Monday, July 31, 2023

Do you favor the forest, or the beach?

If you could live in the mountains, or at the beach, which would you chose? I've heard this question asked as a sort personality test, the idea being that people gravitate strongly toward one or the other. Me? I am lucky to live within easy driving distance of both, I don't have to chose. I can visit the forest and the beach, even on the same vacation! Andrew and I took off for the beach recently, destination Rockaway Beach, on the Oregon Coast. On the way we stopped off at the Wilson River, in the Tillamook Forest, he fished, I explored. 

We parked at the Tillamook Forest Center, there were pathways along the river—it was a pretty tame version of the forest, but still fun. At first I thought this carved mushroom would be repeated along the pathway, but no, it was a one-off.

Moss? Fungus?

I wish I could have seen the wild lilies in bloom.

One must always remember to look up.


More mahonia, and moss.

Can I ID these berries? No. But the birds seemed to love them.

This area, along the trail, felt like story time. All that was missing was a firepit for smores.

I was fun to be immersed in ferns (bracken ferns, I think?) that were much taller than me.

This was interesting, some sort of witches broom I assume?

I'm always enchanted by the fungus.

The Wilson River is not exactly raging this time of year—then again we've not had measurable rain for months. Summer dry...

Daucus carota, I believe.

Before we left the fancy Tillamook Forest Center I had to take a photo of Andrew and I with our friend Smokey. He does good work.
Once at the beach we visited Cape Mears, which is where I spotted this giant gunnera in a marooned boat.

Ya gotta love it when someone one-ups the expected beach themed plantings.

Also at Cape Mears, I swear that was an arctostaphylos growing in driftwood on the beach.

This bit of driftwood had many little micro-climates within it's sandy crevices, and what even appeared to be balls of moss, but were probably "seaweed".

Up by the Barview Jetty I was able to indulge my architecture interests...

Wildlife architecture

Up at Rockaway Beach now where I've discovered Andrew and my future beach home, so modern and sleek—yes please! (are those Madonna's cone-shaped breasts buried in the sand?)

Twin Rocks... (yes, it's a place)

Half dollar

There are plenty of large trunking cordylines and huge flowering phormium at the beach.

And manzanitas (arctostaphylos)! We drove north of Rockaway to visit Manzanita (a city further up the coast) and I took at little detour thru the neighborhoods to see what I could find, I was thrilled to come upon several lovely arctostaphylos. Like this one...

I can't even begin to guess which species these are, but it was still fun to see them. Note that orange ribbon...

There was construction happening next door and I think the orange ribbon was a signal to take care. At least I hope so.

Peeling bark on another speciman.

This large plant was in a sort of natural area and large parts of it were dead, but still quite beautiful.

Nature knows what it's doing.

A parting shot of the beach from our balcony...

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Friday, July 28, 2023

My annual Far Reaches Farm order, and baby's tears

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, when I saw the little pot of Soldanella alpina Tim had purchased from Far Reaches Farm I knew I had to have it, and now I do! Those little green leaves and the red stems, yep, they spoke to me. The description from the FRF website: Soldanellas completely bewitch us with their dual charms of excellent evergreen foliage and incredibly cute flowers.  When these little guys flower, we just smile because this is such a little overachiever with its lavender fringed flowers in April.  Reddish leaf petioles and leaf undersides are subtle allure. 

The flowers really are pretty cute, click on over to their website to see them for yourself.

Last year's Far Reaches order was all about the Polygonatum, aka Solomon's seal. I bought three, sadly one didn't return after winter. The survivors are Polygonatum vietnamicam and Polygonatum mengtzense. I thought I'd add to that collection with a false Solomon's seal; Maianthemum tatsienense.

It's looking pretty sad now, but I have high hopes for the future, here's what they have to say about it: False Solomon Seal. This Chinese species is one of our favorites in the shade garden and we delight in its ribbed leaves with elegantly understated small violet daubing at the base of each leaflet followed by the precise detail in the small greenish flowers. In the late summer into fall, it has strut-your-stuff full heads of bright orange fruit that just makes us shake our heads in amazement. 

I borrowed this flower photo from the FRF website, they have another of the fruit, here.

As anyone who has mail ordered plants knows, you really need to order more than one or two plants to make the shipping charges work for you, so I didn't stop at just two. Meet Leuzea conifera...

Now click here to see it's freaky little cone flowers. I pray I can keep it alive and happy until I get those flowers in my garden: Pinecone Thistle.  Pretty cool 6"-12" tall plant from dry pine woods and wastelands in southern Europe and northern Africa.  The spineless gray-green, thistle-like leaves, are felted gray-white underneath and are a perfect accompaniment to the art project flowers.  Tufts of filamentous purplish flowers erupt from hefty cones of overlapping, feathered brown scales.  Beautiful conversation plant for the rock garden and while perennial, it is short-lived, so save some seeds.

Next up, meet Lepisorus cf. macrosphaerus MD 15-09...

Epiphytic fern did you say? I'm all over it, description: Fern fans we are, fern experts we are not, but we continue to chip away at the imposing taxonomic massif of Pteridphyta in hopes of becoming somewhat conversational in Fern.  Currently, we can ask the equivalent of where the restroom is and order beer when talking Asian ferns. This is a creeping fern with long, thin rhizomes ideally suited for weaving through shallow moss on shaded rock faces with small orbicular-ovate evergreen leaves.  This should be reasonably hardy as Acer griseum was growing a short distance away. Proceeds from this offering go to support the mission of Far Reaches Botanical Conservancy.

