favoritism friday

This little corner of the garden is gardener’s pet right now. The painted ferns languished for years but have suddenly decided to man up…just in time to pick up the burnished theme set by the Rogersia ‘Bronze Pheasant’.

Trycirtis hirta will pick up the bronze with spotted flowers as the pheasant slowly fades to green. There’s a Thalictrum in there too.

Finally! Success with Camassia! This is their first year, in a new area I’ve been working on (more on that later, after I’ve had a chance to tidy it up).

I was pleasantly surprised by the intense color. I was expecting a pale blue.

This little cutie is Globularia cordifolia. New to me, I decided to put it in a pot, the better to appreciate the tiny details as tight buds gradually transformed into puffs of blue.

This is the last Friday of the month, time to join Loree of Danger Garden fame in a shout out to what we find especially appealing this month.

a late vase or two

My vases this week are some I put together at work. They are in their second week, so I thought I would bring to your attention some things with a long vase life. The yellow flowers are Halimium. The branches held many buds, so though each blossom falls after a couple of days, new buds open, for an ever-changing composition. The Spirea ‘Goldmound’ is the only thing that needed grooming at the end of one week. It’s golden halo in the background is missed, but there is still a lot going on.

The big surprise, for me, were the dark leaves of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’. I expected them to wilt quickly but here they are, still soldiering on.

Of course I had to bring one home to add to my own garden. It forms a 1′ rosette, with umbrels similar to Queen Anne’s lace shooting up to 3′. I say “Hooray!” to its habit of seeding around.

Embothrium was the IT pland a couple of years ago and I can see why.

Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’ starts small but quickly forms a good sized clump. The foliage is nearly as fetching as the orange bracts. Even after all that goes away, bright red stems remain well into the winter months. It’s a good idea to let cut stems sit in water for a while before using in an arrangement because the milky sap clouds the water at first.

The second vase is more subdued. I don’t have ID’s for everything here but that background foliage is Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’.

The tall stem of pinkish flowers is Lamium orvala, another find I may have to add to my so-called cutting garden.

In the “never say never” category is Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’. Unlike the upright shrubs, which I found to get scruffy looking, this forms a low mound dotted with little, pearly buds which eventually open into starlike flowers.

My work schedule keeps me from always hitting on Mondays with my vases (sometimes skipping entirely) but you can always count on Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to show up with a vase of her own and links to other bloggers bitten by the vase bug. You may be next.

it’s lilac time, iavom

This handsome tray and silverware caddy were Festivus gifts from a dear friend who knows my taste. New acquisitions in the background are, from left to right: Arctostaphylos ‘Pacific Mist’, Globularia cordifolia and Lilium martagon ‘Nepera’ (off subject, but I figure you would want to know).

I just happen to have some water glasses that fit perfectly into those compartments so naturally it has been pressed into service as a vase.

Jason, at gardeninacity, recently posted a tutorial on keeping lilacs fresh indoors. You can see it here. I don’t know about you but some of his information was news to me. Fingers crossed that these bouquets will last more than a few hours. In addition to the lilacs, there are some forget-me-nots, Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ (see how it matches the candle holder and the tablecloth?…happy accident) and one orange Geum that was added when the whole arrangement seemed to threaten to go all prissy on me.

The second vase is an afterthought because I had material left over. As often happens, I like it better than the one I set out to make. It is made up of the same ingredients minus the forget-me-nots and plus Euphorbia robiae and Hosta leaves, two to line the vase and one in the bouquet.

I wish I knew what resulted in this dramatic shot. Even after all this time, the inner workings of my camera remain a mystery.

I don’t have many surfaces that lend themselves to displaying vases so these are lined up on the dining room table, even though they don’t necessarily go together. The talented and imaginative Cathy at Rambling in the Garden hosts In a Vase on Monday (iavom, in case that title confused you) every Monday, without fail.

the rites of spring…in a vase

This heavy cast glass vase is thin when viewed from the side. Viewed head-on, it is broader, making it a good choice for holding stems in place. I neglected to photograph it from that angle so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The Rhododendron ‘Ilia Cerise’ and its bold foliage dominate here, with a color echo from the Ribes and the light touch of a few stems of Narcissus ‘Thalia’.

If we zoom in, we can appreciate a stem of bleeding heart and one of Brunnera.

I have to point the camera right at the delicate Epimedium blooms to see them in a photo. Our eyes are much better at picking up these details in real life. Every Monday, you can check out vase art from around the blogosphere by visiting Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. I wouldn’t miss it, even when I fail to join in the fun.

got the blues…

…and lovin every minute of it.

In the garden, a mix of Pulmonarias, all from blog swaps and I’ve lost track of which ones they are.

