Wednesday Vignette – O say can you see…

Time wise, Spring in Oregon is behind where it usually is. It has been record-breakingly wet, and the water levels of the mighty Columbia river are alarmingly high. Driving west, on Highway 30 an early morning, the views were so breathtaking, I just had to stop and snap some photos. Budding trees are holding still, as temperatures are not quite yet where they need to be for them to leaf out, and the high river is splashing around their trunks. Things are indeed a bit off…

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We are now in the third month of the 45th presidency. I need to tell you something interesting. About two months ago, I had a phone conversation with a very clairvoyant friend of my mother’s, who lives on the east coast of the US. From afar, over the phone, she was checking my energy. As I was sitting by the kitchen table, engaging in the conversation, my legs were crossed under the table. “I can’t feel your left leg” she said after a few seconds. “Can you make sure you have both feet on the ground?” I just about died – how could she possibly sense that my legs were crossed????? Whatever your beliefs are in terms of spiritual matters – to me, this was amazing. How could she know?? Anyway, later that day, my mother told me of a conversation she had had with her friend – about the new administration in the White House. Her friend had said simply: “Yeah, it will be a long three months…” At this, my mother had jumped – as did I when I heard. Three months? How? What??  I was so excited – this gave me hope!  We both marked it down on our calendars. Now, two months have passed, and there is only one month left to go. With almost giddy anticipation I look forward to whatever it is our clairvoyant friend knows is coming. What does it mean? Will it change things for the better? For the worse? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I welcome the change. For one thing, it gives me something to look forward to. And, hopefully by then, the waters will have receded down to more predictable levels, and we can all draw a deep sigh of relief.

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Foliage Follow-up and belated Bloom Day – March 2017

Apparently, sometimes it is in ones favor to be fashionably late. Yesterday, on Bloom Day proper, it was so grey, wet, and miserable here, that I would have worried for my camera’s safety bringing it outside without an umbrella. This morning however, skies were blue, and we had the most wonderful, golden sunrise. There was a premonition last night…

… Mother Nature gifted us double rainbows, before disappearing beyond the horizon. Such a relief!

So – onto the garden… Let’s start in the  front, since that’s where I spent the first hour and a half this morning raking up magnolia leaves and debris. That poor thing… as you might know, it has had a rough year, but I am ready to tackle the challenge of restoring its good looks. Or, at least the framework of its former good looks.

Arum italicum ‘Pictum’ which tends to seed itself in the most impossible places is peeking out through the plentiful new growth of Lonicera ‘Baggesen’s gold’.

More of the Lonicera. I appreciate this plant so much – does great in shade (mind you, tends to stay more green), is evergreen, and tough as nails. I also love its dainty leaves as contrast to larger fare, like the Fatsia next to it.

The sun is shining on all the little narcissus in the parking strip. And they shine back!

The aforementioned Fatsia, putting out new growth.

The combined protection of a Great Southern Magnolia, and Fatsia, and the planting atop a well-draining stone wall, creates a cherry spot for my Daphne. It’s pretty much in the eye of the howling eastern winds sweeping through the Columbia Gorge. Even so, while Daphnes elsewhere take a fairly brutal beating, this one always seems to come through alright. It helps to have mighty neighbors. I included a few yellow leaves – the only damage it sustained this comparatively badass winter.

I know you’re supposed to cut your roses back around President’s Day, but I’ve never understood why. Besides, there is enough cutting going on in the current White House administration, so I’m taking the benevolent approach and leaving it be.  How could I not – the Hot Cocoa’s new growth is so… well – hot! Nothing like a little rebel gardening to make you feel better.

An eastward sunshine shot through the foliage of Fatsia and Fargesia robusta ‘Campbell’s form’ that was just planted last fall. All good there, it seems.

I have no idea what these are, but seeing those blushing beginnings of goodness has me kind of excited! I don’t remember planting iris there. Someone gave me starts of this iris-like, light yellow plant last year – it could be that. Eagerly waiting to see what it turns out to be.

Onto the back…

Buds of Clematis armandii ‘Appleblossom’. Last March, it was in full, magnificent bloom. But hey, I’m a gardener, and gardeners are a patient breed – right? It will get there, I’m sure!

