Foliage Follow-Up Day – November 2017

Today was a much better day for outdoor photography than yesterday. Sure, it’s still wet, but it’s nowhere near the kind of deluges we had then. Not a whole lot to see out there right now. Parts of the yard are in the midst of transformation, so looks even more messy than usual. (Which can be hard to grasp, for those that have ever visited) Because I’m doing it myself, it takes a while, and most of it is limited to available time and muscle power. But, as long as I can recognize the progress, I’m happy! Seriously – a lot has happened in the last few weeks. Credit also to Jason, who truth be told, came and lifted several larger things that will now grace his own garden. I’m happy to see my treasures find a good new home.

Okay, foliage… here we go:

I feel like I always post this one, but how could I not? It has one of the most beautiful leaves I know – especially when it rains.

This little heath is a new acquisition – Erica arborea ‘Golden Joy’. A Hellebore leaf in the foreground.

A Dryopteris pulcherrima patiently waiting for a spot in my newest fern table. Need to get on it and finish that. As temperatures drop, it gets harder and harder to recognize whatever dwells in all those little waiting 4″ pots.

An Eryngium pandanifolium which lived out the summer in a pot.

Another pot containing Canna, Nandina filamentosa, and a few other things – like that notorious wire vine (Muhlenbeckia axillaris). You’ve got to keep your eye on that thing – it spreads like mad. But it’s so cool, I keep it.

Here is a closeup of the Canna leaf. The variety is ‘Durban’. Judging from both its size and the colors, it clearly didn’t get enough sun, but I have to say I love its current palette. Totally scrumptious!

The fantastic leaves of Arisaema ringens are starting to yellow. Love this plant!

Someone has been nibbling on my Hart’s tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium). It actually looks kind of cool, with those brown margins…

One of my newest faves for a spot in morning sun – Scrophularia auriculata ‘Variegata’. As if those leaves weren’t enough, this thing has tall red flowers, and looks amazing combined with red grasses.

A little fall vignette, involving Red thyme, a tiny Sempervivum rosette, and some fallen leaves.

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ in fall regalia, living up to its name.

A pain-in-the-ass-plant that tends to be a bit invasive, but I love those leaves, as well as the hot orange berries, so I leave it be; Arum italicum ‘Pictum’. Speaking of berries – I’d better get those out of there, or I will have even more of them come spring!

Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ in a wall planter with aging Hakonechloa ‘All gold’.

I’ll end with the lichen covered bark of my beloved Magnolia grandiflora. It looks especially good when wet.

Head over to Pam at Digging who hosts this fun meme, to see what other lovelies are catching attention this month in gardens worldwide. Thanks for hosting, Pam!


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Bloom Day – November 2017

This particular Bloom Day happens to fall on one of the crappiest, wettest days so far in our fair city. It is really a godawful day to venture outside! But, I braved the rain and mud for about five minutes, to get at least a few photos to share. Please forgive me for the mostly – at best – mediocre photos.

White Cyclamen (C. hederifolium ‘Album’) poking its cute little head out from one of my fern tables.

Newly planted Fuchsia speciosa in a planter with an Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Showy Lanterns’ and Leucothoe axillaris ‘Red Lips’. If it all survives the winter, it should look pretty cool next year. The Fuchsia looks a lot more pink in the photo than it actually is. It’s a reddish orange, and the petals have green tips. I love it. It is also one of the parent Fuchsias to that super cool, crazy-colored Fuchsia ‘Neon tricolor’, if that gives you a better indication.

Irresistible buds on a baby Mahonia x media ‘Hope’. Soon they will turn into yellow hummingbird feeders. Love the reddish stems on the leaves!

Camelia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ in full November bloom – here with a Pyrrhosa and Libertia grandiflora.

A beautiful, cherry red Abutilon that I have forgotten the name of, is still pumping out blooms. This is a remarkable plant in that it survived our last winter, outside in a pot. I forgot to bring it in! Because I got so busy I had no time to spend in my own garden until late summer, and neglected to clean it up, and get rid of it. So glad I didn’t! So, the moral of the story, my friends, is that sometimes procrastination has its own rewards. All of a sudden, around mid summer, I noticed it was shooting up new foliage, with new buds. As you can imagine, I was thrilled! Terrible photo, but both my camera and I are still drying out from our first venture out there, so you will have to make do with this one.

