Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Winter Sowing Update - SUCCESS!

It finally happened! The first of the plants I winter-sowed earlier this year have started blooming! I posted months ago about my first attempts at sowing Knautia 'Melton Pastels'. They proved to be sporadic with their germination rate (out of 36 sown, only 4 sprouted). To make myself feel better, I decided to try sowing some other plants too, to see if I would have better luck with something else.

Browsing the seed racks at Portland Nursery, I decided on these Poppies (Papaver somniferum 'Himalayan Blue'). I have always loved poppies, especially their interesting, architectural seedheads. I just tossed them onto the soil and to my delight, probably had almost 100% germination rate! Unfortunately, they grew fast...really fast...and soon were way too big and floppy and had to be planted in the garden ASAP. In spite of their spindly little stems, they recovered quickly and started really growing in earnest. That was a month or so ago...and last week I noticed flower buds forming...woohoo!

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Here are their nodding buds, ready to spring up One bud last night, with the capsule splitting.

This morning...ahhh...gorgeous! I walked out this morning to knock some rain of a few grasses, and suddenly noticed these amazing blooms! The color is nothing like what I expected (which, from the seed packet, seemed to indicate an ashy lavender color). These are rich, saturated red-purple...glowing grape with deep plum blotches at the base of each petal. I am smitten! I'm totally going to be saving seeds from these babies...and will let a few standing to seed around the same area as well. After seeing how easy these were to start, I'll definitely be scattering seeds for these all around the garden next year! Enjoy a few more pics below!

Oh...and the Knautia seedlings...they are doing awesome...and will be the subject of another post :-)

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 ANLD Garden Tour!

Last weekend a friend and I attended the 2011 ANLD (Association of Northwest Landscape Designers) Behind-the-Scenes Garden Tour. I had never even heard of this tour until Loree over at Danger Garden posted about it a few weeks ago. I guiltily admit to mild voyeuristic tendencies regarding other people's gardens...so I wasn't about to pass this up! The tour was comprised of 8 gardens scattered throughout the Portland metro area. Sadly, it was so humid and wet outside, that my camera continuously fogged up...especially on wide shots...so there is a paucity of images, unfortunately.

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The Twombley Garden
Designed by Courtney Downing

The first garden we visited was located in NE Portland...out past 82nd. The above photo is my favorite spot in their garden (and maybe my favorite spot of all the gardens we visited). I was instantly in love with the simple, graceful, curving gravel path. I love it when the hardscape doesn't compete with the plants...because the plants were clearly the star of the show. Big, beautiful, lush foliage lined the path. The giant plant at the front is (I believe, forgive me if I'm wrong), a Farfugium. I love how they've contrasted the foliage textures, using hakonechloa as a foil to the larger foliage of Hostas, Ferns and Gunnera. I love the bright green groundcover (might have been a type of moss...can't remember).

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Here's one of the wonderful blue Hostas...love the crinkly leaves. Behind it is and Eyrsimum...which I didn't realize would tolerate so much shade.

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The backyard had a great stand of this yellow-stemmed bamboo. I didn't realize at first that almost every stem is held in place with twine. It always makes me feel better about having to stake and corral my plants when I see others doing the same!

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This vigorous vine covers a seating area...I don't know what it was (should have asked) but I love how it looks from beneath...the light filtering through the leaves was so lovely.

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One of MANY Tetrapanax in their garden!I love this Iris emerging from low-growing Sedum

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Don't you love Verbascum...I really need to remember to save some space for these when I do my "micro-prairie" in the parking strip someday.

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I really, really like their front garden area...it was covered in gravel, accented with rock and had lots of interesting textures and colors. Strangely, it looked like many of the plants were JUST planted, perhaps last winter was harsher than I remember. For some reason, many of the gardens we looked at seemed to have A LOT of extra space between plants...I guess those plants have quite a bit of growing to do...or the owners just love the look of their mulch/gravel. Then again, I am horribly guilty of "crowdscaping" my plants!

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Sedums & rocks...go together like peas & carrots.

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I "heart" Echinops...these are MUCH further along than mine...and has red stems...ME WANT!

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I felt sort of divided about this screen. I think in photos it looks super-cool, in person, it's a bit too much. It might be that it's just a tad too big...or, it may just be me ;-)

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The Jennings-Teutsch Garden
Designed by Rick Hansen

The next garden was just off 33rd & Fremont in NE Portland, one of my favorite areas of town for it's beautiful homes and lovely gardens. The front yard is quite large, being very deep...while the backyard, which is accessed by a narrow walkway, is quite small (almost as small as my backyard)!

There were some lovely Clematis planted throughout the garden, my fave was this deep purple one. While the rain may have made for a slightly uncomfortable viewing experience for us, the plants were loving it.

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I swear this Hosta was at every house we toured!Love the spiraly form of this fern.

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I have to remember to find this Allium this fall...is it 'Star of Persia', perhaps?

