Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year - but first, Happy Old Year!

Each month of this year held something to brighten my gardening outlook. So on this last day of 2013, I'm taking a little trip through my photo files to revisit a few garden highlights of the year.  Please join me to celebrate 2013!

In January, the golden-orange foliage of Libertia peregrinans 'Bronze Sword' warmed up the otherwise cool, green winter garden at Longview Ranch.

February brought the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle with its mix of display gardens that ranged from the inspiring to the absurd. I've attended every year since at least 2007.

This year I met fellow blogger Alison Conliffe of Bonney Lassie in person at the show! That's Alison on the right, my sister, Sally, in the middle, and me on the left.

In March at Fry Road Nursery, tables of fascinating patterned foliage made me wonder what I had discovered.

No, not some crazy species of Manfreda - these were tulip bulbs! With foliage like this, who cares what the flowers look like?

An April visit to Altadena included this upward view through beautiful Engelmann Oaks and citrus.

Due to their impending retirement and and move, it was also a farewell to this lovely and relaxing garden my brother- and sister-in-law made. I will miss the comfortable patio and the warm, pleasant evenings spent with them here.
In May, Longview Ranch really started to strut its stuff. Flowers and more flowers declare what I try to deny: In spite of my love for high summer, Longview Ranch is quite a spring garden, too.

June brought my first Garden Blogger's Fling. What an adventure! Having only posted once about the Fling, I have barely scratched the surface of the hundreds of pictures I took. I've been saving them for deep winter when I need to escape from the cold and wet. Here's a tiny taste of the warmth to come...

Our July 4th weekend was spent up on Mt. Hood in a Steiner cabin. A walk in the woods yielded sightings of some delicate wildflowers, including my first-ever Indian Pipes. 

In August, we held our garden open for the Overlook Neighborhood Sustainable Garden Tour. A mission of Sustainable Overlook is to make our Portland neighborhood the first pesticide-free neighborhood in the nation. To judge from the comments we heard and the people who pledged, progress is being made!

September brought the blues of late summer to Longview Ranch. The deep coloring of Salvia 'Black and Blue' and a NOID Caryopteris are some of my favorites.

In October spiders returned to the garden, and with them a tinge of autumn coloring. Though mostly still green, it became clear that fall was on the way.

November color ran high as vines, shrubs and berries showed off their intense last days leading up to a winter nap.

December's cold, clear mornings made for some beautiful sunrises, while her surprise cold snap made me worry about all of my semi-tender plants.

Although Abutilons seem to have perished, they had a good three-year run.
Winter isn't over yet, but I think I've had good luck. Some plants seem surprisingly untouched, including (fingers crossed) several Phormiums, including this  P. tenax 'Rubrum'.

And just like that, we bid a fond farewell to 2013.

I'll look forward to seeing you on these pages, and at the Garden Blogger's Fling here in Portland in 2014.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Things are a bit upside down this year: Due likely to the bitter cold earlier in December, my Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' aren't blooming for their namesake holiday.

In consolation, I give you... the Christmas Clivia miniata!

It may not be strictly "seasonal" coloring, but I love the intense orange of the flower backed by the deep, lush green of its foliage.
Whichever flower does it for your holiday, and whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it will be a peaceful and rewarding day for you. Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, December 2013

It's a meager Bloom Day at Longview Ranch. December is not the most flowery of months, and after our arctic conditions of a week ago, even some of the reliable December flowers like those of Fatsia japonica, are sadly drooped and dying.

I usually have rosemary blooming by mid December. It is this year, but it's just barely showing color. I'll take what I can get!
On time but protected: I'm so glad I moved this cute little Primula veris into the protected garden shed before the deep freeze happened. Its beautiful orangy-red is a great shot of color.
Another protected bloomer is this NOID Streptocarpus. It lives indoors year-round.

Also indoors, though slightly past blooming perfection is this NOID Schlumbergera. It used to bloom at Halloween, until Elvis knocked it on the floor and we had to repot it. Now the bright orange blooms brighten up our gray December days.

Last year at this time, all three Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' were in mad bloom. This year, I'll be surprised if they flower by their namesake holiday. Only one bud on one plant is even showing any color today.

Considering the cold weather we've had, I'm even more surprised to see Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths' beginning its bloom in December - what's happening with this shrub that has featured in my last two February Bloom Day posts? Maybe the cold is the clue.

