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sprig to twig » holidays

Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

memories in a vase

Monday, May 26th, 2014

memday026.jpg

Any stroll around our garden brings thoughts of friends who have gifted or traded many of the plants forming the backbone of the beds and borders. Most poignant of these are the memorial plants. With Memorial Day upon us, I noticed that several of these were blooming simultaneously.The idea of a memorial bouquet was born. I knew it would be a mixed posy, so a simple glass cylinder seemed like the best vase choice. A few smooth stones hold the stems in place. The yellow tree peony is ‘Gold Sovereign’. It is the last of the blooms on a plant that honors my mom, Mini. All highly appropriate, as she lived to the age of 93 and always had something of the attitude of royalty. Our other tree peony, ‘Chinese Dragon’, is past blooming but the foliage remains beautiful, so I included some of it to honor my dad, Jim. He had the heart of a dragon and shared my love of fantasy. R’s brother, John, died at an early age, bringing us a special kind of sorrow. He is represented by the branch of dogwood, Cornus kousa ‘China Girl’. Our good friends brought us this tree to remember John by and as it grows in beauty it does, indeed, bring fond memories to replace the pain of loss. Our first cat, Manny, is represented by a branch of his sourwood tree Oxydendrum arboreum. It may seem strange to place him on the same plane as people we have lost, but anyone who has let a special pet into his/her heart will understand.

memday028.jpg

Bringing the vase inside and photographing it against a simpler background makes it easier to see all of the elements. I added a few columbine to give it more height and a branch of Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ (foliage only) for color contrast. Cathy at Rambling in the Garden started the tradition of making a bouquet from her garden each Monday. I decided to join in from time to time. You can too, by following the link, enjoying Cathy’s offering, then leaving your own link in the comments.

Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

picnicers

These folks take full advantage of the fact that Mother’s Day falls in the middle of iris season. There were plenty of places to picnic, free bouquets for moms and even a harpist.

artist at work

A few artists had set up their easels. You had to be a bit of an exhibitionist because there was no shortage of onlookers.

iris beds

The iris beds are set out in rows, filling a large area with wide grass paths between.

iris with companion plants

They are meant to show off the iris in combination with companion plants. I quite liked the tall purple lupine with the yellow iris.

iris with peony

An iris/peony combo can be effective, but I didn’t think these colors worked very well together.

ID’s on all iris

It kept the borders from being completely integrated, but placing the irises on the outsides of the rows and clearly labeling them made it easy to choose favorites.

moms014.jpg

I was on the lookout for ‘Before the Storm’, a nearly black iris, after admiring it on a blog (I’ll come back later and link to it). It was available on line, but I couldn’t find it in the gardens. There were plenty of other dark beauties though.

mixed hedgerow

The mixed plantings surrounding the display garden created some lovely spots to picnic.

vignette with blue pot and eremurus

Occasionally, a planting would leave out iris altogether, like this one with Eremurus surrounding a huge blue pot.

dusky brown

I tend to go for the dusky colors. I can’t quite read the whole label on this one, but at $45 it’s a little rich for my blood anyway.

Touch of Mahogany

I’ll settle for ‘Touch of Mahogany’ for a mere $9.

Some Like it Hot

Maybe I’ll even spring for the $16 ‘Some Like It Hot’ when I put in my order for ‘Before The Storm’.

long table displays

Talk about impressive: this photo shows only a portion of the hall filled with labeled cut specimens of all the iris available here.

the loot

There was a big table of potted up iris for sale. Knowing of my quest, R bought me a dark one and I added a delicate Siberian. I have misplaced the labels, so I can’t be more exact until they turn up. There’s my free Mother’s Day bouquet, which doesn’t look like much in this photo, but each of those buds turned into a beautiful blossom and I am still enjoying it over a week later.

Siberian

The subtle markings on this were what spoke to me.

moms045.jpg

They threw in a free catalog and I went for some special fertilizer. Next year should be a good iris year. This was a fun outing, especially taking the back roads south of Portland. If a road trip is not in the cards, you can check Schreiner’s online. How about you? Are you smitten with iris? What else takes your breath away in this pulchritudinous month of May?

