friday grab bag


We had our semi-annual bloggers’ plant swap last Sunday and this is my haul. There is also a fabulous grass ‘Sky Racer’ from Scott that didn’t make it into the photo.


These gatherings have grown into full-blown parties. Ann (Amateur Bot-Ann-ist) was kind enough to host this time (that’s her husband, John, sharing a laugh with Kate. They epitomize the spirit of the event, so I’ll stick with this one photo. I took more people pictures but it seems every time I pressed the shutter the subject turned serious, making these good-looking people seem sort of glum (nothing could be further from the truth).


The harvest is winding down. I think that little thing front and center had visions of becoming a cantaloupe.

Euphorbia wulfenii

Euphorbia wulfenii

After years of putting on a spectacular show, Euphorbia wulfenii finally exhausted itself.


As did the Lavender growing next to it.


Out they came, leaving behind some seedlings that will take a while to graduate from understudy status.

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I widened that border by laying down thick layers of newspaper held down with a layer of gravel. I’ll pile compost on top of that and use it as a cutting bed to feed my ‘In a Vase’ habit.
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This is the little patio out the door to my studio on the back (south) side of the house. The Euphorbia on the other side of the door has fared better, so will remain for now.

Kalanchloe orgyatum

Kalanchloe orgyatum

I have taken many cuttings from Kalanchloe orgyatum aka Copper Spoons, so I know how easy it is to propagate. Still, this surprised me: a broken leaf that remains on the plant has given birth! Guess that’s what happens when you indulge in an orgy.

Last Friday I asked about Your views on high-end stores like New Seasons. Looks like plant people have similar thinking about other things. I always fantasized about a European-type lifestyle, complete with shopping at charming little specialty shops on a daily basis and pedaling home with a baguette and a bordeaux in my basket. Portland now has those shops so technically that would be a possibility…highly unlikely. We all lead busy lives, where the convenience of one-stop-shopping keeps us sane and leaves us with time to garden. In Portland, the appearance of Whole Foods pushed the Fred Meyer chain to upgrade its merchandise as well as its ambience. It still lags behind the New Seasons experience, but not by all that much. So I’ll shop at NS from time to time, just for fun or to pick up something special…fill the pantry with goodies from the garden…shop the natural foods section of the Scappoose FM and hope that the magic will happen in the kitchen. Thank you all for sharing your opinions and convincing me, yet again, that I truly have found my tribe.

vignette and more from Cistus

vignette and more from Cistus


I’ll not even try to identify the plants in these photos from an August visit to Cistus. A few more things were in flower back then and I was attracted to the peachy little flowers peeking through the spikes. I offer it up as this week’s Wednesday Vignette, hosted by Anna (Flutter and Hum).

Caesalpinia gilliesii (thanks, Linda & Christina)

Caesalpinia gilliesii (thanks, Linda & Christina)

One can always find treasures in the display gardens surrounding the nursery.


They are always tweaking and rearranging to keep things fresh. These bottles had migrated from the branches of a tree snag to a rusty armature planted in the midst of a mix of bright flowers.


A few flower stalks had already become ghosts of their former selves, haunting in their wraithlike beauty.


The indoor areas are worth visiting regardless of the weather or the season.


Artfully displayed…no shortage of vignettes here.


After getting revved up on plants at our swap last Sunday, I had to swing by Cistus on the way home to check out their Tough Love Sale. The first day was Saturday and I have it on good authority that the place was a madhouse peopled by plant nuts.


I’m sure things had been picked over but just look at those two marvy trees that came home with me. Sure, they’re a little root-bound, but I’ve had a pretty good success rate with things from this sale in the past even though I’m still trying to track down what some of them are. These happened to come complete with tags: on the left, Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’, on the right, Quercis phellos (think…a scratch on the tag made it hard to tell if one of those l’s might be an i). There were still plenty of trees and perennials there hoping to be adopted late Sunday…just sayin’.

this week’s vase is a basket


The things that attracted me this week were all russets and harvesty feeling, so a basket seemed like a good idea. A pint canning jar fit perfectly in this one.


One branch of prostrate sequoia went in first to anchor the other stems and provide a touch of blue-green. My crape myrtle never blooms, so this is its glory season as the leaves turn bronze, orange and red. Two branches of that and one of Cotinus ‘Purple Robe’ give the base some bulk.


A few flowering stems of Liriope introduce a contrasting color. Chasmanthium latiforium is going through its pale phase as it transitions from green to tan.


