Sunday, February 16, 2020

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - February 2020

It has been raining cats and dogs these past few weeks and I missed "official" Bloom Day yesterday, but the sun is shining now, so I went out to see what's blooming here at Longview Ranch.  It can take a little looking, but I'm happy to say blooms are emerging, though they can be small and often inconspicuous.

First up, the tiny flowers of Azara microphylla. They have a very light scent, and the honeybees are enjoying the fluffs of yellow


A big, NOID Epimedium with pretty yellow flowers.

More tiny yellow flowers are almost open on a young Acacia pravissima.

I can't ignore the only clump of daffodils in my garden, a past spring's small pot of Narcissus cyclamineus 'Tete-a-tete', put out to pasture.

Ribes davidii is a ground cover for me, but in early spring it has these little flowers.

More weird little blooms: Luzula sylvatica 'Aurea'.
 And more pink: Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Sizzling Pink', in fact.

Below the Loropetalum, a NOID Hellebore provides a nice color echo.

As in so many gardens, my snowdrops are the first ephemeral to emerge, and they last beautifully.

More long-lasting flowers: Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths' blooms are turning white and covering the ground beneath it, but the shrub is still a lovely sight.

Abutilon megapotamicum is back to blooming after a several-month break.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' is doing its best to prolong the holiday season.
This Rosemary had designs on the stop sign and needed to be cut back hard a year and a half ago. It rebounded nicely and is blooming with abandon this year.


Lastly, I'm dedicating this Bloom Day post to my sweet kitty Elvis, who left us unexpectedly just few days ago. Although he wasn't a garden cat per se, he enjoyed watching me out in the garden, and gave me an enthusiastic and loving welcome whenever I came back inside. This is a shot from shortly after he and Pearl came to live with us thirteen years ago, and I like to think he has gone to meet up with his old friend Pearl once again. They will always be in our hearts.

Bloom Day is celebrated by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, where she invites us to share what's blooming in our gardens each month on the 15th. Check out more flowers there from all over.

Happy belated Bloom Day!


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - January 2020

It's a new year and a new decade, but some of the same old reliable plants are coming through for January's Bloom Day at Longview Ranch.

In the back garden, Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths' is a happy camper, and so are our resident hummingbirds.
A few random blooms are showing on Loropetalum chinense var rubrum 'Sizzling Pink'. I love the way the new foliage provides a brilliant foil for those perfect pink flowers.

Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' is up to its old tricks. No scent yet, but I'll take those flowers.

A prostrate rosemary is brightening up a south-facing brick planter in the front garden.

Lastly, a NOID sarracenia has decided to bloom indoors. Maybe it likes the warmth, but I really have no idea why I actually have more flowers indoors than when it was outdoors for summer!

I'm joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens, where each month she hosts garden bloggers and their flowers from all over.

Happy Bloom Day, all!




Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday Vignette - What Will They Think of Next?

In the big box store on a hardware run, of course I had to check out the garden section.

Imagine my shock when I came across these specimens that profess they're "Boldly Going Where No Plant Has Gone Before." Indeed, but WHY?
Kosmik Kaktus? Not only are they probably not cactus (I think they may have been some species of Haworthia) but in my opinion they are anything but cosmic. Tragic is more like it. The partially-obscured verbiage on the card appears to say the coloring doesn't hurt the plant, but I'm not convinced—I'm cheering for the little green and purple guy in the front row that seems to have escaped complete coverage by the paint sprayer. He may just have a fighting chance.

Yes, I'm opinionated, and I believe these bizarre little novelties have no place in anyone's home. However, at $5.98, I bet they find their way under a few Christmas trees this coming week. Please do NOT tell me if you are one of the buyers!

What will they think of next?

Wednesday Vignette happens over at Flutter and Hum each week. Check out what Anna is up to there!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

My future community garden?

Near our Astoria house is a former elementary school, Captain Robert Gray School, that still houses the Port of Play daycare/preschool and some city school administrative offices. On the grounds of the school is a large fenced area that was probably some kind of sport court back in the day. But now, it's the site of a thriving and amazingly lush community garden. 
On a walk by last week, I finally let myself into the garden to have a good look around at their operation. Although I've only ever been a member of one community garden, I  love exploring any garden to see what's growing and the way they're managed.
The first thing I realized is that all these beds have been created on top of a hard paved surface. The beds were wood, but they were surrounded with two sizes of stacked concrete blocks (for strength? for insulation?) I wonder how the beds drain?

Despite being so the late season, many of the beds were filled with produce.

This colorful combo begged to be put in a vase.
I was in awe of the huge pile of compost available for the gardeners.
 Someone had recently harvested these gorgeous beets, but why had they left them on the walkway? I so wanted to give them a home in my vegetable soup!

One enterprising gardener had built themselves a rolling bed cover in two parts. I admired the simple design but I wondered where it went after it had to be removed in spring.

