Thursday, January 30, 2014

This is why gardeners are never bored...

cheyenne sky blades at sunset
For todays post...let's take a trip into the not-so-distant past...last September, to be precise.

north border from east  1890
When we first moved to our house in SE Portland, I started digging up the lawn about a month after we moved in. One of our neighbors noticed, and one day, showed up on our front steps with a plant in his hands...a gift! It was a nice little Variegated Willow...a plant I have to admit I probably wouldn't have picked out myself (that's it in the background of this photo).

Sunny Midday Garden  2100
It was a nice enough plant...but I just couldn't find a good spot for it...I must have moved it at least 3 times in as many years. It was too big for my garden...and just didn't fit in. Every time I walked by, I would hunger for that space it was taking up!

Dug up
In any case, this spring, as I posted previously, I planted some grasses (Panicum 'Cheyenne Sky') in the area adjacent to the Willow.

Planted Below
It was odd...but suddenly, since it was newly-planted and at the forefront of my mind, I started pondering that whole section of the garden once again.

Planted above
Seeing the grasses...and imagining them as they mind swam with possibilities, which I hinted at here.

Sunset Panicum Daucus
As spring turned to summer, I began to realize just how much I love this area now, with its grasses...I spent a lot of sunsets the last rays of sun caught the Panicum.

And I finally admitted to myself what I've known all the while. The Willow had to go. I wanted to expand this new micro-meadow and really exploit the sunset in this area (which the Willow, unfortunately, blocked).

new grass planting  3556
Happily, another gardener and blogger (Jenni at Rainy Day Gardener) said she'd take the Willow...which was a huge was a lovely plant...and just because it wasn't working in my garden didn't mean it had to die!

new grass planting  3557
Another trip to my beloved Wind Dancer and I had several more Panicum 'Cheyenne Sky' to fill in the area.

different cheyenne skies
It's funny to see how different the coloring is..on the right are the Panicums that I planted in the spring...on the left, the newly-planted ones...they have a much yellower tone, don't they!

grasses where willow was
In the background, I planted a few Pennisetum macrourum I had purchased in the spring and was growing in a container (which they had rapidly outgrown...those puppies are vigorous)!

october willowless corner
Thie Pennisetum is one of my favorite plants for catching light...and this clump echos another clump of the same grass in the facing parking's a thing ;-)

Cheyenne Sky at dusk
I also randomly planted some Agastache 'Black Adder' that had been struggling in the parking strips and some Sanguisorbia 'Tanna' I had bought on impulse. It's too early to say exactly how it will mature...but I spent the rest of the summer/fall intensely enjoying the show!

cheyenne sky sunset
Our grill is right next to this planting, so I spend almost every evening out here, waiting for whatever I'm grilling...and just enjoying the view.

dewy pennisetum hameln  3557
Even as sparse as it is right now...I have to say this planting feels much more at home in my garden than the willow ever did.

side garden from west  3559
Also, unlike the Willow, which was fairly static during the growing season...

north border from west  3666
...grasses, of course, are constantly changing, marking the seasons...

glowing north border
...and they celebrate the weather like nothing else!

side yard
I think this new planting made a huge (positive) impact on this area of the garden...not only did it open up the garden spatially, but it let light into an area that had become a bit dreary.

cheyenne sky v
Light, movement, color, texture.

sunny october sunrise
I have to say, I shouldn't have waited as long as I did to make the change!

Panicum cheyenne sky leaves
Then again, I wouldn't have appreciated it as much if I hadn't come to it in such a roundabout way (is there any other way in my garden...apparently not)!

north border with cat
As the first rains fell and fall gave way to winter...I was still in love with this area.

dewy north border h
And still am today.

leaf caught in cheyenne sky
I think this was the last of my big (ok, big for me) garden projects this past year...and now I look forward to this season as spring is just around the corner. Have you ever taken the "long route" to a solution in your own garden?

PS - I've gotten a few emails recently from people who were unable to leave comments...please let me know if you are having problems as well...and so sorry for the inconvenience!

UPDATE: It appears that one possible solution (especially if you are using Chrome, which recently released an update) is a plugin conflict..especially one called "Ghostery". Toggling plugins off and on may fix the problem


  1. Yes, the long route that I took was the move from Massachusetts to Washington. I got rid of one garden and started over with a completely new one. Speaking of new gardens, I'm contemplating putting some Panicums into the new front beds. You may have already said elsewhere, but I thought I'd pick your brain -- what's your favorite Panicum? I'm planning to put it with some fairly ordinary companions -- Echinacea purpurea and Sedum Autumn Joy.

  2. I love your phrase about plants that "…celebrate the weather…" Beautiful!

  3. Your garden has such a strong personality that anything feeling "wrong" to you must go. There will be plenty of us waiting in the wings to claim your rejects. So glad the willow went to a good home. I could sit all day and look at that first photo.

