Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gardening is not always glamorous

But it can be very satisfying. On March 14th, I posted about the lovely load of Nature's Needs mulch we had delivered.
What with weather and other constraints, it has taken me a while to distribute it.

Gradually, however, it has been going...


Gone! As I said: not glamorous, but very, very satisfying.

And the perfect segue to wishing a Happy Earth Day on April 22nd to all my garden blogging friends!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, April 2011

It's Bloom Day, the 15th of each month, when garden bloggers everywhere share what's blooming in their gardens. So here's what's blooming at Longview Ranch today.

The inherited Camellia japonicas are in full flower.

Although the rain is hard on them, they keep opening.

Camellia 'April Kiss' is having a hard time this year. Although they look fine here, the blossoms aren't fully opening before they shatter on the ground. I hope this doesn't mean there's a disease or pest problem.

It's probably just a rain problem. I have one of those.

I keep digging these narcissus out, and each year they come right back. I guess I should take a hint.

Grevillea 'Low Red' has been blooming since February. I'll stop including it in this years' Bloom Day posts from now on: you can just assume it's in bloom unless I say otherwise.

But you've got to admit this is a fun little firecracker of a flower!

And what would a PNW spring Bloom Day post be without rosemary? I think this is 'Tuscan Blue.' It has been stopping pedestrians on my corner for weeks now.

Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink' has great little strappy petals reminiscent of witch hazel.

They start out all curly and gradually straighten out.

The few plants of Arctostaphylos uva ursi that weren't part of the Northwest Territory upheaval are blooming nicely.

And maybe all these flowers on the Vaccinium ovatum will actually translate into huckleberries for us this year.

Mahonia nervosa is blooming in spite of being dug out of the ground and replanted in a different place ten days later.

I love the slight blush of red on the unopened flowers.

Carex morrowii 'Evergold' has fuzzy little "blooms".

Moving indoors, a Schlumbergera species we call the Halloween Cactus because of its usual bloom time, has decided to bloom for the second time in six months.I think the blossoms look like little swimming shrimps.

A couple of species Streptocarpus are also gracing the living room with their blooms. The intense purply-red one hardly stops all year.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted every month by that mighty dandelion hunter Carol, at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her to see what else is blooming around the U.S. and abroad this April 15th.

Happy Bloom Day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hardy Plant Sale haul - Northwest Territory edition

Due to Master Gardener service commitments, I had to wait until Sunday to attend the Hardy Plant Society's Spring sale this past weekend. There were at least two downsides to THAT, namely the two callistemons Xera had already sold when I got there. Humph.

However, it turned out there were a number of upsides to shopping on Sunday, as well. I couldn't believe my eyes as I got off MAX ("You rode MAX?" you're saying, "But what about plant hauling?" More on that later.) The parking lot was almost empty. The hall was pleasantly busy, but comfortable, and the vendors had time to talk.

But the best part about going on Sunday was the later company of the Mulchman, who as a rule, doesn't much go for a crowd (even a plant-oriented crowd), but who was hot to select some new native plants for the re-vamped Northwest Territory at Longview Ranch. He had an earlier engagement, so he met me at the sale, and by taking MAX I had an extra hour of plant mingling. I though it was the perfect mix of our two styles.

After renewing my Hardy Plant Society membership, I made a beeline for the Xera booth to check out the wares. As mentioned, they were sold out of callistemons, and they didn't have the hardy Spanish olive I'd hoped to buy.  But I found out I could get it from Garden Fever, so all was well.

Next stop: Far Reaches Farm. When I heard Kelly Donovan and Sue Milliken would be at the sale, I had emailed them wondering if they'd have more Lilium columbianum.
Done! They immediately replied that they'd be happy to bring two and hold them behind the table for me, along with the Crocosmia 'Culzean Pink' they sold out of at the Seattle NWFGS.
Sue said they hadn't had time to divide the 'Culzean Pink' crocosmia: she reckoned I got about a flat-worth of plants in the pot.

