how can this be my favorite (this week)? Rosa ‘Dark Knight’

October 23rd, 2014

Rosa 'Dark Knight'

I don’t even like roses all that much, but our friends MC and Lolys were visiting from Mexico and a visit to the Rose Garden was on the agenda. Lolys was searching for a black rose, which led to the discovery that there is an index of all the roses, with a diagram to help find them. We sought out every rose with a name that indicated darkness. It was late in the day, so my photo is far from representative. Instead, click here to see what it really looks like and read cultural info. This source refers to it as ‘Dark Night’, but I like my name for it better (did I misread the label at the Rose Garden, or was I simply blinded by romantic tendencies?)

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Here are the happy tourists with one of their guides.

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As long as we’re in the Rose Garden, I may as well show you a few of the other specimens that caught my eye. It was the way they caught the light, rather than their intrinsic beauty, that caused me to click my shutter, so no names were noted.

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The setting is as much a reason to visit the Rose Garden as are the roses. There are fountains, and paths, and a megawatt view of Mt Hood framed by towering trees. Yay for visitors who blast us out of our ruts to soak in the iconic Portland landmarks we often take for granted.

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And hooray for Danger Garden, who came up with the idea of featuring a plant each week that is the gardener’s pet (for that week only, so we needn’t have a stroke trying to decide).

Fall is for Foliage

October 16th, 2014

coleus

I always have to have at least one pot of coleus to brighten the porch area. A couple of 4″ pots from the super market soon fill a good sized pot with color to rival any blossom.

coleus Aurora Black Cherry

Each year there’s a new batch of varieties from which to choose. The name of the big, dramatic one in back escapes me, but the one in front is ‘Aurora Black Cherry’, with a pot of basil in the foreground.

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Out in the garden proper, leaves are turning and the dogwoods are producing their charming fruits.

Callicarpa 'Profusion'

Beauty berries are plumping up and taking on that metallic sheen.

Paeonia 'Gold Sovereign'

Some of the best leaf color comes from the tree peonies and will only get better until the end.

Lecesteria formosa

Where once were pretty little white flowers, now dangle plump, shiny purple fruits on the Lecesteria formosa.
Hypericum inodorum 'Asbury Purple'

Here’s Hypericum inodorum  ‘Asbury Purple’, sporting shiny black berries to top off the foliage that gives it its name. Other foliage fanatics will join Pam for Foliage Follow-Up just as we do every month the day after Bloom Day. Don’t be left out.

And now there is another foliage meme here, by Christina, on the habit-forming blog, Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. Check it out and expand your horizons with even more fabulous foliage.

October Bloom Day: winding down

October 15th, 2014

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The days of bountiful bloom are past, but looking around with blooms in mind, a surprising number caught my eye. Nicotiana sylvestris fell prey to nibbling deer as it was just getting ready to bloom. I was irked, but the plant reacted by branching out and producing more flowers. Now it scents the evening air with its pristine white, dangling blossoms. I will let this go to seed in hopes of volunteers next year.

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One of my favorite late season bloomers is Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’. Known for its aggressive ways, I am more than happy to see it increasing in number year by year. As the petals fall, they leave behind amusing balls at the top of long stems.

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Staying with whites for a while, here’s another one considered invasive by some but welcome here: Queen Anne’s Lace, or Daucus carrota.

Aster 'Monte Casino White'

Aster ‘Monte Casino White’

I had an Aster that looked just like this for many years until it got shaded out. I was happy to find Aster ‘Monte Casino White’ recently at Joy Creek. It was even on sale.

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Seven Sons, so called because each flowering stem has one central floret surrounded by six more, still has flowers coming on (happy bees) while older blooms are starting to leave behind the rusty colored calyxes this tree is known for.

Coreopsis 'Cruizin' Broad Street'

This pretty little Coreopsis ‘Cruizin’ Broad St’ from Jockey Hill came with some new information: shear after the first flush of bloom and it will look like this later on. I will apply this principle to ‘Moonbeam’ next year. It has been putting out the occasional flower amidst a lot of developing seedheads.

Asclepias 'Red'

This pretty ‘Red’ milkweed may not be hardy but it is producing seed. I definitely want more of this.

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All of the surviving Dahlias will continue to flower until the first hard frost.

