Monday, January 31, 2011

Resurrection Fern, Selaginella lepidophylla

My focus for the second go-around of the Rainforest Gardens Epiphyte Day (officially the 1st of each month) is the Resurrection Fern, or Selaginella lepidophylla. This is a recent discovery, found at the Portland outpost of Paxton Gate. Here are theirs, on display at the store. While I couldn’t find any concrete documentation saying this plant is an epiphyte it certain seems to fit the description. It really is true…this brown bundle of curls can spring back to life, when given a little water. From the Paxton Gate website…”Native to the Chihuahuan Desert, S. lepidophylla's leaves will curl and dry when deprived of water (one of the common 'tumbleweed species, and uncurl rapidly when rehydrated.” Here is the one I bought…all dried up. And after putting it in water… This is the underside of the plant. Pretty nifty! What to see and learn about other Epiphytes? Click on over to the Rainforest Garden...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bishops Weed…declaring war, or giving up. What is a girl to do?

I’ve mentioned this invasive pest a time or two; we inherited a patch in the front garden. Of course it isn’t staying put…it’s moving. Growing. Intent on world domination. My attitude towards it has largely been one of ambivalence. Time and time again I’ve researched how to get rid of it, and then not finding an answer, I’ve decided to just deal with it. But it keeps GROWING. In my lifetime it may just take over the entire front garden, I don’t want that. So…what to do? I want it to go away! But…but the problem is that at heart I am an organic gardener, my fertilizer is organic, my pest control is organic, I would rather not resort to using chemicals to kill the Bishops Weed. However, I would…if I thought it would do the job, and I could do so without killing the other plants nearby. I’ve also been reading up on using boiling water and vinegar…both of which seem a little too benign for the job. My husband suggested a torch, and with repeated “applications” maybe that would work. It certainly sounds less evil than chemicals. It’s the time of the year when THE WEED is starting to emerge from slumber, its ugly little leaves are moving up and out of the gravel (I know what you're's not ugly, it's pretty! No it's not, not when it gets scorched in the summer sun, and starts coming up in the middle of your black mondo grass). It’s time to do battle…and I am hopeful that someone can advise what weapon I should pick up for this battle…

(pictures from previous summers)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Paxton Gate

I’ve long suspected that I’d lost my edge, now I know it’s true. It was bound to happen; I’m an old married lady, in bed by 10 pm most nights…no longer is my finger on the pulse of the city. There was a time that when a new shop opened I knew about it. I was there…if not for the opening bash then in the first day or two of business. Of course this never has been the case in this city…I’m talking about my hip 20’s in Seattle, or even my early 30’s in Spokane. No, I’ve always been an old married lady in Portland, so I suppose it should be no surprise that it took me a full month and 25 days to find out that there is now a Paxton Gate here in Portland. Here! In Portland, the store we found and fell in love with in San Francisco is now here in Portland!

I found out about our store reading the latest Sunset magazine, of course I was there the very next day, I had to find out just what our Paxton Gate had to offer! But first before I share pictures from that visit let me take you back to October of 2009 and the San Francisco Paxton Gate….why? Well because I took pictures, and I wrote a little about our visit but I never posted about it, now is my chance! Aren’t you impressed I still had this filed away, I’s so not like me. Here we go…

We found Paxton Gate in the sf bay area book. Their tag line:”Treasures & Oddities Inspired by the Garden and Natural Sciences”…how could we pass that up? For some reason I wandered around the shop in awe without taking a single picture, until I stepped into the magical courtyard in the back (I love how so many little shops in SF have a tiny enclosed courtyard out back). It was getting dark so the pictures aren’t of the best quality but you can at least get a feel for the place. The ground was covered with tumbled pottery shards. I couldn’t resist taking my shoes off and seeing how it felt on the feet. Nice. If I had taken pictures inside the shop you would have seen a fabulous collection of tools, skulls, bones, taxidermy, fossils, minerals, jewelry…and much more, including a marvelous display of Tillandsia. This T. Bulbosa came home with us. Later that night when we returned to the hotel my artist husband, still inspired by our visit, started drawing on a notepad …I saved his sketch. So that was our visit to Paxton Gate SF….fast forward to Portland: it turns out this store is a “Licensed Brand operated under separate ownership.” Susan and Andy Brown, the owners of the Portland store are long time friends of Sean Quigley, the SF founder. While the appealing outdoor courtyard feature is missing from our version the rest of the store definitely has a similar atmosphere to the original. I met and talked with Andy during my visit, he mentioned some of the interior building materials were sourced at the near-by Rebuilding Center. A move that definitely paid off, the store feels warm and established…not fresh and new. Of course since this is a garden blog my focus was on the plants. There were several gorgeous Tillandsia Of course a few carnivorous plants… And lots of interesting displays… And books… Plus there is a wide assortment of all the little creatures the store is known for. I’m so glad I am finally “in the know”… if by chance you’re not one of us lucky Portlanders (or San Franciscans) who can walk into Paxton Gate don't despair there is a great website: (if you are in Portland the store is at 4204 N Mississippi Ave).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A shopping tip for my Portland readers…

I love a good sale, even better when that sale is on plants! You too? Well Garden Fever has an extensive collection of last year’s perennials and grasses at 40% off!

Some of these appear to be little more than a container with soil and a label (since the plant is dormant) while others show definite signs of life. Eryngium giganteum…
Kniphofia typhoides… Kniphofia caulescens… Look at all those Xera tags! (you know I love Xera) How I wish I had a space for more Tetrapanax… Or another Gunnera (uhm, maybe I should have bought this one as insurance that mine returns!). There is a great selection, even after I shopped (twice)! Oh and while you’re there…please buy these gorgeous Acacia pravissima so I can stop obsessing about them! They are only $20.99…and not part of the sale.
And in case you are wondering, I didn’t receive any special plant compensation from Garden Fever for blogging about this sale, although I wouldn’t say no if they offered…(hint hint…I do have my eye on this (slightly shop-worn) Genista aetnensis…for $32.99….you know, if you’re looking to get rid of it).