Closeup of the buds.

Some kind of Hellebore, and one that I happen to like a lot. Not sure what name it goes by, but I love that color, and the greenish yellow edges on the petals.

‘Connie’ looking a little frostbitten, but not too much. She’s a sweetie!

I tend to like black flowers. I have several dark Hellebores, but this one is by far the darkest. That sad thing in the background is my beloved Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’. It would normally be in full, fabulous bloom by now, but as you can see, had a very rough time this year. Makes me sad – she was covered in buds when the first ice hit. She definitely put up a good fight, but I’m doubtful as to whether there is still life under all that brown foliage. There are a few green spots left, and I hope they will prove to be more than temporary.

Ostrich ferns starting to unfurl. I take this as a sign that it likes its new home better than the last one.

Some of us did not come out of this winter looking fresh and ready for a new season. But, even death is sometimes lovely. This is an asparagus that I planted next to a Manicot. Pretty sure both of them are toast, although I don’t know enough about either to be absolutely certain. Ever the optimist, I’ll leave them in place for the time being. You just never know…

The adorable foliage of a mini Alchemilla I just bought. It’s not even planted yet, but looked so cute this morning with raindrops in its cupped leaves. Sadly, the photo doesn’t capture that jeweled look, but you get the idea.

Molly the Witch is shooting through the earth with magic powers. Creeping Jenny is sporting new growth, too. I know lots of people absolutely abhor that plant, but I love it, despite its habit of wanting to eat everything around it. But, sometimes that’s the whole point, is it not?

Drimys lanceolata, and a lovely little thing called Hebe odora (anomala) ‘Purpurea nana’. Love how the reds work off of each other. These two are going in a planter together, along with some other goodies yet to be determined. I will be teaching a workshop on planter design at local hot shot nursery Joy Creek (where I also work a few days a week) on April 2nd, if you’re interested and able to come. Details on their website. Would love to see you there!

Super excited to see buds on my little Berberis jamesiana. It’s pretty much just a stick yet, but that thing will one day have absolutely gorgeous fruits!

Himalayan Maidenhair fern in full, frontal unfurl!!

Love the little pearly buds on my little miniature Elm.  Adorable! Better photos here!

The Edgeworthia is finally blooming! Learned a lesson this year. In previous cold winters, I have covered this plant up. It has always frozen its buds off, and I have gotten hardly any blooms on it. This year – which was worse than any other we’ve experienced since living here – I didn’t bother. Good thing – it seemingly sailed through it without any help from me. I imagine it was probably that extended existence under wet covers that damaged it those times. Better to leave the wind to dry them out than extended moisture, I guess. Good to know, and less work for me!

If anything, a few blooms are quite a bit sparser than in good years. Still, I’m grateful for what I got.

My Cryptomeria ‘Sekkan sugi’ has cones! Never mind that it fell over in the howling winds, and I had to tie it to the fence to keep it standing – it seems alive and well.

There are buds on Stachyrus salicifolia. Can’t wait to see all those green blooms open!

Crappy, out-of-focus shot, but it captures the light quality I was enjoying out there, this morning. Ahhhh…!

Love the sight of emerging Podophyllum pleianthum. This clump gets bigger and bigger each year – I love it! Eve – if you’re reading this – you’re at the top of my list for starts… 🙂

This year’s very first mouse on my Mouse plant. So cute!

Comptonia peregrina coming along with new growth.

Here is a closeup.

A bud on a little Grevillea that wintered over in my shed. Good thing – the one that was left out is long gone…

New red growth on Metapanax davidii. Yup, had to tie this one to the fence too, as it was falling over in the storms. The winds this winter were brutal.

The cool stripy Rush I bought at Hortlandia last year, seems to have survived. I’m pretty sure the green stuff on the right is an imposter – probably a seed from our native Rush that found a welcoming environment.

Finally – out of all my pitcher plants, this one came through looking the best. So glad I, or Father Winter, didn’t kill them!

Well Friends – that’s about it! For more fab stuff, please click over to Pam at Digging, and Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what else is surprising gardeners across our globe, in this wonkiest of weather years.

