Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome to my Mediterranean Villa…

Wouldn’t you expect this house and garden to be on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea? Nope, just overlooking an amazing view (I imagine) of downtown Portland.

Look at these Agaves! Incredible…

I realize now that I was shooting to keep the gate out of the pictures, so the viewer might end up wondering why I didn’t take a step or two up for a better shot. In addition to my “stay on the street” rule, there was a decorative wrought iron gate at the bottom step, keeping the curious hoi polloi out.

I did drive around to the front of the house though, wanting to see if that garden was on par. Instead I discovered you approach the house via a narrow, dead-end alley. Making it all seem even more European somehow.

They even have a small green house; I wonder what magnificent things are over-wintering in there?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hanging container happiness found at Digs Inside & Out (and there may even be a cocktail recipe too)

Okay they aren't the orange Circle Pot that I’ve confessed my eternal love for but they also aren’t $89.
I stopped by Digs Inside & Out the other night because I had a gift certificate from Christmas (thank you husband) burning a hole in my pocket (or actually my handbag, as I don’t keep gift certificates in my pocket because that whole laundry thing could be a disaster). When I saw these fabulous hanging planters I knew they had to be mine.
Only $18 for the “basket” shaped ones and $8 for the round they are a bargain. They also came in white, which really would look better with a green plant, but since I can’t ever pass up a yellowish green piece of pottery…guess that just means I’ll have to hunt for something with dark foliage to put in them!
I was also in love with this planting. How beautiful are multiples of the same plant in a simple cement bowl?
No need to have many different succulents crowding a space when a planting of Sempervivum arachnoides can look so elegant, and it’s hardy too!
JJ (owner/designer at Digs) said 5 plants were planted in here just 3 weeks ago and they’ve already filled in.
There were also many many fabulous terrarium plantings in the store, which I should have taken pictures of, but it was time for JJ and I to go enjoy a cocktail…my first ever prickly pear margarita at Trebol! How have I never had a prickly pear margarita before? Is it not the perfect danger garden drink? You’ve got the Agave (tequila) and the Opuntia (the juice of the fruit) so dangerous! This is going to be my official house beverage on the patio this summer. Photo borrowed from here.
Click on the link for a simple prickly pear margarita recipe and one in which she countered the sweetness of the prickly pear fruit with a little jalapeno (oh ya!) and a great story about buying prickly pear fruit at Whole Foods and how the cashier was frightened of them…really go read it! Although I must warn you that she does say “prickly pears come from a cactus, tequila comes from a cactus”…and we all know tequila comes from an Agave which is not a Cactus, but I’m willing to forgive her if she forgives me for borrowing her picture.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A landlord who landscapes…

Let’s face it; nobody really wants a rental house next door to their home. Rentals have a bad rap and I’m willing to say that’s usually for good reason. Most landlords only offer a minimum of upkeep; most renters don’t give a care about the house and yard thinking “why invest time and money in something that’s not mine?”
Of course I say most because there are always exceptions. I used to be a renter, and I’m pretty sure I added to the property value rather than took away from it (planting tulip bulbs and regularly mowing for instance). And of course there are good landlords, like this one.
I can’t remember what the property looked like prior, but it wasn’t anything remarkable.
Then one day a transformation began to take place.
Can you see the little figs on the tree? Probably not.
While this isn’t particularly my landscape ideal it is still a vast improvement over a nondescript lawn and they’ve made some pretty interesting plant choices. Naturally I assumed it was the homeowner making the changes and I complimented them one day as they were hauling groceries into the house (I figured if you were hauling groceries you must live there). Their response “isn’t it great, no we just moved in and the landlord had just redone everything!”…so kudos to you Mr. or Mrs. Landlord for not taking the cheap way out and instead beautifying the neighborhood.
Speaking of "the neighborhood" I’ve posted pictures of this overplanted (that’s a compliment) next garden a couple of times…click here for last July, and here for May. I thought you might enjoy seeing it in the winter. Photos taken last Saturday the 21st.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The spark, it’s still there

Do you ever fear losing the urge to garden? I do.
The spark, the need to get outside and “work” in the garden just hasn’t been there. I’ve been wondering if it is possible to lose that spark, to lose the need and desire to tend to your land, and your plants. Truth be told I’ve even skipped a couple of weeks of taking the yard waste container to the curb for pick-up, a sin in my book. Especially with so much debris around the garden that needs to be cleaned up.
But it turns out all I needed was a little blue sky (something we haven’t seen much of lately) to ignite the spark.
If this keeps up spring fever can’t be far behind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thinking of upping the Mahonia Count, and why do “their” plants always look better than mine?

Mahonia gracilipes
I’ve decided I can’t live without Mahonia gracilipes any longer.
I remember passing it up at the Fall 2011 HPSO Plant Sale. Never again…it must be mine.
Look at those fabulous red stems and the berries that seem to glow from within!
Yep gonna be mine, soon. Of course that’s how I felt about Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' too, and I got it…and the poor plant has never been the same. Something has been munching on its leaves and the green groundcovers around it don’t let it shine like a contrasting color would.
In all fairness I kind of forgot about it, a huge Tetrapanax leaf blocked it from my sight for awhile, and things went downhill from there. I was reminded how beautiful this plant could be when I saw these…
Nice huh?
When I got home I started a “plants to move as soon as it stops raining 24/7” list and this Mahonia was the first thing on it.

The next one on the list? My Magnolia laevifolia. I have no idea what I was thinking when I planted it here. I guess I forgot how big the Hakonechloa and Sweet Woodruff would get over the summer.
At least it has formed those wonderful velvety brown nubbins that will eventually become the flower.
Of course if I want it to grow big and strong like this…
I need to move it.
Staying on theme here is their Beschorneria albiflora
And mine.
Which one looks happier?

Their Melianthus
And mine…
Oh it’s there, under the leaves, under the burlap, held in place with a couple of rocks. Little did I know I could have left it be, and it might still be growing. Instead I got all into my winter prep and cut it back and mulched it. I suppose I should peek under there soon and see what it’s up to.

(by the way, all of the good looking plants were photographed on a walk around McMenamins Kenndy School)