Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fall - Here We Are Again

Oh Fall...

I have to say, I haven't missed you much.

While on the one hand, I'm glad the hot and dry summer is over, I sure wish the other hand didn't have a rake in it.

Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) making a mess of things.

I haven't been blogging much.

I'm uninspired these days.

And quite frankly, I'm sitting out fall rainy days in the garden, trying only to get done what I can on the weekends or by streetlight. I have to have something in the compost bin on garbage day or I feel like I have failed.

With the year almost over, I feel good about all the changes in the garden this year.

The patio went in and the area around the patio received several shrubs that were already in the yard, but needed moved to a better location. The rest of the space was filled in with more perennial flowers and peonies. 

The Shedteau was built, painted, finished in the interior and decorated. It's now a little cabin oasis in the backyard and getting lots of use.

I bought more trees in one year than I probably should have. (4 - Lagerstroemia, 2 - Eucryphia, 1- x Gordlinia grandiflora). I will have the joy of watching these little baby trees grow up in the coming years.

I took out enough lawn/grass to feel like I expanded the garden in a thoughtful way. 

My eye is already on a few garden projects for next year. I'll mull them over for a while. 

Hamamelis virginiana (American Witchhazel)
For now, I'm counting the weeks until the Winter Solstice (December 22nd), watching the days get shorter until then.

I'm glad the Holidays get in the way this time of year. A whirlwind of holiday cheer is a good distraction.

I'll be inspired again by spring.

I promise!

"One love. One heart."
Callicarpa americana being beautiful.
Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' is still full of summer blooms.
A floppy Chrysanthemum 'First Light'

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Down with Ash Whiteflies!

Be sure to support your local spiders! 

They are helping get rid of some those invading Ash Whiteflies.

These little buggers are new to Portland and quite the nuisance.

I can't tell just how many I may have breathed in while gardening recently.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Today's Favorite Plant - The Purple Nurple

I remember as a kid wrestling with my older brother.

Like most brothers, we were not particularly nice to each other most of the time.

While wrestling, we would each get in our jabs and usually it meant I would lose the fight and then something terrible would happen...

Often it was a "wedgie" or a "snake bite" or sometimes a "nip-twist". I didn't realize that a "purple nurple" was synonymous with the latter, until I urban dictionary'd it today.

I have to admit that once I get the words "purple nurple" in my brain, it's hard to get it out. I can be heard singing it often throughout the house in a variety of musical styles, just about every time I walk past the plant. Plant people are like that.

Which brings me to my favorite plant of the day - Tavaresia barklyi x Orbea variegata 'Purple Nurple'. 

I bought the plant as a bare root cutting about a year ago from a grower ( It was one of a few dozen plants I bought to satiate my blooming Asclepiad addiction. For a couple months, it was really bad... 

After being potted up in 2014, this plant started out in my kitchen window. It made it through winter and spring and then this summer, it along with its friends, spent the summer in my driveway.

The plants got some shade under the canopy of the black walnut tree, but also a good dose of hot direct sun. I was pretty sure I was going to burn them all up with our especially hot summer.

They also got pretty good doses of water from the sprinklers as I was watering like crazy to keep up with the heat. Thankfully I didn't drown them either. I lost a couple random plants, but they were in bad shape before they went outside for summer holiday.
This is the first bloom and I have to say I love it!

Tavaresia barklyi x Orbea variegata 'Purple Nurple'

Tavaresia barklyi x Orbea variegata 'Purple Nurple'

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Orleans Botanical Garden - Cactus and Succulents

For this post, I'm back at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park.

There is a collection of Cactus and Succulents in The Stove House, which was the original greenhouse in the botanical garden, built in the 1930s. Since it had heat from a boiler (hence the stove), tender plants could be propagated and housed there.

The Stove House

The view in.

The view out.
There are some wonderful specimens here and a lot is packed into this greenhouse.

I don't know much about the history of the collection which was acquired from Eugene Veillon. He was a New Orleans native, a navy veteran, and was active in several Cactus and Succulent Societies. He passed away in 2002. 