A sweet friend dropped off this Eupatorium capillifolium ‘Elegant feather’ a few weeks ago. It is still in its little #1 nursery pot, but blooming its heart out. Because my last one died last winter, I think I will give this one a bigger pot, and keep it somewhat protected in the shed, and plant it out next spring. Really love this one – it has the most amazing, ferny foliage!

By now, more “seed head” than” flower”, but this completely unadulterated shot of Datisca cannabina will give you an idea of how wonderful our weather is today. That is the actual color of the sky. So thankful we have a roof over our heads.

The promise of days to come – buds on the Stachyrus salicifolia!

The dropping temperatures seem to affect the color of little Rosa ‘Green Ice’ which usually sports greenish white flowers with a hint of pink. Right now I see no green at all – in fact, it matches the Persicaria affinis next to it.

Awfully fuzzy photo, but you can at least sense the color shifts in the Hot Cocoa rose. I appreciate its longevity and perseverance so much – it is still putting out blooms! And some have turned to orange rose hips!

Not a lot of blooms, but still… Zauschnerias (Epilobium) keep going and going.

I intentionally did not deadhead the flowers of Leucanthemum ‘Real Galaxy’, because I kind of liked the contrast of these black buttons. (Even though right now – drenched as they are – they kind of look like over-ripe mushrooms.)

A NOID Fuchsia magellanica that was one of the first things I planted in this garden. It has weathered several tough winters, and just keeps outdoing itself every summer. Total rock star plant, IMHO. Once the first frost hits, it will be done, so it’s a good frost gauge.

The bejeweled Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata’ looking pretty against the neighbor’s Maple.

Another Zauschneria that needs to be rescued and moved. Right now, it is smothered by a Senecio (Brachyglottis) greyii, and desperately sending up stalks where it can.

The Viburnum opulus that came with the garden (I’m unsure of which variety it might be) is covered in red berries. Both birds and I like them. This Viburnum will get a pretty severe pruning this winter, as it is in the process of popping out our fence panels. That will keep me busy during the slow season, I suppose…

Another berry shot.

Finally – I had to severely crop this image, and it is still hard to see, but trusty old Magnolia grandiflora is still sporting flower buds high up in its leafy dome. It suffered quite a bit of damage from last year’s snow loads, and you can still see broken off twigs and branches with dead leaves here and there. I removed what I could with the help of a ladder and an anchor hook, but there is still plenty left that I can’t reach.

Mosey on over to May Dreams Gardens to see what is abloom in other gardens the world over. Thanks for hosting, Carol – I apologize for my spotty attendance this summer – I think I have a half finished post from May that I still might finish one day. It was all downhill from there, but all better now.


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Wednesday Vignette – one of the bright sides of fall

I gotta tell you – I think Dogwood trees are lovely. They are especially so when they lose their leaves and you can see their branching structure, and those wonderful little onion-dome buds. These were spotted in a client’s garden against the bluest skies we’ve seen this week. I just have to share – they make me happy!

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Speaking of happy – Happy Birthday to my sweet mother! I hope the universe grants you sun and blue skies on your day too, Mom! Love you!

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Wednesday Vignette – changing directions

If you read my last post, you know why I was here – in broad daylight. Not that I minded – there are beautiful vistas wherever you look, at Lan Su. And this week, I have felt an urgent need to focus my eyes on beauty and my hands on creating it. When there is turmoil in the world, my garden is better for it.

I’ll let the winding path of Lan Su instill hope of a better week ahead, for the world. The Japanese avoid straight paths and use directional changes so as to evade evil spirits. I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that notion originated in China, which might explain why we’re seeing the same thing here, in the Chinese Garden. So many other things we know as “Japanese”, did. Of course no one knows where a change of turn might lead, but the direction we’re going clearly isn’t working.

On that note, I wholeheartedly agree with Betty White: “My thoughts and prayers are with the Senators that voted down gun control. My thoughts: do your job. My prayer: you’re voted out of office.” Funny thing is, judging from early election results from around the country, we really are making some turns from our current trajectory. Maybe not enough turns to fully stand up to the NRA, but at least enough to pause and reflect. I hope.