Persicaria 'Lance Corporal'

The tiny little red flowers dotting the wand-like stems of Persicaria ‘Lance Corporal’ are hard to photograph, but when they catch the light just right it is a magical scene.

liriope
Liriope is here for its grassy presence edging borders but late in the season these shy lavender flowers are a nice bonus.

Chasmanthium latifolium

Are these considered flowers? Whatever they are, the grassy leaves of Chasmanthium latifolium take on new life crowned with these oat-like whatevers.

Carpinus japonica

The flowers on the Hornbeam, Carpinus japonica, look like hops.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

All of the Hydrangea blossoms are fading to the dusky colors that make them look like tintypes. This one is ‘Limelight’.

Rosa 'Dortmund'

At the same time that Rosa ‘Dortmund’ is concentrating on her hips, she can’t resist throwing out a last flower (the last rose of summer?). A few other lingering blooms are scattered about, but here I’ll pass you on to May Dreams Gardens to check out the world’s garden doings.

sometimes it’s about the vase

October 14th, 2014

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I fell in love with this little vase without even thinking about how useful it would be late in the season, when the pickings are sparse.

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I was down to a single Zinnia today, but it makes up in pizazz whatever lack there may be in numbers.

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If there is to be only one, I feel lucky that it is a red one.

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Meanwhile, the dahlias keep coming, so I refreshed last week’s bouquet and added some little off-white pumpkins from the grocery store. This meme is bound to get ever more interesting as flowers fade and we must go farther afield to find material to put “In A Vase On Monday”. Won’t you join us?

in a vase on a Monday in October

October 6th, 2014

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I decided to start with this vintage pitcher, whose discoloration from age reminds me of the changing colors of the season. The glass frog fits perfectly, allowing me to create a network of leaves to support the flowers to be added last.

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I love the burnished tones of peony leaves. These are rescued from an earlier bouquet so they curl and droop in ways that I find pleasing. Prunings from Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ and seed heads of Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ provide some even darker elements.

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Cathy, who hosts In A Vase On Monday, has made me aware of the importance of props when staging photos, so I added an unknown volunteer veggie (or fruit, who knows?), a little metal box shaped like a tangerine and a split open seed pod from the peony.

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So here’s the setup.

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And a close-up from a little different angle, where you can see the three different Dahlias: ‘Alfred Grille’ (the pale one), ‘Groovy’ (the small red one) and big NOID magenta. There’s also one sprig of Chasmanthia latifolia in there.

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Here’s one parting shot: can you see the little rootlets in that vase? Sometimes a long-lasting bouquet will give you bonus new plants, as did these stems of Sedum ‘Stardust’.

name that succulent

October 2nd, 2014

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I can’t say enough nice things about Thicket, a charming little garden store on NE 23rd (not to be confused with that other “trendythird” on the other side of town). It does do that familiar dance I encounter so often: using the broad term “succulents” with no further ID. I consulted my Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World, where the closest thing to this, my favorite plant this week, seems to be Cheiridopsis denticulate. Feel free to enlighten me if you know better. This just in: DG says it is Crassula falcata.

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This succulent bowl was looking tired, so a couple of succulents from Thicket (that rosette-y one on the right might be Sedum multiceps) replaced an Aloe and Dyckia that never took to these surroundings. I’ve never been much good at mixed plantings. They seem to look sparse, taking a long time to build up to their moment of glory (which is just that: a moment) finally tipping over into the disarray of old age. This is my new approach: jam in whatever looks good right now…live for the moment.

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I’m quite fond of this garage sale pot. Now if I can just find an indoor spot where it can live for the next few months. Due to circumstances described above, I am unable to give you the kind of detailed information Danger Garden always includes in her ‘Favorites for the Week’ posts. Hop on over there, where you will never be disappointed.

in a vase on monday

September 29th, 2014

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This arrangement features a spire of Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ as the main element. A few stems of Chasmanthium latifolium pick up on the green theme and keep it airy. Sedum ‘Stardust’ add a wee bit of bulk and the berries of Hypericum inodorum ‘Albury Purple’ echo the colors of the pebbles that anchor the stems in the vase.

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Viewed from the side, you can see that the vase is narrow front to back and wide side to side. It makes it possible to display things without the density you usually get with a round container. I purchased ‘Albury Purple’ specifically for these berries, but the blue-green foliage is very nice too.

