Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Happy Surprise x 3


Sometimes I realize that I am a bad gardener. My worst offense is the impulse buy. I'm walking though a nursery looking for the one thing I actually want, when "BAM", I see something that I forgot I wanted, or never knew I wanted, or suddenly feel like I should want. Inevitably, once I get it home I suddenly have that all-too-familiar feeling. I didn't plan for this when I spent all winter making blueprints of the garden. Those blueprints were going to help me get organized...remember, no more plants crammed into spots that were too small, behind plants that would overshadow them...ugh. Fist off is one of my biggest weaknesses. BULBS. I always want them in the spring, when everyone else's yard is full of sunny daffodils; bright, cheery tulips; and richly colored poppies. If only we could plant bulbs in the would be so much more logical. Once fall rolls around, I'm tired, it's cold and rainy out, and there is just a feeling of contentment...I just want the season to end with the last hurrah or the grasses, the amsonia, the sedums...etc. Last fall I actually bought some bulbs. A pack of 'Queen of the Night' know, those dark maroon, almost black ones...yup. They came with about 20 or so drumstick alliums as well...which I always find so pleasing in magazines...mixed in with summer perennials. The problem is once I got them home, there they sat. In my office (which is much warming that a cold-storage facility...well, a little warmer) all winter long. I'd look at them every once in a while an swear that if it just didn't rain next weekend, I'd plant them. Well, I live in Portland, admittedly, I was hedging my bet. March approached and other people's daffodils were blooming and I suddenly wanted bulbs...field and fields of them...or at least as many as I could cram into my at-the-moment barren 30' x 6' garden. AHA! I remembered the sadly neglected bulbs in the office. I was pretty sure the fact that they had all sprouted in the bag meant they were not likely to live long...but decided to bravely plant them now, 6 months later than I was supposed to. With a little luck and the bulbs' sheer will to survive, I think almost all of them have managed to come up and most even bloomed. What's more, I am now enjoying my tulips in May...a month later than everyone else.


Another sad remnant of plant frenzy was a 6-pack of miniature lupines...I lost the tag soon after returning home, so cant's say for sure what they are. I had NO idea where to put them, sadly, as most of the spaces in the garden had already been spoken for. Each time I dug up some more of the yard (for other plants that I'd bought without any idea where they were going to go) I'd look over at the brave little lupines...just waiting their turn...never complaining. Finally, 2 months after I had bought them, I decided I just had to put them in around the other perennials...if they grew, so be it, if not, oh well. Sadly, only 5 seemed to still be alive...and a pang of guilt shot through me...I hadn't even given 1 of the poor fellow a chance at life. I planted them all throughout the garden...even the little cell of dirt from the poor goner. Well, guess what...they are all doing well...and that 1 that didn't make it...well, he wasn't as dead as I thought...see below!


The last little story isn't so much about me being a bad gardener as much as it's about making impetuous purchases. I LOVE the twice-a-year plant sales that the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon does here in Portland. Let me say it again. I. LOVE. THEM. I walk around, totally in a daze...completely overwhelmed by all these plants. I know alot about plants, and can pretty much tell you what any plant is pretty quickly. All of a sudden, I'm surround by plants that I have no idea of their identity. I'll also see varieties I've read about or seen in magazines, but can NEVER find in nurseries. I'm the proverbial kid in a candy store. Last fall I bought a few things (I pretty much never spend over $50, which is chump change at these sales. I routinely see people drop HUDNREDS of dollars). Anyway, one thing I bought was this really lovely perennial geranium with wonderful, dark zonal markings. I had no idea what the variety was (the tag didn't specify, as far as I could tell). I had no idea if it really flowerd much (or if the flowers were mostly inconsequential). I just loved the foliage and wanted it. At first I thought it might be 'Samobor', but a neighbor has a bunch, and there weren't the same. 'Samabor' has a dark band, but my new geranium had dark leaves with a band of green on the edges...hmmm. Oh well. Come this spring, it popped up and has grown like gangbusters. I was a little worried the shasta daisies I put behind it might crowd it out, but this thing is growing like crazy and I doubt it will need any intervention on my part to thrive. In any case, a few weeks ago, it started flowering...and I have to say, they are charming little white flowers with nice pink veining. Nothing spectacular, but a nice addition to a plant whose main appeal will always be its foliage.


UPDATE: I think the geranium is probably either 'Walter's Gift' or 'Katherine Adele'. If anyone knows for sure, I'd love to know...thanks!


  1. Oh, I love your un-named hardy Geranium! I was going to ask what variety it was, I'm so bummed that you don't know...

    I love 'Samobar', but it's definitely not that, the flowers are not dark enough as well as the leaves not being quite the same.

    I have also been guilty in the past of hanging onto bulbs long past their plant by date, as well as the impulse buying. All of your sins are my sins too, hehe.

  2. Thanks Alison...I've been researching again and think the mystery geranium may either be 'Walter's Gift' or 'Katherine Adele'...not sure which :-)

  3. It doesn't look like 'Katherine Adele' to me (leaf shape is a little off and yours has more colour). I haven't seen 'Walter's Gift' in person but maybe that's it.

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