Sunday, January 1, 2012

Farewell, 2011...Hello, 2012

It's hard to believe we're already starting a new year, I sort of feel like 2011 was a bit of a whirlwind. For many gardeners around the country, it was a year of extremes. Extreme heat and drought for some, cold and flooding for others. As luck would have it, those of us in the PNW were spared from such extremes...and as a result, I think it may have been my gardens best year so far! Let's take a stroll through the past year, shall we?

January February March
The first three months of the year (especially January) are mostly ones of waiting, planning and watching. It seemed to me to be a pretty mild winter in 2011, but those who've lived here longer have told me it was actually quite a bit colder than usual. Nevertheless, being Portland, the early spring bulbs (Daffodils, Hyacintoides) were already poking above ground. By the time the Spring Home & Garden Show rolls around in mid-February, most Portlanders are itching for any excuse to think about gardening again. February also brought a short-lived snow storm to Portland, which melted away within a day. Still, it was a nice way to bid winter farewell. By the time March arrived, spring was well highlight for me this year was the first bloom of our newly-planted Parrotia persica trees...not especially showy, but interesting, nonetheless.

April May June
April brought us full-swing into spring, and with it, Plant Sale Season! The HPSO sale, Canby Sale and a slew of others keep gardeners busy...alway seeking out something new for the garden. April also brought my first nursery outing with a fabulous group of fellow garden bloggers...a true highlight of the gardening year for me. Our spring was mostly dominated by our backyard makeover (post forthcoming...I promise). It was also the start of Astrantia season here in my garden. It was the first year for these plants in my garden and I found them to be quite a success. Who knew that a plant that looked so delicate could be so tough? May is the month where it seems like all the little sprouts finally start to surge into real plants. Within the span of a few weeks, plants shoot up and bare ground becomes scarce overnight. Before the flowers appear en masse, it's the fresh foliage that sustains us. One of my perennial faves are the Rodgersias. They have the merit of having large, lush leaves that manage not to look overly-tropical. If May is the month where the plants start to grow in earnest, then June is the month they seem to all simultaneously burst into bloom! In the past, I've planted mostly for late summer/fall interest, but after feeling extremely jealous of other gardens around town last spring, I planted more spring/early summer bloomers...and boy was I glad I did! The Lupines were especially wonderful this year, even if they do disappear soon after blooming.

July August September
Here in Portland, we are gifted with unbelievably nice spring weather. We get ample rain paired with cool temps and a mix of sunny and cloudy conditions...which makes for lush and explosive growth. July, traditionally, is the start of summer. In the past, as strange as it sounds, it's rather as if someone flips a switch...and suddenly the heat is on! This year, however, the cooler temps of spring continued on and on. As a result, plants seemed to rejoice in the reprieve from heat and scorching sun. The garden seemed more full and vibtant than ever...and I barely watered at was rad! Of course, everything comes at a cost, and for those with veggie gardens...well, they probably gnashed their teeth a bit. The first days of August brought with them the first blooms of my beloved lilies. It also continued the trend of cooler-than-usual weather and I was loving it! Instead of retreating into the house (and A/C) during August, I was out in the garden all the time. I even moved and planted a few things...which I would NEVER have attempted during our typical hot & dry summers. Amazingly, we managed to make it all the way to September this year without having a day over 90°...but it wasn't to last...and September brought with it a heat wave. Sun-lovers rejoiced...and I slunk into the house! The warm blast brought with it unsettled weather...strong winds and hazy skies. The haze did make for some wonderful photo opportunities...the unearthly quality of the light was amazing! Sadly, the hot weather had a somewhat negative effect on the turnout for the Fall HPSO Plant Sale, according to the vendors.

October November December
Fall is my favorite season, even if it does signal the end of the gardening season. October started with brilliant weather, alternating between warm and sunny and the return of the rains. As always, it's the grasses that really shine at this time of year. This was the year I embraced Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'. I had thought it too common in the past...of course, I was the one missing out. I realized this year just how amazingly versatile and beautiful it really is...and at no time is it more glorious than in fall. Portland was blessed with an amazing fall this year, which stretched on for months. November was wonderful, full of pleasant, sunny days. We had some of the best fall color in years, and without the typical rains, they leaves remained on the trees for weeks! The garden reached a real crescendo of fall color in Mid-November and was fabulous. December has come and gone, and with it the first killing frosts. Unbelievably, there are still quite a few plants that have managed to stay standing, and practically everything in the backyard is still green...must be it's own special little microclimate (must remember if I ever have some tender plants).