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

crab apple tree

This gnarly old apple tree down the lane clings to its fruit as if to help us celebrate this joyous season. When I say ‘Happy Holidays’, it is not to avoid ‘Merry Christmas’, which I spread about freely. It is, rather, a way of including all of the ways of celebrating the return of the light and, lets face it, extends backward to Thanksgiving and forward to New Years. For someone like me, who tends to get a bit overwhelmed by all of the goings-on this time of year, lumping it all together in one big bundle of love works. I hope you don’t mind.

Happy New Year

out like a lamb

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Here is a glimpse of what the end of March looks like here:

Clematis armandii

We’ve encouraged the Clematis armandii to grow under the roof of the front deck. These parts are in full, fragrant bloom. The parts that have remained outside, where it is colder and wetter, are still in bud, thus extending the season for this star of the early spring garden.

C armandii in Carlton

It can’t hold a candle to the two plants covering this pergola in full sun in Carlton OR.

Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’

As it emerges, the Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’ forms these little rosettes (its most charming phase, in my opinion)

Forsythia

On Bloom Day, the Forsythia was still mostly in bud. Now look at it!

pussy willow

Pussy willows have gone from furry to fluffy…achoo!

Rhododendron PJM elite

The first Rhody to bloom is always PJM.

Rhododendron ‘Janet’

This year ‘Janet’ is giving it some competition.

‘Janet’ up close

Here’s a closer look at ‘Janet’. Now there’s a pink I can get excited about.

Ribes

Volunteer Ribes pop up all over the place.

white primrose

I don’t know what it is about white primroses: they seem to remain relatively pristine,

blue primrose

While the blue ones are quickly tattered, I presume by slugs and snails.

potted up corokia, etc

Some of the plants recently acquired need to be viewed close-up to be appreciated. The Corokia cotoneaster is featured in the oval pot, with Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Pam Harper’ at its feet. The round pot, upper left, has two blue star creepers (Laurentia fluviatilis) and one Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’ setting the stage for Nandina domestica filamentosa…almost invisible here, but I have high hopes for it.

lily turf from Home Depot

This pretty little silvery lily turf turned up at Home Depot…really the only thing that spoke to me there.

Easter brunch in Carlton

But now back to Carlton, where our hosts, Susan & Gilbert, set this lovely table under that clematis-clad pergola and served up a memorable Easter brunch. Can you believe that sunshine? What better way to bid goodbye to March and wish you all a Happy Easter.

hello, 2013

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

hello 2013

What a difference a day makes. Here come some photos of what yesterday morning looked like:

snow on the crape myrtle

snow on grasses

This morning: still cold out there, but with sunshine lighting things up.

snow on Poncirus trifoliata

The ice in the bird bath and the frost on the ground testify to the temperature, but the sun makes itself known.

sun on cherry branches

Because the sun is coming in at such a low angle, it lights up these cherry branches while leaving the background in shadow. Dramatic, isn’t it?

‘Heavy Metal’ Panicum

Any year that starts out with a sunny day holds lots of promise. I look forward to sharing its highs and lows and in-betweens with you, my blogging buddies. Happy New Year!

Rejoice! Reuse! Recycle!

Friday, December 21st, 2012

kraft wrapping with dried adornments

I have finally run out of the stash of wrapping paper that I stockpiled back when I designed for a company that manufactured the stuff. This year I turned to simple materials that were lying around and dried flowers and seedheads from the garden. To keep a theme going, I used plain kitchen twine. Here it secures a sprig of statice and the husk of a leek blossom to a package wrapped in plain kraft paper (a grocery bag turned inside-out).

lily and poppy pods with newsprint

Splitting open a lily pod gives it a flower-like shape, with a bundle of small poppy pods standing in for stamens. This time a page from the newspaper serves as wrapping.

gift tag on package

Here’s that same package showing the tag made from cardboard. This stuff shows up in the packaging of all sorts of things.

wavy scissors

Craft stores carry tools like these scissors that cut an interesting wavy edge.