In any case, since 'Austin Griffiths' is just getting underway, I hope the flowers will last a month or so. Check back for January's Bloom Day to see if they do!

Meanwhile, enjoy more blooms around the nation as Carol hosts Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens. Happy Bloom Day!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Farewell, my pretties?

It's been cold at Longview Ranch, and it's about to get colder. Forecasts for this coming week in Portland are all over the map, but the consensus seems to be record lows for this time of year arriving by Monday or Tuesday.

Since it will be colder than it has been for several years, I spent time these past two days moving pots of tender and some not-so-tender plants into my garden shed. I mulched a few things and even covered a large potted Agave bracteosa that's too big to move indoors. And I wandered around the garden wondering which of my marginally hardy plants I am seeing the last of.

Like this Phormium tenax 'Wings of Gold'. It's been in a pot for years but I planted it in the ground this past summer. In retrospect, that was some unfortunate timing.

Another flax, P. tenax 'Rubrum', is one of three I planted in the garden in 2008. It limped through a few tough winters early on, and had come back to a nice, dark lushness and some height this year. We'll see what it thinks of the coming weather event.

For some reason, Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink' seems more tender to me than I guess it really is. Even if the tips get damaged, I think it will generally be okay with sub-freezing weather.  I hope.

For the first few years we had Trachelospermum jasminoides, they suffered terribly in winter. Several times I almost gave up and yanked the poor things, they looked so sad. Having had several clement winters to get better established, I hope our two will survive the arctic weather this week. Even if we have to do some heavy pruning to clean them up, I look forward to their lovely scent in summer.

I hold out little hope for Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' making it through. This is a plant that has worked its way deep into my heart this year. I just love its lush, silvery-blue, serrated foliage and the way the leaves hold raindrops. By mulching it well and piling leaves around its base, I hope to at least keep the base alive. I may find myself giving it a slightly tearful farewell come spring though.

I hope to be able to report positively next spring on all these lovely plants, but if the weather goddess has her way with them, I'll be searching out replacements next year. And although I'll be sad to lose any of them, I'll try to embrace the loss as an opportunity for change.

Are you preparing for this weather event? Well fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2013, departmentalized

This month's Bloom Day post is the Department Edition.  You'll see what I mean as we move through the blooms that November has to offer here at Longview Ranch.

Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' falls squarely in the "I-Can't-Believe-It's-Still-Blooming" Department. Yes, it may not be quite the spectacle it was in midsummer, but I even spotted a hummingbird stopping for a drink just a couple of days ago.

Also in this department is Rudbeckia triloba, a fading member of the hot bed that still has a little of that sunny, star quality to offer this month.
A place of honor in the "Ever-Blooming" Department of the Mulch Man's Northwest Territory is accorded Sidalcea oregana, Oregon Checker Mallow.

And Erigeron glaucas continues to show its appreciation for the cooler, wetter days of autumn. I see it satisfying random pollinators, too.

Back in the MulchMaid's garden area, another stalwart of the summer garden is still earning its place in the "Ever-Blooming" Department. Abutilon 'Tangerine' simply will not give up.

In the "I-Didn't-Know-They-Looked-Like-That" Department we find the cute little flowers of Seneceo mandraliscae (Blue Chalk Sticks). I love the long, blue stems with white twiddly explosions at their ends.

The "Random-Flowering-To-Keep-You-On-You-Toes" Department sports this lone Cistus bloom.

And keeping it company is Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink'. It has been spurting a few small blossoms for months without actually putting on what I'd call a "bloom" period.

In the "We're-Happy-To-See-You-Whenever-You-Decide-To-Show-Up" Department we include the tiny blossoms of Salal, Gaultheria shallon. They are such a pretty contrast to the leathery green foliage.

Also included here is the Giant Toad Lily, Tricyrtis formosana var. grandiflora 'Wa-Ho-Ping Toad'. It belongs in the "Whenever" Department by virtue of having bloomed twice already this year.

The "Right-On-Time" Department holds Cortaderia selloana whose plumes opened in late October to see me through winter.

And Fatsia japonica is a reliable November bloomer whose flowers often persist into the New Year. I adore these sputnik flower trusses that attract all manner of pollinators.

 In our last entry, the "Will-They-Make-It?" Department, the cool, furry flower buds of Tetrapanax paperifer 'Steroidal Giant' are in a race against the frost clock. Go, go, go!

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Hop over there to see what else is happening in our blooming world in mid-November.

Happy Bloom Day!