Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Loss of Yvee

In August, I lost my best gardening assistant.

There was no warning.

There was no chance for goodbye.

It broke my heart in many places.

But her contribution to my life, home and garden is immeasurable and I cannot thank her enough.

My assistant Yvette (Yvee) was spunky, sweet, obstinate, lovable, and very patient with me.

While she was very poor with a shovel and terrible at planting, her skills with stick and rock relocation and lawn fertilization were excellent.

She was good company too.

A constant presence in my heart and mind, even when she was with her other father.
In her garden, she was often like a flower soaking up the summer sun, just sitting and enjoying being outside.

When I would sit on the ground in front of flowerbeds to pick up leaves or pull weeds, she would eventually saunter over and climb into my lap to snuggle. No amount of daddy telling her he was busy was going to get her to budge. But the reminder to take off the gloves and "just be" was important. 

While I fussed in the garden, she could often be seen wallowing in her "holler", carelessly napping under the shade of the English walnut tree.

We would sometimes sit together on the front concrete stoop bundled in blankets to watch the sun set between the Arborvitae. Something I promise to do more of now.

In spring, I took her annual picture in front of the white Candytuft, almost like her First Day of School picture. It captured the passing of time and seasons. Each year, we both got a little more gray in the face.  

In the fall, we would sit by the back door, looking out over the garden, the smell of the Osmanthus fragrans dancing in our noses, the leaves would soon be falling.

We spent many nights sleeping in Shedteau Yvette, a garden cabin I had built for both of us. After a long day of gardening, we would head to the cabin and fall asleep together watching a movie. Sometimes I would leave the door open to enjoy the evening air and she would lay in her bed and peer into the dark. 

We often played a game in the morning, Yvee would avoid going to work with me by finding a spot on the sidewalk or by the back patio and sit defiantly, daring me to chase after her to get her in the car. She wanted to stay home in the garden. I did too.

She was happy to attend all my open gardens, casually greeting early visitors. If you arrived later, she may have been a little indifferent and only given a cursory hello to get a "pet pet" before wandering off to nap.

Yvee was well known at several nurseries, often traveling around in her blue wagon or happily sitting in a chair in the shade. As long as she could see me she didn't care how long I looked at plants.

She was not much for perusing plants though, especially in the heat, preferring to stay in the shade and hopefully getting some attention from passersby.

A favorite memory is Alan, Yvee and I going to the plant sale at Sebright and the wonderful ladies of Secret Garden Growers offered to watch her and gave Yvee tastes of their strawberry shortcake and whipped cream. Yvee had them eating out of the palm of her paws.

Yvee was loved by so many.

Thank you Yvee for being my assistant all these years.

I will always love you.

Daddy Mafufu

Baby "Raisinette"


Yvette Raisinette Kozak-Hubbard (03/12/07 - 08/30/18)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Hey Fern! Introducing Pallaea ovata.

I sniffed out this little truffle at a local nursery. I had never seen anything like it and thought it was adorable!

Pellaea ovata (Ocateleaf Cliffbrake)

I have to admit that just like names of grasses, I have no knowledge of ferns, even though I have probably thirty different ferns in my garden and that doesn't count the ones that magically appear here and there, because Oregon...

My current story is that my brain is so full of all these other plant names, that I just can't remember the name of any fern beyond "Ghost", "Sword", and perhaps "Japanese Painted". And as far as fern Latin names - no chance!

Who's got time to learn all those funky fern names anyway...Ain't nobody got time for that!

This little cutie is called Pallaea ovata.(aka Ocateleaf Cliffbrake). See, they have to call it a "Cliffbrake" just to make it more confusing.

In addition to not knowing fern names, I also lack the botanical knowledge to properly describe ferns.

Where as Wikipedia would say about this fern: "They typically have creeping rhizomes and pinnately to bipinnately compound leaves lacking prominent scales or trichomes on the blades", I would say: "They have zig-zaggy stems with little paddle-shaped leafy-thingies and it's adorable so you should buy at least two".

It enjoys dappled shade, well-drained soil and seems to withstand quite a bit of drought so far and still looks adorable at the end of August. I apparently planted mine too close to the edge of the flower bed and it's been casually arching out into the grass for me to mow around.

Supposed to be Zone 7, but I have not yet overwintered it.

I have a feeling we will have a long friendship in the garden.

Pellaea ovata (Ocateleaf Cliffbrake)
Pellaea ovata (Ocateleaf Cliffbrake)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Favorite Tree of the Day - Eucryphia x 'Nymansay

My summer love was just a wee little baby when I bought her in 2015 from Xera Plants.

She's my current Summer Love - Eucryphia x 'Nymansay'. 

Eucryphia x 'Nymansay'
At the time, I was looking for a tall, but thin, tree, to fill in a gap at the back fence and help hide the neighbors behind me. I also wanted an evergreen tree. It was also a bonus to have summer flowers the neighbors and I could both enjoy.

She's rapidly grown the past three years and will be a lovely 18' evergreen columnar tree over time. Hardy to Zone 7b.

She seems to like her leaves in full sun, but cool soil for her roots and regular summer water. The summer sun can be pretty hot towards the end of the day in this location. A Ligularia dentata is planted just behind her and is the first plant to wilt, telling me it's time to get the hose out and so she gets watered often.

She's already made it through a winter that bent her tall stems completely to the ground. I assumed she was a gonner, but except for a few lost leaves, she recovered just fine. 

