month-end favorite

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My favorite plant in the garden right now is Artemesia versicolor. I ordered this a few years ago from High Country Gardens, one of my few ventures into the world of mail order.

Artemesia versicolor

Artemesia versicolor

I love the way it roils over the stone edging of this berm, reminding me of the crest of a wave breaking on a rocky shore. Loree (Danger Garden) brings us a chance to strut our favorites on the last Friday of each month. Won’t you join in?

road trip…and vignettes

Amy admiring Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

Amy admiring Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’

Amy (Plan-it-Earth Design) and I hit the road on one of those hot August days. Our destination was Dancing Oaks Nursery, just outside of Monmouth. It involved a beautiful drive through the countryside (we took the back way and avoided the confusion of Salem) and a couple of stops along the way.

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This used to be Larson Farms. It was recently taken over by new owners who have been pouring new energy into the place and it shows.

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The stock is well presented and cared for, the prices are good and the service is friendly. I look forward to checking back often, as they promise to have timely events and merchandise throughout the year.

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Yes, of course I bought some things but I’ll save that for a later post or we could be here all day. Speaking of all day, this is a long drive, made longer by the fact that neither Amy nor I have much of a sense of direction. Traveling back roads, we got off the track and were having too much fun to notice until a sign that said “15 miles to Lincoln City”. Oops! We were nearly to the coast.

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Backtracking ate up a good deal of time, and speaking of eating…the little town of Dallas OR looked like our best bet. Too late for lunch, too early for dinner, we did NOT eat at this rather charming little restaurant. Oh, well…food was not the highest priority on this trip. Besides, the day was getting away from us.

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At last! The oaks were not dancing on this hot, still late afternoon but they were no less magnificent for that. We were greeted warmly, even though by now it was nearly official closing time, and encouraged to take as much time as we liked (these guys are SO gracious).

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This place is inspiring. I swear, one of these days I will start out at the crack of dawn, pack a picnic lunch and spend the whole day here.

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Of course it’s about the plants, but there are plenty of ideas for presentation as well. Any trip to Dancing Oaks should include plenty of time to wander the extensive display gardens.

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There is a large plaza with water features. That huge pot on a pedestal holds bog garden plants and spills water into the pond.

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Some of the happiest carnivores you will ever see live in the shallows of those water features.

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Overlooking the plaza is a handsome building devoted to special gatherings and events. Get a load of the size of that palm on the left!

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Not sure about the identity of this tree but loved the pale trunk and the candelabras of white flowers. Any ideas? I think that is ‘Esk Sunset’ on the right.

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Everywhere we looked there were layers upon layers of elegant combinations.

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See what I mean?

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Even in death, these Alliums put on a show. Come to think of it, they do seem eerily spectral, haunting their little corner of the garden.

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The chalices of this rain chain were a nice shape…and available for sale at point of check-out.

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And now for a few parting shots, any of which I offer up as a vignette to link with Anna (Flutter and Hum) for her roundup of Wednesday Vignettes.

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belated bloom day ending in a vase

Datura from seed

Datura from seed

Still enjoying the results from seeds generously provided by Botanical Interests at the Portland Fling. I sowed Datura seed in several pots. Each bloom is short-lived, starting out like this early in the day.

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By early afternoon, it will have fully opened. Pam (Digging) has some mysterious evening shots you won’t want to miss. She mentions the scent, which I failed to notice. The next blossom to open is definitely getting the sniff test.

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The seed pods are nearly as interesting as the flowers. I am allowing them to go to seed. They are very easy to grow from seed, and I will obviously have enough to share. If you want some, just let me know.

Anemone 'Honorine de Jobeert'

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobeert’

I look forward all year to the late appearance of Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’.

Anemone 'Honorine de Jobert'

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’

She towers regally above her shady companions and the buds (little balls) are as interesting as the full blown flowers.

Kirengeshoma palmata

Kirengeshoma palmata

New to me this year is Kirengeshoma palmata. Some things are well worth the hunt.

Dahlia 'Sunshine'

Dahlia ‘Sunshine’

Because I lost Dahlias to gophers last year, I put new ones in pots. They are less showy than they would be in a border, but you do what you have to do.

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Same story with the lilies. I was so impressed with the lilies at the Portland Fling that I just HAD to have some. Out of several that I planted, this was the only one to produce a flower, and it was not the deep, rich orange I was after…one of the dangers of growing from bulbs or seed.

