Monday, April 30, 2012

Appreciating the Everyday

This past weekend in Portland was and partially cloudy, but without rain...which made for great conditions to work outside. It's nice to both not get overheated OR soaked while working outside. We made great headway on our big project for this year (the front parking strip), but more on that in another post.

north border  1580
While going back and forth through the gardens, moving plants, getting materials, etc, I kept walking past the north border and parking strip (planted last year).

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I kept getting passing whiffs of sweetly-scented flowers...these purple Bearded Iris, to be exact.

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These are some of the flowers that we inherited when we bought this house. There were several huge, congested patches along the foundations of the house. There were layers upon layers of rhizomes...I couldn't believe they were blooming as well as they were...and some in full shade! There were far too many to replant after I had pulled them all up and divided them. Many went to friends and neighbors, many into the compost, unfortunately.

purple iris pink tulip  1581
I felt bad not keep a few, however, if not for love of the plants themselves, as a little way of honoring the past of the house and garden. I kept thinking someone at some point loved them and probably looked forward to them every year (especially since there were pretty much the only flowers on the property). I also felt bad completely getting rid of them...they had managed to endure years (probably decades) of neglect to keep blooming cheerfully. I've whittle down the pile of rhizomes over the past few years (yes, they are still alive...amazingly), and have planted them randomly around the borders.

purple iris yellow tulip  1577
And here they are, blooming for us, their new owners, perfuming the air throughout the garden. I'm so glad I managed to save a few of them, I forget just how elegant they are in bloom. I wonder sometimes, if they weren't so easy to grow, would people covet them more. It seems in the realm of gardening, people so often are obsessed with the new, the rare and the difficult...sometimes we forget to appreciate the amazing beauty of the simple, classic and...common.

purple iris yellow tulips  1582
Do you have any plants, either inherited or purchased, that are common as dirt, but you still love...even in the never-ending flood of new and improved varieties?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Plant Nerd Field Trip - Part 3 - Xera

Nerd Trip Header 3 Xera
Are you tired of my reports on this Field Trip yet...I hope not, but if so, have heart, because this is the last stop! Actually, since I'm going in reverse, this was our first stop of the day...and one I always look forward to. Not only are you guaranteed to find a few plants you never knew you wanted, but the prices can't be beat...can you say WHOLESALE!!!!

agave  1572
Xera focuses on plants that are adapted to our wet winters and dry summers. On their website, they state: "...we offer many plants that are adapted to dry conditions during the growing season and will actually thrive on little or no irrigation and still provide the components to make a fantastic garden." You can hardly argue with that, right :-)

sedum  1562
Sedum 'Red Cauli'
While I've always like certain Sedums (mostly the taller ones like 'Autumn Joy', 'Matrona' and 'Postman's Pride') recently, I've found myself quite drawn to some of the shorter ones...thanks Sedum 'Angelina', there is something great about a plant that looks so good for so long...and requires NO special care! This one is definitely on my list...once I have the new front parking strip planted up, I'll see what room I have left, and see if I can shoe-horn in a few of these.

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Sedum 'Bertram Anderson'
Another Sedum I was loving...I'm not sure about the name.

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Rows and rows of tiny little Agaves.

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Anne and Lyle scope out the offerings.

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We were all intrigued by this little one point I think we figured out what it I forget.

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I'm still not sure what these plants are...the foliage seemed nice enough...

seed pods  1553
...but it was these awesome seed pods that caught my eye!

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Loree & Derrick flip through the pricing guide...a useful thing as most of the plants don't have prices on their tags (this is wholesale, after all).

cactus  1567sempervivum  1560

cactus  1568
More Agaves...I do think I like this type the most...with the blunter, blue leaves.

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I'm not generally a fan of variegated foliage...but the yellow on these Agaves positively GLOWS!

manzanita  1551
Ah yes, one of my loves, the Manzanitas.

manzanita  1550
What's that, you want a closer look at those awesome red you go!

manzanita  1548agave  1545

bud  1547
I could be wrong, I believe this is a Callistemon bud.

jasminium  1546
Why settle for green-leaved Jasmine when you can go for the gold?

red epimedium  1544
One of the plants that Xera really seems to promote are the Epimediums. How can you not like the new, red-flushed foliage?

potentilla  1541
I believe this is a type of that silvery foliage.

phornium  1538
Xera has a good selection of Phormiums, but after the past few years' winters proved how tender they really are, I just walked on by.

phornium  1537
Still...they are lovely, right?

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I can't believe I didn't grab some of these dark-leaved Geraniums!

anthriscus  1535
Love 'Ravenswing' Anthriscus...mine is just about to flower too. I'm always torn between letting the flowers remain, or cutting them down.

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This grouping of Libertia really stands out in the green house, doesn't it.

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I'll indulge you with a close up of that fantabulous foliage.

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In the center of this shot, you can see a little cluster of Eryngium venustum...aren't they cute! Yes...but they bite, be careful.

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Ryan and Derrick on the hunt for THE plant.

