Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday vignette - the calm before the holiday storm

It's the day before Thanksgiving. Giving thanks is a wonderful way to usher in the holiday season with all its attendant fun.

Although the colors in the image below don't say autumn, the simplicity of the arrangement speaks volumes to me as we wind up for the coming seasonal activities. It's a gentle reminder - courtesy of Jeffrey Bales' summer garden - to slow down, appreciate the moment, and just breathe.
I'm joining Anna at Flutter and Hum to celebrate her Wednesday meme today. Check out the comments to see other bloggers' vignettes.

I wish each of you a happy (and calm) Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 2015

I'm a day late and a flower or two short for this Bloom Day post, but I want to record my garden for the month anyway. We've had weeks of intermittent rain. Between that and some community obligations, I haven't been out in the garden as much as I'd like to be, putting my plants back to bed. But I have a few flowers to show, so let's get to it.

First up is a new Loropetalum chinense 'Fire Dance' - full of bloom. I hope it likes its digs in one of our newly created beds and grows to cover the lower bare branches of Rhododendron x 'Ahna Krushke'.

In the Northwest Territory, the surprise Digitalis purpurea from last month is bowed down from the rain, but still blooming.

Erigeron glaucus has a few blossoms left this month.

All the Rosemaries around the house are doing their winter bloom thing.

A last, waterlogged Rosa 'Sally Holmes' bloom truss droops down from the plant.

Daphne transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' went in late this spring, and it's surprising us with its enthusiastic growth and now, blooms.

I love the occasional, off-season blooms that appear on Ceanothus 'Victoria'.

I spy a few last blossoms on Abutilon megapotamica.

New this month is the froth of sputnik-style flowers on Fatsia japonica.

I'll leave you with the beautifully-colored blossoms of an indoor Streptocarpella.

For a complete survey of November blooms check the May Dreams Gardens blog where Carol faithfully sponsors this monthly flower event.

Happy Bloom Day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday vignette - hot frost

I'm joining Anna at Flutter and Hum for her Wednesday meme, in an effort to warm up with the warmer, dryer days of summer. Although now I see that these massed Tillandsias do look a little frosty, in spite of the sweltering evening on which I took this shot.

I love the ferny smaller Tillandsias up high, and the clematis winding itself up and through the T. xerographica curls, as well as the little cactus punctuating the low wall. The comfy chairs and umbrella in the background hint of languid summer evenings spent outdoors.

This scene is in the garden of JJ DeSousa, a wildly inventive and talented interior and garden designer. If you attended the 2014 Portland Garden Bloggers Fling, you saw her distinctive garden, but I can assure you she is constantly recreating her mix. Every visit is different, and I enjoy keeping up with her changes each summer during the Hardy Plant Society Open Gardens.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Now I'm not so sure...

The patio and path project is finished!
Of course, as in any project there are a couple of loose ends that can't be done right now, like acid washing and sealing the concrete, and power washing the deck. But all the serious work is done, the contractor has taken the last of his tools and equipment home, and I get to put the garden back together. 

I've been lusting after this day since ground was broken on the job September 28th - longer, if you count the weeks my plants spent out of the ground when the project was initially delayed.
All I wanted to do was put each plant back where I dug it up. But wait...
That's a lot of open ground. There's more planting area than before and I know the plants need to go back in the ground ASAP.  But do I really want to put everything back exactly where it was?
This is a golden opportunity to do it right ... well, at least better. Where the plants did well, and happy pairings occurred in the past, I'll probably replant them. But I need to learn from the plants that did less well or weren't well sited. I need to accommodate them better on this go round.

They're all sitting along the north side of my house, waiting patiently.

Especially so late in the year, don't I owe it to my plants to give them the best second chance I can? I guess a few more days of thoughtful re-arranging and siting before I plant won't make such a big difference.
And as I plant, I get to enjoy our re-worked hardscape. I'm loving the crisp intersections and the little details that are so noticeable in a smaller space like ours. I'll be doing a full post on just the project hardscape later on.

But I'm a gardener, and I've been thinking about the garden plants during this whole project. If I do this right, my plants will thrive and look good their new digs as much as - or even better than - the places they left in September.

I can't wait to see how the replanted beds pull everything together into a beautiful whole.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A rain-soaked Wednesday vignette

Before I moved to Portland (back in the stone age) I imagined Oregon to be exactly as I experienced most of today: misty, gentle precipitation that gradually soaked my green surroundings. I fantasized it hydrating me at the same time as it fed the earth. And I thought it would be ecological nirvana.
Since living here, my Oregon reality is a lot more balanced. After all, we have these dry Mediterranean summers. But seeing this piece of my creative neighbor Julie's retaining wall today brought me back to my imagined future habitat. It's a moist medley of stones, marble, salvaged iron, a big cast-off shellfish, succulents, nasturtiums and a tiny white-flowered begonia. The wet, shining Liriodendron tulipifera leaves add a seasonal stained-glass accent I love.

