Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

HappyThanksgiving 2013
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. As I sip my coffee this morning, I can't wait until the house is filled with the aromas of cooking turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Have a great one, everyone!

Scott, Norm, Gordon, Boots & Punky Cat (he's the one above)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Laurel Removal Update

august garden with lauren 2
As some of you may remember, earlier this year I removed a large Laurel from the Southeast corner of our house. I honestly had no idea, at the time, of what I was going to replace it with.

post laurel dirt and chicken
I can't tell you how good it was to finally remove the monster you can see the large area it occupied. This spot became the favorite place for our neighbor's chickens to take dust baths.

post laurel sitting area 2
I covered the area in gravel...and then tried to decide what to do with the space. The only thing I knew for certain about this spot is that I wanted a seating area there...but I wasn't 100% positive that it would work. Would it feel too exposed...would it look super-tacky from the street? Unsure of things, I didn't want to invest in expensive chairs. Have you ever looked at garden's CRAZY-EXPENSIVE! I bought a cheap pair of plastic Adirondack chairs from a local big box store, to test out the area.

boots in sitting area
The cats were sure this was a great spot. After a few days, I realized I really like this setup...but now, what to plant around the sitting area?

trialing grasses
I knew I wanted a certain degree of screening...but whatever I chose had to be fairly narrow (the space isn't huge) and not TOO dense. Of course, as well knew all along, that meant grasses. Here, I was trialing a few different varieties (I believe Panicum 'Ruby Ribbons' and Schizachyrium 'Blue Heaven'.)

calamagrostis and panicum
In the end, however, I ended up using some plants I already had. In the front parking strips, a trio of Panicum 'Huron Solstice' had been invaded by seedlings of Calamagrostis brachytricha. While pretty right now, the vigorous Calamagrostis was already starting to overtake the Panicum. Since I had to break them up anyway, I decided to move the Panicums up to the new seating area.

sitting area october
It made sense, really, since I already had a few Panicums up here...this just bulked up the planting nicely. Hilariously, however, there are now 3 different Panicum varieties in this area, 'Heavy Metal', 'Ruby Ribbons' and 'Huron Solstice'. The somewhat sad-looking grass on the right is Andropogon 'Red October', which was being crushed under the gargantuan Agastache 'Blue Blazes' in the back got moved up here where I can actually enjoy its fabulous red fall coloring. It may actually get moved into the front parking strip next spring...I haven't decided yet.

view from seating area
I can't tell you how much I love sitting in this spot's just hidden enough that you don't feel like you're on display as people walk by...and as the grasses mature and fill in and get taller, it will feel even more secluded. Plus...I get to enjoy the garden from a new vantage point.

foggy october laurel less area
Is this area it's not what everyone would want...but I'm loving it. It still looks pretty bare, but that's to be expected, I guess. I was thinking of putting a trellis behind the chairs at some point and growing Jasmine on it...that would improve sitting here even more! Of course, now I have to start saving up money for some real chairs ;-)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Garden in Motion

Today, I'm trying something hopefully it works!

I'm always talking about how one of my favorite aspects of my garden is that it's always in motion. I can sit for hours and just admire the swaying grasses in a gentle breeze. Of course, you can't really capture that in a photo. As luck (and fate) would have it, I recently had to buy a new camera. While I'm a bit poorer, as a result, the new camera has the ability to capture video as well as still images. I haven't had as much time to play with it as I'd like...but thought I'd give it a try.

I can't get the video any bigger in the Blogger template, so make sure to click on "fullscreen" to see it best. Enjoy!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 2013

GBBD November 2013 copy
To say this Bloom Day snuck up on me would be an understatement. I literally didn't realize today was Bloom Day until yesterday morning at work. Knowing that it would be too dark after work to take photos, I ran home during lunch and snapped a few photos of what's in bloom right now.

We're having a wonderful Autumn here in Portland this year, I love the crispness in the air and the sweet fragrance of fallen leaves...come along and let's check out what's blooming.

Agastache Blue Boa
Most of the Agastaches are pretty much done, although they still toss up the occasional bloom. Here, we have 'Blue Boa', one of the more compact Agastaches.

Eutrochium Chocolate
One of my favorite late bloomers, Chocolate Joe Pye Weed (recently re-named Ageratina altissima). Seeing these fluffy white blooms scattered throughout the garden (I have quite a few) always brings a smile to my face. A nice bonus is that their foliage turns a lovely warm caramel color as the weather cools.

Persicaria golden arrow
Such a stubborn group of plants, the Persicarias (this is 'Golden Arrow') just refuse to stop blooming.

Persicaria inverleith
Another Persicaria, 'Inverleith' always gets a nice second wind in Autumn, the cooler temps seem to suit it.

Knautia macedonica
You can always count of Knautia macedonica to keep blooming until frost hits (which should be any day now, unless we have another winter like last year).

