Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Privacy! Well, someday.

Privacy Tank 1
Well...once again Norm and I managed to spend pretty much our entire Memorial Day Weekend working on projects around the house...and as a result, accomplished more this past weekend than in 3 normal weekends! It helped that we have fabulous weather that made working outside more pleasure than pain. One of the projects we've been wanting to tackle since we renovated the back garden last year was establishing some sort of privacy.

As you can see, our house is VERY close to our neighbors' house...and their kitchen window(s) look right out onto our backyard. There used to be a family that lived in the house, and somehow it didn't bother me much that they could see us...we'd even chat sometimes through the window. However, the family moved to Florida last year and rented out the house...and having half a dozen (and often many more) college students partying right behind you can be a bit unnerving!

Privacy Tank 3
So, after pondering all winter what I wanted to do here, we finally settled on a Bamboo in a stock tank. I forget what type of Bamboo this is, except that it should get about 6-8' tall (with an equal spread). Even though it's a clumper, not a runner, I don't trust Bamboo enough to let it loose in my tiny little garden, the stock tank was an obvious solution. I had originally wanted a very tall grass...something with a little more variable seasonal interest. In the end, however, it seemed silly to have a privacy screen that was only actually present for half of the year!

Privacy Tank 2
And so, we settled on this Bamboo...and are waiting for it to get it's little Bamboo act together and grow! I'm not sure how quickly it takes for these to reach their mature height...but I'm anxiously awaiting the day I can wander around the backyard without feeling like I'm on display, let alone, sit for a few minutes and enjoy the fruits of our labor...sigh.

Oh...and if it looks like there are some bare spots in the garden, that's because it was also musical-plants weekend...and I moved A LOT of plants to different spots in the garden. No wonder I'm exhausted. Some day, there will be a 3-day weekend where I DON'T spend it all working. Then again...I REALLY slept well after those long days outside ;-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Schreiner's Iris Garden

Schreiners Header copy
This past weekend I wasn't quite in the mood to actually tackle any of the projects around the house or garden...and was looking for an excuse to get out of town...and if I could make it plant-related, so much the better, right? As luck would have it, I somehow remembered that Schreiner's Iris Garden was having their open garden events right now. I somehow tricked Norm into going along for the ride ;-)

OMG...first off, I should probably apologize for the ridiculous, over-the-top, unbridled gushing of this post. I know it's long and sort of out-of-control...but I can't help it! To be honest, although I like Iris enough (loved them in my younger year), I haven't given them much though over the past few years...until recently. I think since I inherited so many when we bought this house, they were the last thing I wanted to add more of!

Dark Iris
This spring, however, I really enjoyed the show that the few remaining Iris gave...and it sort of reminded me of how much I really like them. Also, my dad is a HUGE Iris fan/ I figured that if nothing else, I could find a few new Iris to send him for his Birthday in July.

Wide View 1
Leave all skepticism at the door when you go to's an all-out extravaganza of orgiastic celebration of color! I have to admit, I was only expecting something akin to the Woodburn Tulip Festival...where it's just fields of flowers. Oh no...these are display gardens...and they are overwhelming. I honestly just kind of stared at first...not even sure where to point the camera.

red purple h
Of course, in the end, I ended up just taking as many photos as I could...and trust me...there are A LOT. The weather on the day we went kept changing, one moment bright and sunny, the next slightly there's quite a bit of variation in the photos...I kept trying to wait for the clouds cover to reappear...but in the end, just decided to shoot and hope for the best.

Dark Iris and AlliumsIMG_6697
Whoever designed the gardens certainly has a knack for colorful combinations...and the play of different forms and shapes was quite good as well.

Copper Iris
I've seen a lot of different Iris varieties in my life, but even I was amazed at some of the different forms/colors on these coppery-red ones.

Dark Purple Iris Border
Of course, as many of these photos prove, my favorites are still the deep purple beautiful!

Dark Purple Iris with Orange Beard
This was one of my faves...the deep, rich purple with the contrasting orange striking.

Lavender iris
I love the vibrant lavender-purple of these...especially in such flattering light.

Luscious Lupine Light
Almost as numerous as the Iris were the varieties of of my absolute favorite spring blooms. I've never seen them as big as they were was pretty humbling. Then again, I think I have some of the shorter hybrids...I need to find some room for one or two of these big bruisers!

Lavender and Yellow Bicolor
Some of the bicolors are surprisingly beautiful. I remember seeing this one as a single stem earlier, and not being impressed. Seeing a clump of them out in the garden, however, they proved to be quite striking.

deep purple and lupine 1
Another reddish-purple Iris...just love these, especially backlit, with the petals glowing.

deep blue delphinium
While most of the plants were in the height of bloom, the delphiniums were just getting started, adding their cooler blues to the palette.

Ominous Stranger
While I have to admit, I didn't catch the names of most of these Iris, I managed to take a photo of the tag on this one so I'd remember it later. I has the distinct trait of having buds that contrast with the actual petals...which I found quite striking.

Allium buds
You know I love me some Alliums...and there were THOUSANDS are some of the buds, just prior to opening.