I'm currently thinking I may expand this rocky, mossy planting to include the lepisorus but we'll see.

So what about those baby's tears? Well, Andrew and I recently spent several days at the beach, this sweet dripping patch of Soleirolia soleirolii (baby's tears) was growing right in front of where we parked and the steps up to our room. 

This was the second time we've stayed at this hotel, the first time being in April of 2022. I remembered the plant from that visit and wanted to nip a small chunk to take home with me, I have a spot for it where I think it might winter over (it's a Zone 9 plant, my garden isn't quite that warm). As confident as I was that nobody would notice a 2" clump missing I also didn't want to be that person, so I went into the hotel office to ask the owner if he'd mind. The next thing I knew he was digging out a plastic plant pot and a small yogurt container and potting up plants for me. Plant people are the best! (more photos from the beach next week)

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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Visiting the gardens of Webster Manor

Back on July 13th I finally paid a visit to my friend Tim's garden, aka Webster Manor. I meant to get over there ("over there" being all of 3 miles away) last summer, but never managed to do so—I made it a priority this year. Since the light was harsh during my visit I borrowed this wide-shot from Tim...

Nice right? Well now feast your eyes on the "before", when he bought it back in 2018. That's right, just 5 years ago...
That's what vision and a lot of hard work will do. Here are a couple of my attempts at a wide-shot, bright afternoon that it was. I'm standing on the street when I took these photos.

Tim is growing Trachelospermum jasminoides on the chain-link fence to create a nice front garden wall.

And he's cleverly worked in several spikes.

Berkheya purpurea

There's a little art installation next to the driveway, of course everyone is free to interpret these plantings however they like.


This spiky wonder has a bit of a backstory. 

Every year I share a photo of the agaves at the Rare Plant Research open house labeled as Agave utahensis and every year I mention they're most likely Agave montana. Tim bought one a few years back and it's grown into this beauty, however it rotted off at the base after this ugly winter. After discovering the tragedy Tim placed the rootless agave on the ground in his greenhouse and... it rooted! He since moved it out here, it looks pretty darn good don't you think?

As we worked our way into the front garden Tim used the term "chaos gardening" to describe his style. I like it, but I also feel a little like it undercuts his serious gardening credentials. 

Chaos would be every container a different color. 

Okay... I suppose there might be a touch of chaos in there, but it's the very best kind.

I complimented his collection of rusty metal, Tim said he'd done something more interesting with the pieces but they'd recently been moved to this spot during another project. 

Tricyrtis formosana I believe.

Cunninghamia (I believe)

By now you've no doubt realized Tim is a collector. His is the kind of garden I can get lost in for hours. There is a good overall design, but the plants themselves are treasures, each requiring examination.

Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty', all the more interesting planted with the dark foliage of the acer.

Looking skyward at the bananas...

...and the tetrapanax.

Looking back over my shoulder.

That gunnera! Gunnera perpensa (the curly leaves).

I didn't catch which eucalyptus this is, but the blue looks stunning against the green hedge, which was inherited and gives great privacy from the neighbor next door.

Tim scored a pair of these chimney pots from fellow gardener Gail Barnard who recently moved gardens.

They flank the entrance to the back part of the property which Tim referenced as the orchard. He named the different fruit trees growing there but I didn't manage to make note of them.

Oxydendrum arboreum, aka sourwood growing near the chicken coup.

Close-up of the tree...

Close-up of the fancy chickens and their cabbage on a rope...

Turning back around and bam! There's the dreamy greenhouse.

Darlingtonia californica


Tim has all the cool trees, this one Sciadopitys verticillata, the Japanese umbrella-pine.

I may have heard mention of buying trees with the "next garden" in mind.

How dreamy is this!?! It's not every garden that has a ginormous cycad.

That curly new growth is fabulous.

Of course there was a stash of new plants waiting to be planted. Of course I had to check them out. I fell so hard for this one, Soldanella alpina, that I placed an online order the next day (more on that coming up on Friday).

At first glance I thought this Athrotaxis cupressoides (pencil pine) was a Cassiope lycopodioides (another current obsession of mine).

I stared at this rusty wall mounted bromeliad business longer than I care to admit, before I realized I made it! Ha! Tim purchased it from me at the spring T.O.P.S. sale.

How cool is that cabinet? A find that our mutual friend Patricia encouraged Tim to purchase.

Wollemi Pine, because he has all the cool plants.

And healthy bamboo, too.

Unfortunately this visit has drawn to a close. If you're a Portlander (or live within driving distance) you'll be excited to learn that Tim is planning to open his garden for the HPSO in September, date TBD. Info will be in the HPSO email, and if you follow Tim on Instagram you'll see notice there, or on Facebook. 

BTW—another opportunity to visit local gardens is coming up this weekend! The Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association is holding a garden tour, one of the gardens on the tour will be this garden I've written about several times, belonging to Dale Latham. Dale is a kind supporter of my work and will have a few copies of my book, Fearless Gardening available for purchase at his garden during the tour (1-5pm Saturday July 29th). Check it out!

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All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.