Dianthus gratiannopolitanus

Dianthus gratiannopolitanus

One of the truly xeric plants is Dianthus, so I’ve been adding them here and there in the hope that they will survive no matter what the weather gods throw at us. The thing is, they have a heavenly scent…so I put a few of them in this planter near the front steps to seduce visitors (and me) with their clove-like aroma.

Abutilon megapotamicum

Abutilon megapotamicum

Nearby is an Abutilon megapotamicum that has vining tendencies, unlike the more upright versions.

Bat-faced cuphe

Bat-faced cuphea

How cute is this? Bat-faced cuphea.

Crocosmia "Emily McKenzie'

Crocosmia “Emily McKenzie’

You can see by the sunburned foliage in the background that the Crocosmia have not fared so well in this hotter than usual summer, but ‘Emily McKenzie is blooming after skipping last year…so what are we to make of that?

Phygelius 'Moonraker'

Phygelius ‘Moonraker’

How subtle is this? Phygelius ‘Moonraker’ is one of those quiet presences so easy to overlook.

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Now let’s look at a posy of field daisies that makes a nice centerpiece for a luncheon out under the trees.

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They won’t last long, but placed into the square red vases, they make a statement about nature’s contribution to a luncheon “en Pleine air”.

This is what happens when writing a post after a long day and a couple of glasses of wine. I forgot to add links to Carol (May Dreams Gardens) for Bloom Day and Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) for In a Vase on Monday.

reds in white and blue vases

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A garage sale yielded a little collection of blue and white vases. I needed to cut some of the first Dahlias ‘Groovy’ so they’ll keep pumping out new flowers. Same for the deep red snapdragons, so my theme was set.

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The square vase is a mere 3″ to a side and as tall. Short stems of Dahlias and snaps filled it up in no time.

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A little taller with a narrower neck, this vase got a couple of longer stemmed snaps and the last of the red Gladiolus. I like the way the lacy Queen Anne’s Lace shows up against the reds.

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Finally, a small cylinder completes the trio. More Queen Anne’s Lace and a couple stems of Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’ have an airier look but share the same color scheme. I’m happy to report that last week’s bouquet, in the copper vase, fared well. It has lasted as long as most and better than some, so I’ll be using that vase again with no reservations. Be sure to check out Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) to see hers and others’ vases this Monday.

a vignette and the garden that produced it

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Isn’t this just the most inviting place to sit a spell? On the weekend, I availed myself of the HPSO open garden program to visit this garden on Sauvie Island. On this virtual tour, you will see many photos that could just as easily have been selected to join Anna’s (Flutter and Hum) Wednesday Vignette (a day late…sorry).

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The circle garden at the front contains a few clues into things you will find scattered throughout this large (1.3 acres) garden: wood, rocks, metalwork and plants… and more plants.

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Let’s step a little closer to that stump at the center of the circle of grass surrounded by shade lovers. See the rock enclosed by the metal sphere? This same artist, Ray Huston, was discovered at one of the Hortlandia sales and has since been commisioned by the owners to create several works around the property.

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Generous grass paths entice visitors into various nooks and crannies.

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You may have noticed, in that last photo, the tall blue pots flanking the beginning of the grass path. They deserve a close-up so you can see the use of a begonia with Dorotheanus ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’ spilling nearly to the ground.

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A large metal pear nestles into the foliage as if it had dropped there from a great pear tree on high.

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The whole front garden is sheltered by towering trees, leading to mysterious little getaways like this stone bench.

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Say you love rocks, and your personal sculptor is only too happy to work them into the design of a bench.

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Several themes tie this large garden together. One of them is color echoes.

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…with touches of humor.

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The back opens out into a sunny area with several berms and beds, each with a different character.

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How’s this for an inventive edging for a veggie patch?

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As beautiful as it is productive, it must also be a wonder at night, with electric lights strung around its perimeter. I asked about those towering Amaranth. They have self seeded every year since the beginning, eleven years ago.

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Apparently, they make for yummy salads early in the year, before shooting up to 12′ or so.

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Get a load of those Zinnias! This place is definitely blessed by the fertility gods. My seven little Zinnias are still working on producing their first bloom.

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Even further back (right about where that first photo was taken) the mood shifts to prairie, with swaths of grass allowed to grow at will. You can see a structure containing the tomato crop and fruit trees, laden with fruit, dot the mowed area.

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There were two of these, but the vines on the other one had grown to obscure the cute curly tops of their metal supports.

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Heading back to that middle area where we saw the vegetable garden, you can see a more subdued, foliage-based bed.

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Next to that, as we near the back of the house, is another colorful bed divided into quadrants.

