Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 Fling - a hidden San Francisco garden

Imagine living in downtown San Francisco. Your apartment is probably modestly sized, has no balcony, and its windows mostly open onto a noisy street. Outside the front door of your building is nothing but harsh sidewalk and asphalt.

Now imagine an oasis of foliage to sooth you from the city's noise and hard edges. It's hidden inside the courtyard space created by your building and several others near it. You can look down on its calming green canopy from the back windows of your apartment, and better yet, you can hang out in this unique garden because it's part of your shared outdoor space.

Our first stop on the 2013 Garden Bloggers Fling is the environment that two talented designers have created in the Organic Mechanics Garden - a formerly neglected courtyard between several multistory buildings. Their unique and quirky approach to the garden and its design has resulted in a fascinating space that all the residents of the building are welcome to enjoy.

Unexpected touches of whimsy and delightful salvage solutions are everywhere.

Seating areas take advantage of the dappled shade.

Xeric potted plants are strategically positioned in the few hot and sunny spots.

The designers employ small trees and subtle wire supports to add structure and divide the spaces into outdoor rooms.

Areas with deeper shade hold lush foliage, water features, and more seating.

And always, there's the unexpected, like this top hat holding a bunch of black Mondo grass...

...while the high, overhead canopy shelters the space and adds to the serenity of this secret garden.

My takeaway from the Organic Mechanics garden was that you can re-purpose almost anything as garden design fodder. While salvage items aren't the first thing I think of for path, pot or design elements, these designers had the vision to integrate salvage perfectly into a whole that was far more than the sum of its plants and parts.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A sunset-colored Bloom Day - July 2013

It's the middle of summer! To celebrate, today's Bloom Day post is all about the sunset colors blooming in my garden this month. We'll start with yellow and move through orange and red, and then finish up with purple.

Potentilla fruticosa 'Sunset Red' isn't exactly living up to its name, but its yellow flowers will do nicely to begin our sunset journey.

Zantedeschia 'Flame', star of my most recent post.

Asclepias curassavica

Crocosmia 'Corona'

The tail end of a third bloom cycle this year from Clivia miniata 'Belgian Hybrid Orange'

Abutilon 'Tangerine'

Kniphofia 'Timothy'

Bees disappear into the dying blooms of this cultivar in search of nectar.

Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'

Agastache rupestris 'Apache Sunset'

Crocosmia potsii 'Culzean Pink'

Helenium 'Moorheim Beauty'

Punica granatum 'True Dwarf'

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Inherited NOID rose

 Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red'

Lewisia cotyledon var. howellii

Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy'

I have lots of other colors and blooms as well, but this is plenty for a sunny July day in Portland, Oregon.  Long live summer!

Bloom Day is graciously hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Join the fun to see what's blooming in many more July gardens today.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Zantedeschia 'Flame': my favorite plant in the garden this week

My favorite plant this week isn't particularly rare, nor does it need special conditions in the garden or extra coddling to bring it into flower. In fact, it could be a perfect plant for newer gardeners who want a fabulous hit of color in their summer gardens. I've been gardening for years now, and it's still one of my favorites.

This South African hybrid has everything you could ask for in a summer plant: wonderful lush foliage with silvery spots; intensely colored flowers that develop from green through yellow to orange edges; self-supporting leaves and flowers that are a great height for the border; slowly spreading but quite controllable; and it makes a great cut flower.

I grow Zantedeschia 'Flame' in a bed with several Eryngiums, and the contrast of the yellow and orange flowers with the silvery foliage and bracts of Eryngium variifolium and this year's Eryngium giganteum is a knockout. The spots on the foliage help tie everything together.

Sometimes I just want to dive down into the center of the blossoms.

The stats on Zantedeschia 'Flame':

   • Hardy in zones 9a to 11. Mine go completely dormant, then emerge in spring.
   • 18-30" tall, slowly spreading to about 2 feet wide
   • Sun to part sun, and well-drained soil
   • Average water, though I seldom water mine in summer
   • Resistant to deer
   • Propagate by dividing; plant is sterile

Important note to those of you with children or pets: All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.

I got my plant about four years ago at Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose, OR, and though I don't see it in their current catalog, it may be available at the retail nursery. I have also seen 'Flame' and other hybrids available at big box stores and general nurseries.

For more 'Favorite Plant' posts by other garden bloggers, visit the danger garden blog!