Thursday, June 16, 2016

State of the Garden - June Edition

It's been a while since I have had a "State of the Garden" report - so here goes!

Boy the weather has been weird here in Portland this spring. We've had some pretty significant swings in temperature every few days, like 30-40 degree swings!

Summer begins next week, but we have already had several days around 100 F degrees.

It's 59 F degrees and overcast as I write this a week later.

The recent hot weather most impacted my goldfish out in their troughs in the full sun. In some of the smaller troughs, I sadly had "fish stew." It was really tough keeping them cool for several days.

I have figured out some "beat the heat" solutions and have upgraded to larger troughs, so the next time this happens I have a game plan. It was a bit of a surprise to be so hot, so early.

I had already planned on upgrading some of the troughs this year and removing the smaller 70 & 50 gallons. I opted for a new 300 gallon and a 180 gallon.

To place everything where I wanted it was a major pain in the rear end. I had to systematically disassemble the smaller troughs, to shift the next size up. It took a long time and I shouldn't have done it on one of the hottest days, but I had to do it. I plan on buying at least three more 180 gallons to consolidate fish and lilies and give them more space. 

My assistant Yvee checking out the new 300 gallon trough.

180 gallons of fun!
300 gallons fills up quickly with water lilies - It seems so small now!
I've done a bit of trimming (aka "whacking") on some larger shrubs that were getting way too big and smothering their neighbors. I know it's generally a losing battle with shrubs to try and contain them. It's best to just let them be, but when gardening in a smaller space, letting shrubs be their natural selves doesn't always fit in.

I figured, if I was at a point where I would just remove the shrub, I might as well start trimming it back and see what happens. 

My chop job on Osmanthus delavayi - if you use your imagination it has potential.

There were eight Juniperus chinensis 'Old Gold' outside my fence. They were originally planted to keep the neighbor's cats and children at bay. Over the years I had to turn them all into "boxes" because I wanted to keep them off the sidewalk and the plants next to them. I have removed all but three and planted much more interesting things.The plants that were there now can spread out and be the stars.

Two of the Junipers are still in this section - the center one was removed.

Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths' has a new home here.
Eryngium agavifolium and a Yucca about to bloom
I weeded the lawn recently, by hand, but don't tell anybody that or the men with the comfortable white "huggy" jacket will come pick me up. I have one weed in particular, a type of Veronica, that I can't seem to get rid of, so I sat on my butt in the grass over several days for an hour or two here and there and pulled it all out. With a glass of wine and some music of course to make it very zen.

From some research, I learned that the one chemical that might get rid of my Veronica was really toxic to everything, stayed in the soil for months and I didn't want to expose anything to that. It's just not worth it! So manual removal to the rescue. I'm sure the weed will come back, but if I keep on it next year, eventually it will be manageable.

Below are some of the plants currently in flower or looking pretty:

Caesalpinia gilliesii
Nymphaea 'Escarboucle'
Rudbeckia maxima
Echinacea pallida 'Hula Dancer'
Lobelia tupa
Iris ensata 'Royal Lines'
Salvia x jamensis 'Sierra San Antonio'
Paris Quadrifolia

Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web' & Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)
Nerium oleander 'Hardy Red'


  1. Your garden is looking good. I chuckled at the shot of Yvee in the big cauldron. She's giving you quite a look over her shoulder. It's been years and years since I've done a comprehensive post looking at my entire garden.

    1. There is a picture of me laying in it like a hot tub. It's a great size, but it already seems small covered in water lilies.

  2. I'm so sad about your fish. That heat came upon us so suddenly. Your gardens are looking perfect. How the heck do you do that? I also admire the dedication to the manual weed removal. I can honestly say, I do not weed my grass. I suppose that is why it looks horrid.

    1. Thanks for the compliments. I realized, looking at the blog, that I need to stop using my iPad for pictures - they are all terrible.

      Weeding the lawn isn't my normal thing. And I even pay for an organic lawn service, but even with the lawn service couldn't get rid of that one weed. A mono-culture lawn is a terrible thing I know, but it's so nice weed free!

  3. I'm so envious of your Tupa , I've given up after three kills. My fish survives the heat . My stock tank is sunk about a foot into the ground , so I think they stayed cool in basement level for those days.

    1. I have to say it is my favorite plant and I do brag about it a little. I never understand why others have such a hard time growing it?!? All I did was stick it in the ground. I liked it so much I bought a second one a few years later, which still does well but never attains the same height as the original. Sinking the fish is a good idea, especially for winter too.