The Stove House itself is a lovely little greenhouse, with a potting/sink area at the front. The side windows open for ventilation. I can imagine that growing cactus in high humidity requires some getting used to.

I didn't quite get the names of everything - Sorry!

Pachypodium rosulatum
Monadenium ritchiei

Euphorbia decaryi
Whoa! What's that!

A beautiful AND big Adenium obesum.
Gasteria armstrongii

Not sure what this was, but it was different!


Mammillaria bombycina
Say hello to my little friend!
Euphorbia horrida v. 'Snowflake'

Monday, August 24, 2015

Garden Conservancy Open Day Pre-Tour

I was fortunate last Saturday to be invited to a pre-tour of three of the five Beaverton gardens in the 2015 Garden Conservancy Open Day Tour (see link for more info) to be held Saturday, August 29, 2015 from 10am to 4pm.

Proceeds from this tour benefit the HPSO Elaine Joines Grants Program and the HPSO horticultural scholarship fund. Pre-sale of tickets is over, but tickets can be directly purchased on the day of the tour.

I'm sure in addition to the pressure of having scads of regular garden crazed people come visit your garden, having a gaggle of local garden bloggers visit a week ahead of time could be even more stressful. I know how crazy I get when I have visitors.

I was honored to be invited on the pre-tour and to tour with my fellow blogger peers. We had a great time!

Unlike my little neighborhood in Lents, where most of the lots are 50x100', parts of Beaverton have crazy big lots. These gardens are all little treasures tucked in areas of Beaverton that I would never know were even there. As a resident of outer SE Portland, traveling to Beaverton can almost be like going to Mars, but it was so worth it!

The first garden we visited was the Prewitt Garden (SW Far Vista St.). We met Gordon in the backyard and had a personal tour of the property. They have been working this garden for nearly 40 years. The garden is broken into several areas.

View of the front garden.
The flower area.

Nearest the house is a covered porch perfect for their fushias, then a lawn area surrounded by perennials, potted plants and several small water features are tucked in here and there. There is a greenhouse for overwintering plants and a potting table.

The area out back is devoted to the veggie garden and several fruit trees along with Gordon's workshop.

I love growing tomatoes, but I bow down to their tomato growing expertise. I believe Gordon said they were growing at least 15 varieties and they were all covered in fruit.

The hoop house.

Amazing tomatoes!

The second stop was the Mitchell Garden (SW Lynnridge Ave.). Christine and James saw us lurking across the street and came out to greet us.

A wonderful assortment of colors and conifers.

The home had a great expanse of lawn surrounding this corner lot. Perennials and annual flowers graced beds with an amazing mix of conifers. The dark green and chartreuse of many of the conifers mixed with silver perennials moved the eye around the flower beds.

The Cleome have been tenaciously reseeding themselves. Christine edits them out here and there as needed. They are a riot of intriguing height and color.

From the entrance to the backyard, I could tell it was going to be an amazing garden. The backyard was a mix of several sitting areas, woodland-like paths, and even a little agave garden in a sunny hot spot.

The prefect fire pit.
Watch out Danger Garden!
A group of Douglas firs dominating the back corner.
I need one of these!

The final garden on our tour was the Winchester Place Garden (SW Winchester Place). Zachary and Leon's garden was a little taste of the south. The front yard was dominated by a large maple and the most unique ground-hugging Japanese maple I had ever seen.

The view across the back garden.

A relaxed sitting area.

Loved the bunnies.

The back yard was a more formal affair with several seating areas, a central fountain and a formal grass "dance floor" with an obelisk as the central focus and Chinese lanterns a festive touch. 

They have two cavalier King Charles spaniels that must enjoy this open grass area surrounded by gorgeous pots.

The central fountain.

This was just a little snippet of what you will see in these wonderful gardens.

If you have an opportunity to attend the Garden Conservancy Open Day Tour, please do! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Man vs Nature - Raccoon Edition

This summer, Oregon has broken the record for more days over 90 degrees.  It's been darn hot and way too dry all summer. We continue this week with several more days near 100 degrees.

