o, the light! the light!

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One night each year, Joy Creek throws a party to celebrate its wonderful customers and to share the sights and scenes that twilight brings to the gardens.


We used my ‘Spinnaker’ banners to mark a few spots where the lighting effects seemed especially dramatic.


Monica tied in all sorts of festive streamers and little brass bells.


Many grasses wore halos of light for the occasion.



People wandered or broke into small groups to chat and exclaim


while the music of the Brian Christopher Jazz Quartet lured many to simply sit and listen (though their strains could be heard throughout the gardens)


And there were treats, of course. If you live anywhere in the area, do yourself a favor and put this on your calendar when it rolls around next year.

ANLD garden tour coming up


Devised as a way to showcase the artistry of its members, this tour has it all.

DSC_0077Swoon-worthy plants shown off to best advantage in creative combinations (those fish swimming through a sea of grasses in the background are an example of the way art is incorporated into the gardens).


Often the plants can be seen playing ingeniously with elements of the built environment.


Clever ideas to swipe and make your own abound.


Some of those ideas might elicit a chuckle or two.


Blue sky is a bonus, but this blue wall can pinch hit on a grey day.


Art can be utilitarian as well as decorative and/or thought-provoking, as evidenced by this clever use of materials.


Trees are often as sculptural as any artwork.

This is just a teaser to whet your appetite. Here’s the info you need to get in on this tour: visit the ANLD website for the full scoop and to order tickets online or pick them up at Al’s in Sherwood, Cornell Farm, Garden Fever or either Portland Nursery. There are 7 gardens on the tour, each created by a professional landscape designer and chosen by a jury of his/her peers. After the tour, I will go into more detail for those of you who are out of our area. If you live in this neck of the woods, this would be a fine way to seek out design help or inspiration and spend a pleasant day doing so.

In a Vase on Monday (on Tuesday) and more

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All of the big, showy flowers are showing up early this year. I say, while we got ’em, flaunt ’em.

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The bearded iris ‘Immortality’ starts as an icy blue bud that unfurls to pristine white perfection.


This clump is about ready for dividing. I plan to put some closer to the house, where we can truly appreciate them.


The tree peony ‘Chinese Dragon’ produces magnificent deep red flowers but I haven’t perfected the pruning techniques that would coax the shrub into a pleasing overall shape. Enter the close-up, a device used by gardener/photographers to fool you into thinking that all is sweetness and light. To fill out the bouquet, I added a few stems of Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ and some Tellima grandiflora, a wildflower that looks something like Heuchera.

And now for the “and more”: (Joy Creek) has changed up its Sunday seminars a bit. There is still the occasional free talk we’ve become used to, but there are now expanded sessions for a nominal fee. Coming up this Sunday is a class called Troughs the Easy Way, taught by a true rock garden star, Christine Ebrahimi. This might be a creative way to spend part of Mothers’ Day. Disclaimer: I am now part of the JC team, but my enthusiasm is genuine and I just have an inside track on what’s going on there.

ANLD tour coming up


A meandering stream made of bricks cuts through concrete steps and walkways,


and meanders and eddies around rocks,


pooling into a virtual lake defining a conversation area.


Around back, raised beds overflow with not only fab produce, but bright red poppies.


When the well-kept part of the garden gives way to a fabulous meadow, a few of the red poppies dot the grasses here and there.


A path mown through the meadow was irresistible, and the many photos I took may have even convinced R that we need to go back to having a meadow at our place. I’m holding back, speaking of my many photos, but believe me: no amount of photos would spoil the delightful surprises you will find on this tour.


The alleyways between houses can turn into dead space, but in the hands of these designers they are transformed. I overheard several comments singling them out as their favorite features.


Plant choices can be brilliant, always in service of the overall design.


In this garden, an upper deck looks out over a greenspace, where Mother Nature is the gardener.


Another garden had us salivating over the stonework…so well placed that it seemed to have come with the site.


Another of those brilliant alleyways is lit up by the goatsbeard fluff.


In back, there is a deck overlooking a refreshing woodland garden with paths for strolling, making discoveries along the way. Each of these gardens, regardless of size, easily absorbed our rather large group.


It’s not often that we see smooth river rocks used as edging, and now I’m wondering why.


This alleyway feels like a streambed in deep woods.


Groupings of potted plants crowd the corners of the back patio.


Each vignette has its own personality.


Salad bowl, anyone?


Coming up on the smallest of the gardens on tour, we know it will be a doozy by the bold placement of these cor-ten planters right out front.


In back, different levels and a mix of modern materials keep the eye roving,


And everywhere, plants, glorious plants…like this Fatsia japonica ‘Camouflage’.


By using stunning small trees, the designer teases our eyes upward, to take advantage of the borrowed landscape of towering trees nearby.