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Glimpses from the 2017 Ninth Moon Floral Design Showcase at Lan Su

I have my sweet friend William to thank for the privilege of attending the opening night of this floral extravaganza. It’s an annually occurring event centering on the Chrysanthemum – the flower of the ninth lunar month – and taps into the talents of local floral designers who are invited to add their pizzazz and floral exuberance to the celebrations. The Chrysanthemum is celebrated as it signifies the arrival of autumn. The flower itself possesses health-giving, medicinal properties, and is thought to impart longevity to our lives. As such, it is a popular gift flower for the older set, and is often also enjoyed as a tea.

Lights, flowers, music, and glorious desserts made opening night a veritable party!

I showed up woefully unprepared to this visually spectacular event. Toting a dead camera without an extra battery pack, and a phone that was at less than 20%, . What can I say? Words can not properly describe how much I piss myself off sometimes. Just shrug, and do better next time, I suppose. I managed to use up those last 20% up snapping at least a few photos, but it was nowhere near how many I actually wanted to take. So, for your viewing pleasure, and to make up for my very own idiocy, I returned two days later (recharged camera in hand) to document my favorite displays for posterity. On that sunny afternoon, of course, the light differed dramatically from the magical illumination of opening night. Some arrangements were super tricky to photograph at all, but I did my best avoiding the worst of the solar glare.

The Lucky Dragon was the Jury’s Choice winner. I can see its appeal. The designers (Carlie Beck & Dylan Christiansen) told me they spent 80 hours putting it together. I believe it. It was excruciatingly studied, and technically difficult. This was a display of willful bending of plants’ and flowers’ natural forms transforming them into something completely different. Its makers were masters of pins, spray paint, and glue guns. The complexity of it all made me recall the highly contrived and complex Rikka arrangements I wrote about this summer. It was definitely impressive, but it wasn’t my favorite.

Here is an attempt at showing the whole dragon. The light wasn’t doing me any favors, but hopefully you can see what I mean about it being difficult.

Plants were picked apart, spray painted and reassembled. I bet those red leaves came from a Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’. There were also gold painted Foxtail ferns. Other than the moss and the green Chrysanthemums covering the base, I don’t think there was a single flower here that had been allowed to be its natural self.

The Jury’s Second runner up (the name of which, I have forgotten) was in stark contrast to the first – full of dynamic tension. If there was glue involved, it sure wasn’t showing. A large piece of worn wood, precariously balanced on a rock perched on blocks.

Behind the wood was a heavy bowl, in which sat a pillar, its front covered in Chrysanthemum.

Nestled in next to the rock, and underneath the wood, was a single Chrysanthemum flower. I liked this arrangement because it beautifully manifested that same exquisite sensibility that you often see in Japanese gardens, where all but one flower has been removed, in order to highlight the beauty of the one. This was a supremely elegant display, and one of my faves.

The third runner up was called Textures of the Moon. The hammered copper of the cymbal or gong, provided background to a simple, elegant composition involving driftwood, wool, mums, Spanish moss and Tillandsia. Obviously, I had some trouble getting this one to stick on film – the light was blinding!

Here, you can see a little bit better…

Okay – those were the jury choices. Everyone not on the jury, got a piece of paper and a pencil on which to scribble down their vote. Event volunteers and staff are probably tallying up the results as I write this – the closed the voting yesterday afternoon. Although I could very well understand the merits of each one, I didn’t vote for either of these. I’m going to post a few more photos of things I appreciated before I reveal my favorite.

This was probably the most bizarre of the displays. A mannequin covered in fluffy pompoms, flowers and butterflies. It was aptly named Cloud Walker. 

I loved seeing the different interpretations of the challenge. Some where complex, and highly detailed, whereas others were quite simple. Some where constructed with immaculate precision and control, others showed free, artistic abandon. Many were very tied to the idea and significance of ‘moon’, others had more liberated sensibilities. This little tray of tea offerings was probably one of the simplest. It made me smile.

Stringing up all these glass beads, and then contorting the wire to conform to the idea must have taken forever.

