the Syneilesis on the left. And the leaves of the Rubus lineatus. It’s hard to believe this tiny little green Melianthus major leaf... could possibly be the beginning of this big blue beauty, but hopefully! So I said “two-fold”… the other type of micro-gardening I’ve practicing is helping keep me sane during this nonstop rain. I want to get out in the garden and get things done! No such luck. Instead I am learning to garden in micro-increments. As in “it’s not raining at this moment, what can I do for the next 15-30 minutes?” because if you plan anything running longer than that forget it! You will be rained out. My most recent micro-gardening accomplishment was trimming up the skirt on Sammy, our Yucca rostrata. He went from this (picture from January)… To this...hello trunk! 25 gardening minutes later and I feel like I accomplished something before the rain started again. And you know what…there were a lot of spiders living in those leaves. Big bad ugly ones. It was kind of scary.

Have you been practicing any kind of micro-gardening lately?


  1. It's great when things start to sprout form the group isn't it. And the yucca rostrata looks fabulous.

  2. Ooh, Yucca rostrata looks great now! You're exactly right about catching those brief moments of rainlessness. That's exactly the thing to do. Hard when you have to drive 45 minutes to a gardening project, only to encounter a lightning/hail storm... but perfect when you're taking gardening breaks from the computer!

  3. Yep, those sure do look like plume poppies. Once they find a happy home they are practically indestructible. I like the idea of short stints. Bet I could work one in right now.

  4. I really want to grow a Veratrum Californicum this year. I passed one up at a nursery last year and I really regret it.

    Glad to see all the progress with your garden. It looks great and I understand the rain problem. I am doing the exact same thing over here in SE Portland. In and out of the house I go.

  5. Like Barbie and Ken working in the garden on a sunny day in March. But they don't think of it as microgardening...........

  6. Spiky O, it really is. Yesterday I found what I think might be an Echium seedling I planted last summer. Now that will be a very happy thing!

    kate, you know I thought of you the other day. It's one thing to be kept from getting outside to practice your passion, it's quite another when it's your lively-hood!

    ricki, yes I was warned that the plume poppies can make pests of themselves. Megan gave me some of her seedlings last year but I waited so long to get them in the ground they struggled all summer. Hopefully I won't regret introducing them.

    Ficurinia, I passed the Veratrum Californicum up the first time I saw it. Then had to go back and get it. Portland Nursery is the only place I have seen it available.

    Compost, uhm. Yes...just like that.

    Laguna, of course, as long as your dusting your garden.

  7. Those plants are all stunning...every single one! The Syneilesis is way too cute! I think you're right about the Macleya...that's what mine look like right now too...hard to believe those tiny little leaves are the start of such a ginormous plant! I love that you removed the lower leaves of the Yucca...that trunk makes it even more striking...ewww about the spiders, though ;-)

  8. Spiders in your yucca? Scary! I wonder who will trim my yucca when it is needed.


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