Monday, July 29, 2013

Joe's New Garden

My friend "Joe" just moved into a rental in outer SE Portland. It is on a quiet little street with about ten cookie cutter shotgun houses.

The "landscaping" was new at some point, but is now mostly dead and full of weeds.  I would call the gardening style in place here: "Neglect".

If you dig through the concrete dirt in some places, you might find ancient petrified bark mulch. I felt like I was gardening in the desert.

Saturday's project was to make this area look nice, but since it is a rental, not to spend a lot of money either. The landlord said we could do whatever we wanted, but this was going to be on the cheap. 

The backyard garden space was approximately 27' x 9'.

The grass, clover and other weeds on the right.
The left side - at least most of the grass was dead and gone over here.
Someone left the frog as a present.
The back yard had a brick patio, with what was supposed to be a strip of grass and then a flowerbed at the back and sides. There were stumps of old Arborvitae that were dead and hacked off every 3' or so.  The focal point is a rectangular bamboo in the middle and a Rose of Sharon to the right that has somehow narrowly escaped death.  I don't often see square bamboo.

The "flowerbed" is on the left and the "grass" on the right.  We opted to pull out the concrete edging and make the space all the same.

The only tree in the yard. I found the twin's dead stump cut off at the ground in the weeds in the grass.

Unfortunately we couldn't wet the area down ahead of time, so we just dug through the hard packed dirt and dust. Here is the yard after the removal of the grass and clover. Everything is raked out smooth.You can just see how dry that soil is.

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Barbeque', Salvia officinalis 'Icterina', Origanum vugare, Chives
Herbs went in first: sage, rosemary, chives, oregano, basil, lemon thyme. The herbs were $3.99 at Portland Nursery. I chose most of them for Joe because he likes to cook and for their drought tolerance. They are also easily left behind for the next renters and easy to replace.

The first trip to Home Depot yielded 9 bags of BROWN bark mulch. It wasn't quite enough to cover the space.  You can see how a new layer of mulch covers a multitude of sins.

OMG - Soooo much better.
We ran out of the first round bark. Four of the scalloped edges went around the tree with a bag of red volcano rock he just happened to have. I forgot to take a picture of that. 

Rose of Sharon?  Hopefully some water will bring you back!
View of the seating and BBQ area.

On Sunday, Joe went back to Home Depot and came home with 9 additional bags of RED mulch. Apparently there was a run on the brown and they were out. So, we had a change in color scheme! With some sun and age it will all fade anyway.

Red over brown.
The Larch in the corner was a nameless freebee - I have no idea how big it will get. I'll keep an eye on it!
Just needs a good wet down to settle everything in.

A few concrete stepping stones ($1 each) and a few new solar lights.  I think he spent $60 on bark, $12 on pavers and $20 on a few more lights.

I gifted Joe the herbs and the lovely Larch was a freebee from the first open garden he attended with me at Jane's garden.  We don't know the name of it, but hopefully he won't still be renting there if/when it gets huge! 

In the future, if he wants more plants/flowers, there is room for more, but for now it is low maintenance, easy and looks pretty. The open area in the front of the pavers allows for more chairs without sitting in the landscaping.

Some spot weeding when weeds pop up will be needed, watering the herbs daily until they are established and watering the tree occasionally to make it less stressed.

In 6 hours and for about $100 we created a backyard paradise.  Well, perhaps not quite paradise, but to Joe it is.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

You Better Not Be Eating That!

Actually go ahead, it's just a Coleus... Eat the flowers first, so I don't have to pinch them off!

Katydid - not sure what kind. It looks like Godzilla on this little Coleus.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Plant of the Day - 'David'

My adorable new love recently saw this plant and asked if it was a "hydrangea".  To which, I laughed and said, "No - that's David"...

Phlox paniculata 'David' is showing his very best right now.  With lots of summer sun and no rain, he's tall, strong and loaded with flowers.

He's perhaps gotten a little too big and has kind of swallowed the plants below him, but he's easy on the eyes, so I will cut him some slack.

'David' — A garden phlox cultivar that typically grows in an upright clump to 3-4' tall. Fragrant, tubular flowers (1/2-1" diameter) with long corolla tubes and five flat petal-like lobes are pure white. Individual flowers are densely arranged in large, terminal, pyramidal clusters (panicles to 6-12" long) in summer atop stiff, upright stems which seldom need staking. Long mid to late summer bloom sometimes extends into early fall. Narrow, opposite, pointed, lance-shaped leaves to 5" long. Good fresh cut flower. 

The name phlox is derived from the Greek word for flame.

Guess David does look a little like a Hydrangea!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Opps I Did it Again! - Grevillea Edition

Friday, on the way home from work, my Assistant, Yvette and I stopped at Xera.

We spent some time perusing the plants. I could tell Yvee was thinking "Oh geeze, not this again", as she kept ducking under the benches to lay down.  She knew this was going to take a while.

I looked at the small plants first and found a cute little variegated Carex.  We set that at the counter and kept looking. I kind of wanted another small Grevillea or perhaps a Callistemon.

Grevillea australis had to come home with me. She was small, cute and the sound of flossy white flowers reeking of honey sounded too good to pass up. 

Then I spied Grevillea x 'Neil Bell' and was intrigued. I was immediately seduced by his good looks. The down side was that the tag said "To 7' tall and as wide in 5 years". Crap! Where on earth could I put that!?!  I had to think about it a little. So I wandered around a some more.

