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Monday, January 7, 2013

A look back...

heaer
It always feels like it takes me a while to really accept that it's a new year. Perhaps it's because it's right on the heels of Christmas...perhaps it's because I don't really "celebrate" New Year's Eve. For whatever, reason, I'm a bit late in my END OF YEAR review...but what the heck...here we go!

I wonder what most gardeners will remember 2012 most for. Here in PDX, it was the year without a winter, and then of the summer that wouldn't end. In spite of the unpredictable weather, it was actually a pretty good year in my garden.

January
January, as usual, was a quiet time for the garden. I know many gardeners loathe winter, but here it Portland, they are blessedly short and mild. Even so, I enjoy the down time it provides. There's something very satisfying about seeing the garden contract inwards and slumber during the darkest days of winter.

February
I wonder how long I'll have to live in Portland before I won't still be shocked that spring starts in February! It's always thrilling to watch the signs of the garden waking up. Bulbs start to push their way through dark, damp soil...the days grow longer and the season of local Garden Shows arrives!

March
Sometimes as early as late February, but generally during the first days of March, the first Daffodils and Parrotia will bloom in my garden. This past fall, I actually planted Crocus for the first time...can't wait to see how they do this spring. Every year I rejoice in the Daffodils along our front steps...and every year, after the flowers fade and the foliage flops onto everything, I swear I'm going to move them. Perhaps 2013 will be the year I actually do it.

April2
When April rolled through this year, it felt like we were well and truly in the middle of a lovely spring. It's always nice to know that the wet, muddy hours I spent wedging bulbs into the ground were worth it when hundreds of Tulips start to burst open.

May2
As usual in Portland, May continues our long, leisurely spring. Rain is still ample, but most days have decent periods of sun as well. The garden grew tall and lush. In the middle of May, it's hard to imagine that in a few months I'll be wishing it would rain again!

June
As is usually the case in my garden, June feels like the month when everything starts to really come together. The plants have filled in most of the bare spots and are still growing at an amazing rate. We can usually still count on pleasantly cool weather and moisture until the end of this month. I do remember that there was a doozy of a rainstorm in June, which snapped many of the blooming stems of my Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'. I still have them in a vase in our kitchen. Let's hope I don't have that many broken stems to use as decorations in 2013.

July2
It's a bit of a local saying in Portland that Summer starts on the 5th of July...and as funny as it sounds, it's almost always right. It's very strange, but the weather really seems to change overnight. The rain stops and the sun holds court for several months. Powered by the heat and light, and still drawing on the remaining moisture in the soil, my garden surges with growth...heading towards its zenith.

August3
Which brings us to August. While each year is different, if I had to choose a month in which my garden peaks (if there is such a thing), it'd be August. Not only are many of my favorite plants blooming (Eutrochium, Echinacea and Agastache), but the grasses are really making themselves known. 2012 was no exception, most of the plants were at their full size by August...and it feels so different than it did just a few months earlier. Whereas in June you could see clear from one end to the next by looking over the plants, in August, several of the large, bulky plants now divide the space more. I love, at this time of year, that it feels as if I'm passing "through" the garden, rather than just "past" it.

September copy
While the first part of September is still quite summer-y, the end is generally the start of fall. This past year, however, Summer refused to give up it's grip on us here in Portland. We had some of our hottest weather all year, trying my patience. In spite of that, the light in September was some of the best of the year. There were quite a few spectacular sunsets...due, in no small part, to all the dust in the atmosphere.

October
Around the middle of October, Portland finally received its first rainfall in months. In the end, it was the longest period without rain since they started keeping records. I'm sure part of it was me projecting my own relief, but the whole garden (indeed, every plant in Portland) seemed to breathe a contented sigh at the returning moisture. Fall progressed at a leisurely pace...which was fine with me, as its my absolute favorite time of year.

November
November continued a streak of pleasant weather. While many plants start to decline as winter approaches, the grasses are arguably at the finest. Autumn rains returned in force, but any time the sun would break through, the garden sparkled as if encrusted with millions of diamonds. I try to spend as much time outside, enjoying the garden, as I can...before winter frosts cut it down.

