Friday, March 10, 2017

A Glimmer of Hope

Oh gawd, pleeeeeeese stop raining!!!

It's been raining for weeks or is it months? I can't remember and I can't take it any more! 

The one slightly less rainy-ish weekend I had the office cold (aka drippy sinus plague) that was spreading itself all over the staff. It's been weeks since and I don't think I'm fully recovered yet.

This weekend's looks promising. Today there is some strange yellow orb in the sky and patches of some sort of blue stuff.

Constant rain hasn't stopped me from plant shopping.

I had to buy some random summer bulbs that were on sale: Tigridia, Ixia, Asiatic and Oriental Lilies, Hyacinths, Eremurus, Zephranthes. Just to name a few. And I may have been seduced by mysterious "boxed" perennials at my local grocery store. I have low expectations.

I planted them all in the rain last weekend. I have no idea if I planted them in good spots, I just wanted them in the ground. Partly to get them out of my house and partly to give them a head start.

Based on photos of the yard from last year, I can see that some of the flowers are a little behind.

Some of the Trillium and Daffodils that were blooming last year on this date are a week or two behind.

Thankfully there are signs that Spring is upon us. I have felt bad for the crocus. They've had to keep their flowers closed due to the constant rain and some of them have just flopped over. Bashed by the rain into submission.

I'm glad to see these glimmers of hope.


Friday, February 10, 2017

How to Pot Pitcher Plants - Bathtub Edition

What's a man to do after he's succumbed to online plant buying temptation and ended up with 42 bare root Sarracenias?

Pot them in the bathtub of course!

This post will lack a little in the pictures department, as I clearly wasn't thinking of taking photos when I did all this.

It all started when Sarracenia Northwest sent me an email regarding a early spring bargain sale on bare root Sarracenia.

Being a bargain and all, and knowing that I would give a bunch away to Alan of The Mardi Gras Gardener, my coworker Anita, my Portland blogger pals, and my dearest mother in Florida of course I bought 30.

Buying in bulk is always better anyway right?

Of course, I had to order all this during Snowpocalypse 2017. Sarracenia Northwest was kind enough to let me know there would be a delay in shipping, due to said Snowpocalypse, which was totally fine with me.

There was clearly no way I would be potting these guys out in a foot of snow.

I had no idea what I was buying really. I have never divided pitcher plants or seen them unpotted. I had zero concept of how big or small the roots would be?!?

One Monday at work, the box arrived in the mail. I was eager to open it and see what was inside.

The plastic back contained a "wad" of unlabeled roots, so I have no idea what any of them will turn into. There seemed to be quite a variety, however, so I'm sure there will be some cuties. 

Frozen chicken?
I texted this picture to Alan. His reaction was "WTF is that?"

I had told him previously that I needed to raid his plastic pot stash as I didn't have 30 pots laying around and I was too cheap to buy new ones.

Thinking ahead, I had already bought three little bags of perlite and there was a bag of peat moss in the shed outside, that just needed to thaw out a little. But I still had to mix the "soil" and that can be messy.

I placed the babies in a pyrex baking dish with a little water to keep them wet until the weekend when I would have time to pot them up.

Of course the weekend I wanted to pot them, it was raining cats and dogs, so the only reasonable thing I could think of was to mix the soil in the house in a big tote (aka "Big Purp") and pot them carefully in the bathtub. Other gardeners do this too I'm sure.

Mixed "soil" in my purple bucket and got to potting!

The roots varied in size but most fit easily in a 4" pot. There were some very small varieties that ended up in the 6-packs.

Since the plants had been outside all winter in Eagle Creek, once potted, the plants went back outside sheltered near the house.

I will need to figure out water trays for them soon. It's rained everyday since they have been outside, so I haven't worried too much about watering them.

They will take a few years to mature, but how exciting! 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Snowmageddon 2017 (Winners and Losers)

2016 went out like a lion and then that lion hung around for the first few weeks of January 2017, licking it's paws, batting my shrubs around like toys and basically pissing off everyone.

December to January, we had four separate storms that first dumped ice and then about a foot of snow everywhere. One night it took me three hours to get home from work and that was a short commute for some.

All this snow and ice was beautiful for a hot minute and then it got old, REAL old! Note to self: buy a snow shovel.

View across the front - Caesalpinia gilliesii (Bird of Paradise Bush) in the front.
Poor car!
The back corner and English Walnut.

Poor Eucryphia x 'Nymansay' completely bent to the ground.
Across the side tundra! Magnolia x Jane in the front, black walnut in the back.

I know it's still too early to make the call on whether or not certain plants survived Portland's recent Snowmageddon 2016-2017.

This past Sunday (1/22/17) was finally sunny and dry and the sun even came out for a few hours. It was heaven.

The urge for me to get out in the garden was immense. Portland is still to have nighttime weather this week just below freezing, so although I worked for a couple hours cleaning up, I didn't want to get too crazy.