Here was a mandala like ‘moon’, with a light and a dark side. Funny – I have grown all of the plants in it – except for the Chrysanthemum – with varying success. Come to think of it, I really miss my Ornithogalum. They must have perished this last winter. They bloomed beautifully the first year, but I never saw them again. Sigh… Need to plant those again – I really like them!

This entire display was immensely controlled. My favorite part of it was the wires criss-crossing the green base.

Hard to tell from this photo, but the effect of the strung up Mums was lovely against the dark gray stone floor.

For some reason, I liked this one a lot. It was rather simple, but somehow effective, I thought.

See the recurring theme here? There were lots of circles…

There were Mums made of felted wool.

I thought this panel of felted wool netting was just beautiful!

Of course there were Mums on display outside in the gardens, too. Lots of them…

Seen like this, they are actually not too bad. A big difference from those sad little offerings at your neighborhood Freddie’s.

Is it just me, or why do we never see green Mums for sale with actual roots? I only ever see them as cut flowers…

Finally – THIS was my favorite! It was called ‘Reflections of a Bird Brain’. I found it clever, humorous, and incredibly well put together. The fact that it contained both ferns, grasses, and palm fronds probably didn’t impede its chances with me, either.

Its body was a colorful melange of feathery plants.

Here is a somewhat fuzzy close-up.


The scull was an actual bird scull, with starry, bicolored Mums for eyes.


Close-up shot of some of the plants and materials used in this design. I was intrigued to see luffa. Wonder what that blue fruit is…? It’s too purple to be Decaisnea – or Dead Man’s Fingers…

So much to admire!

Perched over a printed stream with rocks added for emphasis, this particular Bird Brain was scanning for prey with its head turned away from the people coming to see him. I loved that the artists (Lin Petrus & Theresa Macklin) added a mirror suspended from a branch, that reflected his face. Nice touch! After having cast my vote, this Bird Brain went home to charge her camera, so she could come back. (Glad I did.)


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Wednesday Vignette – creative cleansing

Received word the other day that yet another one of the great features of our neighborhood will be disappearing – or at least moving – to yet undetermined new digs. Delia – a collaborative of three metal artists cranking out fabulous and marvelous stuff (more on that here) have been notified the building they have been in for ages is being sold, and they have to evacuate. I’m mortified, and I imagine that emotion pales in comparison to what they are feeling.

These days, when every scrap bit of surface in Portland – occupied or not – is being repurposed for more polished and profitable use (usually condos), artisans and purveyors of things other than culturally appropriated cuisines and carefully curated boutique selections of everyday wares, find it very difficult to find affordable space to work out of. Especially when working at a scale where you need cranes to move things. Knowing full well that we too, were part of gentrification when moving here a dozen years or so ago – the reasons that made us move here are all but gone now. And therein lies the irony. The newest, elevated level of gentrification actually displaces the very thing that made Portland an intriguing place to live in, in the first place – the artisans and creatives. I will keep my eyes peeled for a space for the guys at Delia. If you live in Portland, I ask that you do to. Thank you.

Here is a massive dragon from this past spring. It can now be seen at various festivals around the country. It was built in one piece, and then cut it into pieces that would fit on trucks.

Here is a detail of its head. The tube would later be attached to a propane tank that would enable it to breathe fire.

Each identical scale was cut separately. There was an entire pallet with stacked scales in the shop when I visited.

This was my favorite part of the dragon when I first saw it – the golden ball in the grip of the massive claws. After the news this week, this last shot gets to represent the plight of communities dismembered by the forces of gentrification and greed. How does one battle a dragon of such might?



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Wednesday Vignette – the way of the world

Today, I did a much needed cleaning of my garden shed. Among other distractions, there was a fabulous spider web, which I tried hard not to disturb. It had already been disrupted by a now dead, wayward bee. Fascinated, I watched the dance of the living and the dead, that took place.

It really does reflect existence, doesn’t it? Some of us win, some of us lose. Someone’s gain is another one’s loss. I see it everywhere, and it’s starting to get to me. It would be nice if there was a happy medium, but instead it seems the polarization of extremes is bulking up and solidifying. “One” or the “other”…. whatever happened to “nuance” and “multifaceted”?

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