Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Trouble with Triloba

Rudbeckia triloba seedling copy
Rudbeckia triloba seedlings
A year or so ago, I waxed poetic on the wonderful plant, Rudbeckia triloba. They are a wonderful plant, quite spectacular and different from the more typical Rudbeckias (like 'Goldsturm'). Instead of a 2-3' plant with larger flowers, it becomes a towering plant of truly shrub-like proportions. I believe mine got about 3-4' wide and topped 6' tall by the time it was cut down by frost. In addition, it bears hundreds of smaller has to be seen to believed.

Rudbecia triloba leaf
Rudbeckia triloba can be difficult to tell from the seedlings of other Rudbeckias at first, however, if you look closely at the basal mound that forms in the first year, you'll be able to see that some of those leaves will indeed be divided into three lobes, hence "triloba".

Rudbeckia triloba seedling
It's one shortcoming, to be honest, is that it's a biennial, so it's just a seedling the fist year...blooms spectacularly the year after, then sets seed and promptly dies. If I had a large estate with tons of room, I'd happily let them seed with abandon, but in a tiny garden, it's harder to accomodate spontaneity on such a, shall we say, "grand" scale. Plants like Verbena bonariensis can pretty much grow wherever they want, they take up precious little horizontal space, and I've yet to see one smother other plants. Letting a Rudbeckia triloba grow within 2' feet of any other plant, however, is pretty much consigning that other plant to certain death.

Rudbeckia trilba in crack
Its favorite place to grow, to be honest, is in cracks of our sidewalk. Unfortunately, they are impossible to transplant out of these I will have to decide whether to let them grow there (risking damage to the sidewalk) or pulling them out :-(

Rudbeckia triloba in pot
The few that did sprout in the garden are, of course, in the most inopportune spots possible, but are easily moved at this time of year, when they are still small. Luckily, they don't seem to suffer from much shock as long as you get enough soil around their roots. I have half a dozen or so potten up and will plant a few in my garden and give the rest away next month at a local plant swap. I'm hoping to eventually get the a rotating crop of them, so that I have at least one blooming every year...wish me luck! You know I must like them quite a bit to go through such hassle ;-)

Do you all struggle to incorporated biennials in your gardens...or even heavy re-seeders that you're constantly moving around?

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Perfect Spring Morning

Clematis in Spring
Since I was a little on the whiny side last week, I thought I'd post today about how AWESOME our weather was this weekend. It was truly perfect spring weather...warm enough that you didn't need a jacket, cool enough that you didn't run for shade.

This morning as I walked around, coffee in hand, I was struck by the amazing beauty and bounty of our neighbors' Clematis. I honestly don't know which variety it is, it's evergreen and flowers for a few weeks early in the spring. It's one of those plants that's a bore for 11 months of the year, but for the 1 month is good, it's AMAZING. A bonus is that since the Oak treeks across the street aren't yet leafed out, the morning sun filters across them each morning, making a fascinating and transient spectacle.

Clematis trio
Another bonus is the flowers are lightly scented, just enough so that if the breeze is just right, you get a whiff of heady perfume, light and airy, perfect for spring.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas

Snow Macro
Do you remember how Portland didn't have a winter this year...well, that's because it waited until this month to make its appearance.

Snowy Daff
I woke up yesterday morning to about 1" of heavy, wet snow covering the garden. Now, had this happened a month or two ago, when I expect snow, I wouldn't mind. In fact, I would have enjoyed it!

snow ferm
But it's March(I know...I'm officially a spoiled Portlander)! It's not really even cold out, and the plants shouldn't be too adversely affected by the cooler temps...but the heavy, wet snow just smashes all that delicate, new growth into the ground :-(

Snowy Crocosmia and Sedum
Oh least it was gone by lunch time...can we have spring now, please :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - March 2012

GBBD Geranium macrorrhizum
Geranium macrorrhizum
Yes...I'm unbelievably late in posting this. Another crazy week at work meant that I pretty much ignored the internet all last week. I figured better late than not at all, right?

The garden is just not starting to really wake up in earnest, and every day brings new surprises. I can hardly wait to get outside to see whats up. There isn't a whole lot, boom-wise, in my garden at the moment, however. I sort of feel like once I get the bulk of the garden to a good point, I can focus on adding some of those spring ephemerals. The Geranium above surprised me by blooming a few weeks ago. I had no idea they could bloom this early...even if it's only a few blossoms right now.

GBBD Oxalis oregana
Oxalis oregana
The little patch of Oxalis on the north side of the house continues to expand, and now provides a leafy green matt for the Hostas and Rodgersias to emerge from. Their blooms aren't the showiest, but hey, I'll take what I can get!