A recurring theme was the relationship between designers and owners. In this garden, the owner did the rock work, while the designer created the soothing woodland garden that is raised above a circle of lawn.


Sunny and colorful, this garden even had the playful touch of a big pot of plastic balls for the grandkids to play with in the stream and pond.


More balls: could this be a theme?


The use of orange was definitely a theme, often paired with hot pink.


Much talk centered around this gate, and I am only showing you a tiny part of it.


Looking back through the giant leaves of a Tetrapanax


The last garden was designed to allow the owner to age in place. Thinking ahead, she wants to be able to garden here indefinitely.


No stooping or crawling required to maintain much of what we saw here. The nearly black lily in the pot was dramatic, and the first I’ve seen blooming this year.


Raised beds are classier than most, made of juniper and designed to fit together like a puzzle.


A huge Dawn Redwood shades one corner of the back yard, where we gathered to sip tarragon-infused lemonade and say farewell. It was painful to cut down to this number of photos, but I just wanted to give you a taste of the treasures to be found on this tour. Remember, you can pick up tickets tomorrow at Garden Fever if you fail to score a pair in my drawing at the Garden Bloggers’ Bazaar. What?! You can’t make it? Oh well, tickets will be available through the ANLD website, or at Al’s in Sherwood, Cornell Farm, Gardener’s Choice or Portland Nursery (both locations). There are eight gardens on the tour, which takes place on the west side on Saturday, June 20th.

in a vase on monday…and hot tips


I started out to refresh last week’s arrangement by washing the vase and giving it new water. If I were to start over, looking at it now, I would have put a fern frond in the vase to disguise the stems and compensate for the muddied water. It started out clear, but quickly took on a murky look. I stripped the lower leaves of the Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ and cut an inch or two off each stem. Same for the Digitalis. The herbaceous peonies were just beginning to bloom. I knew I wanted to use them, but needed to do something to mitigate their pinkness. I find deep, bronzy tones best for doing that. Enter Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’.


Now I was ready to add some other elements to fill out what was becoming a pretty traditional bouquet. More foxgloves, for verticality, and a few stems of Heuchera for their frothy grace.


How did so much pink find its way into my garden? Must be Grace (Gardening With Grace), mistress of all things pink, casting her spell.

Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) has definitely cast a spell that compels me to find something to put in a vase every Monday. Since I only post Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I often need to crowd more than one subject into any given post. Right now, I want to give you a heads up for some upcoming events you won’t want to miss if you live nearby:

Apa Ini? is having one last blowout sale before closing up shop forever. Click through for details. The intrepid Martha Banyas will be parting with many collectibles from her own personal collection.

ANLD will sponsor its annual garden tour June 20. I’ll be giving you a sneak peek next week, but mark the date for a fun, idea-filled way to meet designers and artists in the gardens they have created.

A group of garden bloggers is putting on a sale, dubbed Garden Bloggers’ Bazaar. We’ll be trotting out all manner of garden-related items, including plants. Come to 24th and NE Fremont between 9am and 2pm on June 13th to have some fun and score some stuff.

garden bloggers’ spring swap

Ask most gardeners and they will say that they are shy introverts. You wouldn’t know it if you dropped in to one of our get-togethers, where the groupings are lively and newcomers are quickly assimilated into happy-making plant talk.


It doesn’t hurt to have a host like Patricia (Plant Lust), seen here flanked on the left by Heather (Just a Girl With a Hammer) and on the right by Loree (Danger Garden). Tricia provided mimosas and all sorts of delectable tidbits to power our gathering, which grows larger as everyone wants to get in on the fun.


A big paqrt of that fun was getting to wander around Tricia’s garden. Hard to believe that it has been only a year in the making…so far.


Here’s Linda (Whatsitgarden) with her sidekick, Rosie, admiring one of the borders.


Pardon me, Jenni, far right, for showing your pretty face all scrunched up in concentration as you describe something important to Laura (Gravy Lessons) and her pirate, Charlie. Also, Jenn, I haven’t linked to you, because when I do, I get an ad for domain names. Can you set me straight?


There are still some blank spaces. That’s a good thing, because we plantaholics love nothing so much as a plant sale or swap. Darn, I failed to get a shot of all the plants that showed up here. Trust me on this: there were lots and they were good! I had to leave early, but I’m sure they all found new homes and a few will be filling in some of those blank spaces.


Now let’s take a look at some of the things that nearly wound up in the swap. It’s easy to think you’re not big on Peonies until you actually experience them. How tragic would it be to dig out this fabulous white one?


Or this magenta magnificence.


A magnificent old apple tree nearly got the axe, until judicious pruning saved the day. This is a garden to keep an eye on, as Patricia continues to work her magic.


