Friday, May 27, 2011

Beauty From Neglect

violet and sedum 1
Sedum 'Angelina' and Violets
I have to preface this post by admitting that I'm always on the lookout for gardens, wherever they can be found. Even a single pot with a few plants can lift my spirits. Often, however, it's the random, wild and, yes, even WEEDY that grabs my attention.

Deck Wide
Here is the roof-top deck at the building where I work downtown. There are quite a few large pots that have been planted with a myriad of different plants over the years I've worked here...with varying degrees of success. After that last round of plants died during a summer where our drip irrigation system broke (and sadly , went unnoticed for too long) they were replanted hastily last fall with a few annuals, just to tide us over. I rarely go onto the deck (rainy all winter, hot as hell in summer), but occasionally will pop my head out to see how the plants are doing. As can be expected, the annuals have not returned...but there are a few things left over from the first plantings years ago that continue to return every year! In addition to that, there are some volunteer weeds that have colonized the space...some of which are as lovely as any cultivated species.

Here are a few such first glance...a riot of weeds.

pot with small yellow flowers
Look closer, however, even this plant, which I see growing as a weed all over Portland, gains something here...growing all by itself, filling this large pot. It's light, airy, ephemeral...charming as any potted herb (but likely less palatable). Just look at those wiry stems and those delicate sprays of yellow blooms.

A closer inspection of the neighboring pot reveals a colony of Violets. I'm assuming these were planted at some point, as they appear in several pots on the deck. Still, the fact that they've survived for several years with almost no intervention by us humans is remarkable.

violet and sedum 2 sedum and violet 3
Here are two adjacent pots, one full of Sedum 'Angelina', the other with more of the Violets and some mystery weeds/grass. I love how the Sedum was just a single plant a few years ago, planted as a cascading accent to larger things...those have all passed on, and now the Sedum fills the entire pot...testament to it's durability! I don't know what the grasses are, or the frothy little weeds with the Violets...but you have to admit, they are quite a lovely textural contrast to the Violets!

grass 1
Next up is a pot full with some sort of grass...I'd guess maybe a variety of Nasella? Either way, I was struck by it's lovely architectural form, in counterpoint to its softly graceful flowers, which sway and dance in the slightest breeze.

mystery grass awns 2
Look at these beautiful how they are tipped in pink...from a distance, it has a gauzey effect.

mystery grass stems
The stems of the mystery grass are even more colorful, red, blue and purple!

mystery grass stems 2
Here is the base of the clump, again showing the lovely red blush creeping up the stems.

volunteer violet
Lastly is a small pot I found behind the door...probably just used recently to prop it open. Even here, a lovely and humble pairing of dark-leaved Oxalis and Violet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

3 Firsts for 2011

first lupine horizontal
First Lupine
There's just something about the first of everything, isn't there...the novelty and excitement of finally seeing emerging foliage again and, of course, the first of the flowers. Even though there's something new in the garden every day, I chose these 3 to share with you. First up is the first of the Lupines. This is from a mixed pack I got last spring, and while they bloomed last year, they were a little sad. This year, they are back and bigger than ever...all pushing up lovely foliage and now, their beautiful spires of blooms. Love this pink/white bicolor...looks sensational being embraced by its neighboring catmint.

allium purple sensation
First Allium,'Purple Sensation'
I grew the smaller Allium sphaerocephalon (Drumstick Allium) last year for the first time and loved them, loved how they mingled with other plants, yet were totally invisible while not blooming. Last fall, I decided I wanted more, but strangely couldn't find got some 'Purple Sensation' instead. While the foliage leaves a bit to be desired (yellowing even before the blooms start) the flowers are sensational and the color combos with neighboring plants (like the Clematis recta purpurea pictured above) are lovely.

Columbine and Clematis
First Columbine, 'Tequila Sunrise'
And, of course, there are the Columbines. After 'Lime Frost' failed to return this year, 'Tequila Sunrise' is my only Columbine at the moment. It makes up for it by blooming in different colors on each plant I have! This one is definitely the red/yellow combo that they are supposed to be...but the neighboring plant is two-tone yellow. Can't say I mind, ads a little fun and spontaneity to the grouping.

How about all you have any exciting "firsts" in the garden this week?