2012 has been good so far...starting off the new year with a bright, sunny day here in Portland. I have SO MANY plans yet for this year. I'm hoping to rip up and plant the remaining hell strip in front of the house. Sadly, that will be the last of our property that I haven't planted yet...what to do after that!?! Luckily, as is always the case with gardens, it will never be done. Even as I plan the new parts of the garden, I'm thinking of re-doing older parts (mostly adding more structural plants). Each year I spend here I get better acquainted with the idiosyncracies of this location.

I have to take a moment to thank all of you out there, my fellow bloggers, followers, readers and gardeners. Garden blogging has gone from something I just sort of "put out there" to something I really value. I can't begin to express how much I enjoy reading other blogs and reading your comments here. I love the community these blogs foster, they are an amazing source of inspiration and solidarity between us. I can't wait to see what 2012 holds for us all...Happy New Year, Everyone!


  1. Perhaps its the day after New Years Eve syndrome, or perhaps it is just the fact that you are so talented, that leaves me without words to describe the beauty of the above photo-calendars.
    I am sooo impressed with the compositions.

  2. Lovely photos Scott. You made some good choices. Your gardens always look beautiful and are good examples of what someone can accomplish with combinations. Look forward to seeing all your wonderful photos this year. Happy New Year!
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  3. Hi Scott,

    Lovely to look back on the past year :) It certainly has been a year of strange weather and the UK hasn't gotten away free from the strangeness either. We had a very dry spring, which moved into summer and although it wasn't scorching hot it was always pleasant and warm but also very dry - for months I was unable to do any digging or planting.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and look forward to seeing more of your beautiful photos :D

    p.s. btw, I dead head my lupins and they always come back later in the year but with more blooms. I love them so much!

  4. Great composition of our year Scott! I know we are much colder than you are in Portland but this year we are very temperate so far. I am not sure what to do, already mulched but no snow cover yet. Hope we do not lose a lot of perennials.


  5. What a creative way to present the months and seasons! All the best to you in the months ahead! It will be fun to see your projects and changes in your garden. Beth

  6. Happy New Year to you and yours! I love the detail and colors in your photos, as always. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with your hellstrip.

    This promises to be an interesting gardening year for me as we face the very real possibility of NO outdoor watering.

  7. Happy New Year, Scott! This was a wonderful look back at your garden for the year. Have you planted the back yard? I remember seeing a post with plans, but no pictures of actual plantings yet. I love the blogging community too.

  8. Why did it take me so long to discover your blog? Odd. Our Spring pre-HPSO sale field trip was so much fun, I hope we do it again this year and you don't have to work! I look forward to seeing how your garden develops over the coming year...and I would really love to see it in person someday!

  9. Very nice review of your garden through the seasons. I hope your 2012 garden brings you many wonderful blooms, ideal weather conditions and many magnificent surprises! Happy New Year!

  10. Happy New Year! We also had a beautiful day yesterday and it already got me thinking about gardening. You are right about the weather last year, other than the vegetables, the garden loved the weather. I've sort of run out of places to start new gardens here too, we have a small yard, but am constantly rearranging and moving things around. I bet the hell strip will be amazing!

  11. How fun to look at your beautiful picture of your garden recap for this year. I am glad it was a good year for your garden.I hope it is a better year for everyone with so many extremes over last year. Gardeners are never done. LOL! I am certain your revamp of the Hell Stripe will be lovely and we will want to watch as it develops. Gardeners want to know. LOL! I have enjoyed your postings and lovely pictures this past year and wish you the best in this new year.

  12. Happy New Year Scott! Your blog has been such a treat this past year. I'm even planning to plant a few grasses at my new place in West Linn next year thanks to your posts :) Cheers, Jenni

  13. Your photos are always incredible! Great reminder that spring is coming sooner or later!

  14. Enjoy your positive attitude Scott. your garden is well done, and your photography is first class. Have a great 012.

  15. What a lovely review. You had an amazing year, with so much interest in the garden every month, not an easy thing to do. I love watching the seasons play out in your planting, and my wish/seed lists keep getting longer and longer...
    Wishing you a very happy New Year (and that adorable plush cat). S x

  16. Your post was beautiful. Isn't it nice to be able to look closer at photos of the year past and to enjoy (again) garden beauties and favorites? :-) I totally agree with your last paragraph with regarding to blogging and getting to know others! Happy 2012!!

  17. Wonderful recap. And to think your relatively young garden will be more mature in 2012 -- how much beauty can we stand? Bring it on!

  18. You are a very talented photographer, and I loved seeing your garden through the year. How nice that most of your backyard is still green! And how fun to start another project! And even though that may be the last, gardens are always changing, and never finished. Happy New Year!

  19. Hey dude,
    You know how much I admire your work, both for photography and prose. I think more of the world should see so much so I thought that Timber Press should about it. And lo' and behold one of their editors said she was stunned, yes stunned, about your photography and she's taking a look at your blog, and mine too.

