Monday, May 1, 2023


A few dry days in a row please, maybe even a little sun and 70 degrees? That's been my wish for the last 3 months. This has been Portland's coldest spring since 2008 and an extremely wet one too. Coming on the heels of a horrid winter it's been hard. However last week I finally got my wish, and then some. Our highs went from being in the 50's (on a good day) to 77-88 with sunny blue skies. It was heaven—"was" because yesterday we resumed the cool and cloudy regime. At least now things have dried out a bit and spring growth is in full swing. Today's post is nothing but pure unadulterated joy as I walked around the garden and took photos of things finally emerging from their long winter slumber...

The Convallaria majalis 'Aureovariegata' (variegated lily of the valley) is coming up and obviously starting to spread a bit.

The Adiantum venustum is finally up and looking good.

This plant provides my carpet of green next to the garage and I cut it all back earlier this spring, for the first time ever. We had our roof cleaned last fall and all sorts of yuck fell into this planting space. Then winter's ice and snow flattened everything, it was time for a rejuvenating cut back, however since this is an evergreen fern losing it left the garden looking even more brown and dead.

Adiantum venustum and Podophyllum peltatum.

The delicate black stems are so structurally perfect.

Syneilesis aconitifolia, aka shredded umbrella plant. I thought this one had finally given up, but it just moved a bit.

Veratrum californicum

Adiantum aleuticum, the western maidenhair fern.

Onoclea sensibilis, the sensitive fern—I love that brown outline which fades in a week or so.

Paris quadrifolia

More Syneilesis aconitifolia...

These next two photos are of different clumps of plants and were taken at different times of day (thus different light conditions), but they both show "chameleon" podophyllum seedlings blending with surrounding epimedium foliage.

I think it's quite fascinating.

Speaking of podophyllum. I was rather concerned these big leaves would burn on our 88 degree day, after all they're used to being shaded by the big-leaf magnolia.

The magnolia which has not leafed out yet. Thankfully the podophyllum did fine.

As did the Arisaema ringens...

Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' has recovered nicely from it's unfortunate "forcing in the dark" experiment (see that on Instagram).

And I am thrilled to see the blooms of Stachyurus salicifolius are plumping up, getting ready to open, there are even new leaves starting to appear.

The new foliage of Aesculus hippocastanum 'Laciniata' (cutleaf horse chestnut) looks great against the orange wall.

And against a blue sky.

These rodgersia fell victim to my painting that orange wall last summer, as I needed space to move and they were wilting in the summer heat, I cut them back. It's nice to see them return. 

They were still brown when I took these photos last Thursday, but Friday's heat turned them all green.

The sunny spell finally gave me time to work in the front garden—until now most of my available garden time was spent cleaning up ugly in the back garden. Yucca rostrata and Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue'.

Variegated Agave parryi that made it thru winter even though it lost a few leaves.

Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' and Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths'

Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' close-up

Last summer this patch of sedum was completely dried up, dead. Thankfully it's sprung back to life.

It's even climbing the truck of one of the hellstrip trees.

Volunteer Verbascum olympicum.

That verbascum is almost as large as the Agave ovatifolia, width-wise.

There's a fine-line to be had between letting a few of the Euphorbia rigida seeds pop and suddenly having a million plants. I hate cutting back the flowers until I absolutely have to though, as they're such a fabulous pop of color.

Poncirus trifoliata buds, which have since opened to full blooms.

Daphne x houtteana flowers.

I can't remember which saxifrage this is, one that I picked up from the closing sale at Joy Creek Nursery. Isn't it adorable?

Agave montana, wearing it's winter colors.

I'll end with a few sempervivum, these are some of the NOID "garden variety" that grow the best for me, pass-alongs from my mom and a neighbor. Happy Spring, finally!

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  1. Hooray! I can hear the joy in your voice, a wonderful thing. I think you could hear a collective sigh of relief from so many of us enjoying the weather. I for one was finally able to plant our veggie garden. How thrilling so many of your plants made it through and are looking lush and healthy.

    1. It was glorious wasn't it? I'm okay with the drop in temps this week, but gosh I miss that blue sky...

  2. Looking at your photos, I'd never know you had such a hard winter!

    You and I are on the same wavelength: I just wrote a post about spring in our garden!

    1. But in real life, the garden still shows winter's wake.

  3. AnonymousMay 01, 2023

    Its lovely to see all the greening up of your garden. I always wished that Rogersia kept its bronze hues permanently... alas it turns green and easily burns by the sun, even in mostly shaded area.
    Onoclea sensibilis is heart stopping!

    1. If you can get ahold of a Rodgersia 'Bronze Peacock' give it a try. It comes up later but holds its color better. Mine is just coming up now.

  4. Yeah Spring! Your garden seems to be waking up well. Just got back from visiting my mother on Vancouver Island. Spring in the whole Lower Vancouver mainland has barely started. Victoria area is a bit further ahead. A weird Spring for sure. We are experiencing summer temperatures here already with grass fires all over the place. We would love a little of your moisture.

    1. I was just wondering what spring is like in Vancouver, I'm due to tour some gardens up there in June.

  5. Wow, your garden responds well to a little warmth and sun! I'm glad to see some of your agaves looking so great after your nasty winter weather. I'm envious of the variegated Agave parryi. The Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' is so sweet but so terribly unsuitable to my climate conditions. Our temperatures are back in the upper 50s today and we had zero sun yesterday. We even had rain overnight, with more due as the week progresses so it's officially a weird spring here too.

    1. It's as though our plants and trees were holding their breath, ready to explode with the warmth and sunshine. I read that rain was predicted down your way and thought that odd.

  6. Some great plants but some really fabulous combinations. I can see just where i need to spread some ferns around. The Syneilesis with the dark Epimedium foliage is breathtaking. I have had good luck with most Epimediums but none of those with the long sharp leaves.

    1. And those are my very favorite of the epimedium!

  7. The Adiantum venustum is really beautiful with those black stems and tiny leaves it reminds me of a Pittosporum tenuifolium. Also lovely to see the beautiful foliage of Podophyllums, Rogersia, Paris, and Sineilesis--exotics SoCal gardeners do not see.

    Happy Finally Spring!

    1. Isn't it wonderful that we get to enjoy each other's gardens thru the wonder of the internet?

  8. Stunning combos - Podophyllum/maidenhair fern, Spiky epimedium/Syneilesis, and, of course, Agave, juniper, manzanita bark.


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