Sunday, August 29, 2010


Here we are in the last few days of August, and finally we are getting some "fruit" at Longview Ranch. This is not to say all of it is - or necessarily ever will be - edible by the humans who live here. But the plants are busy working on production, so I have a few images to share.

A hand of cherry tomatoes ripens. Although all the MulchMaid's veggies got a very late start, I have enjoyed a few from this plant.

Seed pods on the canna. It would probably promote better flowering if I cut them off, but they're too interesting to axe.

Beefsteak-type tomato ripening. These will take awhile yet, so think positive thoughts for a long, warm September.

The fig is making lots of fruit. Earlier this summer I ate one from its breba crop. It was sweet and moist.

Some of these pretty Asian eggplants are nearly ready for harvest. I like them split and grilled with olive oil.

Grevilla 'Low Red' has been blooming non-stop since I acquired it in April. The wonderful seed pods that follow the blossoms turn from this green to a mahogany brown.

Chickadees and finches check every day to see whether the sunflower seeds are ready for their personal harvest.

My arbequina olive has two tiny olives on it. I so hope this little tree makes it through the coming winter.

The mahonia nervosa makes cute little berries immediately after blooming. They go away quickly, but I don't know where, or whether something is eating them.

Something is definitely eating these huckleberries. Mr. MulchMaid recently saw a red-shafted flicker poking away industriously at them. Like most creatures, they'll eat fruit much less ripe than we require it.  I wonder if they'll leave any to ripen for the humans at Longview Ranch.

What are you (or other wildlife) enjoying from your garden as August wanes?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A few days away

A weekend away in summer, however brief, is a lovely thing. Especially when Portland temperatures soar above 95 degrees F., the coast is the place to be, so that's just where the Mulchmaids went last weekend.

We stayed in Astoria, one of our favorite getaways, but we spent a good part of one day just north, at Cape Disappointment in Washington. It was anything but disappointing: Sorry my images are kind of washed out but, hey, that's what happens on perfect, sunny days!

See the large Douglas fir on the cliff above? Guess what flew across in front of us and lighted there for perfect viewing?

My point-and-shoot camera can't do justice to this magnificent Bald Eagle. He sat and preened for half an hour, giving us a great chance to study him through the binoculars. He flew away and stretched his wings, then returned for more contemplation of potential dinner on the cormorant-covered rocks beneath him.

I have never seen a bald eagle so closely. You can't see this detail, but his beak was bright gold and his head and tail were perfectly white.

Looking southwest from our position, the Cape Disappointment light house stands ready to help mariners across the Columbia bar. The Cape Disappointment Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (behind us) is a great indoor vantage point for wet or cold weather viewing of the bar. It's quite a show when large ships are pitching and rolling in turbulent winter conditions.

There's a shady 3/4 mile trail from this point out to the lighthouse.

Dismal Nitch is another of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial locations in Washington. Although it doubles as a busy rest stop, the views across the Columbia to the south and east are great.

In Astoria, the Astoria Column provides 200 degrees of must-see views. This looks south up the Youngs River. 

The return trip wouldn't be complete without a stop at Joy Creek Nursery.

We picnicked in the shade there  enjoying this stunning Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy'. (Their catalog sells 'Oakhurst' for those of you swooning over this strappy purple foliage.)

A nice mixup of large-leaved perennials (I couldn't read the tag, but I'm guessing a may apple and farfugium?)

We came home to find the heat had coaxed the oncidium Colm Wildcat 'Red Star' orchid into full bloom.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Texture and pattern

It's high summer here at Longview Ranch and the MulchMaid is trying objectively to see the garden's successes and failures. While analyzing vistas from windows and comfortable garden seats is important for planning, some plant features deserve recognition for the small rewards revealed by a closer look.

Three Eucomis 'Pole-evansii' I planted in spring have failed to produce flower heads, but have done nicely in the foliage department. Their beautiful ruffled edges are a surprise on long, smooth, green leaves.

Zantedeschia 'Flame' has great spotted leaves in completely irregular patterns.

This summer, the three-year-old Eucalyptus pauciflora is starting to show characteristic patterning of its bark. I love this rewarding garden resident in all seasons.

The texture of summer-blooming heathers is lovely. It looks like miniature cedar branches.

The pattern of radiating leaves on sempervivums is endlessly fascinating. Although it's fun when they bloom, I wouldn't mind if they never had flowers.

The texture created by multiple succulent heads makes you want to touch them. Almost everyone who sees this tiny family group explores its surface with their finger.

Pointed leaves on sedums seem to create texture and curved leaves seem to create more of a pattern.

The filaments on this sedum are so cool. It invites touching, but I don't dare because the web looks so fragile.

I love the patterning on the outside of some agave leaves.

This one is Agave Americana, and above it is A. parryii.

Other agaves create patterns in their leaf structure, like this Agave bracteosa.

Pinus contorta, the shore pines, have beautiful brushy texture.

Eryngium varifolium has beautifully marked veins creating pattern on its leaves.

These patterned veins on an Asian eggplant leaf are a gorgeous purple.

This stiff little Rhododendron impeditum has great glaucous texture. I lost two others this year, but this one is a success, probably because it gets a bit more sun in winter.

The exuberant vein patterns on this canna leaf say high summer to me.

What's your favorite pattern or texture in your garden this summer?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sanctioned, and Unsanctioned

Or did my memory do a major nosedive? I'll explain:

Below is the perfectly good, expected even, result of planting a rhizome in spring. Helenium "Moorheim Beauty" gradually emerged from the ground and commenced blooming with dusky red flowers that turn a little golden as they age.
The blooms remind me of echinacea with their recurved petals, and I'm happy with the warm color. They're another in the MulchMaid's theme of simple, flat flowers.

But what IS this growing so apparently legitimately right next to it?

The leaves on this bruiser are about fourteen inches long, and they have the most fascinating small hooks set into the upper surface.

I've been waiting for some sign of a flower spike or stem, but nothing new is showing after months of growth.

I keep thinking this must be something I planted as a bulb or rhizome early this spring and have just blanked on. So far, it's not giving me any clues, just more small, hooked leaves. Since I moved a few things around in that bed, I could even have accidentally moved it myself.

It's pretty interesting, and so healthy I hope it isn't some major garden marauder weed. For now, I'm willing to give it some space, and see what develops.

Of course, if you recognize it, do let me know.