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Wednesday Vignette – so much water…

Anyone else tired of all the rain yet? It’s one of those things I feel I really should be grateful for. I mean, what would we do without it? Water is life… right? I know it is, and I know I should be careful what I wish for, but right now, I would just love a couple of benevolent, sunny days with temperatures in the mid-50’s or so. Maybe even 60’s… Just a couple of days would be nice. So the soil can recover from having that oversaturated mucky plasticity it currently has. And – pretty please – let those two days happen when I have no commitments or deadlines whatsoever. I wonder what the worms and all the other critters do when it is this wet. Do they move to higher ground? If so, in that sense, I suppose they are kind of the opposite from me. When it’s this wet, I go underground. Or, at least under cover.

This photo is from last winter, in Sweden. At least there, the sun came out, even if it was wet.

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Wednesday Vignette – weathered withering

It’s been raining a lot lately – a lot more cold, bone-chilling rain than in a normal year. February was the wettest one on record. Everything is soaked, the ground is muddy and soft, and – as evident by this wall I spotted the other day – even vertical surfaces are seemingly saturated. This old barn wall is in decay, its lower edge covered in moss. From the silvery hues of the aged wood up top, through the varying degrees of moisture saturation increasing downward with the aid of gravity, to the lively green of the moss (or is it lichen?) adorning the bottom – I thought it made a marvelously arresting vignette. How about that – decay on display.  🙂

 

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Wednesday Vignette – Ode to trees

This afternoon, after measuring a backyard, I noticed this deliciously old, gnarly tree down the street, silhouetted against the clear, blue sky. It has been there for much longer than I’ve been around. It has witnessed generations walk by, good times, bad times, war and peace. I imagine those wild, randomly twisting limbs somehow represent crossroads – moments of doubt, and disbelief – events so traumatic that they changed the direction of its growth.

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Bark gets damaged, sometimes branches break in the assault of storms – little by little the tree deteriorates. Death by a thousand cuts. I always wonder what they’ve seen, what kind of historical events took place in front of them, where they’ve stood, locked in place for centuries.

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Branches fall, roots get eroded – yet the trees remain where they are – in the same place they have been their entire existence. The oldest oak where I grew up has a circumference of about 25′. It is many hundred years old. Many human lives are contained within the span of its lifetime, and I can’t help but think how our human lives are on such a drastically smaller scale than these giants. Yet, we are a little bit like them.

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Most of us start dying from within, long before the decay is visible on the outside. The trauma we suffer from our surroundings chip away at our souls and our bodies (as an extension of our souls) – one little piece at a time. Each hurtful event in the world around us, serve to weaken us. They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I honestly don’t believe that. Do you?

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Like trees, we can remain standing long after we are gutted. But, we are definitely not stronger. Winds of hate, intolerance, fear, and blame erode the core of our humanity, and breaks down our resistance. Compassion, acceptance, tolerance and love do the opposite.

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New acquaintances and old addictions

So, I meant to report on the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, which is happening this weekend. My friends and former co-workers Gina and William, and I went up to see it on Thursday when it opened. This is our third year, and we always have a blast up there in the Big City. All good intentions aside – I was itching to instead report on what I found up there. Like any addict, I am drawn to my dealers – which in this particular instance mostly consisted of two fabulous independent nurseries; Sundquist Nursery and Keeping it Green Nursery. Right now, most of the goodies I bought are still wrapped in plastic and embedded in wood shavings so – not a whole lot to photograph quite yet.

SO: For the purpose of this post, I’m shamelessly borrowing images from the vast stores of the Internet. Although I didn’t ask permission, I tried to assign credit, and to link to the owners of the various images wherever I could.

My comrades in crime - William (with the coolest coat this side of the Rockies) and Gina. Both failed spectacularly in reigning me in. (Not that it was their job, but still...)

My comrades in crime – William (with the coolest coat this side of the Rockies) and Gina. Both failed spectacularly in reigning me in. (Not that it was their job, but still…)

I think I first met Nils Sundquist at one of the first YGP shows I attended. Turned out he spoke Swedish (which of course was fun) so every garden show after that, I made sure to pay him a visit. It helps that he also always has great plants. I didn’t get to see him this time around, but walked away with three perennials:

The first one was a total impulse buy. I blame Gina. She alerted me to it - it's a Gillenia trifoliata - and I had never heard about it before. The little orchid-like flowers remind me of those of Saxifrage 'Maroon Beauty', so I couldn't resist. Photo by Raell for My Garden.