  20. What a nice retrospective Scott; stellar photos as always . We had similar weather patterns here on Norcal in 2011, with the odd absence of rain so far this winter. I have already completed a good portion of spring clean-up.. and had a glass of wine sitting in the garden at 4:30pm today Jan 2nd..60's!

  21. I know exactly what you mean about the sense of community that blogging fosters. And I'm glad that SOMEONE had a great gardening year in 2011. We all reap the rewards thanks to your beautiful photographs.

  22. Scott, needless to say all the pictures are terrific, I like the way you arranged them. I am too a little worry about running out of space in the garden... Do you know if some of your neighbor put his house on sale? Did you tell that's not a good place to grow their children? their house may be haunted? In short: any plan to get rid of them and expand your garden??

  23. Absolutely stunning photos Scott! Wow! Seriously, it gets me all fired up to see these photos. I want to run out and photograph my garden all day. Big time ups!

    Happy New Year and here's to another great year of gardening!

  24. Hi Scott,
    You don't get killing frosts until December? I am so jealous! I get them in early October.

    I am looking forward to seeing what you do in your 2012 garden.

  25. Happy New Year, Scott. I hope we can have a repeat of COOL weather this summer. I'm not fond of 90 degree weather either. Gorgeous photos.

  26. I'm so sad that I didn't find my way to your blog earlier in 2011. This was such a nice look back at the year--I'd already forgotten how mild our summer was, or those terribly hot weeks in September. I can't wait to see what you create this year!

  27. I have enjoyed getting to know you through your blog, and seeing your beautiful garden and photography. Happy New Year!

  28. Love the photos! I'm totally jealous of your Portland weather, although here in Spokane it's been milder than usual the past week. So nice to see the sun and break into the 40's once in a while!

  29. What an inspiring blog - and gorgeus garden!

    Here in Southern Finland we're still waiting for the "real" winter to come, so no snow or frost still... hope it's not sign of the climate change, but I like the winter this way. Usually we have plenty of snow and -20°C in January, brr.

    Wishing you a successful gardening year 2012!

  30. A great post, and great photos. You have quite an inspring garden (all the hard work is paying off).

  31. Your garden is a year-round wonder...and if it were not, your skills with a camera would make it so. Thanks for all the inspiration found here in the year past...looking forward to lots more.

  32. Lovely review of the past year. I had so many plans to catch up on missed plant posts, sort through photo's, post about garden blogs I love (esp. yours) and finally get decent December shots - but DIY disasters seemed to take up most of Oct and Nov so December was a whirlwind of everything except gardening. Very frustrating, so I've been trying to get my head back into gardening mode this week, even though our continuing severe gales are keeping me out of the garden itself. I'm so glad the extremes didn't hit you because your garden has been such a huge pleasure to watch all year. Thanks for sharing it.

  33. I enjoyed the walk through last year in photos. You all have some beautiful plants up there. I have never been but I feel like I have visited in reading your blog. Yes we had a intense summer this past year preceded by an equally as intense winter. Both the worst we've seen in years. Hopefully the last of that! Looking forward to your posts for 2012! Always enjoy sitting reading your posts and viewing the incredible photos!!!!

  34. This was a good post, and that last paragraph sums up why we are here. I hope you and yours have a great new year.

  35. Hi Scott, Happy New Year! I am just getting to know your garden and blog, but from what I have seen so far, both are beautiful! Like you, I am always adding to my garden. I have a long wish list of plants I want to add this spring. More grasses figure prominently on that list. Here is hoping for an early spring. I can hardly wait to get gardening again!

  36. Hi Scott, a belated Happy New Year to you. I have to tell you this past December (last month) I heard Dr. Michael Dirr. He is a big fan of Parrotia persica. He led a tour through an arboretum and he talked a great deal about them. I love them too!

  37. I always enjoy looking at your photos, Scott. You have an eye for stunning planting combinations aswell as a taking excellent photographs. So there,s a bitof replanting in the pipeline? Then where? Perhaps you'll have to take over next door's garden. Happy gardening and blogging in 2012!

  38. allanbecker: Awww…shucks…I'm blushing :-)

    Sunray Gardens: Thanks…I do delight in making different combos in the garden…glad it's paying off!

    gwirrel: Isn't the weather this past year odd…makes me worried for what we can expect in the future. Good info on the Lupins…I'll have to be more diligent in my dead-heading!

    Gatsby Gardens: Thanks! Me too…I worry when our weather is unusually warm or cold…eek!

    PlantPostings: Thanks…and same to you…let's hope for a great gardening year!

