Friday, September 27, 2013

No More Noxious Butterfly Weeds!

I finally did it! They are no more...

Back in April, I was toying with what to do with my three Butterfly Bushes. I mulled over removing them all summer and finally got the kick in the butt to actually do it.

In the back by the fence - two on the left and one on the right side of the path.
All it took was a 30% sale at Xera and a threat of a tropical deluge of 4-5" of rain this weekend for my call to action.

On the way home from work, I stopped at Xera, knowing full well I was looking for discount "replacement" shrubs.

The key was that they had to be evergreen, interesting, of appropriate size for the holes I would be making in the bed and that they not be more work than the Butterfly Bushes.

I don't mind a little trimming and shaping all year. But having to meticulously deadhead the Buddleia each summer was such a drag, but if they were invasive, I didn't want them spreading.

With the help of Greg, the co-owner, I picked out a few things. He made some great suggestions for color, texture, flowers, and the overall shape of several plants.

My 30% off sale plants! C. subulatus 'Dark Red' is the tiny plant. Have no idea where that's going to go?!?
The Buddleia davidii were all planted in 2006, and were some of the first plants I bought, even before the sale of my house was complete, so there was a little nostalgia to them.  I figured they were going to be a b@T$h to get out.

I managed to cut them down and rip the stumps out in just an hour and a half. It helped that the soil in these raised beds was wet, a little on the sandy side and that it seemed a lot of the root structure and trunks of the Buddleia were rotted out.

Two green bins plus one stump to get rid of.
I even managed to get my new plants in the ground before it got dark! They will also be nicely watered in after this weekend's storm passes through.

The plant replacing the white Butterfly Bush in the hottest sun spot is Ceanothus cuneatus 'Blue Sierra'. Chosen for it's ability with withstand the hottest sun in this location and its blue flowers for the butterflies. One butterfly bush swapped for another!

A ruggedly handsome and incredibly tough wiry shrub native to the Willamette Valley southward. 
In spring this evergreen is clad in masses of violet blue flowers for 6 weeks.
 An excellent attractant for native butterflies. Blooms April-May. To 5’ tall and 8’ wide in 5 years. 
Full sun to part shade in soils that drain well. Little or no supplemental water. 
Extremely cold hard and tolerant of hot urban sites. Zone 6 (-5 to 0 °F) 

The plant replacing the purple Butterfly Bush is Olearia lineata 'Dartonii'. Chosen for its grey color and evergreen foliage. Color-wise a little reminiscent of the former Butterfly Bush.

Behind the tall Acidanthera bicolor

A fine textured willowy evergreen shrub with silver tinted foliage that is handsome year round. 
Fast growing to 5”tall and as wide in several years. Prefers well-drained soil that is not overly rich.
Flowers are small, creamy white and inconspicuous. Full sun and little water once established. 
A daisy bush native to New Zealand. Zone 7 (5 to 10 °F).

The plant replacing the red Butterfly Bush at the edge of the black walnut's shade is Lomalia myricoides. Chosen for its leaf shape/color and sweet smelling flowers.

Long grown in the PNW, this rare evergreen shrub from Australia has thin blue-green leaves with toothed edges. 
In mid-summer exotic ivory flowers appear with a sweet fragrance. To 8’ tall and forming a vase shape. 
Graceful and very unusual. Full sun and well-drained soil. Average water. Zone 7 (5 to 10 °F).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today's Favorite Plant - Limonium Sinuatum

Whenever I get a flower bouquet at the Lents International Farmer's Market, I always save the Statice from the bouquet.

The Sunday Lents International Farmer's Market has the best deal on flowers too - the vendors sell big bouquets for $10 and they are amazing and will last a solid week.

I generally think about pulling the Statice flowers out after they have sat in the stinky flower vase water for a week and a half or so. I pull them out, dry them completely upside down and then find some cute pottery "thingy" (a technical term) around the house to stick them in.

Lavender in a French Cicada "Thingy"

I have to admit that several of my previous "arrangements" were/are more dust than flowers after several years. A dried flower arrangement isn't really something you can dust.

This summer, I bought a 6-pack of mixed Limonium Sinuatum (aka Sea Lavender or Annual Statice) from Fred Meyer. I think it cost $1.99 or so. I planted them throughout the garden to help fill in the holes and for extra annual color.

Several of the plants did really well and I continually cut the flowering stalks when ready, to dry and to replace the worn out flowers. 

For some reason several of the pink (mauve?) ones did especially well, followed by a white. The flowering plants were also quite pretty in the garden.

New pink and white flowers.

The plants prefer to be grown in full sun locations and in well-drained soil. They don't tolerate soggy conditions, so even if they were cold hardy, I assume they will rot over a wet Portland winter.

Statice plants are fairly drought tolerant once established, but enjoy regular summer watering.
Next year, I think I'll buy two packs...

My Assistant's baby picture.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tillandsia Problem Solved!

My Tillandsia addiction was a lot easier when I had a greenhouse. I could buy whatever I wanted, just get another dragonfly clip, stick the new plant onto some part of the greenhouse and call it good.

I find that the Division Street Portland Nursery is the best place to buy them. They periodically get shipments of nice sized mixed plants that the sell for $5.99. You can't beat that price. They have the really big gray ones (Tillandsia xerographica) but they tend to be in the $24 range.

After loosing the greenhouse in February (break up, long story) and have not yet figured out a new one. I hated to leave behind my Tillandsias, so I grabbed about a third of them and brought them home. Many of them I have had for 5-7 years already.

I plead ignorance when it comes to the names of any of the varieties. I just buy what I like and what looks good.

They spring and summered outside under a potted rose bush in the shade of a black walnut tree. They did well and occasionally got hit with the hose or got water from the ponds sprinkled on them. They are easy to care for outside when you don't have to worry about getting everything wet.