tools

I’ve been collecting these kinds of tools, probably way more than I actually need. From the left: a hole punch (this one makes a triangular hole), scissors, a brush for clearing away debris, a rotary cutter (careful, these things can be deadly), a straight-edge ruler, the wavy scissors and a tape dispenser with two kinds of tape (easy peel and not so). In the back is double-stick tape, which is a pain to use but more effective than a glue stick.

ribbon scraps

I also save the ribbons from presents received. I even like the way they look stashed in a big glass jar.

newsprint curls

A puzzle lover is getting her gifts wrapped up in the crossword and scramble pages of the newspaper.

new seasons curls

A foodie gets the New Seasons (a local organic food chain) supplement. Now let me show you how to make those curls.

cutting strips

Let’s say you are wrapping a cylindrical object, like a jar of jam. Start by rolling it up in enough paper to make two or three layers (here we used a colorful double page from a Burgess catalog). Tape up the bottom, with an empty cylinder extending beyond the top of the jar. Cut through all of the layers of paper to make strips. I made these about half an inch wide. Different papers have different properties, so adjust accordingly.

curling the strips

Fully open the scissors (or use a kitchen knife) and hold one edge flat against your thumb at the base of a strip. Using light pressure, run the strip between thumb and blade from base to tip. Repeat until you have worked your way around the cylinder and all of the strips are curled. You can play with the curls like you would a hairdo, loosening them up or whatever. Tying them loosely with the kitchen string will bring them together to cover the top of the jar.

jam jar packaging

It’s a fun way to dress up homemade gifts from the pantry.

different materials

The front jar of pickles is done up in a comics page. For the small square shape on the right, I layered two colors of construction paper.

ribbon trim

A flat sheet of construction paper was cut into strips down both sides, leaving a smooth strip down the middle. Layered on top of that is a comics sheet treated similarly. I held them in place with a piece from the ribbon jar before curling the strips.

rolled strips

Once you get comfortable with curling paper strips, one thing will naturally lead to another. Here, I’ve rolled a sheet of curls like the one used on the package before, making a kind of bow, and topped it off with a dried Chinese lantern from the garden. Richard loves the Get Fuzzy comic strip, so I used one of those from the Sunday paper to make the gift tag.

gift basket

And finally, here is a gift basket (from Goodwill) with color-coordinated gifts, some wrapped, some not, and dried hydrangea blossoms tucked into the blank spaces.

Doing Elf duty is the happiest part of holiday preparation for me. Alas, I am fresh out of things to wrap. Guess I will console myself by arranging these things under the tree, amping up the seasonal music (’Motown Christmas Gift’ is my current fave), plugging in the lights and settling down with a piping hot libation. I hope the coming days bring you all the joy you can handle.

may day! may day! incoming!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

bouquet of lilacs

I just rang your virtual bell and left you this fragrant bouquet of lilacs to celebrate May Day. Old fashioned flowers are appropriate for an old fashioned tradition. Pay no attention to the giggling in the virtual bushes.

old lilac tree

This old lilac tree came with the property. I have been pruning it, but timidly: trying to let vigorous new shoots replace gnarly, tired branches. The short but heavy snowfall of this past winter used a heavier hand, breaking off large chunks. The tree is liking its new haircut and flowering more generously than ever.

lilac blossom close-up

The flowering is powerful, but brief. With several years of trial and error (mostly error) we finally got it right. The last picture shows the right moment to cut some branches for indoor enjoyment: a few of the individual florets have opened, others are still in bud. Cut too early or too late, they will go limp almost immediately. Fill a vase with lukewarm water and crush the ends of the cut branches (this is one of the few times I get to break out the meat tenderizing mallet). An arrangement on the dining room table fills the entire house with its delicious aroma. Same for the one on the front deck. We have been enjoying them for almost a week. I wish that I could waft that scent your way. Instead, I will send you over to Lelo in NoPo for another scented post.

Oh, and Janet’s Plant Sale is this Friday and Saturday 9-3 at 2090 SW Crest Drive in Lake Oswego (97034 if you need to Mapquest). Prices start at $1, and I can vouch for the gardenworthiness of her plants.

