Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Wonders of Laurel Hedge

This past Sunday, mom and I piled into the car and headed to Estacada, Oregon to see the open garden at Laurel Hedge.

The description in the HPSO booklet sounded great and I took a peek at their website, so I thought we were in for a wonderful surprise. It's always a good thing to be able to show mom a new and fun garden she's never seen before and a car ride out into the country was just the ticket.

Somehow, I managed to get to Estacada without getting too lost.

Torii Gate

White Garden
One of the owners, Matt, met us at the parking lot, said hello, and gave us the lay of the land. We met the other owner, Darin, in the gift shop after our tour. Both very gracious hosts. My mom couldn't stop telling both of them how much she loved the garden.

We started out with our map in hand and immediately fell in love with this two-acre garden. The scale of the garden is impressive and even more impressive that just the two of them take care of the house, garden and retail shop. 


Wheelbarrow art!

This garden has everything we love.

A charming greenhouse, rustic and formal statuary, bird houses, a pond and hillside stream, lots of cute outbuildings and different seating areas to enjoy the garden.

Many of these items created from reused materials, salvaged items or antique objects. It makes me wish I could actually use a tool and make something!

Three Door Arbor
Matt said these arches were made from stair forms?!?

Some of the garden reflects a more designed sensibility with low formal boxwood flower beds and a white-flower spiral garden. Other areas are wilder, with trees mixed with perennials. The closer to the house the more formal the garden became.

I asked Matt if he had a favorite plant and he said that he enjoyed trees the most in the garden and combining their reds and yellows together. Matt said that Darin loved any of the white flowered plants. 

A pair of owls.
White Spiral Garden

I mentioned that I thought the grass was well tended. Turns out that Matt mows the lawn and Darin does the lawn edging. There was barely a weed to be seen in the grass and the edges were crisp. That's my kind of lawn!
Grass Stepping Stones

The pond and adjacent hillside stream are especially lovely with an elevated seating area with fireplace overlooking the pond.

Lake House with fireplace overlooking pond  (Love the "Wine" sign)

There are some gorgeous sweeping views of the garden from near the house

The small gift shop behind the barn has interior design items for sale, so be sure not to miss that. There was an abundance of cute stuff to take home.

We ended the day with lunch at the Viewpoint restaurant. The view of the Clackamas River and Mt. Hood from across the road was the icing on the cake of a perfect day!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Smell Me! I'm a Pretty Flower!

There's nothing like grabbing your first morning cup of coffee and wondering what that rotten smell in the kitchen is?

Does the garbage need taken out?

Did I leave rancid food in the sink?

Did the dog do something bad on the floor?
Then I realized it is just Orbea variegata blooming on the plant stand.

I stood in my bath robe admiring her large pretty bloom while sipping my coffee.

It's such an amazing flower. The tiny hairs on the flowers edge are so delicate, the pattern is so amazing and the center part so complex. 

So, I decided while walking out the door that it should be "Take Your Stinky Flower to Work Day" and scooped her up. She rode to my office in my cup holder - just perfect for keeping the bloom safe.

Orbea variegata - Beautiful!
Such perfect stars.
Smell me! I'm a pretty flower!

People at my office know me as a little bit of a jokester. I especially love punking people or scaring them in the hallway. 

Oddly enough, people were VERY suspicious of my flower and what the sign actually meant. 

I had to reassure them that "it's only a flower".  How can a flower hurt you?!?

One person thought that perhaps it would grab her nose 'a la Audrey' in Little Shop of Horrors. 

It was so much fun to see different people's reactions to the fragrance and their descriptions of what the flower smelled like (rotten blue cheese, father's feet, 'dead' something).

It does have a very intense fragrance but you have to be very close to get the full brunt of it!

The experience is a lot like finding a bad gallon of milk in the fridge and then having someone else smell it just to prove it smells bad.

But even that bad smell makes you want to smell it over and over.

It's so bad...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fun Sorghum Facts

As part of my summer Haitian vegetable experiment, I am growing Sorghum 'Rox Orange'.

In trying to figure out what I can do with it once it is ready to harvest, I have come across many interesting facts about sorghum.

Sorghum is an annual grass. Most varieties grown in the U.S. are dwarf varieties, with canes under 5' in height and suitable for harvesting with farm machinery. There are taller-stemmed varieties which are grown in other countries too.

It's been amazing to watch it take off in my garden. It was only planted mid-May and now almost the first week of August, it's nearing 7' tall and about to bloom!

Such cute little babies!
First week of July

Sorghum originated in Africa approximately 8,000 BC, and then spread through the Middle East and Asia via ancient trade routes, traveling to the Middle East, India and China along the Silk Road.

The first known record of sorghum in the U.S. comes from Ben Franklin in 1757, who wrote about using it to make brooms. He's also believed to have introduced the first grain sorghum crop to the United States.

