wednesday vignette


A rough textured, gray-green cardoon leaf is hosting a bright red, shiny ladybug. She arrived a little late to keep the cardoon leaves pristine. Maybe she will alert all her kinfolk and invite them to a feast. Anna (Flutter and Hum) hosts the Wednesday vignettes. This week she has something pretty funny in store. You won’t want to miss it.

vases and a visit



I kept it simple today, with two arrangements that started with pruned branches. Here, they’re from the Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’. The flowers on the dark-leaved sprigs are nearly gone, but one little cluster remains. A red rose grows in an unfortunate spot close to the house. Perhaps I should instead deem it fortunate, because the deer will not come that close to nip off every bud before it has a chance to develop. Anyway, this one perfect red rose smells divine.


So here’s your view, as you stoop to bury your nose and drift on the memories the scent evokes.


Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ was threatening to bloom, so I gave her the “Chelsea chop”. I don’t know why silvery plants insist on yellow flowers, but if you catch Valerie while hers are still tight little buds they can be quite pretty in a vase. Digitalis blooms in colors ranging from white through purple. I chose this one in order to keep things subtle and added a single chive blossom just for fun.


Mondays are made special by Cathy (Rambling in the Garden), who encourages us to find something in our gardens to put in a vase every week, regardless of the weather. Offerings range from simple to simply over-the-top. Don’t miss it.


Saturday, we worked all day in the garden, so Sunday had “Road Trip” written all over it. A drive through the country down Canby way took us first to Secret Garden Growers Nursery. A long border showcases many of the plants they offer.


Like this stunning Peony.


Other display beds are newer, promising an even richer experience in years to come.


When you will be coming back to buy plants from the nice women who will serve you popcorn and lemonade under the shade of the stately honey locust tree. I found Kirengeshoma palmata. When I admired this plant during the Fling, I was told that it is nearly impossible to find. Imagine my excitement.


Down the road a piece is Miller’s Manor Gardens. Their display gardens are well established. I picked up lots of ideas for mixing perennials with conifers and deciduous ornamentals.


This alleyway formed by weeping blue atlas cedars might have been the highlight of the trip.


This is what it feels like to walk through that alley.


Paths meander through the property, some flanked by Irises, all clearly labeled. We were told that the Iris Society had visited the day before, 600 strong.


Fall in love with an Iris here, and you will have no trouble tracking it down by name. That held true for other plants as well.

Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'

Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’

Cornus kousa 'Gold Cup'

Cornus kousa ‘Gold Cup’

Quercis robur 'Concordia'

Quercis robur ‘Concordia’

Clematis 'Empress'

Clematis ‘Empress’


Shade gardeners are not short-changed here. There’s an extensive collection under those trees.


R had a long talk with the conifer guy while I wandered around. He had something pretty specific in mind and finally Nathan just gave him a little pine tree to try out. That’s garden people for you. I came away with some Digitalis obscura because the one I put in last year came through like a champ.

The Canby area is just south of Oregon City on Hwy 99. These stops were listed with HPSO, but you could find plenty of places to scratch your gardener’s itch if you were to meander around those country roads any time.

friday grab bag


My favorite Iris is one of the last to bloom. Can you see how velvety/satiny it is?


I’ll step a little closer so you can share the love.

spex-x iris 'Alley Oops'

This was added last year from our visit to Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. It goes by the unfortunate name of ‘Alley Oops’, which makes me feel not so bad about having no name for that deep mahogany beauty.

Physocarpus obutifolius 'Summer Wine'

As the Physocarpus continues to load up on blossoms, the long branches arch over into even more of a fountain shape.

Sisyrinchium bellum

Blue eyed grass is a ferocious reseeder, but I forget all about that when its blue eyes are winking at me in shafts of sunlight.

NOID geum

For some reason, a massive patch of Stachys petered out this year, but look what was liberated: abrilliant orange Geum

Cornus kousa

You lose some, you win some…the kousa dogwoods are loaded with blooms this year.

Aguillegia 'Swallowtail'

Look at the spurs on the columbine called ‘Swallowtail’. I made a calculated guess that leaving some of those darned buttercups around this plant would help to prop it up. That it does, but it’s also seemingly sapping its strength. Guess I’ll have to come up with a better solution to the flopping ways of Swallowtail.

Aguillegia 'Black Barlow'

Not a problem for A. ‘Black Barlow’. Its leonine ruffs stand up at perfect attention. Thanks, unknown blogger, for bringing this to a swap last year.


Now for a quick peek at Delusional Drive. We’re standing a little past where the first iris shots were taken, looking towards the entrance. In the distance you can just see the blue of Ceanothus ‘Victoria’, echoed by a lone blue iris in the middle distance.


Moving along, you can see that there is quite a bit of yellow-green foliage that plays nicely with the blue.

Ceanothus 'Victoria'

Here’s a close-up of ‘Victoria’ at her best.

Helianthemum 'Henfield Brilliant'

On the other side of the drive, Helianthemum ‘Henfields’s Brilliant’ brightens things up and does a nice job of obscuring the dying foliage of daffodils past.


A wayward foxglove seemed to know I would welcome a dash of hot pink against the red-orange.