  4. I've taken the long route and the loopty-loop in my garden. Beautiful back-lit scenes of grass, the best way to view!

  5. Nothing catches the light like grasses ... beautiful. What matters most is you've scratched that gardening itch and now it feels better! I have been so busy just "making" garden from a patch of "prison lawn" that now when I actually sit in my secret spot I want to make some design changes - but usually I am having a martini so wait to make sure my changes are warranted. I don't get much done that way but in our long winters I sketch out new designs all the time. And sometimes a plant just doesn't do as well as I thought it would and I end up moving it spur of the moment and changing the whole design ... needless to say, I am never bored!

  6. When someone gives me something, I usually find it hard to chuck it even if I know it isn't the right choice for me. Thankfully, few of my friends give me plants anymore (although I continue to welcome the nursery gift cards!).

    I frequently take the long route to garden solutions because I always feel a bit bad about digging up healthy plants. When I can find a good home for them, though, like you did, it assuages my guilt. Right now, I'm creeping up on a decision to replace my Dryms lanceolata, which has never felt quite right in the spot I selected for it, with a Japanese maple - the only questions are which maple and how much am I willing to spend,

  7. Oh, I'm relieved that you found someone to take the Willow! But I must admit that corner looks better without it, and with the addition of the other grasses. No question--the beauty of the setting sun through the grasses is enchanting!

  8. The first and last shot took my breath away. Wow! And you made such a great change to your garden.

  9. No that's a compliment, Laura :-)

  10. Hi Scott
    I like your wiews; in writing gardenposts on your blog, your astonishing photos and the way you question the gardenissues for gardeners. You give the readers brainfood. Thanks!! -AND: It must be as entering a private part of an unknown secretly gardenpart, to stroll on the pavement at your home in Rhone Street, wondering if the owner se you and one have to sneak by. You´re doing "the borrowed landscape" the way you plant your frontgarden and at the same time making a big contrast to the city. Marvelous!!
    But having feelings for plants like having feelings for humans, I think is one of the mail-fault we practice as gardeners. My advice: Tear down (how do you spell that?) things in your garden that does not fit in, even if it´s a tree you´ve had from your lovely aunt og uncle!! I think there is lot of others things to do in the garden than navigating from feelings or politeness to neighbors and that we have too few gardenseasons in a lifetime to be boored.
    Good you passed by the willov!
    Have a nice day.

  11. I know...I have horrible guilt when it comes to tossing away plants...I always feel as if I've failed the poor plant...since I'm the one that put it's really not the plant's fault, it's mine!

  12. Oh Kris...I'm so glad you understand that pain...I feel so guilty...then again, I'm that person who doesn't return, ever! OOOO...I can't wait to see which Japanese Maple you choose...there are so many. I've been considering one (a small one) for the backyard...and am practically paralyzed by all the options!

  13. Absolutely, Kathy...I'm so glad we have winters to sit and ponder our gardens...we need that distance it provides...we're so busy during the gardening season and so "in the moment" that it's hard to step back with a critical eye at at times. Here's to never being bored ;-)

  14. Thanks, guys...I knew you would two are FEARLESS about making changes to your garden...and that's what keeps it fresh and interesting!

  15. Glad to see I'm not alone...and perhaps the fact that we had to really work for it makes it all the sweeter :-)

  16. Hahaha...that's true of us all probably, isn't it, Ricki! We all have that sort of ideal mental image of what we want our gardens to be...and we won't stop until we get as close as we can ;-)

  17. Hahahaha...well, if it makes you feel better, Angie...there is no'll forever be changing things around ;-)

  18. Thanks, Emily...glad you liked that bit :-)

  19. Hahahahaha...I guess you could say the same for me...from NE to OR ;-) My favorite Panicum...that's a tough one. What size are you looking for? For the plants you are mentioning, you can hardly go wrong with 'Shenandoah' (about 4' tall), it's a standby, for sure, but only because it really is outstanding. If you want something a little shorter, 'Cheyenne Sky' is about 3' tall...and colors up even earlier. For something very upright and taller, 'Northwind' is really beautiful...and sort of olive, grey-green color. Let me know if you ever want to pick my brain further...I'm happy to talk grasses ;-)

  20. Hahaha...that is such good advice, Kjeld! I often feel too much guilt over things like this...but you're right, life is too short for such regrets! It's so funny you mention the "borrowed view"...I'm actually working on a post dedicated to that read my mind!

  21. Whew, finally figured out how to see comments again (I run the "Ghostery" Chrome plug-in and had to block Disqus then allow it again -- then comments started showing).

    I only wanted to say: isn't every garden really the "long route"?

  22. Thank you for this post. I love it. It has energized the gardening area of my soul. Thinking to myself that spring will arrive here in northern Vermont. And I will plant some of those gorgeous grasses.