UPDATE: Well, I wrote this post yesterday, this morning, when I went outside to check on the garden, someone had broken off the Lupine bloom for themselves :-( Looks like Old Man Weber has to sit on his porch with a shotgun tonight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Foliage Follow-Up May 19, 2011

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Oxalis oregana and Heucherella 'Sweet Tea'
I sort of posted a similar pic for GBBD, but this time the focus really is the contasting foliage. Love the effect, the bright green Oxalis and the vibrant orange of the's electric!

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Rodgersia Sambucifolia
I think I was originally drawn to these Rodgersias because of their similarity to Chestnut 'em!

RodgersiaPodophylla_May 4 2011
Rodgersia podophylla 'Rotlaub'
The newly emerging foliage has the most amazing color...which greens up after a week or so.

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Rodgersia podophylla 'Rotlaub' Clump
Here is the expanding clump, you can see the older foliage is greener and the newer foliage has the richest color. I'm pretty excited to see new stems popping up here and there (especially since the plants last year only produced a single stem each!).

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Persicaria 'Lance Corporal'
I continue to be very impressed by this plant...the foliage is so does seed around like nothing I've seen before...but that just means I have free plants to move elsewhere and share with friends.

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Persicaria 'Red Dargon'
Another Persicaria with foliage that no photo can do justice too...seriously.

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Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
I've posted on this plant so often...but I still love it...especially in the spring garden as a contrast to greener plants.

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Clematis recta purpurea & Geranium 'Ann Folkard' Cimicifuga 'Hillside Black Beauty'

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Amsonia hubrichtii
I have a few of these, and this is by far the biggest...and also the first one I bought (on Ebay, no less!). It actually has some flower buds forming...which is pretty exciting, but it's the jaw-dropping fall color that sold me on this plant.

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Amsonia hubrichtii and Oxalis 'Dark Dancer'
Another, smaller, Amsonia, growing up through a matt of this sun-tolerant Oxalis. I love this little Oxalis growing under and around other things.

Ligularia may 3 2011
Ligularia 'The Roket'
I've wanted one for years and with the backyard finally taking shape, I had a perfect spot for it. I really like the serrated, arrow-shaped leaves and the red stems. We'll see if it flowers this year (probably not), but even without flowers, it's a striking plant.

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Polygonatum odoratum
Bought at the Clackamas County Master Gardener's the spash of variegation, not too much, just enough for a highight.

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Adiantum (Maidenhair Fern)
Words can't express how much I love this little fern. You see them all around Oregon, in moist, wooded habitats. Love the delicate black wiry and ephemeral.

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Astilboides tabularis
The Astilboides is looking like it might make a respectable showing this year! Last year I got some dinner-plate sized leaves...let's cross our fingers for trash-can sized leaves this year!

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Hosta 'Big Daddy' Knautia macedonica

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Purple Heuchera
I don't know the actual name for this one! This poor thing has been moved so many times, but just keeps on a going.

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Euphorbia 'Faded Jeans'
Another regular on my foliage posts...just keeps looking good :-)

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Iris 'Gerald Darby'
I was so excited to get one of these at the Yard Garden & Patio show this spring. I planted it a few months ago, and it promptly rotted...I was a little distraught. A few weeks ago, I saw some for sale at the Portland Nursery on Division St. I opted not to get them...thinking it wasn't meant to be. Last weekend, I was out there again, and they had one left, pushed behind all the Iris that were blooming. It was waiting for me...I know, it is mine!

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Foeniculum (Bronze Fennel)
I've always grown this plant and always it's big, billowy cloud of darkly divided leaves!

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Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway'
I love Joe Pye Weed A LOT, I might even say it's my favorite plant ever. It's amazingly beautiful, fast-growing and tough as nails. Except for a few months after being cut down in February, it looks good all year. Love the leaves as they unfurl...and I am oddly fascinated by plants whose leaves grow in whorls.

Impatiens balfourii dew RheumPalmatumLeaf
Impatiens balfourii - Thanks, Derick! Rheum palmatum tanguticum

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Bracken Fern
These ferns grow everywhere in Portland...I should probably know their real name.

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Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eye Sumac'
Lastly, I have my 'Tiger Eye' seems to be more vigorous this year, so I'm hoping it finally makes a decent show. A mature plant can be the hightlight of a's looking at you, Mr. Sumac.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - May 15, 2011

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A sure sign of spring at my house, Hyacinthoides (Spanish Bluebells)

Ok...yeah, I'm a couple days late...but it's been a BUSY spring! it really seems the last few weeks have brought about a veritable explosion of growth in the garden. Things that seemed to barely be above ground a few weeks ago are now knee-high. Bare ground is becoming rarer and rarer. Even the new backyard garden is starting to fill in (albeit very slowly), and that's the subject for another post.