December
Even as the holidays approached, however, December was decidedly mild. Indeed, only recently did we have a few days that were quite chilly. Amazingly, there are still quite a few plants that haven't gone dormant yet. Will we have a repeat of last winter, with no real cold to speak of? Time will tell, I suppose, as January can still hold a few chilly surprises. I know I'm in the minority, but during winter, I look forward to those killing frosts to cut everything down and sweep the garden clean...they give closure to a year in the garden, well, for me :-)

2012 by quarters
So there you have it, 2012 in a nutshell. I think most gardeners will agree it was a doozy of a year...and with our weather (and, indeed ALL weather) become less and less predictable, who knows what the next few years will bring. Ah...but that's for another post, isn't it ;-)

51 comments:

  1. Just a beautiful summary of the year Scott. Loved it!

    I could probably summarize 2012 in St. Louis gardens with two words: "Relief" (at such a mild winter -- the bamboos lept and many "annual" plants made it into their second years), and "water" (as in keep applying it or everything is toast).

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    1. Oh man, Alan...I really hope the midwest gets a relief from those awful drought conditions...and that our weather stabilizes a bit soon (although that looks more and more unlikely).

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  2. I love this so much. You have me all excited for spring!

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  3. What a beautiful review of the year! I love the images you chose & think that they would make a gorgeous calendar! I'm also always impressed with the look of your blog & your amazing photography oh light master! Your header picture, the 2012 on top of images, and your ability to place text on photographs impress the heck out of me!

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    1. Awww...thanks...I try to keep things looking nice...sometimes I think I could publish twice as many posts if I didn't spend so much time on them!

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  4. Darn these smart phones! I didn't mean to post that yet. I was going to add that your photography is really inspiring. I love the way your garden integrates the grasses and flowers to create such a full, abundant look.

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    1. Hahaha...I've done the same thing! Thanks for the encouraging words...they are always welcome, especially in winter!

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  5. Everything looks so beautful Scott.

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  6. It was fun to remember all that garden time with you Scott. My favorite images are of your sidewalk softened with your beautiful plants, so Portland--I love it.

    I do still hope for a little snow yet this winter...

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    1. Oh yes...looking at those shots makes me happy, for sure...they are what sustains me during winter. I'm with you on the snow...I'm not giving up yet!

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  7. Hi Scott,

    Lovely round up; it looks like you had a lovely year (apart from the heat, that is!) We too had a very mild winter last year; so much so I'd say we didn't really have one at all. And it's been similar this year, frosts for about a week and then back up to above average temps for December/Jan but I think it's going to get cold again this week and perhaps the plants need it because spring bulbs are already coming up and birds beginning to sing too.

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    1. OMG...isn't the weather crazy, Gwirrel...sounds like we are having practically identical weather patterns...makes me nervous :-(

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  8. What a gorgeous look back at your garden! I agree with the comment above suggesting your images would make a beautiful calendar. Wow, pretty!

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    1. Thanks, Daricia...maybe I'll actually get organized to do something like that...someday ;-)

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  9. What a lovely summary of year! Beautiful garden, plants, and photography!

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  10. Just lovely. Remind me, when did you do the plantings across the sidewalk ...in the "hell strip"? They have all matured quickly, and I'm sure they make that walk down the sidewalk really like walking through the garden. I would like to plant that area in my yard, too, but we have so many cables/wires running through there I'd be afraid to dig, and if anything ever went wrong with the utilities, then they'd come destroy my garden. So it is grass for now.

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    1. OMG...you know what, Toni...I totally forgot to do a real post on that project!!! I'll have to look back, but I planted them up throughout the summer, starting properly in April or May. There is the very real chance that the city could just destroy those areas...just like yours, they are city property, but the homeowner is responsible for their upkeep.

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  11. Doesn't it go so very fast? Seems like just yesterday we were heading out on our April nursery field trip before the HPSO sale...

    I am always amazed when I see photos of your garden and how much it changes over the year, a time laps video would be super cool!

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    1. OMG...it's kind of crazy...and it seems like the Spring Plant sale is just around the corner! I've thought about doing a "photo-a-day" project, where I take a photo in the same spot every day for a year...but I'm just not that organized (or disciplined, I guess) !

