gbbd: april edition

Rhododendron oreotrephes

It’s Rhododendron time. This is R. oreotrephes, a dainty, small-leaved variety with pale lavender flowers.

R. 'Misty Moonlight'

I like to show the Rhodies in bud and in flower, because the color is usually more intense in the bud form. This one is called ‘Misty Moonlight’.

R. 'Markeeta's Prize'

Having said that, ‘Markeeta’s Prize’ is red from start to finish. I haven’t had the best of luck with red Rhodies, but this one seems to be bucking that trend. There are some excellent gardens where you can see Rhododendrons in all their glory. Two that come to mind are the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden in St Paul OR and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Milwaukie OR. Both are great sources of inspiration for companion plantings.


Always the first of the Irises to bloom is this short, deep purple one. You can see the full chorus of these little guys waiting in the wings.

Epimedium 'Lilafree'

The flowers on Epimedium ‘Lilafree’ are so dainty that they almost disappear. Worth the trouble to get down there for a frog’s eye view, though.


Weed? Wildflower? It’s a beauty, whatever it is. Any ideas?


Here’s another little weed that I prefer to think of as a groundcover. It rambles everywhere, so why fight it?

Ajuga 'Black Scallop'

Speaking of ground covers, Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ is one of the more satisfying ones. It is currently a sea of blue, but just as attractive when not in bloom.


I could easily go on and on, but instead I’ll leave you with the blooming redbud and pass you on to May Dreams Gardens, where Carol hosts Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th of each month. Happy Spring!

in a vase on (tuesday)

lilac tree

Some things put on a show that is fleeting and all the more precious because of it. Such is the Lilac at the corner of R’s studio. Cut branches too early and they will wilt almost immediately, too late and they will last only a couple of days in the vase. I think I’ve timed this just right. Most of the florets have opened, with a few buds remaining at the tip.

Lanceolata kale

I left one plant of Lanceolata Kale to its own devices after pulling up all the others. Here’s what happened: flowers that look good enough to eat (and probably are).


These tulips used to be well-placed but are now asking to be moved to a sunnier home. A hit of red was just what this bouquet needed.


R is always on the lookout for interesting things to add to still life set-ups. I raided his cache for this antique pitcher. This photo was taken on the deck railing in natural light.


But bringing it inside against a dark background shows it off to better advantage. No props, but I like the fallen lilac floret on the dark cloth.


There are many forms of lilac, but this one seems to me to be the most fragrant, and is, after all, where the color got its name. I look forward to a week of its sweet scent drifting through the house.


By clicking on Rambling in the Garden, you will gain entry to a growing number of bloggers who are taking up the challenge of picking something from the garden each week, year-round. Thanks, Cathy, for throwing down this addictive gauntlet.

wednesday vignette

Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans' & Euonymus 'Emerald 'N' Gold'

The shrub in the background is Euonymus ‘Emerald “N” Gold’. It adds a spark of color to Delusional Drive throughout the year. When Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ joins in the fun, it makes a striking combination.

Veronica peduncularis 'Georgia Blue' & Narcissus hawera

Across the drive, the blue and yellow theme continues, with mounds of Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’ surrounding an occasional clump of the dainiest and latest Narcissus, hawera. Anna, at Flutter & Hum has introduced a new meme called Wednesday Vignette. She has a great eye, so be sure to check her out as she turns it on the garden, and beyond, in search of interesting confluences.

in a vase the day after Easter


This is about as close as we get to celebrating Easter: a pretty table and a nice dinner.


First, let’s talk about the container. It’s not exactly a vase, nor is it exactly a basket. My kids had the good fortune to go to a school with an art department. I guess you could say I’m the lucky one, to have several of their creations in my possession. This hand-built ceramic container with interesting glaze became an Easter basket for our table. It sits upon a white dinner plate to catch water runoff and give you a sense of scale.


