Monday, September 14, 2009

September Photo Contest Entry


This is my entry for the September photo contest on the Gardening Gone Wild Blog. I think it was an Elijah Blue grass from my old garden near Alberta St. in NE Portland from a few years ago during a rare Portland snowstorm. I've always loved the way grasses look in the skeletal and serene.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Love in the Garden

Love in the Garden

Well...looks like the moths are using my garden as a hook-up spot. Here are two of them on my Tiger Eye sumac. Sadly, I realized the ground behind the sumac (which i just planted last weekend) has settle quite a bit more than the ground in front of a result, it has a definitely lean backwards, which is really exacerbated by the fact the bush in on my sloping front lawn...guess i'll have to shore it up this weekend with a little extra fill-dirt and a good watering to settle it in, hopefully a little more evenly. Still, I hate to disturb such a freshly-planted shrub, especially this late in the season, but it's better than having to live with it, or worse, realizing next spring that it's REALLY noticeable and having to do it then, when it's actually rooted in place. Sigh. On another positive note, however, the neighborhood hummingbird made another visit to the garden this morning, seeming to favor the "Black and Blue" salvias, I seem to recall they prefer flowers with a tubular shape, which, fortunately, I have in abundance, between the Salvias and Agastaches scattered throughout the garden.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Days of Potatoes and Verbenas

Just a happy combination...Purple-Leaf Sweet Potato and Verbena Illicina. I love the large, richly purple leaves of the potato against the finely dissected, almost chartreause leaves of the verbena. I'll have to remember to dig up the potato tuber this winter and overwinter it...I might even try to take a few cuttings before it is cut down by frost. Luckily, I have at least another month before that happens.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I say a little prayer...

YES! My first EVER praying mantis! I can't believe it, I've never actually seen one in real life, only one tv and in books...they are unbelievably cool. I was amazed when I was home for lunch today I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. At first, it looks just like a bit of dead plant material...a twig or something. Then it moved, and I realized what it was. After watching it for a few minutes (with the camera on full paparazzi mode) it proceeded to scamper up the joe pye weed and attack one of the bumblebees. While i appreciate the circle of life bit, I was still sad at the death of the bumbler...because i sorta love them :-( I guess Black Mamba (that's what I've named the mantis for the moment) and I will have to chat about who it is acceptable to eat.



UPDATE - She's still there this morning! I'm hoping she sets up residence, romances a male (before probably eating his face off) and birthing dozens of voracious little mantislings!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There's Something About Oxalis

I don't know what it is exactly...the charming leaf shape, the lush carpet of foliage they form, or just the sheer calming effect a carpet of the stuff has...but i LOVE oxalis. Ever since I was a kid and was drawn to the one green oasis in my parents' lawn of dead, yellow grass during a hot Nebraska summer, I've been intrigued by this resilient little plant. Of course, in the lawn it was the dreaded white clover (Trifolium repens), hated the world over by lovers of the homogenous, green lawn...but i loved it. It was a little island of jade green peacefullness, covered with little white flowers, which, in turn, were covered by dozens of bees, all jostling for the one bit of nectar in a green desert. Flash forward 20-some-odd years and Norm and I went to the Leach Botanical Gardens in SE Portland...and a love affair was rekindled. This time, the suitor was the truly lovely Oxalis Oregana (above) a.k.a. Redwood Sorrel...a native of the PNW. Blankets of the stuff covered large areas in the garden, washing up against ferns, trees and rocks...covering hillsides and tumbling onto paths. Strangely, I've been unable to find a nursery that carries this particular variety, so i've resorted to several other types for my garden.

First, there is the sorta chartreuse version with the pink flowers, which has slowly grown over the summer and formed a nice-sized clump which hasn't stopped blooming since I planted it, which is nice. The leaves have increased in size with each wave of new growth and are super-charming, that typical heart shape. They are definitely a winner and I will probably plant more in the future.

Next we have Dark Dancer...a variety I've seen all over, mostly in containers. This one has smaller leaves that are a dark, rich green with a burgundy-purple (almost black) center. I have to say I adore this variety for the sheer lushness of the patches it forms, only about 4-6" tall, but spreading to about a 1 1/2' over the course of the last 2 months. The color combo is great and I'm hoping it continues to looks great at the edge of a bed, tumbling over and softening the edges of walkways.

The last is the famous purple-leaved variety...which I have to say, so far, is my least favorite. It doesn't seem to have grown much at all...and may be getting too much a few of the leaves look scorched...i may move it to a place with more consistent shade and water this fall and see if it perks up next year.

I know it's a bit late in the game...

But i decided to fill in some of the gaps with some nasturtiums. I had originally intended to have them fulfilling this role earlier in the summer, especially since I didn't get a chance to work on the garden until almost the 4th of July. Sadly, the brave nasturtiums I planted at that time were fried to a crisp in the following few weeks, when temps got up to 107°...a rarity in Portland, and not one I'd like to see repeated. So, here they are, a month later now that the temps are a bit more temperate (80's during the day, 60's at night). Let's cross our fingers that they JUST start to bloom by the time frost hits ;-)

As a side note...I also didn't realize until after I planted this batch that it wasn't the long, trailing kind I usually get to weave around plants (Fordhook Mix, I think) but a smaller, compact version called Jewel Mixed Colors, max height and spread...1 foot...sheesh!