A few Muscari latifolium, which I keep expecting to multiply…some day.

In the meantime, I can spare a few for a vase. Even after the flowers fade, the spotted foliage of the Pulmonaria makes a nice groundcover at the woodland’s edge.

To see what others are singling out for vase duty this Monday, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

monday vases gettingeasier

Little vases get a workout about now, when the pickins are still slim.

The leaves of a variegated Fatshedra and Arum italicum are a showy background for snowdrops and a couple of sprigs of Sarcacocca. The snowdrops have been muddied by rain and beaten up by hail. All the more reason to bring them indoors, where their delicacy can be truly appreciated.

At Joy Creek, making bouquets is a snap. Hellebores are scattered here and there around the gardens. Here, I’ve paired them with a stem of Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ in a simple little bud vase that holds them upright to compensate for their nodding tendencies.

Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’ seemed to be begging for a star turn in a vase.

I was only too happy to oblige. See what others are finding for IaVoM (short for In a Vase on Monday) by visiting Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. It has become a Monday ritual for many.

pruning hydrangeas

I got to follow along as Mike (co-owner of Joy Creek) did his pruning workshop. A question that comes up a lot is how to care for Hydrangeas, so I thought I would share the pruning tips I picked up along the way. In the spring, your shrub should look like this, having left the blooms on the plant through the winter. It may run counter to certain neatnik tendencies but is better for the health of the plant.

The flowers darken, then fade and even skeletonize with the winter weather and can be beautiful, even bouquet-worthy, at every stage.

Early in March, a mature plant can benefit from taking out the oldest branches. Look for the oldest wood (it will be gnarlier) and cut it out at the base. This provides air circulation and reinvigorates the plant.

Leave the faded blooms on the remaining branches until mid-April. In Portland, we still run a risk of a late freeze and the flowers protect emerging buds if that should happen.

When the time comes (danger of a late frost has passed) snip the flowering stem just above the first set of green buds like the ones you see above.

By refreshing your Hydrangeas in this way every few years, you can look forward to stunning displays year after year.

finally, a day pruning

Good tools make all the difference. The loppers cut through branches in the 2″ range like butter. I finally wised up and started using them to cut back grasses too, saving a lot of wear and tear on overworked wrists. I had my old standby secateurs sharpened at Garden Fever and bought another, smaller version to stand in while waiting (their sharpener works in batches, so there’s a gap between dropping things off and picking them up). Between the two sizes, sprigs and twigs (ha ha) are a snap. A collapsable rake gets into tight spaces to clean up fallen debris. I’ve been searching for the right gloves to wear at work (more on that later). These didn’t work in that situation but are great for pruning protection. Finally, that little retractable saw is surprisingly effective in encounters with branches too big for the loppers.

Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ was afflicted with several split limbs. Once I got started on it, the chaotic scramble of crossed or gangly branches kept goading me on to create a significant brush pile. In the process, many buds were sacrificed. I hate to think of a spring without the welcoming sight of the big blue bush. Maybe that bucket of branches will come through with a forced show to make up for it.

Meanwhile, over at Joy Creek, this Magnolia dresses up a stormy sky.

It’s furry buds are swelling with the promise of the spring show we know is coming, even if it sometimes seems a bit tardy.

called the witch doctor for iavom

Hamamelis ‘Diane’

Jumping the gun a little bit here. The blossoms on ‘Diane’ will elongate and become more of a presence┬ábutI was desperate for a bit of color, even if it is still doing the red and green thing.

Interestingly, there were some broken branches that were flowering as much as the branches left intact. The shiny leaves of Magnolia grandiflora are from downed branches too, as are a couple of cherry branches with lots of buds (we can hope). I don’t usually do props but the Witch Hazel suggested a theme and I did have a Witch Doctor’s rattle (Shaman) and a witchy candle holder on hand so they’re in there.

It’s always fun to see what people find to put in a vase during what is essentially most gardens’ down time. You can do that by visiting Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, where she hosts In a Vase on Monday every week without fail.

greens in a vase

Might as well put some of those downed limbs to work, so into the cut glass rose bowl went some of the ‘Thunderhead” pine, giant sequoia, Ozothamnus and Cotoneaster with a few red berries. The Euonymous fared pretty well but I added a branch of it to lighten things up a bit.

As you can see, the back side is pretty dark but I like the way the “candles” of the pine and the silvery Ozothamnus pick up the silvery tones of reflected light off the vase.

I’ll be glad when the spring ephemerals start showing up and I can move away from this red and green theme but for the dead of winter, this is not half bad. See what’s finding its way into other vases this week by visiting Cathy at Rambling in the Garden…spring seems a lot closer in some parts of the world.