friday surprise

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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.

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

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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’.

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

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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.

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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,

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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?

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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.

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

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Loking out, the light catches the cascading blossoms.

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

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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.

favorite: ‘Thunderhead’ pine and more for FFU & GBFD

So many memes, so little time…so, once again , I’m putting three related themes into one post. I’ll give you the links at the end.

'Thunderhead' pine

Starting with my favorite plant in the garden right now, Pinus thunbergiana ‘Thunderhead’. Close up in spring, it’s the “candles” that arrest the eye. Pinching them back results in a lower growing tree.

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But I love the candles, and it isn’t strictly necessary to choose between sprawling and upright. The tall part has been let go, while the shorter part has been “candled”. I think it results in an even closer resemblance to the cumulus clouds for which it was named.

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Houz did a nice write-up about this favorite. You can find it HERE.

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It took me a while to warm to the idea of introducing Yuccas into Delusional Drive. Now I couldn’t be without the textural contribution of their strong, sword-shaped leaves. This one came from Means, so I don’t have a full ID. Just Spanish Dagger and variegated.

Yucca recurvifolia

My first Yucca came from Ryan at our first bloggers’ swap: Y. recurvifolia.

Senecio greyi

This could easily occupy my “favorite” slot. It was labeled Senecio greyi, but I think Loree calls it Brachyglotis greyi. Whatever. Those silvery edges make it a winner as far as I’m concerned.

Mugho pine

R is the opposite of a plant snob. He cares not if a plant is common as dirt, so he’s always slipping in things like this Mugho pine. I must admit to loving it.

Euonymous 'Emerald N Gold'

Most of the year the variegation on Euonymous ‘Emeral ‘N’ Gold’ is yellow and green, but it blushes prettily in the cold months.

Dracunculus vulgaris

Dramatic from beginning to end, Dracunculus vulgaris is pushing up through the woodland duff, already showing the distinctive patterning of its future stems.

The Favorite Plant in the Garden meme is the brainchild of Danger Garden, where Loree will host a roundup of faves you have featured through the month on the last Friday. Pam, of Digging hosts Foliage Follow Up. It is targeted for the day after Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, but as you can tell by my late entry, the rules are loose. You are welcome to join in when you can. A similar meme from across the pond is hosted by Christina. It falls on the 22nd of each month, so why not note that on your calendar and give it a try.

triple play: ffu, gbfd and garden favorite

foggy foliage

Our days have been starting out cloaked in fog. Looking out from the front deck, the scene is framed by gnarly cherry tree branches on the right and red branches of Stachyrus praecox on the left, giving perspective to the cedar trees disappearing gradually into the fog.

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The view out back has deciduous trees forming the scrim in front of the ghostly forms of conifers farther down the trail into the woods.

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There was moss left over after using some at the base of our “Christmas Tree”. It was left in a wire basket on the outdoor table and up popped these cute little fungi for a natural fairy garden look.

Mahonia 'Arthur Menzes'

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’ finally came across with some flowers this year, but it is here as a foliage plant. It’s stiff, holly-like leaves are evergreen and textural for year-round interest.

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis 'Grannies Ringlets'

And to complete the triple play of the title, here’s my favorite plant of the week: Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’. That Arcostaphylos in the background currently obscures it from the entry drive, but from the back side of the bed its curlique habit stands out from its more serious neighbors. It will eventually gain enough height to make its presence known from any angle. Loree of Danger Garden fame hosts the favorite plant meme and will have a roundup on the last Friday of the month. I have long participated in Pam’s Foliage Follow-Up meme at Digging. Recently I discovered a similar meme, Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides, hosted by Christina. I may be cheating a bit by hitting all three with one post, but you know how it is when the weather turns nice enough to get out there to start weeding and pruning, so I trust you will forgive me.

A comment from Anna brought to my attention that I did not include any info about Granny. You can find it HERE.

here’s a favorite: can you tell me its name?

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The last time I visited Digs Inside and Out on Alberta Street, I found this cuddly cactus. JJ always has a few interesting plants, but this one has special appeal and here’s why:

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Last summer JJ threw open her garden for the Garden Bloggers’ Fling. I was not alone in oohing and aahing over the squid pot on the wall or the equally drool-worthy plant it contained.

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I couldn’t quite spring for one of the pots, but the plant was like bringing home a memento of sunny days, surrounded by the cream of gardening’s crop of gardeners in beautiful and imaginative settings.

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I had just rediscovered this pot made by Hillary (daughter) when she was in grade school. The cactus, in its pot, fit exactly, with a little vertical wiggle room. I’m squeamish about taking a drill to any pot, but especially one this precious. I put some gravel in the bottom of the cachepot to bring the nursery pot level with the lip, then topped off with more gravel as a dressing.