Three small nursery pots just fit, with moss tucked around them to camouflage any plastic bits showing. Two white mini-carnations emit that wonderful, clove-like scent, while a single pot of sedum spills over the edge. A word about the carnations. Maurice, of Joy Creek Nursery, installed a water-wise border at the Auburn rest stop south of Portland. When we visited, it had been sadly neglected by those pledged to do the small bit of maintenance it required. Despite this, there were a few plants that were thriving. One of these was Dianthus hispanicus, which I immediately added to a border where Zauschneria, another survivor, already flourished. On one of my many stops at Means nursery, I found these, listed only as min-carnations, listed for a ridiculously low price. I plan to see if they are as bullet-proof as the named variety.


I couldn’t resist adding this goofy little bunny I made a couple of years ago.


So, you see, you can stretch the definition of what constitutes a vase to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for In a Vase on Monday. I’m going to go one better and use it as an excuse to wish you all a Happy Belated Easter.

tea time in a vase on monday

Ribes & Myosotis

I’m told that this is actually a chocolate set. I used it to serve eggnog during the holidays, but that is the first time it has left the shelf, a shame, really. Last week’s tiny bouquets were short-lived, all but the Ribes and the foliage of the Stachyrus praecox, so those are getting an encore in the tall serving pitcher.


There are six of the cups and saucers (one patched together with glue), each with a different hand painted floral pattern. I was thinking it would be fun for a party to have one at each place setting. The forget-me-nots are just coming on. I thought their dainty little faces filled the cup perfectly.


Here’s a shot where you can get a better look at the lid to the pitcher. I love all the little details of this set: like how the cups transition from round at the lip to square at the base and the saucer follows suit. Gram was a “saver” while Mom was a “user”.¬†As a result, most things from my mom are damaged in some way but she got enjoyment from them. When I pulled these from the shelf, they were caked in dust. As I washed it off to reveal the beauty beneath, I got a bit closer to the user camp. How do you come down on that issue?


I’ll take you a little closer for one last look at the delicate china painting and the Ribes in full flower. These showy currants have been planted in several places by the birds who, in their wisdom, chose sites in varying degrees of shade. These come from the shrub that gets the most sun, but there will be a parade of blossoms as one after another strut their stuff. Cathy at Rambling in the Garden has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging us to find something in our gardens to “plonk” (her word) in a vase each Monday. Try it…you’ll like it, and you may find yourself pressing into service some treasures that have been languishing on a shelf.

friday surprise


This popped up in a mature bed and I nearly got rid of it. Sometimes sloth pays. I have no idea what it is, but I see a few of them along the roadside. Guess it must be a native. Ideas? I’m also going to call it my favorite this week, because I love surprises.


Now for a little of this and a little of that. Our neighbor lost this cedar tree in the last big windstorm.


After sawing the greater part of the trunk into logs (there in the background), the rest got ground into chips and those chips got dropped onto our side of the fence (I told you Jim is a great and generous neighbor). Three guesses how I have been spending my time. That prodigious pile of chips means many trips with the wheelbarrow. I don’t think I have ever done quite such a thorough job of mulching.

Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans'

The first Ceanothus to bloom is ‘Blue Jeans’.


Delusional Drive was planned to depend on foliage for year-round interest, but the blue flowers are a welcome seasonal extra.


On the other side of the drive, mounds of Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’ pick up the blue note as a background for ‘Thalia’ and a smattering of other Narcissi.


Get a load of that blue sky. Perfect background for the early (isn’t everything?) blossoms of the pear trees.

The first of the Rhodies to bloom is always PMB. This year is no exception, but the foliage is so ratty looking that the flowers haven’t a chance to make up for it. Instead, I give you ‘Janet’, in all her beauty: from bud:

Rhododendron 'Janet

to budding,


to full blown, all happening at the same time on the same shrub. I hope your Friday held some wonderful surprises as well. Won’t you please tell me about them?


ode to spring in a vase on monday


I had something quite different in mind when I went out this morning to cut flowers. There were so many dainty spring flowers that really need to come into the house to be appreciated. I remembered having eight of these little Mexican glass shot glasses, and found that I could almost cover the color wheel with my findings.


Let’s start at the blue end of my bouquets on parade. Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ is just coming into flower. I wonder if these tight buds will open. If so, these two little vases will get better as time goes by. A couple of sprigs of Stachyrus praecox new leaves set off the Muscari in the second vase.