What generous plant propagators! Just say the word if you'd like some, Portland area gardeners. As a reminder, it's pretty different: here's how it looks in bloom (Far Reaches photo):

While I was at the Far Reaches Farm table, I saw a couple of other must-haves, including Eryngium proteiflorum.
This very spiny Mexican Sea Holly has a marvelous structure and silver-white flowers that are "reminiscent of Proteas." I'm such a sucker for a well-written plant tag.
I also picked up Kniphofia porphyrantha from Far Reaches.
Described as "one of the finest Red Hot Pokers" the parent was originally collected by Panayoti Kelaidis (not only am I a sucker for plant-tag copy, but I confess a slight crush on Panayoti after hearing him speak at NWFGS.)

It doesn't look like so much right now, but with flower spikes it will get to 3-4 feet.
By this time the Mulchman had joined me. We went to the Nothing But Northwest Natives table where we selected three Eriophyllum lanatum or Common Woolly Sunflower. It has pretty gray green foliage and a yellow flower in summer.
We also picked up a Streambank Lupine, Lupinus rivularis. I hope it will attract butterflies. 

From Humble Roots Nursery and Farm, we got a Penstemon subserratus (Fine-tooth Penstemon.) It will form a low-growing mat.
The Mulchman wanted grasses, so we found three Koeleria macrantha (Junegrass), a medium sized, clumping, PNW native grass, also at Humble Roots.
From Wild Ginger Farm we chose three Royal Penstemon, Penstemon speciosus, 12-30" tall, with bright blue flowers. It's native to the Ochoco Mountains.
A last-minute Sisyrinchium 'Devon Skies' and we were ready to check out.

It was time to collect our held plants, but when I rolled up to the counter I saw a licorice log in the holding area. The helpful volunteer looked up the vendor number for me and I raced up to the info table to find out who was selling them. 

There was one left!

So that's the haul. It's fun plant shopping with a partner in crime. Especially when he picks up the tab!
Oh, and say goodbye to the lovely red concrete backdrop against which I took all these photos.
After extensive research and consultation we have found the most effective way to completely get rid of the red paint:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Moss garden dreams

Since we are a little stalled on our Northwest Territory makeover while we wait for concrete, my mind has been turning to the next project I see shaping up: a moss garden in our front yard.

Our modest, mid-century home is on a corner, with mature deciduous trees on the front lawn and west parking strip. These trees shade a large portion of our front yard in summer, and the lawn deteriorates every year due to the shade and our complete lack of commitment to lawns in general. We have focused on creating our backyard private spaces for the most part, but the time is coming to address our miserable excuse for a front lawn.  While I would love to grow an Edible Front Yard, a la Ivette Soler, that's pretty far-fetched considering the lack of sun on our front yard in summer.

But we could grow (and already do grow) moss!

I first thought of a moss garden for Longview Ranch when I was in Seattle this past February for the Northwest Flower and Garden show. Friends and I did an architectural walking tour in the FREEZING cold, and among the sights was this delightful little courtyard of moss.

I got pretty excited about the possibility because we definitely have moss that already wants to grow, so our conditions must be favorable.

It gets greener and greener all winter. About this time of year, some people with this '"lawn" would be researching moss killer.

Not me. I'm a little more interested in grass killer, although I'm sure we'll remove the grass mechanically when the time comes. How can I argue with moss? It flourishes in my garden (with absolutely no care) and looks so beautiful doing it.

What clinched it for me was the April issue of Garden Design with a feature on Japanese temple moss gardens.

 Of course there are thousands of kinds of moss, I read. You can even order different ones online.

Although we can probably grow our own (we seem to have at least three kinds already) this gorgeous inspiration (above, credited to Ben Young Landscape Architects) on the Moss Acres site, shows what you can do with purchased moss. 

It'll definitely take a while before we get to this project: I see a busy summer ahead keeping the rejuvenated Northwest Territory hydrated through its first summer, and I want to get the rest of the lawn out of the south Mediterranean backyard area before starting in on the front yard. 

Meanwhile, maybe I'll experiment by trying out some moss in a terrarium to keep my moss garden dream quietly growing.