The patch of Teucrium is dominated by slender, twisting seed heads...and I almost missed the handful of small blooms. Last year I was puzzled why I didn't have any seedlings around this patch, as it was reputed to be quite prolific in that department. I needn't have worried, this year they've more than made up for it...I'll be in for a bit of weeding next spring!

verbena rigida polaris
The pathway up the driveway, past the house and into the backyard is quite forlorn right now, being somewhat in flux...I can't quite decide what to do with the area...and it's become something of a half-way house for plants that I haven't found a spot for. One of the permanent residents, however, are these Verbena rigida 'Polaris'. While I prefer the voilet-magenta of the straight species, this softer lavender is so nice at lighting up this shady area.

Echinacea magnus
While most of the Echinacea are now blackened sentinels in the garden, proudly offering their seeds to ravenous finches, I did spot this one, lone bloom.

geranium rozanne
Good old Geranium 'Rozanne' just won't stop blooming...not that I'm complaining. It's interesting how the blooms in the front gardens are blue...while those in back have more purple in them.

Aster Prince
My favorite Aster, the wonderful 'Prince' just keeps going. There is nothing quite like seeing this wonderful cloud of white, surrounded by billowing grasses and the bare, sere stems of Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'.

Inpatiens arguta
One of the plants that I can't honestly decide whether I like or not, Impatiens arguta. Oddly, in this cooler weather, the blooms are more pink, while during summer they are a purplish-blue. I will say that it survived being unceremoniously dumped behind a fence and left to fend for itself earlier this summer. I was shocked to see it was almost 3' tall and high a few weeks ago!

salvia amistad
And lastly, we have the sumptuous purple blooms of Salvia 'Amistad'. I have this is a pot, and am not sure it will survive the winter...I guess we'll find out!

Whole House
There were a few more things flowering, but that's most of it, as I just ran out of time and had to head back to the office. In closing, let's take a wider look at the whole garden!

Front Border from North 2
Here's the Front Border looking South.

Front Border From South
And again, looking North.

North Border From East
Here's the North Border looking West.

North Border From West
And the same looking back East.

There you have it! For more posts on what's blooming around the world right now, head over the May Dreams Garden! What's blooming in your garden...have any of you had frost yet?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Exit The Dragon

spring persicaria  3711
It's Fall...and that means many things...but importantly for todays's time to move and plant things!

spring persicaria wide shot  3712
For the past 2 or 3 years, I've become increasingly aware that the large Persicaria 'Red Dragon' planted in the front border is, in fact, too large and vigorous for that particular spot.

sumac persicaria calamagrostis  1750
True, in spring and early summer it is gorgeous...a lush and velvety red. It starts growth early and is already 3' tall before other plants are even out of the ground! Look at those smoldering red leaves...I miss it already!

red dragon monster  3705
But, by late summer, it starts to expand ever outward, smothering everything in its path. I like how it fills in and ties the garden together, but it crushes plants, and has even bent the stems of the 'Tiger Eye' Sumac they are now lower than there were at the beginning of spring! If I could get back to this area more easily, I could cut it back in mid-summer for a new flush of red foliage and a more compact habit. I have 'Red Dragon' in my north parking strip, and I cut it back any time it gets too rambunctious...and it always responds with fresh, new foliage.

red dragon  3703
I decided last month that I was going to take it out (luckily another gardener took it, as I don't think I could bear to throw away a perfectly good plant, whose only fault is that I put it in the wrong spot). I thought for quite a while about what to replace it with.

pinky calamagrostis  3701
In the end, I actually used a few free plants that I already had...the self-seeded Calamagrostis brachytricha that I extracted from a trio of Panicum 'Huron Solstice' earlier in the month.

sunrise sumac and calamagrostis  3694
I'm very pleased with the effect...and while it definitely won't have the same early-season drama, it will have much better lasting power later in the year. While it looks a tad bare at the moment...these are vigorous grasses...they will completely fill in this area within a few years...I may even have to remove one or two of them as they mature.

sunny calamagrostis  3711
I absolutely adore this's so easy-going and gorgeous. Early on, it's a fairly unassuming mound of arching green blades.

calamagrostis brachytricha sunny  3684
But, starting in August, it mounts a show unrivaled amount the late-blooming grasses...long, arching spears of crystalline beauty. These will last throughout the winter until I cut them down. This remedies a major annoyance with this area. The Sumac defoliates rather early, and the Persicaria turns to mush after the first frost, leaving this area looking pretty bare and ratty throughout winter. Now, I should have great structure and texture until I cut these grasses back in late winter/early spring.

under sumac  3709
I also removed a large clump of Crocosmia 'Orangeade' that was initially planted under the Sumac...but had been shaded (and crowded) out over the past few years. I divided them up and sent them off to good homes. In their place, some plants that will be better suited for these troublesome conditions, Geranium macrorrhizum and Anemanthele lessoniana. As these get larger, they should provide a lush carpet of leaves, from which the gnarly trunk of the Sumac can emerge.

wide view  3691
This is just one of many changes I've made this really seems that the minute the weather cools and the rains resume, I get the itch to get out in the garden and move things around. What about you...have you undertaken any projects this fall yet?