  23. So glad you figured it out, Alan...I was lost! Haha...yes, I supposed there really are no short cuts in gardening, are there!

  24. Yay...I know how you much as I love winter, I'm itching for spring!

  25. I can't believe what a huge change replacing the willow made in your garden. You have such great vision! I just keep plopping more plants into the already crowded garden. This year I will do some editing. I'll call it the Scott Webber beautification project.

  26. Hahaha...well, we all have our own, unique, vision, Peter...perhaps yours is just more free-form! I'm honored to be included in your pantheon of named gardens...alongside the Danger Gardenette ;-)

  27. Isn't it funny how hard we'll work to find a new home for a plant that doesn't work for us? I feel the same reluctance to throw a plant in the trash (compost), even if I didn't buy it. Glad the willow found a new home and you're enjoying the grasses. Sneeze. Just kidding, I can't be allergic to photos of grasses. Just the real thing.

  28. Chrome is acting weird for me but not on your site, so far anyway. Fingers crossed. ... Your decision to move the willow--oh yes. Been there done that, at least a few hundred times with various plants through the years. I ALWAYS do the V-8 head clunk and mutter the, "Well, duh, Grace" while simultaneously congratulating myself for at long last figuring it out. Your decision to use the grasses to highlight the waning sunlight, is nothing short of brilliant. How nice it must be to grill your dinner and watch your lovely plants dance in the breeze as the day comes to a close.

    Gardeners don't just sit around moaning about things. They get up and create their own paradise. Great post my friend.

  29. You are an inspiration! I have got to clear out some Susans and add grasses!

  30. Ahhh I can comment on IE but not Chrome! (working on it) Fabulous photography (last few post are great) of a splendid wee landscape! You are getting the most out of such a tiny area! Trip the light fandango!

  31. some southern hemisphere summer light!

  32. I'm just glad you got it to work…but sorry it's such a pain…I'll see if there's anything I can do on my end. Thanks for the compliment…I do what I can…you really learn to maximize space when it's limited…haha!

  33. Gorgeous…I love it!

  34. Thanks this has to be one of my tope 10 shrubs..great for sun and part shade..can be hacked to the ground as often as you like! The foliage has lovely fruit salad aroma and the bees love it! What more do you need! It took me about 25years to identify it! oh and Hi to Kate/Brian and Gerry..3 of your finest locals! (they know who they are!)

  35. I think you have the most exuberant garden of anyone I know. That willow was just holding you back!

  36. Lee@GuideNortheasternGardeningFebruary 1, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Your gardens are beautiful and you just keep making them better. I think we all gaze into our gardens indefinitely and the mind is always going as to what to do next. Sometimes change is good. Keep on doing what you do and I look forward to the garden in spring! Lee@

  37. I am glad the blogger took the willow. I always make sure plants I remove have a place to go. Your grasses look really nice too.

  38. I love variegated willows and have one in my garden. But yes, your new plant selection looks much better for that little area and seem to fit in much better with the rest of the strip! The grasses are so pretty there. I'm glad you found a new home for your willow!

  39. Donna@Gardens Eye ViewFebruary 2, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Scott I love grasses as well and they are a mainstay in my winter garden....I love the browns in the close ups here.

  40. Your garden is so gorgeous!

  41. Today's solution is tomorrow's problem, as I'm a restless soul who is often changes what I want in a garden area, so you could say I go a long way around or you could say for me gardening is more a journey than a destination. Anyhow, your garden looks so much better without the willow. We must be ruthless in getting rid of plants that are obstacles to what we want ... it's good you found the willow a new home but even if you had not removing it would be the right thing.

  42. I love them too, Donna, obviously..haha! Yes...the various shades of brown are very handsome right now....I'm enjoying them for another week or so before I cut them down for spring :-)

  43. Awwww...thanks so much :-)

  44. Hahahahahaha...isn't that the seems we gardeners aren't ones to rest on our laurels, are we...and yes, I totally's ALL about the journey!

  45. Most of the solutions I come in my garden are arrived at the long way. It's rare that I can solve the problem on the first try. I usually experiment a bit. I'm glad you passed the willow on. I think the bed looks better without it. I love your new grasses and will be adding more ornamental grass to my garden this spring, too. Gorgeous photos!

  46. It can be so hard to remove a plant that's growing well, and especially one that was a gift. But you made the right call. If it's cramping your style, it's gotta go! I love the new grasses.

  47. The grasses do filter the light so well. I bought a bunch in the fall sales last year and am looking forward to seeing how they do. My grasses seed starting efforts are not doing so well so far though, I will have to see if the little seedlings I have can make it in the garden, and then Little Bluestem is not sprouting at all, even after stratifying them, But it's always a matter of the right plant in the right place.