Visit Cathy to see her Monday bouquet and click through to others. It’s fun. You might like to join in.

Stapelia lipida is my fave right now

September 27th, 2014

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I bought this at the fall HPSO sale in 2011 and have been waiting for the weirdly wonderful blooms ever since. The plant has been sitting on the corner of R’s desk. The other day he was sniffing around, changing the cat box, etc. when he finally realized that the smell was coming from Stapelia lipida. It’s now on my desk and I don’t smell a thing. I’m not sure I would mind a little stink as a tradeoff for these wacky flowers.

Trundle on over to Danger Garden if you’d like to see her weekly favorite. Don’t neglect the comments for others’ faves as well.

I’m baaack…sort of

September 24th, 2014

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The Brugmansia I bought at the spring HPSO sale might not produce any blooms this summer but it lured this handsome fellow to nestle into one of the leaves. I offer him up by way of apology. I’ve been locked out of WordPress for a month or so. Too many other things were going on to take the time to dive in and solve the problem. Today was the day. Some glitches remain, but at least I can join in the celebration of gentle autumn rains (punctuated by many of those glorious, crisp days we can usually count on).

Guess I saved draft instead of publishing. Now I just have to figure out how to make the photos bigger. Hah! Another dragon slain (slayed?). Perfection continues to elude me, indoors and out.

dahlias are my favorite plant(s) this week

August 22nd, 2014

Dahlia ‘Alfred Grille’

I have a sunny spot where I plant things that are meant to be strictly bouquet factories. It’s not big enough to be called a “cutting garden” but that’s the general idea. The Dahlia ‘Alfred Grille’ was purchased at a big box store and is much paler than the photo on the packaging. Good thing I was not planning it into a border.

Dahlia ‘Akita’

‘Akita’, on the other hand, was in full flower when I got it from Jockey Hill at the Scappoose Farmers’ Market. It was bronze tones then, but has come back this year in these salmony shades. These guys seem to have a mind of their own.

Dahlia ‘Lion’s Mane’Speaking of which, this one disappeared for two or three years but came back this year with a vengeance.

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It starts out looking like this,

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but grows increasingly frilly, as the first petals get paler and start to curve back toward the stem. It came to me with no name years ago and has followed me around since. I’m happy to see it back.

Dahlia ‘Groovy’

This one is called ‘Groovy’ and is the result of a visit to Swan Island Dahlias last year. I bought it for the dark leaves (not as dark as predicted) and the red flowers (not as red as predicted).

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The flowers do start out red, but pale as they open.

Dahlia ‘Red Devil’

‘Red Devil’, shown here in the center of the photo, develops in a nice, bright red with a spiky form.

Dahlia ‘Bed Head’

The prize for new acquisitions goes to ‘Bed Head’. The dark stems, the tousled petals, the shades of orange and the height (6′) make it a standout in my book.

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My aim, this year, was to work the new Dahlias into mixed plantings. The independent nature of these plants (coming up in unpredictable colors and forms from year to year, sometimes skipping a few years entirely) can make that a challenge. Here, with ‘Bed Head’, I seemed to be having some success.

Dahlia damage

Then this happened. Yesterday I watered deeply, but when I went out this morning ‘Bed Head’ was leaning heavily to one side and looking all wilty. See those mounds to the front and side of the tilting stem with the droopy leaves? Evidence of gopher activity. We’re as eager as the next person to welcome wildlife into the garden, but these guys are inviting armed conflict. I’m going to drop some smushed castor beans down those holes and see if I can salvage my prized dahlia. In the meantime, here’s what I know about Dahlias from my own personal experience. I only dig every third year or so, at which point the mass of tubers looks something like a potato crop. I separate the clump, replant the healthiest looking tuber on the spot and give away or store the rest. I have had limited success with storing in crumpled newspapers or peat moss. The trick is to examine them every so often, discard any showing signs of rot or drying out and keep them slightly moist. In the off years, I cut off the stalks after a freeze blackens them and mulch deeply with leaves. I was surprised to have them come back this year after last winter’s deep freeze.

Every week, Loree features a plant in her garden that is her favorite (that week) and invites us to do the same. Her choice this week is elegant and subdued…just the opposite of my blowsy, extroverted Dahlias. Don’t miss out.