    Bluestem: I am totally itching to get out and work on the hellstrip…and I must have gone through 30 rounds of revisions on my plans so far. I can't imagine not being able to water at all..especially with the heat you get…ouch! I'll cross my fingers it doesn't come to that…as amazing as your garden is, I'd hate to see it suffer from such severe drought :-(

    Alison: Oh yeah…my next post is going to be the start of a 2 or 3-part series where I talk about the back yard…it just kept getting longer and longer…so rather than clog up the inter webs with the godzilla of blog posts, I'm breaking it up into more manageable sections…I hope you'll enjoy it!

    danger garden: I wonder about that with other blogs too. Amazingly, yours was one of the very first blogs I started following as I started blogging :-) I hope we can do the sale trip again too…I was talking to Derrick the other night and we both agreed it was a blast. OMG…you should totally visit…in summer…when it isn't sticks and mud ;-) I totally want to come over see the Danger Garden too…I've been wanting to take lots of pics of it for a while.

    Karin/Souther Meadows: Thanks so much…you and me both :-)

    Catherine@AGardenerinProgress: OMG…me too…I can't stop re-imagining all my spaces…having a small garden is definitely a mixed blessing, right!?!

    Lona: Thanks so much…I'm so glad you're enjoying my posts…I have to admit, I love other blogs for the same reason…seeing the changes people can do…totally inspiring!

    Jenni@RainyDayGardener: Thanks so much…yours has too! LOVE that you're planting some grasses…can't wait to see what you pick!!!

    Tim: Aww…thanks! And yes…can't wait for Spring!

    Greggo: Thanks so much…same to you!

    hill wards: Thanks so much…it was a great year for us here in PDX…let's hope this year is the same ;-)

    Shady Gardener: It's is so much fun…I've been spending time tagging and sorting a lot of this past year's photos…and sometimes I get distracted just looking at them!

  39. Denise: Bring it on, indeed! I know…it's hard to imagine that the garden will be going into it's 4th year already.

    HolleyGarden: Thanks! You are so right…I shouldn't fret too much…there's always something to be done in the garden :-)

    Patrick's Garden: Wow…that's so very flattering, Patrick…both from you and the editor…what a compliment!

    ks: How awesome…I cleaned up a bit yesterday, as well…the dry weather makes it much more tempting to get out and get things done!

    Pam/Digging: Awww…thanks! I'm hoping for better weather for everyone else this year…I felt very guilty when reading all the Texas blogs, especially. I hope you all get some relief this year!

    altroverde: Thanks, Alberto! Hahahahahaha…believe me, I'm totally scheming ways to get my neighbors to give me their yards to garden in!

    John Markowski: Thanks…glad I could provide some motivation…hope you have a great year too-sounds like you're going for it and taking no prisoners ;-)

    Zoey: Usually, yes…although we've had earlier frosts…they are pretty rare…we've actually not had one that really knocked everything back yet…go figure!

    Grace Peterson: ME TOO! Let's put our heads together and figure that one out!

    Heather: Oh yeah…wasn't it crazy…I know a lot of people were lamenting the cool summer…but I loved it!

    sweet bay: Thanks so much…same to you!

    VW: Totally…let's hope the pleasant summer weather prevails again this year :-)

    Geranium: I can totally feel for you…I grew up in the Midwest, where winters are pretty brutal as well!

    Why I Garden: Awww…thanks!

    rick 'sprig to twig': I do try my best to make it so…and you're so right…a little creative framing can make the world of difference!

    Cally: Oh no…I hope you've emerged from your DIY headaches for a while and can focus on the good and fun things! Let's hope we all have a great year!

    kacky: So glad you like your "visits" here ;-) I'm hoping it's a mild year, weather-wise, for us all…but it seem to not be the case for the most part :-(

    Les: Thanks again, and same to you!

    Jennifer@threedogsinagarden: Glad to hear you're getting excited about grasses…I'm adding more and more to the garden, especially new plantings. Especially now in winter, I REALLY appreciate their form and structure!

    Janet, The Queen of Seaford: Same to you! How very cool…I would have loved to have heard what he said about them! They are quite nice…and are already forming their flower buds!

    Janet: Thanks very much! I think you've hit the nail on the head…I'm going to have to commandeer my neighbors' land to keep my garden growing ;-)

  40. Great post Scott! Love the story of the nuts and bolts of tackling your yard, as well as the overview of the gardening calendar, Portland-style. Hope next year continues to be a great one for you in the garden :)

  41. Nice recap of the year. I feel like your blog gives a really clear idea of your taste in plants. Which is pretty much the same as my own taste in plants. And your photos do a really nice job of using a part of the plant to show the overall effect of the plant or the garden. So we should be thanking you. Rock on.