I'm joining my friend Anna at her blog Flutter and Hum today. Check out other Wednesday vignettes, including hers, by clicking over.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2015

I'm a day late in posting for Bloom Day, but it will be a quick read as I only have a few flowers blooming this month. Here's your brief tour:

Abutilon megapotamicum may deserve this year's award for the longest bloom period. Since April of this year, it's been continuously pumping out blossoms.
Just like me, Punica granatum 'Nana' is happy that the days are still warm and sunny.
The tiny mallow-like blossoms of Sphaeralcea 'Newleaze Coral' pack a colorful punch once they open in the sun each day.

I'm cheating a little with Cuphea 'Tiny Mice' since I picked it up in bloom from Pomarius Nursery this week, but it's so cute I just had to include it.

Rosa 'Sally Holmes' has just a few bloom trusses left.

Likewise, Rosa 'Darlow's Enigma' is on its last legs but deserves mention as it brightens up the area under a Trachycarpus fortunei.
A couple of random Ceanothus blossoms were this week's surprise.
All the Rosemary plants around the house are quietly doing their fall bloom thing.

Also vying for the title of longest blooming plant, Erigeron glaucus flowers on.
A fun development in the Northwest Territory is a couple of Digitalis that matured to bloom this year. I know these are biennials, so I'm wondering how I managed to miss their little rosettes last year.

Click on over to May Dreams Gardens to see flowers from gardens all over.
Happy Bloom Day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday vignette - an undisturbed corner of my back garden

With our patio and path project creating chaos in most of my garden, I've been pretty much on a blogging hiatus. Don't get me wrong - even though it's going pretty slowly, I'm very excited about the progress of the project. It's cool to see our vision for the spaces taking shape, but I am looking forward to it being done so I can put the garden back together.

Out taking pictures of the project yesterday, I found a corner of my garden that is still untrammeled and soothing.
Now, if I pull back a bit, you'll see what's in the foreground of this little corner.

And if I really pull back, you can see the entire patio space in the foreground.
As we wait somewhat impatiently for the concrete contractor (hopefully next week?) let's just re-frame back to the plants, okay?
A little cropping creates a tranquil scene for Anna's Wednesday Vignette meme over at Flutter and Hum. Less exciting, yes, but infinitely more soothing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Vignette - a view from the Back Bay Inn

I'm such a sun-lover that, as much as we need any available rain, today's drizzle made me immediately start flipping through my files of sunny images for solace.

I took this shot from the balcony of our room at the Back Bay Inn in Los Osos, California, early on a late January morning. The temperature was cool, the bay was like glass, and the sun caught the dunes in the background perfectly.
As I regale myself with sun pictures today, I'm joining my friend Anna to celebrate her weekly meme. Take a trip to Flutter and Hum to see more Wednesday vignettes today.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mahonia fortunei 'Dan Hinkley' is my favorite plant in the garden, this week

Dan Hinkley Chinese Mahonia is a Xera Plants introduction, from cuttings furnished to Xera Plants by the renown plantsman Dan Hinkley from his plant-hunting expeditions in China.

I have been enjoying this favorite plant for much of the month; it's been blooming for weeks in my garden.

I was thrilled to get my Mahonia fortunei 'Dan Hinkley' from Xera Plants at the 2012 Portland Yard, Garden & Patio Show.

This is the second year M. 'Dan Hinkley' has bloomed for me, and I love these late summer/early autumn flowers. So do the pollinators, and I don't even mind sharing them with the yellow-jackets (maybe the nectar will help keep them away from our last few outdoor dinners.)
The stats on Mahonia fortunei 'Dan Hinkley' from Plant Lust:

Form: Shrub
Zones: 7B-9b
Size: 4'h x 3'w (mine is approaching 4' high now, but is much slimmer)
Soil needs: Well-drained
Water needs: Regular water (I have not been regular but this shaded area stays somewhat moist)
Sun exposure: High overhead shade, to shade
Flowers: Bright yellow
Flowering time: Autumn (Plant Lust says spring, but that's a glitch)
Foliage: Evergreen, shiny / glossy

Like many Mahonias, the new growth is a lovely, bronzy-red color.

Our view of 'Dan' was further enhanced (maybe I should say exposed) by the recent removal of a mature Daphne odora 'Marginata' you can see to the left in the shot above. Although the Daphne enabled the Mahonia to get a good start by shading its roots, it had outgrown its space and had to go. I'll need to shade 'Dan' and his roots with something else this next summer.
I had a hard time getting the picture above; as you can see below there's a muddy channel where I usually walk.
And the mud is because our much-anticipated patio/path project started this past Monday, after a month of delays created by the summer heat: the concrete contractor couldn't pour in the over-90-degree temps, so he got backed up on all his prior projects. Rather than have our project stall halfway through, we asked our contractor to delay his start until the concrete guy was available to do his part.
Although there's been no work for the last two days, I'm encouraged by the project beginning. And if it gets too grimy and grim, I'll just spend some time researching other garden bloggers' favorite plants: My post is part of the end-of-the-month roundup of garden favorites hosted by Loree over at danger garden. Check out the rest!