I will start with the very, very good:
That would be HPSO (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon). Last week I received the Open Gardens book, 132 pages filled with descriptions and directions for members’ gardens and a schedule of dates when they will be thrown open for us to visit. Lots of new gardens this time, and several must-revisits. All gardens evolve, so going back to favorites is always a new experience. Then, on Sunday, the annual meeting featured Marietta O’Bryne showing slides and talking about the fabulous gardens she and Ernie have developed in Eugene OR. I found myself scribbling furiously in the dark, but the main attraction was Marietta herself, whose infectious personality and love for her subject, “The Vocation is the Garden: Our Life in Our Garden” put us all on a “just friends” basis. We have hosted many famous gardeners (the likes of Christopher Lloyd), but none would outshine the O’Brynes.
See those little glassine packets next to the book? Those represent another great feature of any HPSO event: 50 cent packets of seed gathered from members’ gardens. I picked up Stewartia rostrata, Eryngium agavifolium, Linaria purpurea and a mystery package whose label got lost along the way.
I even picked up some seed-starting set-ups to give them a fighting chance. My success rate with seeds has been spotty, but it is a thrill to add something new to the garden this way.
My usual method is to use little clay pots set on gravel in these long, narrow trays that just fit on the windowsill in my studio. This works just fine for easy starters like zinnias and sunflowers. This year I’m trying out some Love Lies Bleeding and some Bells of Ireland this way. Many of these things are said to do well sown directly in the ground, but I think the birds get them or something, cuz you couldn’t prove it by me. I’ll probably mix up the leftovers (that windowsill fills up fast) and strew them around just to see what happens.
Inside the Botanical Interest packets, it says that a sunny window will not be adequate to get things going, but the zinnias and sunflowers that I started a week ago are beginning to put in an appearance even though sunshine has been in short supply around here.
Now here’s another good thing. We succulent lovers have long bemoaned the paucity of labeling. Most sellers will offer a collection of varied plants referred to en masse merely as “succulents”. The above tiny pot came from Home Depot, fully identified as Aeonium ‘Voodoo’ A.undulatum x arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ followed by instructions for its care. I went to the provider’s web site and found all sorts of info in a clean, attractive, easy to navigate format.
A fallen bird’s nest with smooth pebbles to simulate eggs makes a nice centerpiece for our outdoor table.
I did everything I could to give this Agave neomexicana a home to its liking: raised berm, lots of grit in the soil mix, gravel mulch, planted high, sunniest spot (Loree…did I forget something critical?). Can’t blame the poor thing, with the kind of weather we’ve been having. It looks like there may be some life left in the central, upright part. Should I cut away all those distressed leaves and see if summer will cure what ails it?
See those dried up flower scapes on my Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’? Those were plump and promising before the snow and plunging temps hit. The rest of the plant is in prime condition, but I do have bouts of envy when I see photos of the glorious blooms others have experienced. This seems to happen every year. Maybe I should put a sock over the buds next time?
When it isn’t the weather, it’s the wildlife. On the bright side, the deer seem to have singled out this one Italian cypress to nuzzle when they feel the need. They like ’em young and supple, so I guess if it lives long enough they will leave it alone. When the deer turn their liquid gaze on you, it is hard to deny them anything.
Our Rhododendron sinogrande emerged from winter wraps (perhaps prematurely) looking a lot better than it did last year. I’m still waiting for evidence that we have gained a zone.
We have many Rhodys (R’s passion), some of which are looking glorious,
while others have that rusty look that comes with thrip attacks. I will use a dormant oil spray as directed to see if that fixes this particular problem.
Still others seem to have been nibbled by something bigger than a thrip. Maybe that spray will make them less appetizing.
This one qualifies as an “oops!”, meaning I brought it on myself. I wanted to extend an existing bed, but because of all the gopher activity, I wanted to excavate and line the bottom with wire mesh. I got about halfway there when the rain set in, turning everything into a loblolly. R’s sister and her husband were visiting for the holidays. Kath noted that water was gushing in that area. Sure enough, a water pipe had sprung a leak. What a way to entertain guests: R and John were up to their shoulders digging a trench and repairing the leak. I won’t be able to set this eyesore to rights until the muck dries out. Would you believe that no one laid a guilt trip on me for this misadventure? Guess they knew I could do that all by myself.