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My favorite thing at this garden was actually at the garden next door. I've been thinking of getting some of this plant, Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’ (New Zealand Burr), for a colorful groundcover in my own garden. Hmmmm...can I commit to such a short plant...only time will tell.

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Hardiman Horticultural Haven
home of Lucy and Fred Hardiman

Ok, in spite of it's silly name, this was, far and away, my favorite of the gardens, the reason for which I'll explain at the end of this post. Let's just say that it was full of awesome plants that were put together in great combinations. Above is, I believe, Comfrey.

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Comfrey, Hosta and Rodgersia, together at lastBecause they are awesome, Rodgersia blossoms

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Ok...staking fears be damned! I'm going to have Delphiniums next year!

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I'm totally smitten with Pimpinella major...so graceful...and so useful in combination with other plants...love it here, backed by the sumptuous purple spears of Salvia 'Caradonna'.

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The plant many gardeners were searching for the day after the tour, Cirsium rivulare. I've been looking for this one all spring after seeing it in Gardens Illustrated last fall...someday, you will be mine! This variety, apparently, was given to the gardener by Dan Hinkley.

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A lovely sky-blue Geranium I failed to get the name of.

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Beautiful, sophisticated, Astrantia major were scattered throughout the garden.

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I couldn't help by be jealous that their Amsonia was much bigger than mine.

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Cerinthe major

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Breadseed Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

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Normally, I don't think I would even have given this shrub a second glance...but the silver new growth deserved a third glance as well.

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Brunner foliage never fails to please.

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The Hardimans' dog was super friendly, but even it had to take shelter from the downpour after a while.

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The Barnes Garden
This garden was in the West Hills of SW Portland on Old Orchard Rd. It was on a crazy-steep slope (making even mine look like the plains of Nebraska in comparison). The most notable thing in this garden was definitely the hardscaping...lots of paths and terraces to make the slope traversable (and stable). I definitely liked the variety of sedums and succulents the owners had planted on the steep rock wall in front of their house.

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The garden had quite a few of these Hydrangeas...which were lovely in their pre-blooming blush.

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Abutilon, anyone?

This garden was really all about the hardscaping...the paths, walls and fountains...even a bioswale and a henhouse.

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The Marsh and Fear Garden
Design Work by Anne Marsh & Gary Fear

This is also the home of the designers above. You could tell they had put a lot of work and thought into every inch of the property. Unfortunately, my camera utterly refused to take any decent pictures...being very soggy and cranky at this point.

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Ahh...foggy camera...Thalictrim (Meadow Rue) gets it's moment in the mist. Looking through all these hazy photos was a bit like watching just the Cybil Shepherd portions of Moonlighting.

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Is that a rose peering out through the Cercis...it may be a case for Blue Moon Detective Agency.

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Ms. Depesto would never let her camera get this foggy...sorry little Cercis.

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The Waterman Garden
Designed and Installed by Steve Carruthers
Carruthers Landscape

Are you still with me? If you make it through all my self-indulgent 80's TV show references, congratulations! Anyway...on to the next garden, which took us all the way to the terrifying wilderness that is Lake Oswego (that is, if like me, you are terrified by the idea of shopping at Banana Republic). This first garden had quite a few mature trees surrounding it, which gave them some nice shade. They had a really nice rain garden full of lush, beautiful grasses (pictured above).

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ChivesHosta and Sweet Woodruff

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The first bloom on a Baptisia, from the bloom, I'm guessing 'Twilite Prairie Blues'.

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I really liked the foliage on this Iris, but the blooms actually detracted from the foliage. Note to self...buy this iris...and cut off the flowers to enjoy inside.

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The Dischinger Garden
Designed and Installed by Kip Nordstrom

The next garden in L.O. was this one...and while I can definitely appreciate the improvement this is over what they had originally...I just can't get over the fact that 90% of the space in this "garden" is a pool...sigh.

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The Paanakker Garden
Designed and Installed Rick Hansen, Pacific Gardens and Waterworks

The last garden on the tour! Are you as exhausted as I am!?! The first thing I noticed at this garden was on the driveway up to the garden itself...these lovely, large patches of Thyme...truly lovely.

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Geranium macrorrhizumThyme

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A lovely Iris beside the waterfall.

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Sedum 'Angelina'Garden Art

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As you can see, this is another garden where the hardscape was king. To be honest, the stonework was pretty impressive...but again, totally overwhelmed the plantings. There was a fireplace...a veranda, a hot tub...it was just a bit too much...I wanted to see plants!

That brings me to a realization I came to during this tour. These were (for the most part) "landscapes", designed by someone who was paid by homeowners, not "gardens", designed and lovingly (sometimes obsessively) maintained by gardeners. I guess I really prefer the simple, honest garden...with all it's pitfalls and warts. After all, without those blemishes, how can you really appreciate those glorious moments...even when they might only last a few days, when everything you've worked and planned for, suddenly comes together and you can stand back and say, "Damn, I'm good...wait, when did that die?!?"