Portland gardener's have had to water like crazy to keep everything alive. Even my huge walnut trees are showing stress. They will be fine. It's the small trees that need constant watering to help them through.

One benefit to all this heat is that my roses, tomatoes and water lilies have been looking great. The tomatoes are 7' tall, the roses have zero powdery mildew, and the water lilies have been pumping out big leaves and copious flowers.

I was even contemplating having an open garden. The grass is spotty,dead and mostly beige and many of the flowers are past their prime, but I thought what the heck! It would be worth it just for people to see the water lilies.

They were so beautiful!

I do pride myself on my goldfish and water lilies. They are a unique feature of my garden and they make me happy. The water lilies were looking great until about two weeks ago!

Then the raccoons started raiding my ponds. They decided the Lents Fish Buffet was open for business.

Most know that raccoons (henceforth referred to as "Lil' F#$%-ers") are nocturnal carnivores and they can be quite a pest in the city, mainly getting into garbage cans, chicken coops and vegetable/fruit gardens.

Each of my smaller "ponds" has a "anti-raccoon prophylactic", which is a ring of rabbit fencing. The ponds are 3 x 40 gallon barrel liners, 5 x 70 gallon water dishes, and 2 x 100 gallon horse troughs.

The thought was that the rabbit fencing would keep the raccoons mostly out. The wires are close enough together to prevent their hands from getting too far in and I wrongly thought they wouldn't be able to climb over it.

In the past, over a summer the Lil' F#$%-ers would visit twice a summer. They would make a mess and rip up the water lilies but never actually got in the ponds.

A traumatized lily.
A water lily "knot".
Harder to get into, but they still manage.
My new "One-Leaf" Lily

This year the Lil' F#$%-ers seems to be smarter and/or more desperate, I'm sure due to the heat and lack of water and food. They have evaded the anti-racoon protection and actually gotten in the ponds, defoliating lilies and eating all the fish and Japanese snails. They have done this now three times in two weeks.

Last night at 12:30am, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom and just happened to hear a Lil' F#$%-er trying to raid a pond on the back patio. I heard a loud splash, which was apparently either the raccoon equivalent of the "cannon ball" or perhaps the "nestea plunge".

Thankfully I was still dressed as I immediately yelled out the window screen and ran outside. The Lil' F#$%-er knew the jig was up and ran for the hills. Along the way I grabbed the only thing I could find, my 5" spider strainer, I use to scoop crap out of the ponds.

By the time I got back there the marauder was on the fence. It turns out there were actually a pair of them. One ran on the neighbor's shed roof and the other along the fence to the adjacent neighbor's house. It just sat on the fence mocking me and staring me down.

So, in the midst of my "raccoon rage", I grabbed the hose, turned it on full blast and gave the Lil' F#$%-er on the fence a face full of H2O, then the one on the roof got his just desserts. 

I'm sure my neighbors were having a "wtf" moment as I was running around like a maniac cursing at raccoons. I was prepared to use my my 5" spider strainer as a ninja throwing star, but my aim is not so good (probably shouldn't have skipped so much gym in high school), so I thought better of actually throwing it.

I had every outdoor motion light and interior house light a-blazing, while I secured the perimeter.

After my raccoon rage simmered down a little, I bunked down in the Shedteau, hoping that if the Lil' F#$%-ers came back I would be right there ready to pounce with my broom and my ninja throwing strainer.

At 3am, my renter got up for work and all the lights in the house were on. I'm sure he thought "Mrs. Roper" finally went off the deep end.

I finally got into my own bed, the one actually in the house, at 3:15am and I think I slept until 6am. Every little noise waking me up. I barely slept.

Boy, I'm pooped... Sorry job, I'm too tired to work today. I think I need a nap today for lunch.

On the way home today, I will be stopping at Home Depot for more wire. I'm going to make lids for the raccoon condoms. I'm also stopping at the fabric/craft store for bells to hang off the wire. The bells will wake me right away and announce the Lil' F#$%-ers have come for another visit.

Upon hearing this story, a friend remarked that "crazy is essential when protecting something you love."

So let's get crazy! Perhaps the bat shit kind?!?