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Geranium macrorrhizum 'Bevan's Variety'
One of 3 different types of this Geranium, I'll be honest, I bought them for their fragrant, evergreen foliage...but the flowers are totally charming as well. I love the little ribbed barrels they emerge from, and the wispy antennae-like anthers. This one I actually bought this spring, after seeing how well some others I had bought in the fall fared.

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Geranium macrorrhizum, white
Last fall at the HPSO plant sale, I bought 3 of these...not knowing what their flower color was. It turns out that 2 of them were white and one was lightest blush pink...a bit subtler than the screaming magenta of 'Bevan's Variety'!

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Geranium macrorrhizum, pink
And here is teh pink version. I think one of the coolest things about the blossoms is how their buds are all dark pink, but the flowers have these contrasting, lighter colors.

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Oxalis oregana 'Winter Green'
I actually am not sure of the name of this Oxalis, but I go it at the Xera booth at the Yard Garden and Patio show last spring. I love that it's (partially) evergreen and has these bright pink flowers. If I keep it watered, it will blooms all summer into fall.

white oxalis  270
Oxalis oregana
The good old stand-by, a selection of our native Oxalis. Another plant I bought for it's foliage effect, love how it forms a lush, green carpet around other perennials. The flowers are a nice touch and the pure white really pops out in the shady corners I have it planted in.

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Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'
I love these, and they are totally care-free, until they die after a few years...oh well!

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Heuchera 'Marmalade'
I was only on the Heuchera bandwagon for a few blocks, just long enough to get a few varieties. The ones I do have, however, I really love. They are colorful all year long (although they don't always seems entirely pleased by winter, and in spring they positively erupt into new growth. The flowers themselves are pretty nondescript, but I love the tall, wand-like stems...they change the whole form of the plant.

iris  271
Iris gernamica
Ah, yes, the stalwart Bearded Iris. This is one of only a handful of plants that were planted around our house when we moved in...granted, there are, literally, hundreds of them! I've spent quite a bit of time this spring dividing and re-distributing them. I was amazed at how they continued to bloom, some in full shade, others in piles 5 rhizomes deep. They aren't fancy, exotic or on anyone's "must-have" list, but I still have a soft place in my heart for them. These are pretty much just like the flowers I grew up with...pretty much the only flower my mom grew! I still remember as a kid, running around during spring, only to round a corner to a huge swathe of these blooming their hearts out. Such an unexpected display, every spring, won me over.

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Astrantia major 'Star of Beauty'
My "cheat" Astrantia, because I bought it this spring! All the others are still busy growing their basal clumps of foliage and I'm eagerly anticipating their bloom. For now, however, I still have the few stalks of bloom on 'Star of Beauty' to tide me over and remind me of what's to come.

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Hyacinthoides (Spanish Bluebells) and Nepeta 'Walkers Low')
The dreaded Hyacinthoides are nearing the end of their bloom period and will soon dissolve into a soupy mess. The Nepeta stands ready to take over. Amazingly, the neighborhood cats have left my Nepeta alone for the most part this spring, focusing all their love onto one plant on the SW corner of our garden...poor thing.

centranthus ruber  259
Centranthus ruber (Jupiter's Beard)
While this grows almost like a weed around Portland, I love it. I wasn't a big fan when I first moved here, then I watched a clump in a neighbors driveway bloom all spring, summer and fall with zero care and knew I had to have some. Any plant that looks THAT good with NO care is a winner in my book.

chives  258
Allium schoenoprasum (Garden Chives)
What can I say, I love the flowers of Chives. I don't eat them, as they are subject to the marking tendencies of our neighbor's cats, but I can still enjoy the blooms.

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Aquilegia 'Tequila Sunrise' Heucherella 'Sweet Tea'

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Verbena 'Homestead Purple'
Sadly, not reliably perennial for me, but I love the color and vigor of this long-blooming plant.

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Tiarella 'Pacific Crest'
After wanting a Tiarella for years, but not sure where to put it, I finally got one this spring. This particular variety is supposed to stay short, but spread up to 36"...can't wait!

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I have no idea what variety these partner picked them out last spring. I do kinda like how it's a surpise!

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I should have kept track of the Tulip varieties I planted last fall...but I didn't. Nevertheless, it doesn't lessen our enjoyment of the parade of color this spring. Although there may be only a week or two left for the tulip show, we're loving every minute!