The construction was very basic, but it fitted and rolled perfectly over the bed. What would they protect in wetter, colder weather? With protection like that, I'd probably be growing agaves!

Someone here runs a tight ship. There were also signs admonishing gardeners not to assume beds were abandoned or available to them: "ALL beds are assigned. NO beds are abandoned." Got it.
Being something of a gate-keeper myself, I appreciated the clear signage and descriptions of parameters. This is a place in which I could happily grow vegetables, safely fenced from the marauding local deer.

Goodbye for now, Gray School Garden - I'll check in again soon, and maybe my time to grow with you will come!


Thursday, October 31, 2019

The last of October - leaves, leaves, leaves

Because I have a hard time with winter's bare skeletal plants in my garden, I tend to focus on growing a lot of evergreen specimens. So at any given time during the year there's a constant but gentle layer of leaves that need to be removed from the garden beds, the paths and the patios. But each year when autumn hits, I'm reminded in full force and volume just how many deciduous specimens I really have in the garden, and how many, many deciduous trees my neighbors have.

Here's the stunning fall foliage of my 'Natchez' Crape Myrtle. It's been spectacular for almost a month now.

And here is the leaf drop from it over the last week. What with the colder temps and the strong winds we've had for the past few days, the leaves are really piling up all over my garden.


My backyard neighbor's pin oak is nearly done, but those leaves are all BIG.

Across the street to the south, two pin oaks in my neighbor's front yard have just begun to shed. But another neighbor's deciduous magnolia behind us  and our own Sunset maple and Prairifire crab apple are doing their best to contribute to the effort.

The maple, crab apple and oak leaves festoon the front lawn and beds. You can't even see the steel edging that separates the beds from our rather sad excuse for a lawn.

The south hell strip plants are being swallowed in leaves; in there somewhere are Ceanothus 'Valley Violet' and Salvia argentea in need of immediate rescue.


It has been so windy that sweeping off my front porch is just an exercise in futility. But now that the wind has died down a bit, I can finally start clearing out the beds. That, coupled with the continuing autumn leaf-fall, should keep me busy for at least the next three weeks.
But tonight, I just hope the neighborhood kiddos will be able to find their way through the shifting leaf drifts to Trick-or-Treat at my door!

I hope you're enjoying this last beautiful day of October as much as I am – Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wednesday Vignette - nature does it best

I spend a lot of time trying to engineer various effects and views in my garden. I purchase, plan, plant, water, weed and move plants all over my garden, in the hopes of creating a look that's at once both artful and artless.

But Mother Nature has her own ideas, like this little vignette I enjoy every time I go around one corner of the house. Each one of these plants sowed itself into the tiny space between some rocks and the poured concrete walkway. There's a young Western sword fern (Polystichum munitum), a common Foxglove seedling (Digitalis purpurea), and several Yellow-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) all tucked into a soft carpet of Corsican mint (Mentha requienii). 

The effect? Both artless and totally artful. Well played, Mother Nature!

I'm joining with the lovely Anna at Flutter and Hum this week. Check out what else is over there at her Wednesday Vignette meme.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A late Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2019

Summer has well and truly left us, I'm afraid. I'm noting all the autumn jobs that need attention, now that the heat and languor of my favorite season are clearly behind me. And I'm mourning summer's passing as I wander around the garden seeing what's still blooming for this late September Bloom Day post.

Clivia miniata 'Belgian Hybrid Orange' has sent out four bloom stalks (this is one advantage of a bit of crowding in the pot.) I adore those brilliant orange blooms against the dark-green, strappy leaves.


Mahonia fortunei 'Dan Hinckley' is putting on a modest show and delighting the honey bees. It's the perfect height to enjoy from my breakfast room window right now, as seen in the second shot.
Lagerstroemia 'Natchez' has had fewer blooms this cooler summer, and they are way up high. I still love it for its gorgeous peeling trunk bark.

Cyclamen hederifolium 'Xera's Sterling' is popping up in the Northwest Territory.


Echinops ritro adds its spiky ball-shaped blooms to the mix.

Pelargonium sidoides made it through winter and has been quietly blooming for a month now.

These NOID heliathus came from a bloggers plant swap years ago, and they have politely spread to form a small colony that brightens the end of summer.

Tithonia rotundifolia responds to the rain by pumping out a few more blossoms.

Sphaeralcea 'Newleaze Coral' continues with a few small blooms.

Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' is my very favorite cultivar of anise hyssop. This young plant isn't very robust yet, but it's doing its best to keep flowering as summer cools down.
Occasionally, the brilliant orange small flowers of Punica granatum 'Nana' turn into a little fruit. It's probably just a matter of time before the voracious local squirrels decide to steal it.

And last, the graceful, drooping seedheads on Chasmanthium latifolium are easy to appreciate.

Although late, I'm joining with Carol of May Dreams Gardens to showcase what's blooming in my garden in the middle of the month. You can see blossoms from all over if you visit her site.

Happy belated Bloom Day!!