GBBD Forsythia
This Forsythia is one of the plants we inherited with the house. It seems to be one of those plants that almost everyone has in their yard...whether on purpose or not! Of course, I'm clueless about pruning them, so this poor shrub looks a bit sad.

GBBD Erysimum Bowles Mauve
Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'
I've grown Erysimum since moving to this house, but they are really unhappy in their present location...I'll either move them elsewhere or try to give them away. It's too bad, they are absolutely glorious when they are happy.

GBBD Daffodil
Another inherited plant...and one I have very mixed feelings about. I love the blooms...but that foliage that yellows and sticks around all summer is awful. I know, I just need to move it back further (right now it's right up front) so it gets hidden later in the season. This year, I'm GOING TO DO IT!
For more blooms around the world, head over to May Dreams Garden! Happy GBBD All!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Winter Walk-Off in Brooklyn

dynamic duo  1326
Les over at A Tidewater Garden is hosting his Winter Walk-Off Challenge again this year...which I somehow missed last year...oops! The challenge is to walk around your neighborhood and document what's going on...without showing any pics of your own garden.

parrotia  1367
Right as we crossed the street I noticed that our Neighbors who planted a pair of Parrotia at the same time as us (through Friends of Trees) have foliage emerging already! When we got home later, I saw ours did too! I have to admit, I think their trees look a bit better than ours, they have such wonderful, open branching structure.

neighborhood walk  1366
The neighborhood cat, Boots (who is pretty much our cat now) decided he had to accompany us on our walk, even though I'm pretty sure he's never ventured this far from our house before (judging from his alarmed cries when he lost sight of us a few times)!

spring bulbs  1365
Spring is in full swing here in Portland, as evidenced by this display of cheery bulbs. I always love this little display, even though once it's over, there isn't much going on in this spot. Someones needs to add a few plants for the rest of the year. Perhaps I'll sprinkle a few seeds here next time I walk by.

grape hyacinth  1364
Grape Hyacinth

bark  1363
Some people obviously prefer to NOT spend much time working on their yard, hence the yard o' mulch seen here.

mossy wall  1362cool fence  1357
Portland spring=lots of moss!At first glance, I thought this was just an ordinary fence...

cool fence  1358
As we got closer, however, I noticed the entire upper portion was strung with crazy, rusty metal cutouts! Some had a vaguely nautical theme...

cool fence  1356
...while the rest were musical in nature. I did wonder what the story was behind them. I noticed the house behind the fence was being totally gutted.

green house with eucaluptus  1385
This is one of my favorite houses in our area...just LOVE the green paint, the fence, everything! Their yard looks good all the time...actually , my only complaint is that this is pretty much what it always looks like, everyday, forever and ever. It's certainly nice for me as a passer-by, but I think it'd get a little old after a while if I lived there. I DO wonder what their back yard might look like ;-)

eucalyptus  1384
They have one of the biggest Eucalyptus trees I've seen around pretty.

big green house  1380
Another large house a block or so from us...I can't imagine what it'd be like to have such a big house...egads! I always enjoy walking past their house, especially in summer.

Euphorbia bloom  1377weeping willow  1375
Willow BloomsEuphorbia blooms forming

house with wall  1360
The people who live in this house had this stone wall installed soon after we moved to the neighborhood...I always want to ask how much it cost them...but I'm pretty sure it would make me cry.

spirea  1355
Most of the plants that the house above are just emerging, including the amazing leaves on this that color!

manzanita  1354fruit tree lessons  1350
ManzanitaFruit Tree Lessons
One of the things I realized while on the walk was how much I didn't know about my neighborhood! I was also amazed at how many people were out and about. I wondered what was going on in the photo above, turns out it was some sort of class about growing fruit trees...very cool!

rosemary  1353
Portland's mild climate means that Rosemary can grow to truly shrub-like proportions! These were about as tall as I am! Granted, they tend to look a bit ratty by the end of winter, they usually recover once spring hits.

rosemary  1352
In addition to the fabulous fragrance, the Rosemary are sporting their wonderful blue flowers right now.

yard in progress  1349stone stairs  1348
This house seemed to be in the middle of an extensive renovation.I was so envious of these stone steps...wouldn't this look about a bajillion times nicer than our cement ones...for sure!

dynamic duo  1381
These two houses are some have some of my favorite yards in our 'Hood. They have a really nice mix of plants and are pretty sympathetic to each other.

dynamic duo  1346
Both of them also leave up their plants for the winter, making it pleasant and interesting for such a long time. They actually still haven't cut things down, including this sedum. Now I kind of miss mine.