I was on a tight leash, heading for the next thing, but who could resist a handmade sign saying “Dahlias” leading down a side street? Not me. It led me to this guy with a lineup of bulbs (tubers?) for $2.50 each. He helped me pick out the best ones, with some growth showing. I came away with a couple of small ones to be put in pots: ‘Jitterbug’ and ‘Velda Inez’ and two larger ones to test out the new herb protection theory: ‘Black Satin’ and ‘Majestic Kerkrade’. I hope to show you results come August. All in all, it was a memorable day.

a mystery is solved

mystery bar

One of our favorite things to do in the summertime is to dine with friends out under the cherry trees. Guests never fail to question the metal bar that extends between the two trees. We never had a good explanation, but Harper figured it out on sight. See her reaching up?

Harper’s gymnasium

With a little help from her mom, Noami, she put the mystery bar to good use.

little bee

Meet Harper Grayson McClure, aka our little bumblebee (when you are almost three, costumes are not reserved for Halloween). R took her on a tour of the veggie garden (his domain), where she zeroed in on a ripe yellow sweet pepper, which she munched on as if it were a sno-cone.

communing with the bees

Of course she was interested in her tribe: the bees that were busy working over the lavender walk.

dinner under the trees

And then we all settled down to enjoy our dinner “en pleine aire”. Isn’t summer grand?

Flinging Foliage


Lots of brilliant foliage combinations popped up on the bloggers’ Fling, so I thought I’d share some of them with you for Foliage Follow Up this time. The first one was spotted at Chickadee Gardens.


The Danger Garden was in full spiky form.


Foliar peek-a-boo in the Ernst Garden.


Next door, at the Fuller Garden, fine foliage underfoot.


You can point your camera anywhere in the Old Germantown Gardens and come away with a winner. This happened to be in the greenhouse.


Those rose hips were enormous, in the demonstration gardens of Joy Creek Nursery.

Pam is the mastermind behind Foliage Follow Up and I can now vouch for the fact that she is every bit as charming in real life as she is online (it’s a Fling thing…you get to hang out with your gardening heroes).

gbbd post-fling post


I’m only part way through the photos from the Portland Fling, so not all of the gardens will be represented here. There were so many jaw-dropping blooms on the tour that I can’t resist featuring a few of them for this month’s Bloom Day. The Clematis pictured above was seen at Joy Creek on the first day out and about.


Wouldn’t you know that Danger Garden would greet the big event with something seldom seen but not soon forgotten.


Scott, of Rhone Street Gardens is our go-to guy for grasses, so a visit to his garden presented the challenge of capturing their elusive beauty: something only Scott is actually capable of doing.


Scott is also partial to lilies. This happens to be high season for lilies, so we were treated to many of them over the weekend.


Some were gigantic (note the roofline) and heavily scented, as these in the Old Germantown Gardens.


And these beauties in the Ernst Garden.


Day lilies were having their day, here again in Old Germantown Gardens.

lavender at Westwind

At the Westwind Farm Studio, the first thing you see is a sprawling field of lavender


followed by large blocks of color created by mass plantings.


McMenamin’s Kennedy School is surrounded by deep borders packed with interesting plants. This Phygelius was catching the afternoon light.


As was a single, pristine Magnolia blossom.


In the Fuller Garden, a dainty Fuchsia’s quiet presence in the shade drew me in.


The garden of JJ DeSousa was all about drama and staging. She used a lot of these flaming red begonias to reinforce her color scheme.


Crocosmias are coming into their own about now. In the Chickadee Gardens, they add a bright note to the front border.

It was fun to take a break from my own garden to wallow in the beauty wrought by others’ efforts. Thanks for coming along. Many thanks to Carol, of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Boom Day each month.

hey kids! Means is having a sale!


And when they have a sale, it’s a doozy.


Last year, I was skeptical…but then I rationalized that even if they only lasted a season, full sized specimens at what I would normally pay for annuals were still a bargain. Here it is: one year later and every one of those plants is thriving.


There hasn’t been a lot of exotic stuff this year, but if you’re looking to plant a hedge, or a sweep of grasses, you can do so without breaking the bank.

Rainbow Leucanthoe

For instance, we keep going back for more of this Rainbow Leucanthoe to line a part of the drive.


At $2.99 each you can hardly go wrong.


I was charged with going back for three more and look what happened. I asked about the price of that variegated dogwood and was told it was $49.99…but then he said “you want it? you can have it for $25.” Deal!


While I’m not big on roses, I did like the color of this one, so I’ll tuck it away somewhere and have the stuff of fragrant bouquets.

agaves & yuccas

Come for the sale, but look around the rest of the place while you’re at it. You might be surprised at what you find.