Wednesday Vignette – how the winds blow


This week, I visited a client whose garden underwent an instant change over an afternoon, when two mature Sequoias in his and his neighbors’ back yards were struck by lighting. In addition to the complete alteration of the landscape, both houses were also damaged, when parts of the trees came crashing down. When we first moved to Oregon in 2005, local thunderstorms were such rare occurrences that they were featured on the news. Now, they seem to happen with some frequency, and at odd times in the year. But no; “What do you mean climate change??? That’s a hoax!” (Snark font used here.)

According to the NY Times (Dec 31, 2017): “Most people know climate change is happening, and a majority agrees it is harming people in the United States. But most don’t believe it will harm them.”  Think about that for a second…

Meanwhile, the Twittler administration has taken a virtual chainsaw to deconstructing decades worth of painstakingly implemented social and environmental policies, meant to protect and prevent our world as well as our democracy. The connection between the actions of the elected, and the will of the electorate is as rotten as one of the Sequoias proved to be when it came down. When the pillars of democracy finally come tumbling down, maybe then we will see. Or, maybe we will still think that it only happens to “others”. A lot is at stake this week, most visibly with SCOTUS, while the weekly environmental damage we extoll on our world goes on, week after week, and hardly gets any media attention. Still, they go hand in hand, so we’d better react – and do it quickly. Sorry to get political on you, folks, but I can’t help it. The patterns and signs are everywhere – we just have to see through the rot, and connect the solids. As for such things as world wide reports of prematurely dying Baobabs, and the massive Sequoia rot in front of me, I’m curious as to what causes this seemingly increasingly common deterioration in our trees. I know what my guess is… but, do you really think it will happen to me??

(Actually, I do.)


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Wednesday Vignette – be careful out there!

For days now, there have been firecrackers going off in our neighborhood – all in anticipation of July 4th. Call me a party pooper (I agree – I am), but this particular week always fills me with dread. This year, we had a very dry spring, and with last year’s Eagle Creek fire in fresh memory, hearing the popping sounds outside  isn’t exactly making me feel more confident about a bunch of amateur pyro yahoos blowing off rockets. Unless the fireworks in question are aimed at the river, you’re going to have a really hard time convincing me that we’re not playing with fire.

I know I’m editorializing, but please accept this week’s gentle reminder that there are other ways to appreciate light, that are nearly as breathtaking and dramatic as fireworks (although not quite as loud). This weeks vignette is from my friend Tamara’s (of Chickadee garden fame) and her husband David’s garden. Our stroll through their fabulous farm (if you don’t know it, check it out – it has been a quite stunning transformation at near break-neck speed, over the past 2-3 years), brought many oohs and aahs on my part.


The first time I visited their property, Tamara (who is well aware of the severity of my plant addiction) kindly offered me a corner of their two acres, in which to put whatever lusty acquisitions that I have neither room, nor enough sun for in my shady haven. (I know, I know – a more reasonable gardener would not bring home things she couldn’t plant, but that’s beside the point.) Tamara, being the kind, generous friend she is, jokingly calls “my” corner “Anna’s Acres”. Gotta love that! 😀 The visit where I shot this photo was the first of my deliveries – I gave her two big plants that, quite honestly, I can’t WAIT to see planted within color-echo-shot of each other. More to come on that later… for now, my own husband is just happy that I cleared his driveway of several plants. Have a wonderful Independence Day, y’all!

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Wednesday Vignette – winter interest

It’s easy to forget, now that everything in the garden is in full, fabulous glory, but back in February, parts of my garden were completely devoid of anything worth seeing. Unless you enjoy studying the varying shades of wet soil, that is. In my defense, I don’t spend much time out there when it’s cold and wet, but still… this needed to be remedied. Of course I knew there was stuff in there – I even sort of remembered what it was, and that it looked decent all taken together. But, obviously, I couldn’t see anything, since it was all dormant, so planting anything else would have to wait until the established residents started to emerge.

Come March, I wandered into Lowe’s for something else but, as is customary, took a little detour through the garden section which was starting to fill up with plants. I discovered this nice, new (to me, at least) Euonymus from Monrovia called ‘Paloma Blanca’. I fell for its white new growth, and grabbed one. Since then, it has patiently sat waiting for me to figure out where it should go. I think I finally figured it out – it will hold year-round court in the naked mud bed I so lamented in February. This spring, I also added a Carex ‘Sparkler’ a double, green Hellebore, and at least one evergreen fern, so I will have something to look at next winter. I think Paloma will fit right in, don’t you?

Cramscaping for shade 1

You can see Paloma in the lower left corner. She has an upright, narrow-ish demeanor, which makes her easy to fit in, even in a very cramscaped space. Other players in this scenario are the aforementioned Carex ‘Sparkler’, and an Arisaema fargesii, barely visible on the far left, followed by the somewhat thuggish Impatiens omeiana, Ghost fern, a recently planted Musa basjoo, and old fave Hakonechloa ‘Allgold’. All except ‘Sparkler’ turn to relative mush or disappear altogether when temperatures drop. The white tips on Paloma have a little more green in them than when I purchased it. I chalk that up to me giving it a little more shade than is ideal. No matter, so far, it still does what I want it to do – the shade in this particular spot is of a brighter variety. When that Banana grows up – well, then we’ll see… fingers crossed!

