Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Gardener Never Rests...

Wide Shot North Border
Summer in Portland is such a mixed bag. While we've had some periods of nasty hot weather, this year has been generally pleasant. We've been lucky to have mornings that are often cool and overcast...which allows time to get out and enjoy the garden (and accomplish the odd chores) before the sun emerges to send me scurrying for cover.

Generally, summer is one of the laziest times of year for me, aside from watering newly-planted plants. Overall, the garden is lush, full and makes me pretty damn happy. Of course, there is always something that doesn't perform...

messy salvia 3
...and while I can put up with some things, at times, I have to just bite the bullet and deal with them. In the middle of this picture, you can see the aging blooms of Salvia 'Purple Rain'. I got these plants a few years ago from the discounted rack at a big box store...for $2 each...quite a steal! They grow and bloom dutifully each year...and I love their wonderful, sculptural flower stems...which I find texturally valuable even after the color has faded. Unfortunately, this photo doesn't show how they look up close...

messy salvia 2
...which is this! I take full (well almost full) responsibility for this state of affairs. The north slope (where they are planted) is in full shade until about the plants grow tall and lush...then flop under their own weight. Plus, the onset of hot, dry summer weather coincides precisely with the time that they start to get almost full sun...and the stress seems to trigger powdery mildew. This happens like clockwork. Every. Single. Year.

north strip with salvia
I put up with it for a few years...and, to be honest, I can put up with a lot from plants. While it's not my favorite activity, I've accepted that my not-so-ideal light conditions means that I'll have to stake the occasional plant. However, flopping and succumbing to disease are two strikes...and since I don't like spraying plants constantly, I decided a few weeks ago to enjoy the blooms for now, but they would be coming out this year. In the background, you can see the plants that were waiting in the wings to take their places.

panicum closeup
Surprise, it's a grass! HAHAHAHA! Panicum 'Shenandoah', one of my long-time faves. While on a recent shopping trip with Heather, we stumbled on these at Means...large plants for only $7.99! I bought one, just because I couldn't resist...but in the back of my mind, I was already thinking I'd come back and buy more...for this very spot!

Panicum Shenadoah v5
I already love them here...they just seem so "right" for the spot.

panicum shenandoah v4panicum shenandoah from west
They are actually planted adjacent to an existing patch of the same grass. For the past few years, I'd sort of wished I'd planted a bigger, more generous swathe of these this proved to be the perfect opportunity to do just that. As lovely as the patch of Panicum was in the past, their effectiveness increases exponentially the more you add to their numbers. Their vertical, linear form contrasts so wonderfully with the softer, rounded forms of the plants around them...and their season of interest is so much longer, practically year-round beauty with absolutely no effort on my can you not love that!

garden vignette
So, here we are, much-improved, and I can once again enjoy the garden for a while, until I find something else to fixate on...

...oops, too late...already found something...this variegated Willow...I've decided to remove it this fall and replace it with...well, I'm not sure yet. I'm planning on enlarging the patch of Panicum that is adjacent to it ('Cheyenne Sky'), but other than that, haven't quite figured out what to do...any suggestions?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fling 2013 - The Wave Garden

Wave Header copy
It's time for another look at one of the gardens we visited during the San Francisco Fling last month. It's amazing to realize it was a month ago already, almost to the day, that we were there.

The Wave Garden is located across the Bay from downtown San Francisco in Richmond Point. The neighborhood is perched on a steep hillside which overlooks the city, the bay and several bridges...they are blessed with multi-million dollar views!

Wave vertical walls 1
The most noticeable aspect of this garden (other than the location) is it's intense usage of molded concrete for the paths, walls and many decorative elements.

wave horizontal view
I'm not always the biggest fan of often feels too heavy-handed when used in such quantities. Amazingly, this is not at all the case here. The complex, weaving layout of the paths and walls totally mitigate the impact all that concrete would otherwise have. The most you see is at the bottom, from above, it all but disappears.

wave judyWave anementhele and succulents v
The swooping, curving walls are visually arresting and break up the bulk of the's almost Escher-esque at times.

