Thursday, April 30, 2020

Eavesdropping and laughing

Walking a garden, or nursery, I try to be conscious of of the dialogue happening around me. Some might call it eavesdropping, I call it being aware of my surroundings. I love the little bits of conversation I overhear. During my visit to the Huntington Gardens in December (posts still to come) I was privy to the exchange between a couple of young students working an educational booth, and a family visiting the garden.

The students had just explained and shown cochineal to part of the family group. The newly educated were amazed!

"That white fuzzy mess is a bug? And it makes pink dye? NO WAY!" Yes, way. An important detail, my story rests on the fact they were told it makes pink dye, not red dye.
photo of cochineal from my visit to The Lodge on the Desert in Tucson, I didn't see any actual cochineal at the Huntington
When you say "pink dye" kind of fast it can be heard as "pink eye"... so you had one part of the family excited to show the other part where pink dye comes from...

"You guys this is where pink dye comes from! Here touch it...."
... "Pink eye!"... "I don't want to touch it, I don't want to get pink eye!"

...and around and around they went. One side saying pink dye and the other hearing pink eye, and both sides getting more and more exasperated with each other.

I just giggled quietly to myself and walked on, admiring the opuntia...

Weather Diary, Apr 29: Hi 74, Low 53/ Precip .01

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wednesday Vignette: put an agave there!

Growing out of that patch of black mondo grass a less than vigorous dwarf abutilon was putting up a brave front. Trying to carry the space, trying to look like it belonged there, even as it's bare stems and yellowing leaves told the truth. Every time I passed by I gave it the stink-eye. Just grow dammit! Bloom! Earn the space! I finally yanked it. Relief! So much better without its awkward form. But yet, a little empty...

I know! Put an agave there...



I didn't want to dig in the mondo grass perfection, and the air circulation wouldn't be great for an agave planted there long term, especially over our wet winters. So I found a tall black plastic growers pot and planted the Agave americana 'Variegata' in it. That way it isn't permenant and the agave is raised up, taller than it would be in the ground.

Chances are it may root into the ground over the summer, what with those large drain holes. But a nice hard tug should break it free when it's time to move before winter.

Everything's better with an agave...

Weather Diary, Apr 28: Hi 73, Low 50/ Precip 0

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum. All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Shinn Garden, 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling Finale

This is my last blog post on the gardens we visited during the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling in the Denver area. I didn't quite stretch my Fling coverage to last a year—like I have in the past—but I came close!

This is the view of the garden that greeted us as we got off the bus...

Conifers and flowering perennials.

Peonies blooming in June!

The black iris were so, so, good.

There were even a few verbascum.

If I were to tell you this was the garden our Fling itinerary that I was most excited to see would you be surprised? Your shock would be understood if this was all there was...

But it was not. There were crevice gardens! I first learned of the Shinn's garden back in 2015, when I wrote a story on crevice gardens for the Oregon Assoc of Nurseries magazine, Digger (here). While researching for that story I had the chance to talk with Kenton J Seth about some of the crevice gardens he's built and this was one we discussed.

He even sent me photos of it's construction back in 2014. Look closely at the rocks here and you can match them with the photo above and those that follow.

Rock placement in process...yes that's Kenton.

And the finished construction.

It looks a bit different now, doesn't it?

Yep, that's our bus.

I knew I wanted to write about the practice of crevice gardening in my upcoming book—Fearless Gardening—which I was writing during the time of the Fling. I asked Carol Shinn if I could use a few of the photos I took that day, in the book, and maybe chat with her, post-Fling, about the garden. She was very encouraging and we went on to have several wonderful email conversations in the weeks that followed.

Having moved from Tucson, AZ, Carol claimed to be done with spiky plants but I noticed a few snuck into the garden.

That cool succulent rosette in the center of this image is an orostachys of some sort.

Titanopsis calcarea

Likely Saxifraga paniculata cartilaginea ‘Foster’s Red’

Echinocereus triglochidiatus, I believe.

The newest crevice garden which looks like it's still being filled with plants.

Looking back at the front garden before heading to the back garden.

And maybe now is a good time to share little more background on the garden, from our Fling materials: "I bought my first plant, a hellebore, at the farmer's market while we were staying in an apartment waiting for the move-in date for our new Colorado home [they moved here in 2006}. The front was an outdated lawn with an interesting flower border and junipers. There were also junipers in front of the house blocking the windows. The back was overgrown with cottonwood/poplar hybrids.

I soon learned about rock gardening and that has become one the focuses here. We started with granite and sandstone boulders in several areas. Later we experimented with a bed of horizontal layers of sandstone, and then a bed of vertical basalt."

Here is the bed of horizontal layers of sandstone mentioned above.

Arenaria ‘Wallowa Mountain’

After studying this section of the Shinn's garden I think I'm even more tempted to make a horizontal crevice garden than the standard verticle.

It's just so good! And takes up even less space.

Also, Carole shared that the rain tends to run off the horizontal layers rather than soaking in like it does with the vertical layers. As someone who lives in a winter wet climate that sounds intriguing to me.

Squished but happy.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed this last garden of the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling.

I know some of my fellow "Flingers" got a little tired of rocks and crevice gardens but I did not, not by a long shot. I treasured every one of them, but especially this one. I was so excited to see it in person, and even more so after meeting the owners, Carol and Randy. The Shinns were so welcoming, here's hoping we can get back to visiting gardens in person soon, there's nothing quite like it for inspiration (well, except maybe blogs, and books...).

Weather Diary, Apr 27: Hi 69, Low 49/ Precip .05

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.