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I love the gauzy haze of these Luzula (I think) blossoms.

description  1524lyle looking at tag  1522
Greg Shepherd, Xera employeeLyle, checking out a tag

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I'm not the biggest Primula fan, but these white ones were pretty nice :-)

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Another group of Epimediums...ahhh, so lovely.

the gang  1525
The gang gathers around Greg as he regales us with story of the trade.

chatting  1521
I'm sure there was some horti-humor at work here.

manzanita greensphere  1519
As we left Xera for the day, I caught sight of this little Manzanita...and realized it's the same one I had bought a few weeks earlier from Joy Creek, 'Greensphere'! I can only hope mine looks so big and happy someday! So there you have it, the end of our little get-together this spring. I hope you enjoyed riding along with us!

Oh, and because I forgot to include it in my last post, here's my haul for the day:
3 - Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)
1 - Libertia perigrans
1 - Eryngium venustum

1 - Corydlopsis spicata aurea
1 - Aristea major

Monday, April 23, 2012

Plant Nerd Road Trip - Part 2 - Kennedy School

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Are you all ready for part 2 of our little field trip? I didn't think I'd have this done so soon, but the heat this weekend drove me inside, so I figured might as well work on this post :-)

While planning our field trip, Loree (of danger garden) happened to get a call from Sean Hogan (owner of Cistus) that Erich Petschke (the head gardener for McMenamins) had offered to give us a tour of the garden out at the Kennedy School. I used to drive past Kennedy School quite often when I lived in NE Portland, but hadn't been up there since we moved to SE, so I jumped at the chance to check it out!

kennedy school front border  1493
The only view some people will ever get of the Kennedy School garden is the front, which you can see as you drive by. It's full, lush and vibrant. The day we visited, it was in full spring glory, with cherry trees blooming all over.

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They have a huge (and expanding) patch of the ever-controversial Euphorbia griffithii. Known to be a rampant, thuggish spreader, it has formed numerous colonies throughout their front border area. I can't believe mine has been in the ground for 2 years now, and has never sent up more than 2 stems. Perhaps it's the brooding presence of the Saccharum grass that brow-beats mine into submission ;-)

carex  1489
I think the gracefully arching foliage of this Carex is simply sublime, especially covered in beads of rain.

ribes  1488
I believe this is a form of Ribes (Currant). I have to admit, I kind of prefer the more floriferous, bright pink ones, though :-)

mahonia  1495
Those purple berries on this Mahonia are amazing, no?

rubus and ceonothus  1485
I love how this tiny-flowered Ceonothus is locked in a struggle with the ghostly rubus cockburnianus.

rubus  1483
Planting this Rubus could be a mistake in the future, as it seems to display all the wandering tendencies of its wilder cousins. Still, that white bloom on its branches makes it tempting, right?!?

callistemon  1482
I think the little seedpods of Callistemon are so cool. They remind me of insect colonies, wasps nests and such.

climbing hydrangea  1480berberis  1473
Climbing HydrangeaBerberis

window counterweights  1496
Erich pointed out that these wonderful, rusty ornaments were actually the old window counterweights used in the school's about cool repurposing!

acaena inermis purpurea  1479
Acaena inermis purpurea is one of my favorite little groundcovers, seen here just starting to bulk up for the season.

bouteloua  1478
Bouteloua is one of the most charming of our North American native grasses, it's a shame you don't see it more often.

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Love how the rusty metal ornamentation is softened by the Euphorbia here.

nolina  1474
The plant in this section (the dry "gravel" garden) that really anchors the area is this large Nolina. I was totally captivate by the wonderful, arching foliage, and how the emerging leaves form a sort of spiral.

agave vignette vertical  1470
Interestingly, this garden was created on the site of a former driveway, which was closed because of it's intrusiveness on the neighborhood...quite a nice solution, don't you think!

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Some more garden ornamentation, I didn't think to ask what they were.

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Sedum 'Vera Jamison'Agave

manzanita  1471
One of several lovely Manzanitas on the property, they all looked so very happy.

hesperaloe  1466
While it may be dwarfed by the much-larger Nolina in the background, the sultry winter coloring of this Hesperaloe certainly makes a statement.

nolina  1467
But you know who the star still is, right?

persicaria red dragon  1470
I'm always excited to see Persciaria 'Red Dragon' in any just can't beat it for foliage color, especially since it's practically indestructible.

dry bed 2Nolina
Dry BedNolina

tree with buds
I'm not sure what kind of tree this is, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying it!

Peony Foliage
This red-flushed Peony foliage is as lovely as any Japanese Maple.

The brambly stems of this Poncirus form quite the thicket, no?

Tree Fern 3
I've always been fascinated by Tree can you not love graceful.

Impatiens omeiana
Impatiens omeiana is one of those plants I can never quite believe is hardy.

Cherry Blossom
The courtyard seating area is flanked on several sides by Cherry trees, which were putting on quite a show during our visit.

Magnolia bud
I'm assuming this is some sort of Magnolia, judging by that fuzzy flower bud.

The strange, succulent foliage of the Delosperma takes on an almost reptilian appearance upon closer inspection.

Moss in cracks
And I leave you with a shot of moss growing in the cracks of a pot...just a reminder that beauty can be found even in the simplest things. I hope you enjoyed this tour of Kennedy School...join me next for the last entry in our Field Trip, Xera Nursery!