Wave big succulent
While succulents are a big part of the garden here, as in most of the gardens we visited...

Wave anementhele
...I was happy to see great use of grasses to soften the hard edges.

Wave anementhele h
I love Anementhele...and the ones in San Francisco had the most intense coloring of any I've seen.

wave gardener
Flingers listened as the owner explained some of the history of the garden. Apparently, the owners purchased this land as an empty lot. They installed the hardscaping (which is totally wheelchair accessible) to enable their son, who is in a wheelchair, to be able to enjoy it as well. Amazingly, they allow the people in the neighborhood to use the space as cool is that! I must say that all the gardeners we met during the fling were unfailingly generous in them all!

wave restio and sculpture
There were quite a few nautical-themed sculptures throughout the garden.

wave looking downwave protea 21
Again, the curving, intersecting pathways made for a seemingly infinite amount of interesting views.

wave verbena
Love this shot of cool color on a HOT day!

wave pointing
The best part about touring with a group of fellow gardeners is hearing people exclaim with excitement over something!

wave trachelium and sculpture
Here, you have another piece of sculpture, reminiscent of a whale's tale, hearkening back to the ocean in the distance.

wave grasses and restios 3wave puya
I love the mix of grasses and restios...similar textures, yet still so different.

aeonium bloom
I've never cared about Aeoniums...but the faded gray bloom stalk in the middle of these was fascinating.

wave restio
More lovely Restios.

wave leucodendron 1wave walkways and jane
Again, more nice layering of plants...and people!

wave stipa 2
A large clump of Stipa gigantea anchored one corner of the garden...shimmering in the bright sun.

wave trachelium 1wave restio walk
I love the pairing of deep purple Trachelium with whatever chartreuse foliage plant that is...I know someone told me what it was...but it went in one ear and out the other. In texture, it reminds me a lot of an Amsonia.

Wave group
And here's part of our group, swarming about, cameras at the ready.

wave walls v
And here I leave you, in spite of being drenched in sweat, I greatly enjoyed this garden, especially it's great layering of colors and textures.

Friday, July 19, 2013

FLING 2013 - The Organic Mechanics Garden

Organic Mechanics Header copy
Are you all ready for another San Francisco garden...I hope so...'cause here it is! This garden was created in the space between brick apartment buildings in the Tenderloin district of downtown San Francisco. Designed and maintained by James Pettigrew (isn't that a character from Harry Potter?) and Sean Stout. The two run a design business under the name Organic Mechanics.

Organic Mechanic courtyard
I have to say that THIS is the garden that I imagined when I envisioned what a "San Francisco Garden" would look like. Seriously, can't you just imagine Anna Madrigal lounging out here?

Organic Mechanic entryOrganic Mechanic buildings
The garden is a bit of a surprise as you must walk through some dungeon-y corridors before you emerge into the lushly-planted space.

organic plant in pipeOrganic Mechanic pipe planter
Plants in pipes was a bit of a theme here...

Organic Mechanic gate was creative re-use of materials...LOVE this gate!

Organic Mechanic Arbutus barkOrganic Mechanic face
I was smitten by the exfoliating bark of this beautiful Arbutus.

Organic Mechanic Parrot h
They even had a parrot...which was super-friendly and very curious. He seemed intrigued by all the silly creatures swarming around him.

Organic Mechanic fern and oxalisOrganic Mechanic Oxalis
There was hardly an inch of bare soil (as is right), mostly because of the Oxalis growing everywhere. A few of us bloggers noted this Oxalis (which we consider a bit of a weed) in almost every single garden we visited during our stay. Perhaps we've judged it too harshly?

organic mechanic salviaOrganic Mechanic tree ferns
Sub-tropical lushness abounded.

Organic Mechanic Gateway
While no one plant really captured my imagination, it was the sense of enclosure and being in an oasis that I took away from this was almost like being transported to another world, for a brief moment. I tip my hat to the Organic Mechanics for creating such a delightful space in an unlikely place!