Now here’s a question for you. I adopted a scraggly twig with no label at the Cistus ‘Tough Love’ sale two years ago. This year it rewarded me for the TLC by leafing out prettily and producing one coy little bottlebrush blossom. Any idea what this is?

wednesday vignette


Every once in a while, best laid plans actually come to fruition.
Such was the case with this vignette, for which I am linking to Anna (Flutter and Hum) and her Wednesday Vignette meme.

Berberis replicata

Allow me to deconstruct, showing you the Berberis replicata on the far right of the first photo. After having put forth mostly orange blossoms earlier, we are left with torpedo-shaped dusky rose berries (drupes?).

Physocarpus 'Diablo'

The background plant is Physocarpus oputifolius ‘Summer Wine’. Last year, the fountainlike branches of pale pink blooms engulfed the iris, which did not bloom (as a result? I don’t know). I pruned the ninebark pretty drastically, hoping for the best. Yowza! The branches still arch gracefully and bloom at the same time as the iris.

Iris 'Beverly Sills'

So here’s the star of the show, fittingly: Iris ‘Beverly Sills’. Most of my Iris are out along the fence line. I treat that like a proving ground to see actual colors, bloom time and vigor. My challenge to myself is to find the right spots for them, where they can shine in a garden setting.


As you can see, the color in this photo is less dynamic, but it shows how the shapes of the Iris leaves play off of the other textures nearby. Once the pinkish flowers have faded, the bright red blooms of the Zauschneria garettii,┬áspilling over the rock edging, will change the nature of this bed…still using the wine red foliage of the Barberry as a backdrop and assisted by an army of drumstick Alliums to the left.

a vase after a storm


Earlier in the week, we had a storm that beat down quite a few things. I went on a rescue mission and stuffed all of the refugees into a big square vase that R brought back from the dump. I thought I would make up some smaller arrangements later.


Then I got to looking at it and thought “hmmm…this could be the start of something”. To begin with, there was a bunch of foliage from the tree peony ‘Chinese Dragon’, a few NOID shrub roses, some white herbacious peonies and several bearded iris. To this base, I’ve added two stems of the tree peony ‘Gold Sovereign’, some chive blossoms and some tight buds of peonies.


The iris blooms last only two or three days, so the bouquet needs constant tweaking to remove faded blooms. The tightly furled buds will take over as the exhausted ones give out and are removed. It speaks me of the abundance and changeable nature of the season. Visit Rambling In The Garden to see what Cathy’s got up her sleeve – er – in her vase.

oh, the foliage!


Hey, there might be something to all this talk about the morning light. I caught it just right the other day as I was going out to pick up the paper. The sword-like foliage in back is Sisyrinchium striatum, surrounded by heathers. A hinoki cypress is the dark shape in the middle (it actually is frosted with golden edges when not in shadow). In the foreground is an unnamed grass from a neighbor, with a bit of Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’ peeking into the left corner.


The same cast of characters backing up a native Madrone.

Carex buchanii

Carex buchanii adds color between Birds’ Nest Spruce and Iris foliage.


Stepping back, the spruce is crowding into a mislabeled Viburnum, but they do look pretty together.


The bright new growth on the weeping Norway spruce is always dramatic, but even more so catching the light like this.

Artemisia 'Valerie Finnnis'

All of the above photos were taken from the back side of Delusional Drive to take advantage of the light. Moving around to the front, Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ is backed up by Sedum ‘Cape Blanco’. Valerie came from Linda (Whatsitgarden) in all its silvery goodness. Let’s hear it for Pam (Digging) for dreaming up Foliage Follow-Up and hosting it every month.

the flowers…that bloom in May

Nectorosecordum siculum

I’ll stick to a few favorites because, well…you know how it is in May…and I know you have many blogs to visit before you sleep. Is it still an Allium? Who can keep up? Nectoroscordum siculum should get you there, if you want to order some.

Buddleja globosa

Buddleja globosa

Iris 'Immortality'

Iris ‘Immortality’

Iris 'Beverly Sills'

Iris ‘Beverly Sills’

Cornus canadensis

Cornus canadensis groundcover

Cornus kousa variegata

variegated Cornus kousa

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is sponsored on the 15th of each month by May Dreams Gardens.

open garden season is here

Jenna Baker

Meet Jenna Baker, garden designer extraordinaire, HPSO member and all-around gracious host. What a way for me to kick off Open Garden season. Mothers’ Day was the last scheduled open day, but you could make an appointment or check out Jenna’s Garden Boot Camp.


This is a large property, as you can see looking up the long walkway to the house.


After two sets of stairs have led you past long borders, we reach the last stretch of walkway, flanked by clipped boxwoods and large clumps of perennials.


The surprise of magnificent Cardoons used as border plants…


Roses are worked into the borders to show off to their very best advantage. I realized that my general antipathy for roses comes from “rose gardens”, where they are all crammed together in more of a “rose ghetto”.


Tucked in here and there, surrounded by greenery, their distinctive form and fragrance can be appreciated.


Not to mention the way companion plantings cloak the often unattractive form of the rose bush’s nether regions.


