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!!


Friday, August 16, 2019

Back (late) for Bloom Day - August 2019

Hi there! I've been missing from the blogisphere, but I'm back with a late Bloom Day post in the last real summer month. Bloom Day is hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens monthly and you can check out gardens from all over creation if you hop over there.

I'll work in color-wheel order this month, beginning with three Echinacea 'Sombrero' hybrids from last year that have melded into one gigantic, flower-covered mound. Two are supposedly 'Salsa Red' and one is 'Adobe Orange', but I can't see a bit of difference between them. They're quite an eyeful, regardless.


The flowers of Hesperaloe parviflora had to be staked since they want to lean out into the street. I miss the lovely curve of the bloom stalks, but cars were threatening to break them off when they parked.

In similar colors but a very different habit, Agastache rupestris.

Tithonia rotundifolia 'Goldfinger' was hoping for rich soil... ha! It's doing its best with the rocky garden and minimal water.

Punica granatum 'Nana', having a happy summer on the deck.

Clivia miniata 'Belgian Hybrid Orange', sending up a new bloom truss.

Heterotheca villosa, or Hairy Golden Aster in the Northwest Territory.


Kniphofia 'Percy's Pride'.

The minute flowers of Ardisia japonica 'Dragon Brocade'.

Eucomus comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' has relaxed into a greener version of itself in late summer. Only the flower stalks remain true to its name.

Caryopteris, just coming into bloom
Echinops ritro, a stalwart bloomer in my garden. Bees love it, too.


This Calluna vulgaris cultivar could be any one of six similar heathers for which I have tags. I grow them mostly for their spring foliage color, but this fluff of mauve is a nice touch in the late-summer garden.

Another unknown Calluna vulgaris cultivar leads us into the white flowers.

Lewisia columbiana var rupicola blooms off and on all summer.
A gentle scent wafts up as I pass by Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance' in the garden.

Trachelospermum jasminoides is still blooming on the sunny side of the fence, although the scent is hardly noticeable now.
And to knock it out of the park, my annual purchase, a Bougainvillea that starts off more orange but matures to this astonishing magenta.

Happy belated Bloom Day, all!