Wednesday Vignette – contrast

This week’s photos are from my friend and fellow garden blogger Tamara’s (of Chickadee Gardens) new home. To say that she and her husband David have accomplished a lot during the year since they moved there, would be the understatement of the year. I’m in near disbelief over the stuff they have accomplished, and at the breakneck speed¬†they’ve done it. But, don’t take my word for it – go check out her blog instead. She’s done a fabulous job documenting it. And I finally got to see it in person!ūüôā

A longer post will eventually follow, but for now I want to pull out a couple of shots that caught my eye when I was going through the¬†photos from my fun¬†adventure. Both are examples of contrast – one of my favorite design considerations. I know I’ve talked about contrast before in my vignettes, but it’s just so damn powerful when done right. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be “done”. Half the time its accidental, and only really has to be noticed – which doesn’t at all take away from its power to heighten suspense, increase relational tensions, enhance and suppress both color and texture – all the while¬†excite our sensory perceptions.

 

Moss and succulents... what a marvelous contradiction! And absolutely beautiful, to boot! It's not what you'd expect, and certainly shouldn't really work. And, yet it does. I really loved this!

Moss and succulents… what a marvelous contradiction! And absolutely beautiful, to boot! It’s not what you’d expect, and certainly shouldn’t really work. And, yet it does. I really loved this!

Here, a columnar apple tree is waiting for its forever home, and looking artistically composed against the industrial sleekness of the corrugated steel, while doing so. The rigid linearity of one, offsets the gnarly forms of the other. If you're looking for winter interest, look no further.

Here, a columnar apple tree is waiting for its forever home, and looking artistically composed against the industrial sleekness of the corrugated steel, while doing so. The rigid linearity of one, offsets the gnarly forms of the other. If you’re looking for winter interest, look no further.

Come to think of it, the preposition ‘contra’ means just that – ‘in opposition to’, or ‘against’. Whether verbal or visual, contrast adds that hidden dimension to our perceptions that brings drama and excitement to what we see and experience. It thrills me every time!

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So much to be thankful for – Thanksgiving 2016

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Here it is again – one of my two favorite Holidays in my adopted country – Thanksgiving. (The other one is Halloween, but you probably knew that already.) I guess it would be easy to just focus on the food, but I always like to take a moment and write down all the things I have to be grateful for. I suppose this is something we all should do more often, but hey – here is an entire day set aside for gratitude, so here it is – not necessarily in any particular order:

  • The goofballs that make up my family. The kids are growing up to be quite wonderful young men, and my husband is the sharpest mind, and the kindest, most patient soul I know. Every time I see him, I smile. My mother is coming for a visit next week, and I honestly can’t wait. The rest of my extended family live a world away, and I don’t see them often enough, but I’m entirely to blame for that. I’m the one that moved.

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  • Our health. Endlessly grateful that there are no major problems with any of us, and that, if something were to happen, a doctors-visit isn’t going to break the bank. Sadly, I also have reason to be grateful that our insurance isn’t going to go away when the newly elected republicans drag¬†Obama Care over the coals. Jeez, I’m still in pained disbelief over what we allowed to happen.
  • Friends – what would I do without them? They ground me, laugh and cry with me, stretch my perceptions, and teach me new things. And I constantly marvel at the wide reaching range¬†of talents represented by them. They make my life richer.
  • We have a roof over our¬†heads and food on our¬†table. Driving by the ragged tents lining one of our city’s sidewalks during a downpour,¬†drives that privilege home, time and time again.
The boys set the table.

The boys set the table. 

  • Grateful that I have options. Especially once decades worth of civil rights developments are swiftly dismantled by the administration elect. I know the more honorable thing to do would be to stay and work toward stalling the destruction, and curbing the pending devastation of society, but good grief – the idea of leaving can be¬†so tempting. Again, I am grateful¬†to have that option, even if I don’t exercise it. Yet.
  • I’m glad that I can tell the difference between a Muslim terrorist, and a Christian supremacist. Guess what? There is no difference!
  • I’m thankful that I live in a state whose voting majority¬†go blue. For all Oregon’s¬†faults, this is a definite bonus – even if the areas outside the city limits are as red as Idaho.
  • Another bonus I cherish is that it rains here. We’ve had¬†torrential downpours for most of the day, today. Sure, it’s dark and awfully wet, but considering the alternative, I love it!
  • I’m so grateful for my big, soft, orange tabby. How is it that I can love that punkish gardening pal¬†of mine¬†so much?
So much to love.

Here he is snoozing – a much deserved nap after cavorting around outside.