Grevillea australis
Grevillea x 'Neil Bell'
Grevillea x 'Neil Bell'
So after hemming and hawing, and chatting with the lovely girl (Idinah) working there, I bought them both and said "F@#$-it! I'll figure it out when I get home".

When I got home, I wandered around the yard trying to envision what to dig up next. There was no hole in any existing flowerbed for this potentially big boy.

I opted to evoke the "at least I still have grass" mantra, and I dug up (in the heat no less) a new round out of the grass that burns to a crisp in the summer.  

Eventually, (if I know myself) all the grass will come out in this area and my Neil Bell can be as big as he wants. I added a baby Callistemon rugulosus 'violaceus' I got at the Hardy Plant Sale this past spring and moved around a few other things that were either getting hidden by other plants, or just needed a sunnier spot.

Still needs a few Sedums to fill things out a little more. Ugh, the grass is bad...

In a few years, this bed will be just another island in the hummingbird buffet that is my garden.

A Misty Morning

For a brief moment Saturday, I thought it might actually rain.

I woke up and went out to see that the sky was misting. It never did rain, but it made for some pretty cool spider webs.

"Happiness" rock

Lawn spider isn't so smart... Not prime real estate.

This spider has good taste. Good combo of rocks and purple Lilirope.
A home in a little forest of orchids.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Today's Favorite* Plant - Gladzilla!

My favorite* plant of the day is Gladiolus papilio (Butterfly Gladiolus) also known as "Gladzilla".

This baby knows how to spread herself around!

Each little bulb sends out underground runners that make more bulbs and eventually you have a forest of Butterfly Gladiolus coming up through EVERYTHING, which seems odd to say about a Gladiola. She is not very discrete in her conquests.

So innocent looking - Don't be fooled!
 A vigorous, easy to grow, late blooming species. Growing up to 3.5' tall, the arching bronze stems are gracefully topped by mauve buds opening into bell shaped flowers. Inside the flowers are stunning, moth shaped markings of maroon and gold. Blooms appear from mid summer thru early fall  Grows in any soil but especially enjoys rich, moist, humusy soil, rewarding you with a steadily increasing clump.
Deciduous. From South Africa. Hardy to 5 °F. 

Pretty huh?

So getting to the "*" part.

The enjoyable part about this plant is the lovely slender foliage. It is super easy to grow and has unique flowers. The bulbs don't require digging in the fall which suits my "plant it and forget it" bulb mindset. They thrive in the hottest sunny part of my garden and with a little summer water.

The bad part is its rampaging nature. It spreads like crazy and plants will come up everywhere. The flowers also tend to nod, so you have to get down to it's level or you can't really enjoy them.

In early spring when things are still pretty soppy, I begin pulling out the runners in the spots and in the plants that I don't want them. I just yank and hope I get the bulb. I hate to admit that I just throw the ones I pull out away too. Later, when they are a little more mature, I have to dig them out with a trowel, or the leaves will just break off when I pull and the bulb will remain to grow again.

A well contained clump. It was about four times larger in spring before the "reduction".
The take away today with this plant is "plant it where you want a LOT of it", because "Gladzilla" is on the rampage.

Here They Come! Tomato Update!

I usually get the first tomato of the season by July 4th and my mom, who usually visits then, gets to eat it.  I have to wait for the second tomato for me! 

The red celery is doing well (bottom right).
This year I got my first tomato on July 8th.  Sorry mom! She went back to Florida on the 7th!

'Oregon Spring', 'Stupice' and 'Moskovick' seem to be the earliest varieties for me.

The negative for 'Moskovick' is that it tends to get blossom end rot, so although some of the tomatoes are early, they might have black bottoms on the fruit.  From this point on I only water plants at the base (no sprinkler).  

'Moskovich' is the earliest for me.
This one has BLT written all over it!
About 1 foot over the tops of the cages now!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's Blooming in the Garden?

We've eased into July.  The lawn is beginning its "beige" period and the heat seems to come and go which means sporadic watering. There hasn't been much to do really - a little dead heading here and there.

Filipendula rubra (Queen of the Prairie) - Thanks Ricki!
I still haven't gotten around to topping my three laurels. I figure I better wrangle them in before they get too crazy tall.  I almost want to take them out, but I do appreciate them covering up my neighbor's windows.  But I could probably plant something nicer there instead?!? 

Nymphaea 'Perry's Almost Black'
Centaurium muehlenbergii - I have no idea where these came from?!? They are just growing here and there.
Gentiana tibetica (Tibetan Gentian 西藏秦艽)
Gladiolus 'Black Jack'

 'Magnus' Coneflower (right) with floppy Erigeron speciosus 'Blue Beauty' in the background

Gladiolus papilio aka 'Gladzilla' poised to open!
Clerodendron trichotomum (Harlequin Glorybower) - Masses of blooms this year
Echinacea purpurea 'Raspberry Truffle', Monarda didyma 'Marshall’s Delight' , Lobelia laxiflora
Go tupa! 

Pontederia dilatata (Royal Pickerel)
Coreopsis 'Limerock Ruby' is sure a beauty.
My Assistant Yvette - Apparently her bear was hot and needed to cool off? He looks like he is waving for help!