Monday, November 1, 2021

The basement garden, 2021 edition

Shortly before moving my Disocactus macranthus (golden orchid cactus) indoors for the winter I noticed it had developed a couple dozen small flower buds. Back when I bought the plant—at the January 2020 Portland Nursery Houseplant Sale—it had a couple of buds, but the move home proved too much for it, and they all dropped. I was worried the move into the basement would cause a similar reaction, thankfully it did not. They got fatter and fatter and eventually burst into flower...

There are oh so many flowers!

Since I was already in the basement with camera in hand, I decided to document what the "garden" is looking like this year. It's a jungle folks! Standing at the bottom of the stairs looking west...

And now standing with my back to the west wall, looking east-sh.

It seems each year the collection shifts a bit, this year it was time to acknowledge my deep dive into hanging containers. I asked Andrew to install a few hooks and he went one better with chain, giving me even more options.

Current count of this hanging garden...ten.

Some hanging is also happening on the west wall itself. These planters are too heavy or too large to hang on the wire fencing vertical garden at the base of the stairs (we'll see that again in a moment).

A look at some of the succulents, which seem to be decreasing in numbers as my tastes change.

Although there are still plenty.... and look, a bromeliad has infiltrated the ranks! That awesome Deuterocohnia brevifolia came to me via a friend of a friend who is moving to Hawaii. I am thrilled.

More of the succulents...

Did you spot the poor totem pole cactus (Pachycereus schottii monstrosus) in the photo above? It's been tied to one of our "beams" supporting a joist that runs the length of the house. I wanted to get rid of the heavy pot it was in when I brought it in for the winter, but I also didn't want to just leave it laying on its side...

This massive Rhipsalis baccifera separates my desk area from the "guest room".

Beside my desk are several bromeliads... 

Photo looking back from the other side, the plastic is to keep my desk dry when I mist the plants on...

...the wire fencing vertical garden I referenced earlier. These are things that hang on the fence during the summer, or on a trellis somewhere in the garden.

I cannot believe how much this plant has grown. I bought it—a Selenicereus chrysocardium—at the same sale when I bought the blooming plant at the top of this post. It was just a small thing back then!

Area documentation of the basement garden complete it's time for some arty shots, because why not? Variegated foliage of a bromeliad.

And the toothy foliage of another.

Cryptanthus something or other.

My first nepenthes, a Nepenthes alata, now several years old.

Those pitchers are just so amazing.

Another toothy (spiky!) bromeliad.

And another cryptanthus, or two...

Aechmea recurvata v. benrathii, I tucked one plant in this metal ladle several years ago. It's since bloomed and reproduced. The original plant finally dried up this summer and I had to cut it out, I think these three will bulk up and hide the empty spot.

Begonia and bromeliad.

This (NOID) rhypsalis started to produce a lot of thicker stems this summer.

More Nepenthes alata pitchers.

The teeth of Aechmea pupurosea.

What the heck, another shot of a Disocactus macranthus flower.

Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman'

A NOID epiphyllum and friends...

The cryptanthus bloomed and exploded with new growth.

We've made our way back around to the hanging plants now, where there are three different schlumbergera fixing to bust open in flower. 

× Cryptbergia 'Red Burst'

Nepenthes x Miranda pitchers...

A close-up.

I've had mixed results trying to overwinter aeoniums, but this group (there are a few stems) have been with me for a few years now.

Mummies! Well that's what I think of, actually Mammillaria gracilis var. fragilis.

I picked up this extremely variegated Agave 'Kissho Kan' several years ago. It hasn't grown much, but then again it also hasn't died.

Cryptanthus lacerdae 'Menescal' pup on a stem.

Another aeonium survivor.

This cool cactus was a gift from Ann and Evan, it's grown a lot. I wish I could remember it's name.

Okay, getting close to the end now, just a few more photos...

Pachypodium lamerei, these plants have been with us since the early days of Andrew and I dating. That means they're over 20 years old.

