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.

gbbd and a favorite

Callistemon pityoides

Callistemon pityoides

Must lead off with something that has me very excited because it is blooming for the very first time. I’m going to call this my favorite plant in the garden right now and link to Danger Garden.

Cuphea 'Strybling Sunset'

Cuphea ‘Strybling Sunset’

Brand new plants are pretty exciting too. The Cigar Flower came from HPSO’s Plant Fest last weekend by way of Dancing Oaks Nursery. Also from that source: Kniphofia thomsonii and Epilobium (Zauschneria) canum.

Chasmanthum latiformium

Chasmanthum latiformium

Northern Sea Oats has begun to take on a burnished look that will only get better as time goes on.

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua gracilis

‘Blonde Ambition’ is batting her eyelashes in my garden for the first time this year.

Persicaria 'Lance Corporal'

Persicaria Lance Corporal was invited into the woodland to show off his chevrons. A bonus came along with him in the form of long stems of teensy red flowers that pop when they catch the light.

Solidago 'Fireworks'

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

Speaking of popping, the goldenrod is earning its name. I always look forward to these late season fireworks.

Nicotiana lansdorfii

I have a soft spot for things grown successfully from seed. Plus, I’ve never seen this particular Nicotiana for sale in a nursery.


Nothing unique about the Cosmos, but growing these from seed means that I can have lots of them.

I’ll stop there, even though there’s plenty more going on. If you’re wanting more floral fun, you will find it at (May Dreams Gardens), where Carol hosts bloom Day on the 15th of each month. Thanks, Carol.

in a vase on monday

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My intention was to base my vase today on the one sunflower that decided to bloom. Out there, secateurs in hand, I saw that there were many buds forming down the stem. Couldn’t go there. Instead, I cheated a bit and started with the dill left over from a pickling project. It came from the grocery store, not my garden. You will forgive that little indiscretion, won’t you?


It’s been said that a good way to test out plant combinations is to make a bouquet of the plants being considered. I’m turning that concept on its head and choosing plants that are looking good in the garden to put in my vase: a purple aster passalong (noid) with Helianthum maximilianii.

Solidago 'Fireworks'

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

I have Solidago ‘Fireworks’ growing in several places around the garden. It seemed like a good candidate to round things out.


This is the photo that gives the truest rendering of the colors.


This one gives you a better idea of the flower forms.


And here it is, towering over the tablescape in its large, clear cylindrical vase. Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) has a burgundy treat in store for you this week, so be sure to click through. She manages to find something vase-worthy in her garden every week of the year and invites us to do the same.

friday grab bag


First up, a look at what’s been happening around the neighborhood. Our neighbor, Jim, with whom we share a fence, hosted a wedding in August. His grandson, the bride-to-be and an army of friends worked all summer on sprucing up the place (which was already pretty pristine).


They did almost everything themselves, down to charming bouquets of home-grown flowers in canning jars on all the tables. We loaned them some of my banners for the occasion.


Across the road, Virgil planted a virtual hedge of Zinnias outside his fence. What a happy gift to all passers-by.


I’m experiencing some serious Zinnia envy. Plotting where to do something similar next summer seems like the best cure.


Zinnias are pretty upright, but wires run across the front, just in case.


One last shot, at the risk of boring you with my Zinnia fetish.

Helenium maximillianii

Helenium maximillianii

Back on my side of the fence, the late bloomers are putting in an appearance. I think I need to thin out the Helianthum maximilianii. They aren’t as tall as in prior years, perhaps because of crowding.


Asters ask very little to continue bulking up a little more each year.


How would you like to have dinner guests every evening? The herd has increased to about six, as far as we can tell. They drop by to feast on fallen apples and pears.


Here’s a little oddity that might work to the advantage of serious flower arrangers. A vase that was moved outside got blown over in the night. By morning the Kniphofia stems were already bending upward. I can imagine using this tendency to engineer the perfect configuration to fulfill a vision.


Zeroing in on the railing in the last photo reveals another visitor. It’s like a wildlife hotel around here. And with that, I will bid you adieu, with best wishes for a most pleasant weekend.