Pink Iris 2
I hardly need more pink in my garden...but this one is pretty fresh-looking.

Gold Iris
Even though I'm more drawn to colors on the cooler side of the palette, these rich golden ones were pretty breath-taking.

Lupine patch
More glorius Lupines!

Allium bokeh
And more Alliums...sigh.

Orange PoppyPeach and Burgundy Bicolor v
It wasn't until I noticed these Poppies that I realized there weren't very many of them around the garden...which is too bad as I do love those huge, papery blooms (and the buds). While I tend to prefer the single-color Iris a bit more than the bicolors, I found this one on the right to be extremely fetching...there's something very dramatic about that particular combination of colors...and the picotee edges makes it just that much better.

Pink Lupine with bee
Backlit Lupines...the bees love them as much as i do.

Iris pandemonium
Oh much to love.

Purple and Yellow LupineRed Lupine
The Lupine on the left was decidedly different than most of the others I had spotted...and I think may be one I have seen for sale at several nurseries lately, called 'Manhattan Lights'...I love that rich red-purple coloring with the contrasting beautiful!

Lupine Wand
The simple beauty of a single Lupine stem.

Peach and Wine Bicolor v
Another striking the combo of shell-pink and mulberry-purple.

Long Iris Border

Peach and Wine Bicolor vvPeachy Iris and Allium V
Just a few more shots highlighting the masterful use of contrasting and complimentary form/color.

PInk Iris
I just love the simple charm of this single-color peach Iris.

This was a huge table of Poppies for sale near the gift shop.

Poppy spot
Bright red Poppies (probably 'Beauty of Livermere') give a splash of warm color in a sea of cool.

Tall Allium and Iris BedTom Johnson
Too much beauty!

White and Yellow Bicolor
Another shot of yellow in this bicolor Iris lights up a dark corner of the border.

Wide Allium and Iris Bed
The only real downside to all this spring bounty is that once everything is done blooming in a month or so, there probably isn't much left to see...

Wide View
...but again, this is a display garden...and really meant to show off their specialty to it's let's just enjoy it for what it is!

Wide View 3
After all, how often do you get to waft, waist-deep in sheer floral splendour! If you get a chance, and are in the Portland area, head down to the Schreiner Iris won't be disappointed!

Sea of Blooms
Oh...even though I had no plans of buying any for myself...I did end up buying a few Iris in the end...I'll let you know what they are when I get the shipment in July ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloom Day - May 2012

GBBD May Header
Another Bloom Day...they seem to always sneak up on me, for some strange reason. I swore this month I'd work ahead and get lots of pics ready for the post...but I somehow managed to catch a cold during the hottest weekend of the year. We've had 4 days in a row where we almost hit 90°...ouch! We don't typically expect hot, dry weather until almost July...and I have to say, after more than a week without rain, I'm missing it (as does the newly-planted parking strip). Usually we can count on cool, wet weather until at least the middle of June...but this has been an odd year, weather-wise, hasn't it!

alliums and backyard  1649
Allium 'Purple Sensation' and Amsonia hubrichtii
Enough of my whining, you came here for let's get on with the show! May is an awesome time in the garden...bare earth is disappearing fast and the floral display is just ramping up. Here is the path into the backyard, framed by Allium 'Purple Sensation' and Amsonia hubrichtii. Right after I took this pic I cut the Muhlenbergia capillaris back...which I'd somehow forgotten to do yet...oops.

Knautia melton pastelsKnautia macedonica
Knautia 'Melton Pastels'Knautia macedonica
The Knautia on the left, 'Melton Pastels' is one of the few plants I've grown intentionally from seed (in other words, not counting self-seeding plants). I have to say, there is something unbelievably gratifying about seeing it bloom this year. Last year, they grew substantial rosettes of foliage, but never flowered. This year, they've exploded upward...surpassing even the straight Knautia macedonica in height. These are at least 4' tall...can't wait to see what colors they are. The Knautia on the right is one of 3 I got from Joy Creek Nursery a few years ago. I had them planted in one of the worst spots in my garden, unfortunately, and moved them right before frost last fall. I'm never sure if plants moved so late will recover, but they are tough and all 3 made it to see another summer.

iris  1628
Purple Bearded Iris
The purple Iris I inherited with the house are still going strong...I keep popping them randomly in the garden whenever I have to dig up a spot they are already in...and I'm digging the diffuse display of the scattered purple blooms.

Geranium Katherine Adele
Geranium 'Katerine Adele'
I moved this Geranium to the north hell strip last fall, not knowing how it would respond to the indignity of such a late rewarded me by staying green all winter long (granted, we didn't really have winter this year) and is bigger than ever before now. It does tend to look pretty ratty after it's done which time I'll cut it to the ground so it can re-sprout fresh, new foliage.

Allium Gladiator
Although I could have swore I planted 2 different types of Allium last fall ('Purple Sensation' and A. atropurpureum), I'm pretty sure they are all 'Purple Sensation'...or they are just the only ones that came up. I do have a few of these lighter pink ones, however, which I'm pretty sure are 'Gladiator'. Oh well...who cares what they are called...they are still beautiful.