dynamic duo  1347dynamic duo  1341
I kept seeing this plant around town, which I'm assuming is some sort of Euprhorbia....but not sure...does anyone know for certain?I actually almost backed into this cactus while taking photos...yikes!

dynamic duo  1343
I find a lot of Euphorbias to be a little dull during summer, but in spring, they are fantastic!

dynamic duo  1338
There were a few little Calendulas already (or maybe still) blooming along this charming brick path.

dynamic duo  1339
I loved the stately Euphorbia at the far end of the brick path...really like all the grasses left standing.

dynamic duo  1336
Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima) makes a great backdrop for spring bulbs, like this Daffodil.

dynamic duo  1337
Emerging Peony foliage is always so striking!

dynamic duo  1335
I really liked this subtle piece of garden decor...especially the mossy, fluted column.

dynamic duo  1334
Sempervivum still showing their sultry winter colors.

dynamic duo  1333
I'm a terrible person...I have no idea what these purple flowers are.

dynamic duo  1332
I think almost every garden in our neighborhood has at least a few Bergenia.

dynamic duo  1330dynamic duo  1329
Paperbark Maple - so very beautiful.I just love the play of colors and textures in this very striking.

dynamic duo  1328
A wide shot of the above.

dynamic duo  1327
Believe it or not, this concrete wall is only a few years old!

fiesty squirrel  1323
If there's one thing we have plenty of, it's fiesty squirrels...this one performs some acrobatics to get at some bird seed.

fiesty squirrel  1324
He did not seem particularly thrilled by my attention.

tree peony  1322
One surprise on our walk was a planting of Tree Peonies...which I hardly ever see outside of the Chinese Garden.

kitty  1321
A friendly Tabby decided to follow us for a few blocks, begging for some love.

pieris house  1319
I always think this house has a nicely-done yard/garden...stuffed to the gills with plants!

pieris  1320
Pieris is one of those plants I totally don't even notice until it blooms...and these folks have one of the nicest ones I've seen.

side garden  1318
While fairly quiet at the moment, in a few weeks, the floral show will start...and will last for months.

hellebores  1317
Peaking around the corner, they have a variety of Hellebores in bloom now.

seed pods  1316
I don't know for sure what shrubs this was on...but love these seed pods!

boots  1315
Boots couldn't quite help himself...had to explore a bit.

eucaclyptus  1314
These folks also have a fairly large Eucalyptus in their parking strip. I couldn't smell it on this day, but on warm summer days, I can catch the scent from a few feet away.

libertia  1310
I loved the bronze foliage of these Libertia in their parking strip.

magnolia  1313
The prehistoric flower buds are forming on another neighbor's Magnolia. These are the same people who have a huge fig tree in their parking strip that I have to walk past/under on my way home from my bus stop...when it starts dropping its fruit it is the biggest, stinkiest mess EVER!

daphne  1312
Another plant I think almost everyone in our 'Hood has in their yard is Daphne...which is great for me, because I get to enjoy the fragrance without having to plant it in my own garden ;-)

cute paint * Yard  1309
I kinda love this charming little house. It's funny, it seems like all the houses in our area are either modest little houses (like ours) or enormous ones (like the house just previous to this).

decorated garden  1307
Another house a few blocks from us has some of the most personality of any garden in our neighborhood.

tools  1305
They have lots of handmade ornaments and well as lots of objects placed about.

division  1306
I do like how they used these pseudo-fences to divide their space up...they do create the illusion of moving from one space to another.

willow  1304
Even though a lot of yards don't have "gardens" in them, they might have one or two interesting this crazy, twisty willow.

asian fence  1301
A surprise was this house, which I've never seen before. They seemed to have really taken the Asian theme and run with it.

metal ball  1303
I loved this rusty metal sphere (which was pretty huge) surrounded by the simple...I would never have this much restraint!

asian fence  1302
Again, really interesting and well-done...I don't know if I would have added all the details to the house as well...but hey, more power to them!

paths 3  1298
I kind of fell in love with this house the second I saw cute...and love the porch!

paths 2  1297
It also had my favorite yard of all the houses we visited! Looking back, I realized I loved it even though most of the plants were still dormant!

paths 1  1296
It was these metal-edged, gravel paths that really captured my imagination. I loved how they curved and intersected. I think the reason I really liked it is that it proved a blank slate for my imagination to run wild. In my mind, it was filled with all MY favorite plants...I'll have to come back in a few weeks/months and see what it actually looks like once it's filled in. Who knows, I could be VERY disappointed!

paths v  1295
I leave you with a parting shot of my new dream-house and garden. Oh, what I couldn't do with all that SPACE!