  • The flowers that Anissa gave me were the prettiest thing on our table this year. Thanks, Anissa!
Such pretty flowers!

Such pretty flowers!

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  • Forever thankful for the comic genius that is my husband. He’ll make me laugh until one of us dies.
  • On that note, I’m also happy that I have the ability to ¬†laugh in the face of adversity.
  • And always, always, I am happy that I can go outside. Whether to the artifice of a garden, or a visit to Nature herself doesn’t matter. It always soothes and heals. Don’t know about you, but I’m going to need a lot of that green therapy over the next few years.

 

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Wednesday Vignette – positivity and hope

It’s important to focus on the positive. From an instant gratification point of view, it means things like this:

Witch hazel flowers

The ribbon-like tassels of a witch hazel competing with its yellowing leaves.

Witch hazel flowers

Like little suns exploding in the darkness.

Witch hazel flowers

A much needed burst of light.

And, from a purely hopeful angle, it means this. A long shot worth a shot, methinks. I hope you agree!

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Post-election Blooms, Pods and Foliage – November 2016

A garden is a good reminder that life goes on, outside of our human drama. And, it its a good place for demons to disperse, and some semblance of sanity to be restored. I spent some time putzing around out there this weekend, and, I have to say, it was good for both heart and mind, despite the drizzle. Check out other distractions from this dreadful situation we’re in, over at May Dreams Gardens, and Digging.

Zauschneria, Brachyglottis greyii, and Eucalyptus. The Euca was planted as a 4" annual two years ago. I guess I'm grateful it's surviving, but I keep hacking it back. Since I expected it to be a temporary joy, I didn't think to give it ample space. So, it is doomed to live out its life as a hard pruned shrub.

Zauschneria, Senecio (or nowadays Brachyglottis) greyii, and Eucalyptus. The Euca was planted as a 4″ annual two years ago. I guess I’m grateful it’s surviving, but I keep hacking it back. Since I expected it to be a temporary joy, I didn’t think to give it ample space. So, the poor thing is doomed to live out its life as a hard pruned shrub. I like its blue, fragrant foliage though – it’s great in arrangements! As is the Senecio, by the way. It looks fantastic with ‘Hot Cocoa’ roses.

Next to the Zauschneria, the Myrtle flowers have mostly been transformed to berries.

Next to the Zauschneria, the Myrtle flowers have mostly been transformed to berries.

There are a lot! Last month, I had just discovered that Myrtles and berries. Someone mentioned that they are edible, so I tried one. They aren't exactly tasty, but do have an astringent taste reminiscent of juniper berries. I'm tempted to see what happens if I try to flavor vodka with it. Maybe it would turn gin-like?

There are a lot! Last month, I had just discovered that Myrtles and berries. Someone mentioned that they are edible, so I tried one. They aren’t exactly tasty, but have an astringent taste rather reminiscent of juniper berries. I’m tempted to see what happens if I try to flavor vodka with it. Maybe it would turn gin-like?

There is an occasional flower left on the shrub, too. Covered in cobwebs, of course.

There is an occasional flower left on the shrub, too. And holding up cobwebs, of course.

Here is the homesteader of that particular web.

Here is the homesteader of that particular web.

Still only a tiny shrublet , but it yields promise - there are buds on my Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'!

Still only a somewhat scrawny, 2′ shrublet , but it yields promise – there are flower buds on my Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ or Silver tassel bush, as it is also called. ¬†I think the leathery leaves actually are supposed to look like that – as if somewhat affected by leaf curl.

The seeds in my beloved Magnolia grandiflora seed pods glow like red little jewels.

The seeds in my beloved Magnolia grandiflora seed pods glow like red little jewels.

I'm glad I didn't cut back these mini gladiolus, as their seed pods are kind of cool.

I’m glad I didn’t cut back these mini gladiolus, as their seed pods are kind of cool.

And, I never before realized how decorative the pods of the Anisacanthus can be.

And, I never before realized how decorative the pods of the Anisacanthus can be. Like something one would find¬†dangling from Empress Josephine’s ear lobe.

Saying goodbye to the lovely Stewartia, whose autumn show is over, and now sports these cute little pods against the blue of the sky. It is going to go live in my friend Jason's garden where it will enjoy a lot more space to do its magic.

Saying goodbye to the lovely Stewartia, whose autumn show is over, and now sports these cute little pods against the blue of the sky. It is going to go live in my friend Jason’s garden where it will enjoy a lot more space to do its magic.

Among the seed pods, there more promises of things to come. Here are Edgeworthia buds which, if spared too much icy cold, will put on one hell of a show come spring. Love this plant!