The first one was a total impulse buy. I blame Gina. She alerted me to it – it’s a Gillenia trifoliata – and I had never heard about it before. The little orchid-like flowers remind me of those of Saxifrage ‘Maroon Beauty’. Naturally, I couldn’t resist. Photo by Raell for My Garden.

I've always liked Heleniums, and these scarlet red, compact ones pushed me over the edge. I just hope I can find them a spot with enough sun for them to want to live with me. Photo found on Pinterest, photographer unknown.

I’ve always liked Heleniums, and these scarlet red, compact ones pushed me over the edge. I just hope I can find them a spot with enough sun for them to want to live with me. Photo found on Pinterest, photographer unknown.

By the time I figured out what a Thalictrum was, I was already in love with them. This is Thalictrum delavayi 'Alba' - a wonderful woodland plant. Photo from Crocus.

In my early gardening days, by the time I ever figured out what a Thalictrum was, I was already in love with them. This is Thalictrum delavayi ‘Alba’ – a wonderful woodland plant with fluffy clouds of miniature flowers hovering on spindly stems. So very dainty! Photo from Crocus.

After Sundquist, we were off to the one place where I always fall apart, and all resolve is dissolved; the booth containing Keeping it Green Nursery’s fabulous selections.

Well, how about that - yet another fluffy cloud of white flowers - although these are a bit bigger than the Thalictrum. Other than that, they are pretty similar. I have coveted this plant since I saw it in a Swedish garden magazine that my father subscribes to for me, every Christmas. When they did a feature story on it, I just about died from pangs of lusty pain. Again, I will blame Gina - or more so, thank her. She came running with the unassuming bag of wood-shavings that held the magic within.

Well, how about that – yet another fluffy cloud of white flowers – although these are a bit bigger than the Thalictrum. Other than that, they are pretty similar. I have coveted this plant since I saw it in a Swedish garden magazine that my father subscribes to for me, every Christmas. When they did a feature story on it, I just about died from pangs of lusty pain. Again, I will blame Gina – or more so, thank her. She came running with the unassuming bag of wood-shavings that held the magic within. “Look – I found your Anemonopsis!!!!!” And that, my friends, is when the levies broke. Photo from Dave’s Garden.

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Here is a closeup of Anemonopsis macrophylla. It is so unbelievably beautiful… Photo borrowed from Swedish seed company Impecta. The Swedes by the way, have a wonderful name for this plant – Porslinsanemon. It translates to Porcelain Anemone.

 Keeping it Green always have a good selection of Arisaemas - or Snake head lilies. I fell for this particular one with the silver streaked leaves; Arisaema thunbergii 'variegatum'. Such irresistible foliage, don't you think? Photo pilfered from Keeping it Green's website.


Keeping it Green always have a good selection of Arisaemas – or Snake head lilies. I fell for this particular one with the silver streaked leaves; Arisaema thunbergii ‘variegatum’. Such irresistible foliage, don’t you think? Photo pilfered from Keeping it Green’s website.

Here is another one I blame Gina for; über-sweet Calochortus tolmiei - a California native that looks like a tiny, hairy tulip. What's not to love? I had instant flashback to my little blue-eyed tulips, Tulipa Photo by the California Native Plant Society.

Here is another one I blame Gina for; über-sweet Calochortus tolmiei – a California native that looks like a tiny, hairy tulip. What’s not to love? I had instant flashback to my little blue-eyed tulips, (Tulipa humilis alba coerula oculata). I just might have to plant those near each other…  Photo by the California Native Plant Society.

Can one ever have too many Erythroniums? Well clearly I do not yet have enough. Erythronium multisc

Can one ever have too many Erythroniums? Well clearly I do not yet have enough. Erythronium multiscapoideum is nothing short of adorable. Photo by the Alpine Garden Society.

