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.

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.