Among the seed pods, there more promises of things to come. Here are Edgeworthia buds which, if spared too much icy cold, will put on one hell of a show come spring. Love this plant!

An Aloe is forming a new bud. Need to remember to bring this one inside, before temperatures drop too far...

An Aloe is forming a new bud. Need to remember to bring this one inside and clean all those decaying leaves off it, before temperatures drop too far…¬†

A new acquisition; Aster 'Alma Potschke'. Just love that color, especially against the red of the Red 'Dragon' maple in the background.

A new acquisition; Aster ‘Alma Potschke’. Just love that color, especially against the red of the Red ‘Dragon’ maple in the background. Fall is so deliciously vulgar!

Starting the transition... Boy, am I late! Some not at all hardy, and some borderline that probably would have made it had they been in the ground. But hey - I'm a bit behind in my planting...

Another eye-grabbing, red-leaved lovely – Coleus Redhead. Starting the transition… Boy, am I late! Some not at all hardy, and some borderline that probably would have made it had they been in the ground. But hey – ¬†as always, I’m a bit behind in my planting, and I have more than I know what to do with.

I guess this is what happens when grown in a little too much shade; Eupatorium 'Elegant feather' is blooming in November!

I guess this is what happens when grown in a little too much shade; Eupatorium ‘Elegant feather’ is blooming in November!

Likely the last flower of the year for Coreopsis 'Red Satin'. This one has bloomed for months, despite still being confined to a pot.

Another thread-leaf plant. This is likely the last flower of the year for Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’. This one has bloomed for months, despite still being confined to a pot.

Another late bloomer; Fatsia japonica - a late season hummingbird feeder supreme, and bees an bumblebees too.

Another late bloomer; Fatsia japonica – a late season hummingbird feeder supreme, and bees an bumblebees too.

Such cool flowers!

Such cool flowers!

I guess the ants like it, too!

I guess the ants like its sweet nectar, too!

Also still trudging along; 'Hot cocoa' rose. I always marvel over how the color of those orange-red flower buds draw toward black.

Also still trudging along; ‘Hot cocoa’ rose. I always marvel over how the color of those orange-red flower buds draw toward black.

This was a huge surprise for me. Another beauty languishing in a pot, waiting for its forever home. A bigger pot than the gallon it came in, for sure, but still... I honestly didn't expect it to bloom. Clematis 'Wisley cream'.

This was a huge surprise for me. Another beauty languishing in a pot, waiting for its forever home. A bigger pot than the gallon it came in, for sure, but still… I honestly didn’t expect it to bloom. Clematis ‘Wisley cream’.

Here are the flowers, somewhat tattered by all the rain we've had. Really need to find this one a home, and let it lose!

Here are the open flowers, somewhat tattered by all the rain we’ve had. Really need to find this one a home, and let it lose!

This one has truly taken off  since the weather cooled a little; Woodwardia orientalis is putting out new fronds.

This one has truly taken off since the weather cooled a little; Woodwardia orientalis is putting out new fronds.

One of my absolute favorites - Podophyllum pleianthum - is starting its descent into dormancy. All I can do is to thank it for yet another good year.

One of my absolute favorites – Podophyllum pleianthum – is starting its descent into dormancy. All I can do is to thank it for yet another good year.

Canna 'Intrigue' is still developing new leaves. It hasn't bloomed yet (I don't think it gets enough sun), but I honestly don't mind. It's the leaves I'm after.

Canna ‘Intrigue’ is still developing new leaves. It hasn’t bloomed yet (I don’t think it gets enough sun), but I honestly don’t mind. It’s the leaves I’m after.

Canna 'Cleopatra' DID bloom - which was nice - but same here. It's the leaves that set my heart aflutter - not the flowers.

Canna ‘Cleopatra’ DID bloom – which was nice – but same here. It’s the leaves that set my heart aflutter – not the flowers.

I'll end with a shot of the new growth of my baby hardy banana (Musa basjoo) planted a couple of months ago. I'm glad to see, it seems to like its less than ideal spot. I wish I had an entire month unencumbered by any other commitments to finish all the work I need to do, but I don't. So, random shots, and occasional smatterings of progress here and there, will have to make do - for now. :)

I’ll end with a shot of the new growth of my baby hardy banana (Musa basjoo) planted a couple of months ago. I’m glad to see, it seems to like its less than ideal spot. The Ribbon plant next to it has been thriving all summer, but needs to come inside for the winter. I wish I had an entire month unencumbered by any other commitments to finish all the work I need to do, but I don’t. So, random shots, and occasional smatterings of progress here and there, will have to make do – for now. Future posts will highlight what makes it through… ¬†:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday Vignette – itsy bitsy

Cobweb and YuccaArachnophobe alert!!! This week’s Vignette features our 8-legged friends, which weave their beautiful creations all over the place.