Now that fall is here - they needed to come in, but what was I going to do with them? My house is very small and there is not a lot of room for extra plants. I also tend to think that I have too many plants outside already and I don't really want to care for plants in the house.

I did recently breakdown and buy a plant stand for the living-room for a few of the outside plants that needed to come in. But that is already filled with hot pepper plants, agaves and plumeria.

The best possible new home and also the strangest, was the bathroom!

I got the roll of chicken wire (the anti-raccoon kind I use for the ponds) from the shed and made sort of a living valance. It acts as a home for the plants and a partial curtain. Nobody can really see into the bathroom anyway and the frosted film on the bottom half of the window covers the naughty bits anyway.

I screwed small hangers into the woodwork to hang the wire from. The little old lady (me) that lives in this house hates to mess up the woodwork. The woodwork is far from perfect, as the house is 78 years old, but I hate to make it worse. 

Hopefully the humidity from the shower and an occasional misting with a spray bottle will be enough moisture for them and the light will be bright and indirect.   

Best of all - Now I can poop and water Tillandsias at the same time!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Things I Have Learned

I'm not the brightest bulb in the box sometimes - but I have learned a few things.

  • Don't try to remove a splinter with a needle after drinking a pot of coffee.
  • Don't prune shrubs after a few glasses of red wine.
  • Fifteen tomato plants is too many for one person to ever possibly eat.
  • It will only rain if you water the yard for five or more hours with the sprinkler or by hand in the heat.
  • Be sure to read the plant tag carefully, there is a big difference between 10"-18" and 10'-18'. 
  • When taking pictures of water plants, hold your phone VERY carefully over the water. 
  • The day of your August garden party it will be 104 degrees.
  • When your zucchini are the size of a newborn, nobody wants them.
  • If you see a weed, pull it out then, don't leave it for later.
  • Always wear your work gloves, even when you don't want to. Blisters suck!
  • The hose will always manage to get caught in the hose-guards and smash the plants you were trying to protect.  
  • If a plant is not thriving, move it or ditch it. 
  • At a plant sale or nursery, if you are attracted to a plant, always buy it. If you pick it up and then set it down and don't buy it - you will regret it later. When you go back to get it - it will probably be gone...
  • No matter how you are dressed, you will be too hot or too cold. 
  • Hardiness-smardiness - try planting it anyway.
  • No matter the Latin name of the plant - I will always pronounce it wrong.
  • No matter where I put my trowel, I will find it in the last place I look.  
  • Digging projects are always better with help.
  • "Needs staking", usually means it needs support or will fall over and be a big pain in the butt.
  • Never order plants on-line - they are rarely as good as you hope.
  • Bird feeders = sprouted bird seed weeds everywhere.   
  • Earwigs always freak me out. 
  • Things will always get planted too close together. 
  • Yes, that smacking sound is the dog eating cat pooh.
  • Plants will reseed themselves just exactly where you don't want them.
  • If the plant tag says "vigorous, spreading, rambunctious, etc" best not to buy it.
  • I enjoy planting bean seeds more than I enjoy picking beans.
  • Sharp tools work better, mower blades too.
  • A lot of weeds look like they are not weeds.
  • It's easier to eat raw veggies from the garden, while in the garden. Who needs cooking?
  • You can never have too many Gnomes.
What have you learned?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Now I Need to Go Buy Another One!

Last Friday, on the way home from work, my Assistant Yvette and I stopped at Portland Nursery just for a little look-see. You know how it is...

We wondered around, looked at the fall annuals, 50% bargain plants, perused the perennials and bulbs as usual, looking for treasure.

In the perennial section, there were about a dozen Rhamnus frangula 'Ron Williams' (Fine Line Buckthorn) for $5.99 (and they were 30% off). Seemed like a good deal to me, so I snagged one, thinking I could find a place for it. It grows slowly to 5-7' tall and only 2' wide and has lovely fern-like foliage.

I hear some Rhamnus can be invasive in some parts of the U.S., but I don't think that's the case here in Portland and I believe this is a sterile variety.

At home, I wondered around carrying the plant trying to figure out where I was going to plant such a shrub. Eventually it occurred to me that it might look good out on the street side of things.

I already have several "sentry" plants in the garden around the entries (pairs of Berberis thunbergii 'Burgundy Carousel', Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire', and Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden').

But dagnabit, I only bought one!

The Sentry - Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden'
Guarding the front gate - Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire'
On Saturday, Yvette and I jumped back in the "Green Bean" (my green Honda CRV) and went back. When we got there, there were three plants left!  Phew!  That could have been awkward.

They are going to need a little time to put some size on, but I think they will be a nice addition. 

Back from the Dead Files - Amaryllis belladonna

The funny thing about many fall blooming bulbs is that the foliage emerges early in spring and then dies out during our hot, dry summers. It is easy to forget that you planted something in the flower bed.

There are a few bulbs that I can remember approximately where they are in their flowerbed homes, but I sometimes forget and accidentally dig one up. They are easy to tuck back in fortunately.

The other day, I was wondering through the garden pulling weeds and cleaning up and discovered there's a lovely flower smiling at me that I had totally forgotten about.

Such is the case with Amaryllis belladonna. I don't even remember planting the bulbs, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing the foliage in spring and wondering what it was?!?

I dislike tags in the garden, but for some things a mental placeholder just isn't enough any more, especially with the early onset of my "Sometimers" disease.

Amaryllis belladonna (Belladonna Lily) — A true amaryllis native to South Africa. 
It is a bulbous plant with dull green leaves that are up to 1 ½’ tall by 0.75” wide. 
Leaves appear in early spring and then die back. They are hardy from Zones 7-10.