Sorghum isn't nearly as famous as the "big three" grains of global agriculture: corn, rice and wheat. Sorghum is, however, the third most important cereal crop in the U.S. and the fifth (after wheat, rice, corn, and barley) most important crop grown around the world.

The Jamaican Calabash is threatening to take over the world and trying to escape!
One of the advantages of sorghum is that it is a nutritious plant that will grow in tough places, thriving on one-third less water than corn.

Both corn and sorghum can be grown under a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. But unlike corn, sorghum's yields under different conditions doesn't vary as much. Consequently, it is grown primarily in arid areas where corn wouldn't make it without substantial irrigation. Corn loves it's water!

Sorghum still remains a staple food in parts of the world like India and Africa. Eighty percent of the area devoted to sorghum is located within Africa and Asia.

Sorghum has been widely cultivated in the U.S. since the 1850s for use in sweeteners, primarily in the form of syrup. The first seeds coming over from Africa on slave ships in the 1700s.

Sorghum flour is naturally gluten-free, which makes the flour produced from it's grains important for baked goods and cereal.  The seeds can be cooked like rice, made into porridge, or baked into breads.

July 29th!
The canes are getting ready to flower.
In the early 1900s, the U.S. produced approximately 20 million gallons of sweet sorghum syrup annually. Presently, only 1 million gallons are produced.

What's the difference between sweet sorghum syrup, sorghum molasses and molasses?

The juice extracted from sweet sorghum cane is pure sorghum, or sometimes called sorghum molasses. Real molasses is made from pressed sugar cane. In each case though, the pressed juices are clarified and concentrated (boiled) to make a condensed syrup.

I plan to taste-test the cane - it can be chewed like a piece of sugar cane. I have too little cane and lack the equipment to press them to make syrup, but here is an interesting link on how to make syrup from Sorghum.

The seed from the sorghum can be popped like popcorn, which is what I am most looking forward to trying. There are videos online on how to pop it just like popcorn. All I have to do is figure out how to remove the seeds (and winnow?!?) them to get all the bad parts out.

Sounds like fun? Or perhaps a lot of work?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm Just Not That Into You, Edith...

Oh Edith... 

We've been testing the waters for four years, but I think we need to take a break.

I realize that's not a lot of time to get to know each other, but, I have to tell you... I'm just not that into you.

2010 - Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue'
At first, I thought it would be a great relationship. You were cute enough in the beginning. Your evergreen leaves and pretty fragrant flowers seemed appealing. I thought you might eventually block the hot afternoon sun with your 40' height.

Now I feel like you're more of a "friend" than a pretty flowering tree to me.

Over time, your open shape just wasn't getting me excited any more either.

The one bloom you had this summer turned brown before it even opened. Had I known your flowers would only last 1.5 to 2 days before turning brown and falling off, I probably wouldn't have dated you to begin with.

I tried to ignore your nasty habit of dropping your leaves in summer.

It has been great getting to know you, but I think I need to spend time with other trees. 

I'm sorry to see you go, but I think you need to move out.

Branches removed!
 I'm sorry things didn't work out.

Left some stump for leverage when digging out later.
Perhaps some other pretty young thing will come along that will bloom longer and be far more satisfying to take your place?

It's not you, it's me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What's Blooming in July?

Seems like it's been an odd summer?!?

It's been too hot too soon. Then yesterday was so much cooler, I felt like I needed a sweater.

I'm trying to keep up with my watering to make the perennials happy and to settle in my new Cercis canadensis 'Merlot'. The grass is on the way to "beige" in some spots.

 The veggie garden is beyond crazy. I still haven't had a tomato to eat yet. I'm a good month behind, but getting there!

Enjoy all the blooms!

Dahlia 'Mingus Art' - Simple yet beautiful.
Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) in bloom in the veggie garden. So pretty!
An odd double flower on Belamcanda chinensis (Blackberry Lily)
Tigridia pavonia (Mexican Shell Flower)
Unknown Daylily
Echinacea purpurea 'papaya'
Magnolia x Jane has a second flush of flowers.
Gentiana tibetica (Tibetan Gentian 西藏秦艽)
Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue'
Rudbeckia maxima (Giant Coneflower)
Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)
Eryngium agavifolium (Sea Holly)
Yellow Squash
Gladiolus papilio (Butterfly Gladiola)
Echinacea 'Mango Meadowbrite' ?
Clerodendron trichotomum (Harlequin Glorybower), Phlox paniculata 'Sandringham'
Harbinger of fall? Garden mum in bloom.
Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue' about to pop!
Hemerocallus 'Courts of Europe' (Daylily)
The garden looks better from far away!
Crocosmia pottsii 'Culzean Pink'
Crazy veggie garden!