 

Spider

Spider

Spider web

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Wednesday Vignette – the unthinkable happened

I’m speechless. In fact, I can barely breathe. We all just got grabbed by the pussy. Tomorrow and beyond, we’ll no doubt be ass-raped. I can’t even verbalize my fear of the consequences of this election as they ripple throughout the world. Those who doubt the validity of democracy have had their skepticism justified. This was indeed a mega-fail – on so many levels. I’m scared. Really, really¬†scared.img_0176

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The many joys of Joy Creek

I live in an area blessed with an abundance of wonderful nurseries and growers. Those located outside of the city are worth visiting even if you’re not shopping for anything in particular, as they often have mature display gardens to allow your feet to wander, and your imagination to soar. For me, they provide an inspiring break from the exhausting, never ending, always evolving project that is my own garden. Simply put – even though time is scarce, it’s nice to get away. Given the chance, I will do all kinds of mental acrobatics in order to justify my outing. Two months ago, I visited Joy Creek Nursery – a nursery known for its stunningly extensive selection of Clematis, but also a major contender in the art of growing and purveying other interesting and often hard-to-find plants.

Joy Creek

I usually like to begin with a walk around the gardens, and this time was extra special, as I had my own personal guide – my friend Tamara of Chickadee Gardens, who works there – show me all her favorites. It was a beautiful morning, made all the more special in her delightful company.

With all the pathways winding through large drifts of grasses, shrubs, huge conifers and trees, it is easy to lose yourself among the mature displays.

With all the pathways winding through large drifts of grasses and perennials, shrubs, huge conifers and trees, it is easy to lose yourself among the mature displays.

Surprises are everywhere. I think this is an Eryngium pandanifolium. I had never seen one of that size before!

Surprises are everywhere. I think this is an Eryngium pandanifolium. I had never seen one of that size before – it is MASSIVE!

Eryngium pandanifolium

Here is a better photo of it.

Agaves and succulents

In addition to being an authority on Clematis, Joy Creek also carry a large number of Hydrangeas. Not sure I've seen a Hydrangea with leaves this color before - it's quite stunning!

In addition to being an authority on Clematis, Joy Creek also carry a large number of Hydrangeas. Not sure I’ve seen a Hydrangea with leaves this color before – it’s quite stunning!

Such deep rich color. Not sure which Hydrangea this is, but it is exquisite!

Such deep rich color. Not sure which Hydrangea this is, but it is exquisite!

Such an amazing shrub - Buddleja lindleyana.

Such an amazing shrub – Buddleja lindleyana.

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Not sure which Hebe this is, but I’m thinking it could be H. ‘Wingletye’…

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Some sort of Bupleurum, I believe!

This is a great place to see Clematis up close. This time of year, you will be able to tell which have the coolest seed heads.

This is a great place to see Clematis up close. This time of year, you will be able to tell which have the coolest seed heads. And, you can get ample ideas for how to display and grow them – rambling up shrubs or trees, among grasses, spilling over pots, and so on.

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What would fall be without Rudbeckias?

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And, the Heleniums are so bright and cheery!

Joy Creek Nursery

Many different grasses are tucked in along the way.

Few things are as lovely as fine-textured grasses contrasted with the fleshy bulk of Sedums. Such an effective combo!

Few things are as lovely as fine-textured grasses contrasted with the fleshy bulk of Sedums. Such an effective combo!

Don't you agree?

Don’t you agree?

Miscanthus flowers

Can’t get enough of Miscanthus in flower. This grass totally earns its keep!

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I think this is some kind of Panicum, or Switchgrass. A cloud of flowers carried high on vertical stalks.

I feel like I should remember the name of this fabulous grass, as it came with a story. Alas, it's been too long, and I have forgotten. I really love the textural contrast between it, and the Weigela.

I feel like I should remember the name of this fabulous grass, as it came with a story. Alas, it’s been too long, and I have forgotten. I really love the textural contrast between it, and the Weigela. First rate garden artistry!

Atlas Cedar arch at Joy Creek.

There are lots of fun touches throughout the gardens – like this arch created with the help of an Atlas Cedar.

