Friday, December 11, 2015

The Hand of Buddha

David, the gardener at my office, was kind enough to bring me a Buddha Hand - Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis. Also called a 佛手 (Fuo Shou) in Chinese. He knows I'm a plant nerd with a love for weird things.

Curious coworkers have been asking me what it is and I like to tell them it's a "Frankenstein Squid Lemon." What it really is, is an ornamental Citrus.

It has a beautiful aroma, it's not quite like a normal lemon, but more like floral citrus flowers. It easily perfumes the area around my desk just sitting on the counter top.

They are often used in temples or on shrines as offerings to the gods or Buddha. The fingers of the citrus are said to resemble the hand of Buddha.

Having spent time in China and living in Taiwan, the smell of this fruit always takes me back. I would often see and smell them at the temples I would visit. One temple in particular, Longshan Temple, was near my near my home in Taipei. I would visit often just to soak it all in and commune with the gods. Longshan has a god for every need. 
Longshan Temple 龍山寺 - My favorite temple in Taiwan.
An alter with offerings at Longshan Temple.

It is an auspicious fruit representing good fortune, happiness and long life.

These fruits are not like regular lemons, as they are mostly peel and pith and not juicy at all. The rind can be used to flavor foods and alcoholic drinks and it can be candied. I think it's often used in traditional holiday fruitcake - The lead bomb Christmas kind.

If you see one at the store, be sure to check it out.

At least give it a sniff.

You might get some funny looks, but it's worth it.

Everything is better with googly eyes!

After a few days, my Frankenstein Squid Lemon got soft and was clearly on its way to rotting.

I pried it in half and opened it up to expose the pithy interior. Not much in there, as you can see.

My squid lemon had now turned into a "crab lemon".

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 sunny 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!