In January, I was thrilled to begin my Master Gardener classes. The work of getting certified continued through September, but now I am an official, giant-orange-badge-wearing OSU Master Gardener. I highly recommend the classes and follow-up hours to anyone who wants to expand their horticultural knowledge. It was hard work, but it was and continues to be so much fun!
One good thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is our relatively short, mild winters. Although we had some serious cold weather (for us), February was already bringing the kind of small excitement that sustains me though our long wet spring. Here was one example, in the form of Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths" blooms.
March was about mulch ... enough said.
April saw the continued firecracker blooms of Grevillea juniperina 'Low Red'. 'Low Red' made it through a nasty winter and bloomed from February through May, then inexplicably died in June. I still miss this one in the garden, but was somewhat consoled by Deborah at Cistus Nursery who told me knowingly, "Grevilleas will break your heart." If I decide to risk my heart again, I'll need to improve its drainage even more than I did for its predecessor.
I was so happy with this Lewisia cotyledon in May that I planted two more this summer. Lewisias are small, unassuming Northwest natives that surprise with a delightful sunset of color when they bloom.
I wait all year for the fabulous blue of Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria' and in June I am rewarded. The bees are pretty happy too, since along with Ceanothus, June is a very flowery month here.
By July the garden is really filling in: all the perennials are leafing and many are flowering. Phygelius x rectus 'Passionate' bloomed with these beautiful orange trumpets from June through November. Its bonus dark reddish-green foliage is backed by the Trachycarpus fortuneii and other summer greens.
In August big leaves take center stage, as Ensete v. maurelii, shown here, stars with cannas, acanthus, and newcomers to my garden Tetrapanax and Melianthus major. Tropicalissmo!
September saw the last of the exterior work at Longview Ranch, culminating in a new paint job. A few potted plants made it back onto the deck and patio in celebration this month.
I played with blues and greens in a post about several new agaves and other mostly subtle October color combinations in the garden. Here are A. gypsofila and A. titanota, just in from our California trip.
My November Foliage Follow-up was anything but subtle. It was the most intensely colorful fall we've had since our time in this house. Witness this Acer japonica all decked out.
December was a grayer, colder month, when the only blossoms in my garden were quiet or odd, like these great sputnik blooms on my Fatsia japonica. The lack of flowers and foliage allows the garden structure to shine, so December is traditionally a great time to assess problems and devise solutions to be implemented in the coming year.
So thank you for joining me for a little Auld Lang Syne as we leave 2011. This comes with my wish for each of you: an exciting, glorious and plant-filled 2012!