Eucryphia x 'Nymansay' bent to the ground 2017 (center)
She surprised me this June with zillions of cream colored buds, which busted out of little covers into large pure white flowers. The fragrance is light and subtly beautiful, like something clean laundry or a Yankee candle should smell like. 

Her bloom time has lasted about three weeks so far, but is nearing the end for this season. 

I can't wait to see her again next year! 

Eucryphia x 'Nymansay'
Eucryphia x 'Nymansay'

A sleepy bee.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Tupa Time! Or the Tupa that Ate My Garden

One of the favorite things in my garden hands down is Lobelia tupa and this is her time to really shine.

I've written about her before back in June 2013. Now she's the size of a small Volkswagen.

Due to the open gardens I had earlier this spring, I didn't prune her back at all and she's quite impressive at the moment! She's crowding out my entry way, so I'll need to make some adjustments at some point.

I'd love to encourage every gardener to give this plant a try, she's beautiful!

Lobelia tupa in 2013

Lobelia tupa in 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Road to Open Garden Day!

May 6th was the first time my garden has been open to all HPSO members.

While at first I thought it was going to be a scary prospect, ultimately it was a very enjoyable and positive experience. 

There were however, a few things on the road to May 6th that made me second guess the decision to open my garden.

Peony 'Sonoma Welcome'
In April, I thought it would be a good idea to have the lawn aerated. It seemed like there was enough time for all the plugs to break up before people saw the lawn. After aeration, it looked as though 10,000 chihuahua's visited my grass and left "deposits".

Then it rained for weeks...or so it seemed. When it rains here it always seems like an eternity.

The dirt plugs all got smashed into the lawn and started creating "holes." I spent a few days obsessively raking and crawling around the lawn trying to break up the plugs and loosen the grass.

I swore to never aerate again before anybody came to visit. Alan (The Mardi Gras Gardener) thought I was a nut case, because I was worried about all the bare spots only my eyes could see.

I also had to dig a few new garden areas for new flower beds this spring. Which required new plants to be bought, a pine tree to be moved and more bark mulch purchased and spread. Thankfully I moved the tree, did all the digging and the installation of the lawn edging months ago, so I didn't have to stress out over it.  

At our annual trip to Adelman's in April, I authorized "the backhand smack", so that if I got too peony crazed, Anita (my more reasonable and trusted plant buying companion) could give me a whack to the noggin and tell me no!

Before the trip, I had clearly said that I only had room for three peonies, but four would be the maximum. I, for whatever reason, showed almost superhuman restraint and only came home with four new peonies this year. Surely there is some sort of reward for this I should graciously accept?!? 

Paeonia 'The Mackinac Grand'
Cypripedium 'Hans Erni' (Lady's Slipper Orchid)
Paeonia 'Promenade'
Iris x pacifica 'Canyon Snow'

I also had to be sure the little vegetable garden was in. My Lents Farmer name came from the big vegetable garden I no longer have, so the little veggie patch at least had to be in. At least one visitor asked about my "farming" qualifications, to which I said "I'm from Wisconsin and once lived on a dairy farm." I didn't actually have anything to do with the farm, but I did indeed live there. So that counts!
The Tomato Patch
Grevillea junipera 'Xera Ember'

Paeonia 'Black Panther 黑豹' (Tree Peony)
Most of the tree peonies I wanted everyone to see, all bloomed the week before. The few days of hot weather spurred them into opening quickly. By the day of the open garden there were just a few left, held together with bubblegum and scotch tape. I left the flowers in their sad state. At least a flower on the verge is better than no flower at all. Well, that's how I saw it at least. At one point I heard Alan laughing in another room because he was looking out the window watching the last petals of a peony flower drop off. Such is life!

The morning of the open garden, while lazing in my bathrobe with my coffee, it started to rain around 9am. As is just my luck, I thought the entire day was going to be ruined. Alan kept telling me it was going to stop.

It rained for ten minutes and then all was right with the world. The sun came out, we got everything arranged and were ready to go!

I'm not proud of this, but I have to admit to verbally abusing some bearded Iris buds that were soooo close to opening and yet would not cooperate for my garden visitors. Irises are sometimes jerks... 

Nature's last little jab at my side was that after the rain stopped and the sun came out that morning, my English walnut tree decided to drop all it's catkins all over everyone's head with the slightest little breeze. At first I tried to pick them up off the hole-riddled grass, but it was a battle I was not going to win.
All the HPSO members that came were lovely, and I felt right at home chatting with them and pointing out the plant and flower highlights that day.

The most asked about plants were oddly enough the Bastard Balm (Melittis melissophyllum 'Royal Velvet Distinction') and the little Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Fire Tree) which was just coming into bloom.

Melittis melissophyllum 'Royal Velvet Distinction'
Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Fire Tree)

The time went so quickly and I was surprised how tired I felt after, but I had been standing or walking for 6 hours. I won't wear flip flops next time and I will be sure to remember to apply sunscreen!   

The next open garden is May 20th and I'm really looking forward to it!  Hope you can make it!

The herbaceous peonies are ready to pop!

Paeonia 'Houki' 芳纪 (Red Tree Peony) on the right
The Shedteau

Paeonia x Itoh 'First Arrival' (Itoh Hybrid Peony)
Assistant Yvette "helping"
Paeonia 'Houki' 芳纪 (Red Tree Peony)
Paeonia 'Yachiyo Tsubaki 八千代椿' (Eternal Camellias Tree Peony)

Iris 'Beyond the Sky'
Paeonia 'High Noon 海黄' (High Noon Tree Peony)
All ready to go!