Erysimum Bowles Mauvegeranium macrorrhizum  1661
Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'Geranium macrorrhizum
The Erysimum is one of several plants that suffered in the front garden (which, sadly, has THE WORST SOIL on my site) for years. Last summer, I finally decided to move them...and if they died, they died...I was just sick of looking at sick plants everytime I walked up to the house. Amazingly, even though I plopped them in a spot which is un-irrigated and in less-than-optimal sun, they have done well...better than they ever did in front! Geranium macrorrhizum is another plant great for problem areas...beautiful and fragrant.

Centranthus ruber
Centranthus ruber
I moved a few of these last year after they flopped all over...and they seem much happier here in the north parking strip, where the soil is better-drained and they get dappled all-day shade.

Columbine Tequila Sunrise
Columbine 'Tequila Sunrise'
I can't help but love Columbines...even if I know that when summer's heat arrives, they'll crisp and disappear...oh well...I can't imagine not seeing their cheerful blooms in the spring garden. As a bonus, this year I'm finally seeing lots of little Columbine seedlings around the adult plants!

calamagrostis  1656
Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'
The perennials aren't the only ones blooming...the cool-season grasses are starting to bloom as is a Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster', newly-planted this spring in the front garden.

Stipa giganteaDeschampsia Tatra Gold
Stipa giganteaDeschampsia 'Tatra Gold'
I have to say, I'm SUPER-excited about my Stipa gigantea blooming! Granted, at the moment, they blooms are only a few feet tall...nowhere near the 8'-10' they could be in a few years, but's awesome to know the plant is happy enough in this spot to bloom. I had considered moving it this spring to the front parking strip, worrying that it would compete visually with the Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' nearby. I decided, eventually, that the effects of them were different enough that they should be fine...but time will tell. The Deschampsia was a total impulse buy this spring...I just saw that amazing golden foliage and had to have it.

Verbena Homstead Purple
Verbena 'Homestead Purple'
I'm happy to say this year 'Homestead Purple' is finally living up to its reputation for floriferousness. The past few years, it has struggled to do much, but it seems very happy at the moment.

Picotee Iris
I couldn't for the life of me figure out where this Iris came from, they remembered my dad had sent me a bunch of Iris seeds a few years ago (when we first bought the house). I planted them in pots in the (then-trashed) backyard and forgot about them. I found the pots last year, couldn't remember what they were exactly and just planted them randomly in whatever space I had. Amazingly, they are blooming this year...and are so pretty! This one is much shorter than the Iris I inherited with the house, topping out at around 18' tall...just love that picotee edge!

astriatia roma  1657
It seems that with our non-winter and recent warm spell, things are fast-tracking it this year. I'm pretty sure the Astrantia are at least 2 weeks (or more) ahead of schedule this year. I've been wanting to divide and move all the hundreds of seedlings to some bare spots in the garden...but the warm, dry weather has kept me from attempting it. If we get a few days of cool, rainy weather soon, I'll hope to it!

astrintia ruby wedding  1652Anthriscus and Allium 2
Astrantia 'Ruby Wedding'Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing'
'Ruby Wedding' is the first of the backyard Astrantias to that rich, ruby color. I've always been lustful of Anthriscus when I've seen it in other people's gardens...and when I found some for sale at Joy Creek last year, I knew it was time to have some of my own. I know that I should probably cut the flowers back to preserve the lovely, dark foliage...but I really love the frothy, white umbels...especially in contrast to the surrounding Alliums.

Amsonia and Allium  1653
The Amsonia on the east side of the house is really coming into its own this's WAY ahead of schedule and is already blooming. While the flowers are nice...the best part about this plant is the amazing fall coloring.

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Allium 'Purple Sensation'
Since I just did a whole post on them, I won't go on and on about Alliums...let's just enjoy the photo ;-)

Corydalis Bronze Beauty
I got 2 of these plants as seedlings, started by Ryan Miller...they look amazing all year long...with their wonderful, ferny foliage...and they are blooming machines right now!

Bicolor Irispersicaria bistorta  1660
Bicolor IrisPersicaria bistorta 'Superba'
On the left is another of the Iris seedlings my dad sent me...this one is bicolored...and TALL! It's over 4' tall right now...and towers over the other iris. 'Superba' is the first of the Persicarias to bloom! It's shorter than most of the others (only about 18" tall), but spreads by underground runners to form colonies over time.

North Border
As we wrap up this Bloom Day Post...I leave you with a wide view of the North Border looking east, toward 17th street. You may notice some feathered invaders...those are our neighbor's chickens, which greatly enjoy roaming around the garden, looking for tasty morsels. If I could train them to NOT trample young spround and feast on the dastardly cutworms, I'd be a happy man.

Front Yard
The front yard is filling in nicely this spring...and the 'Tiger Eyes' Sumac is poised to become the focal point of this border. I'm so pleased that it finally seems happy. I'm equally happy to report that (knock on wood) it hasn't produced any runners so far.

Back yard
The back yard is so full already, it's hard to believe it's only May! I look back at pictures from only a month ago and can't believe how much growth can happen in a months' time.

Bicolor Iris
For more Bloom Day goodness, visit Carol and May Dreams Garden!