I have a fondness for black flowers. There is a slight chance that Fritillaria affinis might turn out yellow with a dark checker pattern instead, but I took a chance. Photo by Pacific Horticulture.

I have a fondness for black flowers. There is a slight chance that Fritillaria affinis might turn out yellow with a dark checker pattern instead, but I took a chance. Photo by Pacific Horticulture.

Sweet little Jeffersonia dubia proved irresistible - especially after Gina figured out that its new foliar growth is red. Wow!

Sweet little Jeffersonia dubia proved irresistible – especially after Gina figured out that its new foliar growth is red. Wow! Photo by North American Rock Garden Society.

Here are the flowers fully opened. So lovely - and the leaves are cool too! Photo from Keeping it Green Nursery, via Plant Lust.

Here are the flowers fully opened. So lovely – and the leaves are cool too! Photo from Keeping it Green Nursery, via Plant Lust.

I've wanted a Paris for years. Go figure... Keeping it green had three different kinds.

I’ve wanted a Paris for years. Go figure… Keeping it green had three different kinds. “Which one did you choose?”, I hear you ask. Why, all of them, of course. I couldn’t tell from the photos which one I liked the best, so I figured I would try them all. This is Paris polyphylla. (You’re right – it really IS time for an intervention…) Photo from Himalayan Voices.

Here, the super-skinny spidery petals show up a little better. Photo from Plant Delights.

Here, the super-skinny spidery petals show up a little better. Photo from Plant Delights.

This is a smaller variety - Paris p. thibetica. It only gets about a foot tall, as far as I can tell from various websites. I like the bright yellow flower. Photo from Decoy Nursery.

This is a smaller variety – Paris p. thibetica. It only gets about a foot tall, as far as I can tell from various websites. I like the bright yellow flower. Photo from Decoy Nursery.

Yet another Paris - this is P. tetraphylla, with only four leaves.

Yet another Paris – this is P. tetraphylla, with only four leaves. Photo from Wikimedia.

Last one from Keeping it Green was another floriferous little beauty called Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'. Photo by Jari Särkkä.

Last one from Keeping it Green was another floriferous little beauty called Ranunculus aconitifolius ‘Flore Pleno’. Not sure why I’m so drawn to all these dainty, sheer, white-flowering things, but it could be an urge to recreate the restorative beauty of this year’s massive Mt Hood snow pack. Spending time on our mountain this winter has proven marvelously healing to my soul. Even though I’m getting ready for spring, I don’t really want it to end. Photo by Jari Särkkä.

Well, apparently this is the year where I will fully embrace my shade.  How to fit it all in, I honestly don’t know, but I will do my best. If nothing else, a test garden is a test garden, however small. In case of a worst case scenario, I can always pass a few of them onto Gina, since she is the one who got me into trouble in the first place.

So, are we done? Well not quite… Three more – then I’ll call it good!

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Love the look of Eremurus (Fox tail lily). I only bought one, but the yellow ones I have have been multiplying nicely over the years. I hope the white one will too. Photo from Crocus.

Double white lily Lilium Polar Star

A couple of double white oriental lilies that looks a lot like this Lilium Polar Star, but was named Carolynn. Photo borrowed from Garden Photos.

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Lastly – couldn’t resist the chartreuse threads that make up the Muppet-like Platycladus orientalis ‘Franky Boy’. I have wanted to add more small conifers to my garden anyway, and this one is a good one. Photo by the Conifer Society.

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Wednesday Vignette – what dwells beyond

fullsizeoutput_927Those who know me, know that I have a special place in my heart for old, rusty things. This old cart caught my eye at a recent visit to Joy Creek Nursery. It is deliberately planted in a carpet of Sedum ‘Angelina’, its chartreuse color glowing through the ruptured, rusted-through surface. Although one can see the green of the Sedum shine through from the other side – without the contrast of the disintegrating top, it would not have been half as remarkable. Once again, I am reminded of the importance of juxtaposition and contrast – in life as well as with visual matters. They strengthen each other. If it weren’t for the bad days, we wouldn’t fully recognize the good days for what they are. Today was a sweet blend of reunion, camaraderie, new experiences, and fun. It was a good day.

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