Another surprising element that I loved was this serpentine boxwood hedge. Its sinuous beauty made me wonder why straight lines and rounds are the norm.


The occasional closely clipped round can add an interesting element to a mixed border


Echoed by looser rounds nearby.


Drifts of ground covers, like this geranium, tie everything together.


Some magnificent ancient trees came with the property, like this gigantic cedar.


If you know cedars, you know that not many things will grow in their purview. A petticoat of lacy ferns is the perfect coup.


Never have I seen a Beech tree of these proportions.


A view from the driveway gives you some idea of how it dwarfs normal sized trees.


Here we’re looking out at the orchard through the scrim formed by the tricolor birch tree. It’s canopy creates an opportunity for shade plantings. I had to eliminate some photos to keep this from turning into a gardener’s version of ‘War and Peace’ but tust me, they’re wonderful.


Not easy to make a garden of this size feel intimate, but this one does. This is just one of several seating areas that invite you to stop a while (and even bring your own picnic lunch).


Long borders flank a bocce court.


Flowers, like these perfect delphiniums, are used discreetly, always surrounded by enough greenery to give them their due.




In some gardens, it’s all about new and exciting plant material getting added to the wish list. Here, the plants are familiar but used so masterfully that they seem new and exciting. As I drew near to study the Clematis, I was engulfed by a heavenly scent. Sniffing my way around the whole area, I failed to identify its source. Jenna knew just what I was talking about and now Azalea ‘Northern Lights’ has made it onto my wish list.


A dry border edges the parking area.


Lack of water does not mean lack of beauty. A Cistus spills around a rusty piece of art, placed as discreetly as other elements.


Just beyond the parking is a small sales area, where I found this ‘Black Sprite’ Centauria.


And ‘Flamenco Mix’ Kniphofia, which starts out orange and fades towards yellow as it ages.


Tucking my new purchases into the plantmobile, I reluctantly leave Rosemound Farm behind. Farmington Gardens is on my way home, so we’ll stop there next.

garage sale season in a vase on monday


The signs are everywhere, literally: garage sale; estate sale; yard sale. Good idea to plan an extra hour into any weekend excursion this time of year. This little pitcher caught my eye. It seemed the right base for a burst of color. I planted a six pack of snapdragons billed as orange. There’s some orange in there, but also a pretty healthy blast of hot pink. i’m hoping for truth in advertising to hold sway over the other six pack promising red. The stems on these were still short, but I wanted to cut them to encourage future flowers. I discovered, in handling them. that the stems are quite brittle.


I started with a sprig of sage, then went back for another sprig of the brighter tricolor sage and three chive blossoms in bud. I like the way they form tight little purple balls before opening into larger, fluffy lavender balls.


I noticed, after a few minutes, that my little bouquet was sitting in a puddle. So much for my great garage sale find. I moved the arrangement into a glass vase of similar size, but the effect was not the same. Now let’s see what Cathy has come up with to put In A Vase On Monday.

garden bloggers’ spring swap

Ask most gardeners and they will say that they are shy introverts. You wouldn’t know it if you dropped in to one of our get-togethers, where the groupings are lively and newcomers are quickly assimilated into happy-making plant talk.


It doesn’t hurt to have a host like Patricia (Plant Lust), seen here flanked on the left by Heather (Just a Girl With a Hammer) and on the right by Loree (Danger Garden). Tricia provided mimosas and all sorts of delectable tidbits to power our gathering, which grows larger as everyone wants to get in on the fun.


A big paqrt of that fun was getting to wander around Tricia’s garden. Hard to believe that it has been only a year in the making…so far.


Here’s Linda (Whatsitgarden) with her sidekick, Rosie, admiring one of the borders.


Pardon me, Jenni, far right, for showing your pretty face all scrunched up in concentration as you describe something important to Laura (Gravy Lessons) and her pirate, Charlie. Also, Jenn, I haven’t linked to you, because when I do, I get an ad for domain names. Can you set me straight?


There are still some blank spaces. That’s a good thing, because we plantaholics love nothing so much as a plant sale or swap. Darn, I failed to get a shot of all the plants that showed up here. Trust me on this: there were lots and they were good! I had to leave early, but I’m sure they all found new homes and a few will be filling in some of those blank spaces.


Now let’s take a look at some of the things that nearly wound up in the swap. It’s easy to think you’re not big on Peonies until you actually experience them. How tragic would it be to dig out this fabulous white one?


Or this magenta magnificence.


A magnificent old apple tree nearly got the axe, until judicious pruning saved the day. This is a garden to keep an eye on, as Patricia continues to work her magic.


I was on a tight leash, heading for the next thing, but who could resist a handmade sign saying “Dahlias” leading down a side street? Not me. It led me to this guy with a lineup of bulbs (tubers?) for $2.50 each. He helped me pick out the best ones, with some growth showing. I came away with a couple of small ones to be put in pots: ‘Jitterbug’ and ‘Velda Inez’ and two larger ones to test out the new herb protection theory: ‘Black Satin’ and ‘Majestic Kerkrade’. I hope to show you results come August. All in all, it was a memorable day.