Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Vignette - the pollinators have arrived!

I showed this huge, crazy Salvia (S. desoleana) for Bloom Day last week, noting that it didn't seem to be attracting pollinators. Well, how that has changed! This week bees, wasps and butterflies seem to hover around it constantly. One big bee has been vigorously defending "his" flowers - even against me - so much so that I couldn't get a picture of him.



In honor of last week's celebration of #PollinatorWeek, and because I think every week ought to be pollinator week, this is my image for Wednesday Vignette, hosted by the delightful Anna, of Flutter and Hum.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - June 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, that celebration of all things floral at May Dreams Gardens, has come and gone for the month of June. But I was traveling, so I'll caboose onto this event a few days late to document the blooms at Longview Ranch this month.

First things first: this monster Salvia, S. desoleana, is finally blooming with big, wild, flower heads and tiny tongues of pale lavender.
So far, I haven't seen pollinators enjoying the blooms, but wouldn't you think they would make a beeline to them?

Triteleia laxa is mostly forgiven for its messy, lax leaves (could that be the genesis of the name?) when it blooms with such glorious blue abandon. (Note to self: relocate this lovely native bulb to a place where its foliage will be hidden by other plants next summer.)

It's lavender time, and several plants added years ago as space fillers still earn their keep when they bloom.

Variety names are long-since forgotten, but their scent lives on.


Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' has been putting on a show for several weeks.

The neighbor's Bignonia brightens up the north end of our lot. It's a welcome hit of orange in that mostly utilitarian part of our backyard. (correction: this is Campsis radicans. Seems I mixed up my orange-flowered vines.)

Then, when you come around the corner to our back patio, this Clivia miniata is doing its bit to promote the appreciation of green and orange together.

Out in the sun again, Kniphofia 'Timothy' is just beginning to bloom.

The scent from two plantings of Trachelospermum jasminoides drifts in through our open windows this time of year.

Rosa 'Darlow's Enigma' is coming back strong from a major pruning last year.

Libertia peregrinans 'Bronze Sword' is loving our early heat.

Feverfew fills in a dry spot under the big Ceanothus.

Lewisia columbiana var. rupicola is still blooming after all the other showier Lewisias have finished.

My former mystery plant, the mullein (Verbascum thapsis) is blooming way up in and under the Trachycarpus fortunei.

Lastly, I'm sorry to report that Halimium ocymoides isn't long for this world. Most of the plant died back and has been pruned back, but I had to share and enjoy these last few yellow blossoms before reluctantly giving it the coup de grace.


Although I'm late for June's Bloom Day, it is celebrated at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month. Pay Carol a visit there to find out how to join in.

Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Coming next weekend: the ANLD garden tour

This past week, I enjoyed a preview of the 11th annual Association of Northwest Landscape Designers Garden Tour happening a week from today, on Saturday June 20, from 10am to 4pm.

If you've been thinking about a yard makeover, are curious about how a professional Landscape Designer can help you achieve a beautiful outdoor space, or if you just like to enjoy Portland gardens, then this is the tour for you.
Eight beautifully designed gardens run the gamut from modern spaces,

- to shady glens,

- to accessible gardens designed for aging in place,


- to wonderful food garden options. There's literally something for everyone on this tour.

In one garden, an admitted plant collector shows how a diverse group of plants can be unified and celebrated.

In another, beautifully-designed details make a simple path special.


Cor-ten steel figures large in one of the gardens, both for food and ornamental plantings.


Clever plant choices light up a shady spot in this garden.

And with Portland weather always a factor, each garden designer has provided spaces to enjoy the sun and the shade.


Containers are a big feature of some of the gardens, and they range from lush and full,



 - to xeric interpretations, perfectly placed in the sun.

For those that like things on the wild side, there's even a meadow, complete with leaping salmon.

Tickets for the self-guided tour are $25, and proceeds benefit the ANLD scholarship program for
aspiring landscape designers. While they last, tickets are available from these independent garden centers: Al's Garden Center - Sherwood location, Cornell Farm, Garden Fever!, Gardener's Choice and Portland Nursery - check before you go. They're also available at the first and last garden on the tour - details here.


Between the ANLD designers and the generous sponsors, they have put together a delightful summer garden tour for your pleasure. So far, the weather is looking perfect for next weekend -  I hope you enjoy the tour as much as I did!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

By George, I think I've got it!

This year's mystery plant.

Over the past few years I've had a few mystery plants in my garden. Usually they're small, but the two pictures below are from several years ago, when I had some kind of thistle, I believe. In true biennial fashion, it grew a lush rosette for the first year, then began to create a flower stem the following year.


Despite submitting it to the Master Gardener forum and getting lots of input from gardeners and bloggers, I never learned what it was. I was warned not to let it set seed, so I didn't. But those wide, hooked leaves were magnificent!
Now there's another large plant in my garden I've been admiring and wondering about. I first noticed it in the garden last summer. Here it's providing an out of focus backdrop to the early blooms of Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'.
I was entranced by the huge, soft, gray-green leaves and allowed them to stay as they nestled around two Lilium columbianum.

Summer turned into fall and the rosette persisted.
 Those fuzzy, upturned leaves pleased me every time I saw them.

I loved the contrast of the leaves with the bright, fresh green of Sedum 'Angelina'.

As winter turned into spring, the bottom leaves got a little chewed up but the plant thrived.


This spring, the plant began to develop a stem. And looking at online resources, I'm pretty sure I have this big guy identified: Verbascum thapsis.

Yes, of course it's a weed, and in some places it's considered invasive. But on the plus side, it does have some medicinal uses.

At this point in its life cycle, the oldest leaves near the bottom of the plant aren't retaining that beautiful fuzziness and gray-green color.


But they more than make up for it in sheer size.

It's giving the Columbia lilies a run for their money: who will win the airspace race?

Judging from online pictures, the bloom is probably going to bump into the underside of the Trachycarpus fortunei leaves as it matures. And then I'll need to be sure it doesn't set seed.
But it's kind of a cool problem to have.

I'm curious - do you allow big mystery plants to stay for a while in your garden?