Valentine Bloom Day ? say it with flowers

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

orchids indoors

Friends brought us a pair of these pots of orchids when they came to Thanksgiving dinner. Hard to imagine a longer-lasting, more rewarding hostess gift, despite its delicate looking, exotic beauty. It has served as the sole blooming thing through the long, dreary winter months.

Aloe ‘Carmine’

For the second year running, the Aloe ‘Carmine’ has sent up a blooming stalk. It always seems like a victory of sorts, though I think of this as primarily a foliage plant. I’m working up the courage to perform the operation to sever her pup and try to grow it on. My timidity comes from the absolute lack of growth on the Agave pup (one year, no change…at least it seems not to be dying.)

blue primrose

Finally, a few blooms are venturing forth out-of-doors. For some reason, the blue primroses come first, followed closely by the white. The early birds are a little battered by the rain, and the duff from the cedar trees must be brushed aside to even see them. As spring melts into early summer, the foliage will grow into a handsome statement.

Galanthus elwesii (giant snowdrop)

I haven’t enough of these to make much of a statement, but I do appreciate Galanthus elwesii for its early arrival.

Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’

The Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ is in full bloom, while some of the deep brown leaves still cling to the branches. It makes for a stunning combination. ‘Diane’ has no discernable scent, so I may need to break down and buy one of the yellow ones, even though this color is much preferred…or maybe I’ll just spring for a Daphne…any suggestions?

>May Dreams Gardens is the portal through which we can enter the world of garden bloggers’ blooms on the 15th of each month. I couldn’t resist posting a day early to combine it with a wish for you to have a very Happy Saint Valentine’s Day. Oh, and if you happen to be at the Yard Garden & Patio Show on Friday, I’ll be manning the HPSO booth from noon to three. Come by to say “Howdy”, won’t you? Here is roughly what I look like. I say roughly, because I can’t seem to make the hair look the same two days running…but the glasses are hard to miss.

this is me

wall pocket history

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

wallholidy.jpg

This is what my wall pocket looks like right now, decked out for the holidays with two wintergreen plants, (Gaultheria procumbens) and a lemon cypress cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest Wilma’. I have had this pot for many years and am fond of it, but finding just the right plants has always been a challenge. It is attached to the wall next to our front door. The roof of the deck is plexiglass beyond a two-foot overhang, so it gets indirect sunlight. Early on, I was very pleased with a planting of Streptocarpella, which had deeply grooved, velvety leaves with pale blue blossoms on wiry stems that danced with the slightest breeze. Sadly, I have not seen this plant for sale anywhere in years.

Ipomoea ‘Margeurite’ & Lobelia

A couple of years ago I hit upon this combination: a pale blue lobelia flanked by two sweet potato vines named ‘Marguerite’.

‘Marguerite’ takes over

The lobelia did not fare well, but Marguerite flourished.

trailing Marguerite

By season’s end, she was trailing flirtily down the wall.

Ipomoea ‘Lime’

With the idea of building on the previous year’s success, I repeated the Ipomoea, this time ‘Lime’, but I really did want to punch it up with a bit of contrast. Aha! A coleus with sunset tones and just a smidge of lime at the edges would be perfect.

oops

What went wrong? I examined what was left of the plants for predators: nope. The plants had come from the nearby one-stop. While they were not primo, they gave no clues that they would end up like this. I had to believe I was the culprit. I dumped out plants and soil, then soaked the pot in a bleach solution overnight.

replacement plants

The replacement plants (from a real nursery, just to be on the safe side) were a less satisfying color combination, but they did thrive. My wish for you in the new year is that you will thrive, as will all that you touch…in the garden and elsewhere. I am looking forward to sharing 2012 with you.

cold days, warm wishes

Monday, December 26th, 2011

frosty evergreen

Jane, the Mulchmaid suggested that this would be a good Christmas card image, and I agree. So…I am sending it out to all of you, who have enriched my life in the year that is drawing to a close. I wish you well…more than well…I wish you joy! It can’t get much better than that, and you deserve the very best.