The star of this show, in my mind, is the tassle from a Miscanthus that hasn’t yet fully bloomed, retaining a shimmering effect that will pass as it develops into a fluffy white froth.


Singing backup are the three Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ sisters, showing more restraint than their name implies. Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) hosts this festival of vases each and every Monday. Don’t miss out.

gbq&a: what is a shopping experience worth?

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New Seasons is a natural foods market along the lines of Whole Foods, but home grown. Way back when we lived in Sellwood (a SE Portland neighborhood) one of our neighbors started a little hippie grocery. He grew a lot of the produce on a vacant lot across the street and was in the vanguard when it came to displaying veggies as if they were the crown jewels.


Over the years, the concept grew and that little corner store morphed into a chain of well designed, high-concept markets. The latest installment recently opened in Slabtown in NW Portland.

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Outdoor amenities include living walls, plantings of trees and grasses and built-in benches for sipping your latté or nibbling your organic salad in the sunshine.


A nicely curated selection of plants is displayed at the main entrance.


Walk through those doors and you are greeted by a well-stocked flower shop with cut flowers and some potted succulents, herbs and orchids.


We checked it out on opening day. It was doing a brisk business, to say the least.


Carrot sculptures seem to be a theme, as is the color scheme, which remains consistent with each new store. So here is my question for your consideration. Are you willing to pay a premium for a pleasant shopping experience where you can be pretty sure of top quality, many locally produced goods and environmental sensitivity? I used to be able to add local ownership to the list of assets, but with success comes the lure of cashing in by selling out. While most of these stores are scattered around the Portland area, they are now owned by a corporation. I’d like to hear where you come down on this before going into my own thoughts about it. Won’t you leave a comment? All opinions (including rants if you’re so inclined) are welcome and I’ll come back next week to add my two cents.

To participate beyond simply commenting, write a post posing a question, linking to and from this post. I have every intention of doing this thing on the first Friday of every month if the interest is there…seems like there should be plenty of curiosity to go around and I know many of you have answers to spare.

in a vase on monday


With all of the autumnal, burnished tones cropping up out there, I’m kind of going against the grain with this bouquet. The Anemone ‘Honorine De Jobert’ has been blooming for quite a while and I didn’t want to miss out on featuring it in a vase. After cutting a few stems of that, I decided to add a few white Cosmos to fill in. Some are the straight singles and others are the seashell form. The striped blades of Miscanthus ?, a few stems of Chasmanthium latifolium, Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’ and Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ are held in place in an oval clear glass vase by river rocks.

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One of my favorite features of the anemone is the little balls that are left behind as the petals fall.


I needed a plain background to set off the delicacy of this arrangement, making it difficult to get far enough away to include the whole thing in the picture frame. This was the best I could do. Once again, I am joining Cathy at (Rambling in the Garden) for her weekly In a Vase on Monday meme. Why not join in and let your inner floral designer shine?

friday faves

Begonia 'Polka Dot'

With Joy Creek Nursery just one hill over from our place, regular visits get to be a habit. That’s where I found Begonia ‘Polka Dot’. Next stop: Fred Meyer, where I spotted a pot with red glaze to match the undersides of PD’s leaves. I needed something to fill and spill and just happened to have a sedum on hand to do just that. It was a good day.


Milkweed pods are bursting, releasing seeds equipped with shimmering paragliders to take them to parts unknown.

Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’

Pearly purple berries of the Beautyberry will be earning their name until the birds discover them.

Callistemon pityoides

Callistemon pityoides

Earlier in the month I celebrated the first time my Bottlebrush has bloomed. I look forward just as much to the gnarly pod thingies that will be left behind. Loree (Danger Garden) does a roundup of favorites on the last Friday of the month. Click through…you won’t be sorry.

wednesday vignette from Joy Creek


If you visit Anna (Flutter and Hum), (and I highly recommend that you do) you will find a thoughtful treatise on light as a design element. That’s why I chose the above photo, featuring a very different, but no less effective, light as my vignette. A visit to Joy Creek Nursery inevitably yields more special little scenarios than you could shake a stick at. So this is more of a pick-your-own vignette post.


A long, hot summer has taken its toll on many gardens, but here there is always plenty to admire. My intent was to zero in on the things that were keeping this garden looking fresh.


Dahlias, of course. Because they put on such a dramatic late-season display, they are often overused (a gaudy mash-up competing for attention). Worked into a border and surrounded with plenty of interesting foliage, they shine.