The color doesn’t read as well shot from the other side, but the light shining through the leaves is nice.


Shades of purple and lilac show up in Fritillarea maleagris and Epimedium ‘Roseum’.


Arcostaphylos densiflora ‘Harmony’ has pale pink flowers, while the native Ribes, planted here by the birds, shades from medium pink to almost red.


My favorite of the Epimediums is E.x warleyense, with these delicate wands of orange flowers. I added a stem of Berberis replicata that has streaks of orange mixed with deep yellow.


I thought you needed a close-up to appreciate these flowers. See why they need to come inside?


For pure yellow, you can’t beat Forsythia, and I let one stem of the barberry migrate into this vase to add interest.


The yellow-green Hellebores are a bit coarser than the other posies in the group, but I did want to use all eight glasses, and they met the color requirements.


To complete the spectrum, here’s white Clematis armandii. But I couldn’t stop there…


The rains had beaten down some of the Narcissi ‘Thalia’, giving me a good excuse to pick them. A couple of long-lasting leaves from past bouquets make a dramatic background for the pristine, lightly fragrant, flowers. So there you have it. Now do click through to Rambling in the Garden to hook up with a growing number of budding flower arrangers.

gbbd in a vase on monday


I fell in love with a patch of Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’ at Joy Creek and quickly planted my own. The fragrance is as subtle as the coloring. I was only willing to pick one, so I needed to find other things to fill in.


These two aperetif glasses struck me as spring-like and just the right size. A few gold chocolate coins left over from Christmas stockings give an idea of scale and pick up the gold of the glasses. Both got a sprig of Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’ and one stem of Euphorbia wulfenii. I have two kinds of Pulmonaria, both acquired at our bloggers’ swaps. The pale one went into the vase with the Muscari, while the vibrant , darker blue became the focus of the vase on the left.


All of the usual suspects are in my spring line-up, some earlier than usual. I decided to cull my photos and show you only what made it into my vase this Monday. More vases can be found every Monday at Rambling in the Garden and plenty of blooms show up at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of every month.

fave for a day, week, month…clematis armandii

Clematis armandii

The love/hate relationship with Clematis armandii is in the love phase right now. It’s at its prettiest as the buds are opening.


The way it drapes over the front deck cloaks our ordinary house in an aura of romance.


Loking out, the light catches the cascading blossoms.


Coming into the house, the clouds of blossoms engulf you in a subtle, sweet scent.


So what, you may be wondering, could possibly evoke the “hate” part of this relationship? Well, the detritus left behind once the show is over might be enough, but there’s also the fact that the vines get to looking pretty ratty from time to time and this heavenly show is not necessarily a predictably annual occurance. Never mind. As things stand, all is forgiven and Clematis armandii stands as the clear favorite in the garden right now.

treated like royalty at little prince nursery

I somehow clicked the wrong thing and lost all of the photos taken on our bloggers’ visit to Little Prince of Oregon nursery. Their logo is a crowned frog prince and their motto is “our plants won’t croak”. That down-to-earth friendliness and gentle humor pervades the place and its people. They welcomed us with open arms (and food and drink and complimentary caps) and turned us loose to wander and shop at will. Here’s what came home with me:

Agave lophantha 'Splendida'

Agave lophantha ‘Splendida’

Agave 'Hammer Time'

Agave ‘Hammer Time’

Agave gentryi 'Jaws'

Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’

Abutilon megapotamicum

Abutilon megapotamicum

Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon'

Liriope spicata ‘Silver Dragon’

Geum chiloense 'Double Bloody Mary'

Geum chiloense ‘Double Bloody Mary’


A trio of Sempervivums that got separated from their tags. I’ve given up trying to keep track of the different names of the semps anyway, but these look like the makings of a nice combination.


and a small sampling of Tillandsias, selected from a mind boggling array of these fascinating air plants.

I don’t feel so bad about losing my photos of Little Prince, because others in our group did a bang-up job of writing up our visit, complete with excellent photos. Click on Danger Garden and Mulchmaid to take Loree’s and Jane’s virtual tours. The next time you are plant shopping, look for the crowned frog prince logo. You will be getting plants raised by people who care.