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Allium seedheads gathered into sheafs are quite decorative, with Echinops behind echoing the shapes.

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And we emerge into the back patio…

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Where we finally get to meet our host, Linda Wisner: the creative genius behind all that we have just seen and drooled over. She also bakes a mean brownie.

Lest we forget that this all started out as a Wednesday vignette, don’t forget to click on (Flutter and Hum) to see what Anna has in store this week.

percy & friends in a vase

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Lots of choices out there these days, but Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ just happens to be at its very best right now, so I knew that was what I wanted to feature this week.

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Once I had gathered the plant material, I knew that the stems would be a jumble so I settled on this copper container with a nice patina. I’ve had some trouble with flowers not lasting very well in metal vases, so this is something of an experiment. I’ll let you know, in next week’s post, how it goes.

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This was to be a study in chartreuse, so the base is several branches of Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty”. I have lots of this, all started by layering from one small plant from Cistus, acquired in 2005. Some stems of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ went in next. I like it best at this stage, before it starts to show pink. Now I had enough material in the vase to stabilize the three stems of Percy. I then began to add some golden bamboo to fill in here and there.

Chasmanthus latifolia

The finishing touch is Northern Sea Oats. It is just beginning to form the seed heads that give it its name. They will be changing color through fall, and will make it into many more bouquets before being slammed down by winter.

Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) invites you to forage in your garden for the makings of a bouquet every Monday of the year. Even if you don’t participate, you will be cheered, I’m sure, by the efforts of a growing group of bloggers.

these are a few of my favorite things

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Things can become favorites for any number of reasons: one being that they are new, so get more attention. Those tall metal fluted containers came from our Bloggers’ Bazaar.. from Loree (Danger Garden), who, coincidentally, hosts the roundup of favorites on the last Friday of every month. I knew immediately that the shorter of the two would be the new home of a small Agave that had been suffering from sunburn in the garden proper. It has a stripe down the middle of each leaf that matches the chartreuse of the pots.

Begonia rex ??

Begonia rex ??

My next assignment was to seek out a plant for the larger pot (I know…poor me). I had some preconceived ideas about what that would be, but at Drake’s 7 Dees I happened upon this begonia with heavily textured leaves in just the right colors. Running into Tamara (Chickadee Gardens), was a delightful surprise. She showed me around and pointed out a few plants that needed to come home with me. She joins Anna (Flutter and Hum) to make your shopping experience at the Scholls Ferry shop as fun as it is tempting.

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Having house guests is always one of the perks of summer, especially when they know you so well that they gift you with items like these. See that little guy in the front?

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Let’s zero in on him and see if anyone can tell me what he is, besides cute as a button. There are a couple of swelling nodes there that might be developing flowers to adorn the spiky hairdo, in which case I may have to reevaluate his gender (if that is even relevant in this day and age).

Astelia nervosa 'Westland'

I wasn’t sure the begonia was to be the perfect choice for that pot. Besides, I needed an excuse to visit Xera Plants. Astelia nervosa ‘Westland’ was closer to what I had in mind. When I got it home, I decided it belonged in a corner where a collection of metal containers holds sway…the better to show off its explosion of silvery leavesTanacelum densum ssp amani.

No way could I get out of that place with just one plant. Among others, this Tanacelum, with those feathery white leaves, spoke to me.

Stachys albotomentosa

Stachys albotomentosa

This peachy Stachys refused to be left behind. I asked Paul if I should wait until fall to put things in the ground and he assured me that this is a good time to plant if you do it properly. See his blog entry (HERE) to see what that means. His observations are fascinating but if you are impatient to get to the planting part, scroll down to the last couple of paragraphs.

in a vase on monday

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I like using annuals to fill out new beds while waiting for the shrubs and perennials to fill in. It’s as close as I have come, so far, to planting a cutting bed. The snapdragons have been a disappointment (shorter and less full than expected) but they do their job in a vase. These dark red, velvety Anthirrum are augmented by a couple of stems of Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’. The color of the purple glass pitcher doesn’t show up very well here, but it bridges the deep red and the pale blue of one Hydrangea and the fading pink of the other.

Anthirrum & Lavender

Here’s the snapdragon in situ in the herb bed. I had visions of tall, elegant spires, but oh well…

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My experience with Hydrangeas as cut flowers has been that as they age, they become more durable. You can see signs of aging on the lower one (it begins to take on an antique, slightly rusty look). I suspect it will last longer in the vase than the fresher one above.

Click through to see what Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) has in store this week.