Thursday, April 27, 2017

Small pleasures

 It's been really nice to finally have a few hours in the garden this month, between the storms and showers.


It's a season of small pleasures this spring. Like the violet hue of the siberian iris leaves as we were coming out of winter last month. Never seen that before.


The perkiness of a stand-up hellebore looking at the sky;


The pink, yellow, and blue of the heuchera, Yellow Hammer rhody, and the forget-me-nots;


Two days before I took this photo, this camellia had nothing but buds on it. Then—boom!


And the new leaves of the Shirasawanum Autumn Moon coming out of their pink wrappers;


And last but not least, the fractal-like leaf colors of a hardy cyclamen seedling popping up in a new spot yards away from its ancestors, where I'm happy to have it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Huge Plum Harvest...but not for me


After not having any plums last year (probably due to bad pruning) I was really amazed to find my Italian plum tree to be literally covered with plums this year! I was late to get into the garden this year and haven't done much because of ankle & wrist injuries, but in July while they were still small, I thinned 150 of them, only taking every third one or so. Early this month, they began turning purple, and by mid-August it looked like a Christmas tree, covered with purple fruit! I started feeling them and last week they were feeling very slightly soft, and I started checking them every few days.

Sometime between Friday and Tuesday morning, the squirrels pulled every single one off the tree and took a few bites out of the stem end. I was hoping that I could find at least one on the ground that hadn't been nibbled, but nope. Shut out.

No comment on how much I wish I didn't have squirrels here.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Flowers in January!

I don't want to jinx anything, so I won't talk about our weather so far this year, but I've been keeping an eye on my Arnold's Promise Hamamellis, just waiting for it to pop out in bright yellow. It's usually the first to bloom, so I wasn't paying any attention to the Jelena, which usually blooms a few weeks later and is a much younger tree. I noticed a bunch of stuff on the branches, though, from my window, and went out to check:


It's got a few dozen flowers already, and Arnold is still working on his first ones!

The weeds don't look too bad yet, except in one small area, but after the winds we've had, it looks like The Land Of A Thousand Branches. Plenty of cleanup to do later.

I also spotted this fungus, which I've never seen before. Sorry it's a bit blurred, but I love the form. It really looks like a log-eating fungus, and I suspect it's coming up from the filbert stump I cut off and buried last year. Welcome, pretty one!


And the licorice fern is really having a good year with all the rain we've had, even hanging off the playhouse roof! I love this stuff too—what's not to like?


The rhodie buds are getting nice and fat, and hellebore buds are popping up all over. I really love how you can have flowers in the winter, on the dull, gray, damp, cold, gloomy, frigid, blustery, near-freezing, shivery, otherwise cheerless days. It's one of the best benefits of gardening.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A thousand paintings in my garden



As on many other Sundays, I started the morning googling new-to-me artists and artworks, and found quite a trove of them. Looking at the great variety of locations and subjects made me feel that all the work my garden requires is like a great anchor around my neck, keeping me here working on it when I could otherwise be out doing plein air paintings and exploring beautiful places. Then as I was opening my back bedroom window, I looked down across my blooming red daylilies and geums to the billowing zebra grass just starting to show its warm-weather stripes, past the blue mopheads of the Nikko Blue hydrangea, to the soft cloudy light reflecting off the metal barn roof. I brought out my camera to take a photo, and ended up taking a dozen as image after image clicked in my mind as being so very paintable.

Daylily Apple Tart
I took back the words of my lament and ate them as quickly as possible, and laid my misplaced remorse at the feet of Mother Nature, as I resolved to honor these works of life in more, and hopefully better, paintings.

Jackmanii clematis in Big Apple Kousa dogwood
The now voluminous Nikko Blue
Mixed perennials with my new armillary
Satomi Kousa dogwood, the second tree I planted here
Daylily Chicago Ruby
Looking up through the Satomi
The Fairies' table

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Welcoming an early Spring

Three in a row—pale pink on the end is Nuccio's Pearl
Last weekend I went with the usual group of plant-loving friends to the first plant expo of the year and as we drove through Portland in the sunshine and warming air, with trees and flowers breaking out in blooms a month early, I made a comment about it being Spring. The driver said, "It's February." I responded, "But this has been going on so long." I couldn't think of it as winter any longer, with temps at or above average all but two days of the month.

Dainty California
And I still can't, even though we've still got almost two weeks to official Spring. My early camellias are all blooming a month early. Two weeks ago, we were all holding our breath that another freeze would hit and freeze the unfurling buds on everything that was early.

Chandlerei
But with every day that went by, I knew the chances of that were lessening. In the ten years I've been here, we've had a few snows and freezes in March, so it's still possible. But the last few days have reached over 60, so I have to act as if it is Spring, and start doing my Spring garden work. I did get my fruit pruning done in January—during a 50ยบ week—so now it's early planting and lots and lots and lots of cleanup.
Unnamed bicolor
But I sure am enjoying my camellias. Every bush is bigger than last year, and every one has dozens and dozens of flowers. They've been blooming almost two weeks now, and the flower fall has started, so every bush has its pool of color around it, like a floating reflection, red, pink and white, all over the garden.

Unnamed peony-flowered variety
The bigger they get, the more I like them. I loved the 7'x7' bushes in the Camellia garden at Huntington Garden. You could sit on the benches in between the shrubs and just be surrounded by flowers, higher than you were.

Pink Dawn and Dainty California
I went out to take more pictures this morning. The buds on my oldest PJM Rhodie have been opening up a little bit every day, and today the flowers were finally open. I got this shot as as the sun was hitting them.

Rhododendron PJM
I don't remember the last time I got an early Spring. I'm really enjoying this one. Next year I should have a Camellia festival.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

A little piece of sky

Basalt basin and Hosoba Fukurin
I have wanted to add a basalt basin to my garden from the first moment I ever saw one. The ones I usually see are the size of a large hexagon of basalt, a foot or more across, weigh a few hundred pounds, and cost that many dollars. In spite of how many hundreds or thousands of tons of basalt are quarried in Oregon every year, these natural basin shapes are darn hard to come by. And of all the hundreds of basalt rocks and boulders in my yard, exactly none of them hold water. Until now.

Yesterday, on my first garden shopping trip of 2015, I found a small one, the first small one I've ever seen! Weighing about 25-30 pounds, it was easy enough for me to get in and out of my car, and place at last in my garden. It's about 10" long and currently holds about half an inch of today's rainwater. If I tip it this way a bit, I think it might hold a full inch.

I got it at Boring Bark, in Boring, OR, one of my favorite places to go and shop in. That's my little Eleagnus pungens "Hosoba Fukurin" in front of it.

It is amazing how happy something so simple and beautiful can make one.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

There's atmosphere in my garden this morning

Back yard primeval
The sun broke strongly through the fog this morning and made my garden all bright and fuzzy. Happily, it was warm enough to walk around and pull a few fir branches out of the shrubs, look at my camellias that are blooming two and three months early, and wonder again how many days of branch-breaking it will take to reduce all the blow-down to mulch.

The warm light in the warm-ish air showed off the bits of light red

Hamamellis Ruby Glow, Miscanthus Zebrinus
and bright red

Coral bark A. palmatum
and green

Viburnum cinnamomifolium
and the fun shapes left from last year

Hydrangea Nikko Blue
hanging on the fence like a memory of old friends.

Still love my garden. It's time to break out the pruning shears and get to work.

And more good news about my newish Corolla, Bunny—he carried home a bare-root Brooks Plum yesterday with not so much as an ear waggle of complaint.