And last up in the spotlight, my original (little) Deuterocohnia brevifolia.

It's about 1/50th the size of the large one I shared earlier, but I don't love it any less.

While it's rather insane that I move these plants out to the garden each spring, and back into the basement each fall, having them around me does help over the short grey days of a Portland winter. It's not everyone who has a garden growing in their basement. I am lucky.

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All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. This helps take away being homesick for my LB garden — I miss looking at these plants everyday! Your basement habitat is a natural wonder.

    1. Oh gosh, I bet you do miss your LB garden and plants!

  2. You could charge a fee to take a nap in that guest bed: a most tropical heaven, Oxygen rich, green goodness therapy. I love that Nepenthes alata (#27) in a most unusual and fun pot.
    Is the fall migration now complete?

    1. It's almost complete, there are a couple more plants out there that I need to pull, and when temperatures really dip there are a few more to tuck into the shade pavilion greenhouse.

  3. Honestly, Loree, your fall-winter basement is a wonder. You could give tours - and you most certainly should include this display in your yet-to-be-written book featuring your mantelspaces, which I fervently believe would be a break-out classic garden design book, especially given the current interest in house plants. I saw a commercial for a "tablescape" competition show this weekend - a book on decorating with plants would be so much better.

    BTW, that's the best looking Rhipsalis I've ever seen.

    1. Thank you for the continued support of this book idea! As for that rhipsalis, I bought it at a plant sale in Spokane when I was home visiting family. The Manito Park Conservatory was selling off a few plants and this was a steal. You should see the small terra cotta pot it's in, inside that big metal pot.

  4. You have an amazing collection down in your basement.

    It must take a good while to physically move everything each time.

    When I saw the first shot of the basement and plants it looked like a really cool and trendy house plant shop :)

    1. I'm sure my husband would love for it to be a shop, that would mean the numbers would decrease rather than increasing.

  5. I love visiting your basement. It's almost as good as your garden. Also, that must have been A LOT of work to bring all of those plants down there. (Glad your ankle is back to normal.) On a different note, I just had lunch with a fellow gardener. I lent her your book, and she loved it. She may have put it on her Christmas list.

    1. Thank you for spreading the Fearless Gardening word!

  6. Selenicereus chrysocardium always my favourite. Amazing basement .

    1. My plant hasn't bloomed yet... I keep looking it over for buds but so far, nothing.

  7. I love all those nifty solutions to hanging, fastening, safely caring for and displaying all those plants. You and Andrew are a creative force to be reckoned with! The plants are so plentiful I wonder how you fit them all in without stacking them on top of each other. It must be like some kind of herbaceous game of Tetris. I don't imagine I would ever see daylight if I lived in your basement - it's wonderful!

    1. Herbaceous game of Tetris is about right, and it is so wonderful to go downstairs on an ugly wet day and forget all about the weather outside and be surrounded by my plants.

  8. A fine way to get through a dreary winter, Loree. With a lovely jungle like that in your basement, its a wonder you'd ever spend much time upstairs!

  9. Your collection has definitely grown, both in quantity and sheer growth. This selection of beauties puts most plant stores to shame, and you must be using a really large mister because if you don't you have to get really serious hand/thumb cramps!

    1. Watching (listening) to me misting the plants Andrew suggested we get a commercial sprayer...

  10. I would love to bring my plants inside (although not near as many as you have), but how do you prevent insect infestations when you bring your plants in. Whenever I do either mealy bug or aphids explode...

    1. I won't lie, I do fight mealy bugs. It's a constant battle. I try to be very attentive and keep on top of it. In fact I just did some spraying this morning (isopropyl alcohol mixed with a bit of dish soap and water).

  11. Jeanne M DeBenedetti-KeyesNovember 10, 2021

    Very cool, Loree! I love your "jungle". And I agree, your "guest bedroom" is divine! I bet sleeping there would be like sleeping in a tropical paradise. Great place for your office!


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