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  12. Hi Scott! Beautiful, beautiful pictures! I really enjoyed this post. You didn't have as many aghast aches as in 2011, right? And I am in love with the pennisetum in the November pic. Is it p. spatulatum you got last year? I still haven't found it here in Italy. I hope nurseries are reading this post! :-)
    I totally agree about june, my garden start to put pieces together for that month as well!

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    1. OMG...I actually had even more Agastaches this year! I tried not to talk about them as much, as I was afraid I was starting to sound like a broken record! It's actually Pennisetum macrourum...a very tall and beautiful Pennisetum. I could try sending you some seed, if you like?

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  13. A captivating year in Portland. You paint a magical picture, thank you Scott

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    1. Thanks, so much, Digging, glad you liked it!

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  14. By the end of this post I was feeling nostalgic for 2012.

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    1. Hahahaha...isn't it funny how some of the year seems AGES ago?

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  15. Scott thanks for sharing your garden and talent with us throughout the year. Lush city gardens like yours are keen oases for the hearts and souls of everyone who passes. Happy New Year!

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    1. Aww, thanks so much, Tom...I agree...passing by a garden is always uplifting, not just for the plants, but because I know a kindred spirit must live within :-)

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  16. Your garden is spectacular in all seasons, Scott! I find it fascinating to compare climates with gardeners around the world. Meteorologist or biologist were two of my considered professions as a child. Interesting that your spring is so much longer than ours here in the Midwest, but our summers are hotter and a little longer--generally, of course. While May and June are my favorite months here in Wisconsin, I'm thinking August or November would be great months to visit the Northwest. Beautiful post, as always!

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    1. It's always interesting to see just how different our weather is across the country...it's so dramatic! And yes...August-November is generally a pretty good time in the NW :-)

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  17. Such beautiful photos. I was going to say that January is my favourite, then I saw April, and September... Happy new year, and here's to another beautiful year in the garden.

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    1. Thanks, so much Ruth...and Happy New Year to you, as well!

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  18. Beautifully documented year of your garden. I did a calendar of family members' birthdays. Each month's page was what was blooming in the garden that month. Your 12 photos would make a stunning calendar.

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    1. Maybe I really will try to do a calendar this year...the hardest part is picking which photos to use, right?!?

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  19. Beautiful wrap up...I especially like the last four seasonal photos. Your garden is amazing!

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    1. Thanks so much, Leslie...it's kind of crazy to see just how much it changes throughout the year, isn't it!

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  20. This was such a beautiful post reflecting back on the year...wonderful! The photos highlight your garden so very well.

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  21. Lovely post! I too enjoyed 2012, but in Ontario Canada. It was one of my best garden years ever. Your edginess about weather concerns in the future is on many minds...
    I particularly enjoyed your February photo with its valentine shaped foliage... although like you, I am partial to fall.

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    1. Glad to meet a fellow fall-lover! With each record that we shatter (weather-wise) I get more and more nervous for what the future holds.

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  22. Beautiful images throughout the year, I bet it was hard to narrow the selection to one representing each month - you have so many outstanding photos. This was a nice post layout too. I always appreciate the extra effort bloggers do. I too hope the weather reverts to a semblance of normal. Will we ever see that again?

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    1. OMG...it was a special kind of torture, narrowing it down (and I had lots of alternates)! I don't know about the weather...all signs point to it getting worse before it gets better...and it seems that a lot of it is up to us.

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  23. I love 'em all! All these pics are fabulous! What a fun reflection of the year.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer...glad you enjoyed my trip down memory lane :-)

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  24. Portland? Oh my heart... you've made me homesick. We left there ten years ago and I'm afraid a portion of my heart is still there. We left an amazing garden... well, except for all the starts I packed away in the moving van. Your images are stunning, Scott. And how nice to be reminded of Portland's version of the seasons through your words. We garden in Utah, now, and at the moment, my gardens are covered in a deep blanket of snow. We definitely know it's Winter.

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    1. I can believe you miss Portland's mild winters right about now..then again, Utah is beautiful too!

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  25. Gee, Scott, you're setting the photography bar REALLY high. Don't stop. :-) I loved every one of your images, and they seemed to capture the spirit of the seasons so well. And I always enjoy hearing how Portland's 8b seasons progress -- so different from Austin's 8b seasons. Viva la difference!

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