I've wanted one of these Weeping Sequoias since we moved to Oregon. Back then, I posed the idea of planting a Dr. Seuss garden to my then little kids - followed by me promptly going off the deep end into my gardening obsession. Since then, I have planted a plethora of other Seussian plants, but not yet that one. By now, the kids have long since given up on my sincerity, and moved on to other things, like high school. Oh well... I still wonder if a quicker follow-through on the promise of a Dr. Seuss garden would have turned them into more avid lovers of gardening. I'm afraid I instead instilled in them  a sense of dismay over having lost any possibility of ball-playing space. I also know I created in them an aversion to the inevitable clutter caused by a plant addiction problem. I expect an intervention any day now...

I’ve wanted one of these Weeping Sequoias since we moved to Oregon. Back then, I posed the idea of planting a Dr. Seuss garden to my little kiddos – an act immediately followed by me going off the deep end into my gardening obsession. Since then, I have planted a plethora of other Seussian plants, but not yet that one. By now, the kids have long since given up on my sincerity, and moved on to other things, like high school. Oh well… I still wonder if a quicker follow-through on the promise of a Dr. Seuss garden would have turned them into more avid lovers of gardening. I’m afraid I instead instilled in them a sense of dismay over having lost any possibility of ball-playing space. I also know I created in them an aversion to the inevitable clutter caused by a plant addiction problem. I expect an intervention any day now…

I wish I could fit every tree I fall in love with into my garden. This √ľbercurly willow is too cool for words.

I wish I could fit every tree I fall in love with into my garden. This √ľber-curly Willow is too cool for words.

Suffering from severe plant lust...

Suffering from severe plant lust, over here…

Joy Creek Nursery

A path disappearing in the distance, beckoning you to explore it.

Armaria maritima or Sea thrift

Take your time – there is lots to see along the way. Here is a large tuft of Armeria, or Sea thrift.

From the beach, and on to the jungle.

From the beach, and on to the jungle.

Musa basjoo

A large stand of Bananas (Musa basjoo) always make me happy. Good thing I can grow them here, as I’ve yet to visit a tropical country. If I did, I probably wouldn’t come back.

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Abutilon megapotamicum

These Abutilon megapotamicum flowers are pure perfection!

I always enjoy the thready, red flowers of Persicaria.

I always enjoy the thready, red flowers of Persicaria.

Fuchsia bud

Fuchsias is another thing done exceptionally well at Joy Creek.

Caryopteris

This color of this Caryopteris made me gasp! So beautiful!!!

Loved all the textures in this vignette - fine, bold, weathered, round... So great!

Loved all the textures in this vignette – fine, bold, weathered, rounded… So great!

Gunnera mannicata

The flower of Gunnera mannicata is so otherworldly. I love the tiny orange specks in it. (Sorry, my botanical vocabulary is sorely lacking here…)

Eucomis

I imagine you can tell why this is called a Pineapple lily… right? (Eucomis)

Naturally, I spent some time looking through the many tables of assorted cool plants.

Naturally, I spent some time looking through the many tables of assorted cool plants.

Fern table

Saw these wonderful, inspiring Fern tables – a collection of shade plants assembled among rocks, driftwood, and moss on elevated concrete pavers. I LOVE this idea!!!

Fern table detail

Close-up.

Such fun little mini gardens!

Such fun little mini gardens!

This one even had a visitor!

This one even had a visitor!

So Рdid I buy anything, you ask? Well duh Рof course I did! In fact, I bought more than I actually currently have room for. But, fear not Рthings are coming OUT of my garden, so there WILL be room, before long. One of the funnest things that came home with me is a plant with the funny name of Scrophularia auriculata.

Scrophularia auriculata - close-up

Close up, it looks like this. Snapdragon-like red flowers on tall, airy tresses.

Scrophularia auriculata

Zooming out a little, you get a better idea of its height and structure. See the bumble bee buzzing around the buffet?

 

Here it is, seen from enough distance to appreciate its red companion plant. This combo did it for me. I have lots of red in my garden - both foliage and flowers. The Scrophularia will make a fine addition! :)

Here it is, seen from enough distance to appreciate its red companion plant. This combo did it for me. I have lots of red in my garden – both foliage and flowers. The Scrophularia will make a fine addition!ūüôā

And that, my friends, concludes our tour of Joy Creek. I had no idea it would take me this long to get around to writing it, but then again, life has been so tumultuous¬†lately. In retrospect I am happy it did take me this long, as it provided excellent distraction and well needed eye candy on this eve of the most bizarre and contentious election year in memory. One that also happens to be the first presidential election I’m allowed to vote in, since becoming a citizen. May the best woman win, I say! (And by that, I mean the “woman” – not the “bitch”, to quote our friend Bill Maher.ūüėČ )

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