Based on a quick visual survey this past Sunday, there seem to be some winners and some losers.

The east winds whipped most of the leaves off Osmanthus fragrans tips or burned them.

Bulbine frutescens 'Tiny Tangerine' looking like creamed spinach.
Pittosporum tobira 'Shima' survived previous bad winters - will it again?
Daphne bholua (Garland Daphne) took another hit, but no ruptured stems this time.

Minor damage to Choisya ternata 'Sundance'
Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid''s stems are shattered and mushy.
Nerium oleander 'Hardy Pink' bent to the ground.

Is Coprosma x kirkii 'Variegata' a goner?

Pachystegia insignis (Marlborough Rock Daisy) probably dead?
It was hard seeing my babies buried under the snow. I could only imaging the damage to some of the shrubs and trees when they were smashed with the weight of all the snow.

Many of the Daphne, Grevillea and Osmanthus took it hard, or so it looked. Many of them popped back up when the snow melted, although they have new "holes" or clearly need to be staked back to a more upright position.

Smashed Daphne odora
Daphne odora 'Doughnut' springing back.

Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden' peeling like a banana.
Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden' mostly back in proper form.

I have to say I feel like the garden did really good overall.

A lot of the damage seems minor and there was very little limb breakage. I always fear the big walnut trees will lose a limb and take out a parked car or the fence. 

Some of the less hardy for our climate shrubs seem to be winners, but perhaps I had no reason to worry? Many of the Australian or New Zealand shrubs I have coveted the past few years, like Grevillea miqueliana 'Sunset', are actually hardy to 5 to 10 degrees. I don't think it got quite that cold.

There were many times I got in my car in the morning and saw that the temperature was 19 degrees at 7:30am.

Since we had so many days below freezing, I just figured the cumulative effect of weeks of freezing temps would finally get to the marginally hardy plants.

When the temps finally get warm (70's), perhaps some of the plants that looked okay now will show their real damage. I'll reassess in a few weeks too. 

Agave parryi var. parryi (Parry's Agave) and pups unmarked and not mushy!
Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera (Blue Mediterranean Fan Palm)
Telopea x 'Braidwood Seedlings' (Australian Waratah) looking good!
Grevillea junipera 'Xera Ember'
Baby Nerium oleander 'White' and Yucca friends looking good.
Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill Palm) not even a bad leaf?!?
Drimys lanceolata (Mountain Pepper) - a little tippy...
Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Flame Tree) only lost a few leaves.
Grevillea x 'Neil Bell' and Grevillea miqueliana 'Sunset' all did well but need staked back up.
Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' looks a little shabby but not too bad.
The bogs all look good - have to wait to see if the Venus Fly Traps made it too.

Still in question:

I'm still awaiting the verdict on the fish.

In past winters, they have survived 10 degrees for three days, so I'm hoping for minimal losses.

I'm confident that the fish in the 300, 180 and 150 gallons have all survived along with their waterlily, the 70 gallon may be another result. Thankfully they are on the thaw. The ice on top was easily 8 inches thick.

Seems unlikely the fish in this one made it through :(
Bogs, ponds and Pinus monophylla (Single-leaf Pinyon Pine)
Those are big ice cubes!
Frozen Limnobium laevigatum (Frogbit)

Nymphaea 'Hazorea Dagan White' emerging from the ice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Wrap Up

So here we are at the end of 2016. I hate for it to end. I have such a feeling of impending doom for 2017. Although I would argue that 2016 also had some pretty sucky moments.

I have a hunch that for the next four years my garden will be even more important to me, something sacred and true.

The garden always heals my soul, lifts my mood, gives me purpose, and brings me back to the Earth. The garden generally provides few disappointments too.

Frozen fish and bogs.
In the coming year, my head may be in the Begonias, making sure I get that last walnut tree sprouting in the flower bed, but I will be sure to stay ever vigilant outside my garden too, to protect those I love and the rights we have fought for over the past eight years.

I don't mean for this blog to ever be political. It's purpose was always only to be an expression of my nerdy plant love. But it feels like there is more to lose in 2017, than to gain. Sorry folks, in this case, I'm not an optimist.

While there is much to lose, there are many things to look forward to in 2017. Another year of gardening, more plant buying, garden renovations, spending time with my assistant Yvette patrolling the yard for errant squirrels, etc. I can hardly wait to see how the Sarracenias and the bogs overwinter.

Spring cannot get here fast enough!

I also appreciate that a love for gardening crosses all lines and brings us all together with a shared interest. It's amazing how a love for Venus Fly Traps or Peonies or Grevillea, spans the globe and has introduced me to people all over the world that I now call my "friends". I hope to have many more friends in 2017.

I'm not sure what the next four years holds, here's to hoping things don't go down the shitter.

We can always make compost if they do - and compost is good for gardens...

Happy Holidays!

Matthew + Yvette