Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Longview Ranch gardens!

As I gazed at Pinus contorta candles yesterday, I realized it was the pines' birthday: three years ago they were nestled into the Northwest Territory here at Longview Ranch.

Their "birthday" candles have increased almost twice their length in just the past few days.

So, how about celebrating with some birthday flowers?

Both this year's Abutilons are blooming. I know you Californians can grow them year-round, but here in Portland, I'm just happy I can grow Abutilons as annuals. I've been smitten since I saw a lovely rose-colored one in 2009 at my brother- and sister-in-law's garden in Altadena.

This is 'Red Tiger'. Aren't those orange veins great?

Lewisia cotyledon is just beginning to bloom. These little jewels need to be moved to a place I can more easily appreciate them.

Helianthemum 'Henfield Brilliant" is rising to the challenge of its name.

This will be quite a contrast, when the Ceanothus 'Victoria' you can just see budding on the left in this picture comes into bloom.

Other small birthday flowers at Longview Ranch are the Potentilla fruiticosa, including 'McKay's White' below...

...and 'Sunset Red', whose flowers have always matured more yellow than red. Not that I'm complaining, you understand.

Last spring I planted 150 Vinca minor starts around three big sidewalk trees. They took a lot of babying to stay moist (in spite of last year's cool, wet summer) but despite die-off from drying out and dog pee, about half pulled through and are starting to look like they'll survive.

Little Arctostaphylos 'Martha Ewan'' has retained its flowers for months now. They just look whiter and whiter, especially when photographed in bright sun (sorry for the washed-out exposure.)

A few foliage plants are looking good, too. Here's a recent acquisition: Salvia argentea has the most irresistibly fuzzy leaves. I want to plant it in my front garden but I'm a little worried that it might suffer from too much fondling by passers by.

I guarantee you would not be able to stop yourself from stroking this leaf. And it's just as soft as it looks.

New vine maple foliage is the perfect green.

And new huckleberry foliage is the perfect soft red.

Since the past month has been a bust for a lot of backyard gardening due to the ongoing concrete chronicles (finally drawing to a close and soon to be documented here) I turned my gardening energy to enlarging my sunny south front garden bed.

The Ceanothus had grown so much it was overpowering the size and shape of the existing bed: more grass had to come out!

I have multiple plants ready to go in, but the soil is compacted and bad (read: clay) for most of my sun-lovers. Since each plant needs major additions of pumice and organic matter to the bed, it's taking major time and energy to do it right. You can just see three divisions of Crocosmia potsii 'Culzean Pink' at the top of the bed and an imperceptible Lagerstroemia 'Natchez' crape myrtle.

Here's a closer picture of 'Natchez'. It's small now, but it's planned to take the place of the olive that died last winter by providing a little screening between the sidewalk and our dining room window.

Last, for your foliage pleasure I present the happiest Eryngium I have ever had the pleasure to grow. 'Jade Frost' sailed through our last winter, and looked good doing it, I might add. This is the kind of birthday (and year-round) performer I need more of in the gardens at Longview Ranch.


  1. Great pictures of your garden! You're right, I wanted to reach through the screen and stroke that leaf! And when the Ceanothus blooms, it will make a marvelous contrast with the orange-red Helianthemum.

    I need to get an Abutilon. I love those veins.

  2. Great pictures! Would love to go nursery romping with you some time!

  3. Oh it's good to know Jade Frost did so well for you. I saw it at the nursery again this year and wondered about buying it. Love your newly enlarged bed and the plantings. I can't wait to see more of your do over. Happy Mother's Day.

  4. I love Jade Frost. I planted one...well, I bought one, two years ago and lost track of it. Either it died or I gave it away...vague memories. Anyway your Abutilons are lovely.

  5. I love your take on "birthday candles". Wordplay takes a back seat only to plants in my list of favorite things.

  6. Congrats to the pines on another birthday ;-) Love that you're expanding the garden more...and I've seen those Salvias at nurseries...they are indeed irresistible!

  7. Lovely plants, all of them. Though you may be luckier than you think growing Abutilons as annuals. They need quite a bit of attention as perennials to look at all attractive. Annual may be best...


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