Cramscaping for shade 2

Both the similar form and color of the ‘Sparkler’ and Impatiens are variations on a theme, so I think breaking it off with the altogether different texture of Paloma will work just dandy, and turn winter drab to dapper. Can’t get over the size of that Arisaema leaf – it is positively MASSIVE! 

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Wednesday Vignette – seeking heart

IMG_9107 (1)

The past few weeks have been heartstoppingly ugly – in so many different ways. Deaths, disease, and lastly, dismembering of families by our very own government. While the first two can be subject to excruciating heartache and sorrow, they are still perfectly natural occurrences, which most of us at some point will face. But that last one?? If this is what the United States of America has truly become, I will relinquish my citizenship. Because this is not what I am, nor do I even know anyone who believes this is what we should be. However, statistics broadcast on the news indicated that 17% (or was it 19%) of the US population thinks so – or at least agree with both execution and fallout of the “zero tolerance immigration policy”. That number – although an obvious minority – is still too high for my comfort. Really, folks – almost 20%????

Whatever happened to “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” ? Now that the tired, threatened, persecuted and poor cross over a different-facing border, is all that null and void now?Reclassified to meaningless, nostalgic drivel??? The same US that tears families apart at the border also left the United Nation’s Human Rights Council yesterday.  Granted, the UNHRC have indeed made some doozie decisions in recent memory, but STILL? This is a worrying trend on the train wreck we’re on. While I should be up there, fighting on the barricades defending human decency, and up my donation to the ACLU, my instincts in times like this is to either bury myself in the backyard, or hide my face in shame in the furry coat of my cat, to escape the ugliness. The two photos of today remind me that, at least in pets and plants, orange is not a bad color. That said, inaction = complacency. It’s time we all speak up – LOUDLY!!! At my core, as a society, I believe we ARE better than this. At least, we used to be.

Manneman Tso Tso

Manneman – looking like the very image of carefree complacency.

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Wednesday Vignette – space!!

Lilac (1)

Today, the Lilac stretching skyward behind the Fatsia is coming down. It consists of quite a stand of trunks, at least one of which is rotting, and a number of suckers. It’s the biggest Lilac I have ever seen, and I bet it was planted when the house was built in 1941. About three years ago, one of it main trunks fell down and hit the neighbors’ kayaks. Luckily there was no major damage, but its aging trunks have made me nervous ever since. This old shrub anchors the SW corner of our little property. Its absence will open up enough space to put something rather large. Although I love lilacs during those two weeks in spring, I admit being almost giddy at the thought!

What will it be? The fabulous Magnolia macrophylla I have nursed along in a pot for a couple of years? A my-sized, lopsided Japanese Umbrella pine that has been in a planter in front of the house for years? (It took a beating during the winter of 2016 when a magnolia branch broke off from above it, and shaved off all the branches on one side. In other words, it would be transplanted with the good side facing out.) Or something else? Anyhow, those are my main two contenders. We’ll see. First the tree has to come down, then the stump ground out. As one thing leads to another, this will make a significant dent in my collection of homeless plants! So very excited!!!!!

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Wednesday Vignette – a random game



While seeing the struggles of people around me may chip away at my sense of security and tug at my heart, I still often feel strangely insulated from the realities of others. I empathize, yet I’m an outside observer.  I think one of humanity’s hallmarks is to wield denial with bravado, as a way to self protect. As in, “It can’t/won’t happen to me”. But, the older I get, the clearer it becomes – no one is immune. At some point or other, something WILL happen – to me, to my beloved, to family, to friends… whomever. Although attempts to reason is almost always part of coming to terms with life-altering events and progressions – other than as a sort of emotional balm, these judgements and post-rationalizations are rather meaningless. Because nobody is immune to Fate’s whims.

This past week, and over the past few months, I’ve seen that Frau Fortuna might have other plans than what I might reasonably have constructed as a logical possibility – based on what I thought I “knew”. Seeing this leaf, helplessly speared on a Hesperaloe shoot, reinforced that sometimes overwhelming sense of capricious futility and randomness of events – Fate’s great equalizer. We are all vulnerable to the whims of the world – anyone and everyone might – and will – fall victim to its twists and turns. Enjoy your loved ones while you can, don’t take what you have for granted, and – above all – don’t judge.

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Wednesday Vignette – messed up!

Those Holiday weekends always mess with my mind… until about 5 pm today, even though calendared events explicitly told me it was Wednesday, I subconsciously thought for sure it was Tuesday.  Now, over six hours later, I finally have a chance to post something – with less than an hour left to go, before the clock strikes Thursday in our part of the world. My apologies to anyone who might have come looking for a new Vignette.

WordPress still has me in limbo. It seemingly refuses to acknowledge comments made on Blogger posts, (or maybe it’s the reverse – with Blogger not accepting WP’s input). And, since I’m at 99.9% capacity with WP server space, who knows if this week’s photo will even make it in. It’s a shot from a recent visit to Greg Shepherd, co-owner of the ever fabulous Xera Plants. He has several gorgeous Yucca linearifolias in his hell strip. Last winter’s yo-yoing and extensive deep freezes purportedly did some serious damage to the meristem of one of them, resulting in some of its normally radiantly straight leaves assuming  sinuous curves. This disturbance to the norm will aptly represent the annoying kink in my  own time warp this week. I’ll be back on track starting tomorrow.


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