Monkshood (Aconitum) catches the slanting rays of filtered sunlight: so blue, so beautiful, so deadly.


Asters take autumn by storm. There are tall ones, small ones, sprawlers and uprights.


I’m inclined to like the lacy white ones and the deep blues. Whatever your taste, there’s probably one for you.


The way they spill over the path is almost enough to excuse their pinkness (I’ll bet there’s a white one that would do that).


Fading seedheads (I’m guessing of Fillipendula rubra) can be as decorative as any flower. How about that view of the distant hills through the trees?


Hydrangeas have a long bloom time. To my mind, they gain in beauty as they fade to shades that seem to come from some antique tintype.


Joy Creek has a huge test garden for Hydrangeas, where you can see flowers in all their stages as the mounding shrubs blend into the hills in the distance.


Mustn’t forget grasses when looking for Autumnal interest. Whole undulating landscapes can be made up of grasses alone.


Zebra grass makes a nice backdrop for Penstemons, another Joy Creek specialty.


The zebra grass bears closer inspection. A dwarf form, ‘Gold Bar’, was a Joy Creek introduction.


I visited last Sunday, when Alex LaVilla was giving a talk on Great Plant Picks. Sunday seminars are a gift from Joy Creek to the gardeners among us. Next Sunday, Sept 27, 1pm, will be your last chance to get in on one of these in 2015. Susan Latourette will talk about conifers and their use in the landscape.


So let’s wind this up with a last grassy vignette, shall we?

it’s fire season for foliage

Euphorbia 'Fire Charm'

Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’

We have Foliage Follow-Up on the 16th-ish of every month, and now Christina (Creating My Own Garden o9f the Hesperides) hosts Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day on the 22nd. I, for one, can never overload when it comes to celebrating foliage. If you feel that way too, be sure to click through to see what Christina has up her sleeve. The Euphorbia above is primarily ‘Fire Charm’ but there may be some ‘Dixter’ in there too. The stems are red all season long, but as nights cool, the whole plant bursts into flame.


One of the few annuals employed to dress up the deck is Coleus. No need to wait for Fall to enjoy this one’s fiery presence.


A companion Coleus cools things down ever so slightly.


I have quite a few glazed red pots. Left out in the sun, some of the succulents blush to match.

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Meanwhile, out in the hedgerow, Forsythia begins to color up while volunteer Cotoneaster is forming berries.


These berries will eventually turn bright red. I’m very fond of this subtler look.

Berberis janesiana

Berberis janesiana

The berries of Berberis jamesiana mature to red too, but this pearly, pale yellow was what attracted me. Like so many things in the garden, blink and we miss the perfect moment. It pays to be ever vigilant.

this vase is a teapot


This little copper tea kettle sits atop our kitchen cabinets, all but forgotten. Encouraged by the way the flowers held up in a copper vase a few weeks ago, I decided to press it into service. I liked the patina, so I washed it but skipped the polishing. The garden yielded up two kinds of snapdragons and Dahlia ‘Groovy’.

Some culinary sage formed a nice base to hold flowers in place and a few fruits from Cornus kousa ‘China Girl’ provide the finishing touch.

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The pot’s handle props the flowers up on one side, while on the other they drape over the edge.


I recommend you click through to see what Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) has in store for you this and every Monday…In a Vase.

foliage follow-up…all new

Schefflera delavyi

Schefflera delavyi

Finally, at the HPSO Plant Fest, I found a small Schefflera delavayi within my price range. Cistus was the vendor and here’s what the plant tag has to say about it: “In our never ending search for garden hardy evergreen Schefflera relatives, here’s one that’s actually a Schefflera. This Himalayan species grows eventually to 6 or 8 ft and can have leaves in excess of 2 ft with an exquisite tawny indumentum. So far has proven hardier that even Fatsia to a low USDA zone 7!!” Can you tell I’m just a little bit excited?

Brunnera 'Alexander's Great'

Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’

More Plant Fest finds: that’s Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’ in the background, even bigger and bolder than its predecessors. It and the Kniphofia ‘Orange Vanilla Popsicle’ in front of it came from the Jockey Hill stand.



This wonderful Fatshedra came from Alison at our Bloggers’ Bazaar. The variegation reminds me of Fatsia ‘Camouflage’, another wish list plant. That does it, since I decided to focus on new foliage plants for this installment of Pam’s (Digging) monthly festival of foliage.