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I’ve had luck with the no-holes approach as long as the pots are not placed where they can be waterlogged by rain. If all goes as planned, my no-name cactus will thrive, multiply and begin to droop over the edges of its new home much as JJ’s mature specimen has done. Our host for Friday favorites, Danger Garden has one of these and can probably enlighten us with its proper name. A click to check out Loree’s blog is never amiss, regardless.

fave roundup

Euphorbia mamilaris 'variegata'

Spending more time indoors leads to this favorite, Euphorbia mamilaris ‘variegata’ which, appropriately, came from Loree of Danger Garden fame, back in August of 2011. The little square pot with the balls for feet was a score from a resale shop.

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The pot was one of three. When I bring them indoors, I have to put them in little square saucers to protect the woodwork. It means we can’t see those cute little feet, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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When they were lined up in a row on our deck railing, the raccoons found them irresistible and knocked them all about. Eugo here was all broken up over such mistreatment and so was I (not quite so literally). I potted up his broken parts. Since I gave them all away, I can’t report upon their continuing success. This guy, though, grew quite the topknot where he was wounded. It changed his personality, but he lost none of his witty charm. Here’s a link to some statistics. Plant Lust shows it available at two California nurseries. This one came from Digs Inside and Out, where you can often find funky, fun plants but can never be sure what will be on offer.

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Originally, he had another arm on the other side, making him look like he was shouting “look, ma…no hands!”. The raccoons amputated, so now he’s a one-armed bandit. The last Friday of each month is now the day for a roundup of favorites we’ve featured throughout the month. I have only one other favorites post in November, and you can find it HERE.

favorites done right…at Treephoria

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Patricia of Plant Lust pulled some strings to set up a personal tour of Treephoria, a place that erases the “boring” from Boring, OR. That’s Patricia, with her hand up as if to say “here I am”.

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Laura of Gravy Lessons and her pirate, Charlie, met us there.

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Here’s our host and tour guide, Neil Buley. He was a fount of information.

Oxydendrum arboreum

They had several specimens of one of my favorite trees, Oxydendrum arboretum, or Sourwood. I wrote about the  s l o w  growth of mine here.DSC_0045

Last year, the poor thing died. That’s the dead trunk (the grey stick). New growth shot up from the roots and soon surpassed the height of the original tree that had struggled for years.

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It’s most recent affliction is compliments of the deer, who have nibbled off most of the foliage.

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So for a close-up of this splendid tree, we’ll go back to Treephoria. The leaves turn progressively redder and it blooms at the same time, making for quite a show.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Next up: Cercidiphyllum japonicum, or Katsura. I wrote about ours here. We love our Katsura, but the fall color, so far, pales in comparison to the mature specimen above.

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Just look at the range of color in those leaves.

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I couldn’t seem to stop snapping photos, especially when I saw it with a monkey-puzzle tree in the foreground for contrast.

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OK, so that’s it for my favorites, but let’s wander around Treephoria a bit more. Cornus mas the Cornelian Cherry Dogwood was adorned with bright red, shiny fruits.

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I’m kicking myself for neglecting to carry a notebook to jot down the names of things like these wavy leaves on colorful stems. Will I never learn?

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Maples were spangled with their little wingy things.

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Each one prettier than the last.

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Here’s something for anyone who, like me, has been smitten with Franklinia but to no avail. Gordlinia Grandiflora is a cross between Gordonia and Franklinia, making it much hardier while retaining those wonderful flowers. I’m game to try this one.

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There were some peculiarities too, like this thorny tree trunk. It of course calls to mind Danger Garden, whose earlier post of this place will show you more photos of this spiky wonder and an in-depth tour at a different time of year. Loree is also our host for the favorites meme. Be sure to check in this time, as the format will be changing a bit.

Speaking of hosts, a big Thank You goes out to Neil and Treephoria for hospitality and then some. If you are hankering for a tree and you don’t want to wait for a little bitty thing to gain some stature and presence, this is the place. They will dig, deliver and plant for you, so you know it’s done right.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’: my favorite (this week)

Miscanthus 'Morning Light'

The grasses really come into their own about now, none more so than Miscanthus sinensus ‘Morning Light’.

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I had admired it in several gardens before getting one of my very own. I had never seen it in Autumn, so had no idea that, on top of everything else, it would burst into bloom like this.

Miscanthus sinensus 'Morning Light'

As usual, Plant Lust provides information and sources, should you be moved to track this one down for your own plot. A dark background shows off the inflorescences, but be sure to site it so that the light (morning or evening) will set it ashimmer.

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No week would be complete without checking Danger Garden to see what Loree has crowned fave of the week in her garden and to join the conversation in the comments. See you there!

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

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).

name that succulent

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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.