revisiting a vertical planting

Back when New Seasons opened the market in Slabtown, I did a post that you can access HERE.

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The most outstanding feature of the handsome building was the vertical planting. I wondered how it would fare over time. Lucky, then, that we happened by on the very day that the heavy equipment was brought in to do maintenance.

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I was able to talk to the guys doing the work. They told me that they were replacing any plants that were dead or dying. A drip system is built into the structure but, even so, half-yearly inventory and replacement keeps the whole thing looking fresh. I wonder how many living walls enjoy that level of commitment or the resources to make it so. And hey…even the cherry picker has that “designer” look.

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Plantings around the parking areas are maturing nicely. Somebody knew what they were about when they specified the plants. Often I see a promising installation that peters out or gets choked by weeds in no time. The care taken by New Seasons makes me want to shop there.

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You know how grocery stores put gum, candy and toys by the checkout, making it dangerous to take kids shopping? Well, this place is dangerous for kids like me.

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I need blinders to get by the attractive displays at the entries.

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But if I need to pick up a hostess gift or a little birthday remembrance, this is my go-to shopping destination. Gotta support those plant-centric retailers, don’t we?

a vase and a stroll around Joy Creek

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Cheater alert: these sunflowers are not from my garden. They were a hostess gift. I usually have a hard time finding a background for photographing my vases but I loved these in front of Richard’s painting in our kitchen, so there you have it: my entry into Cathy’s ‘In A Vase on Monday’ meme.

Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’

So now for a peek at what’s looking good at Joy Creek Nursery (well, a very narrow slice, really, of what stands out right now). Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ has a very long blooming period, with flowers that are slightly larger and redder than the browner floridus.

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Flowers may rule, but foliage combinations bring their own subtle beauty to the shade gardens.

Fuchsia magellinica alba

Fuchsia magellinica alba

I’m crazy about this low-key fuchsia growing in both sun and shade at the nursery. Unfortunately we don’t have it available for sale but if enough requests come in, that could change.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

In full sun, ‘Lucifer’ is the first of the Crocosmias to bloom. It’s fiery presence and tendency to spread are mighty welcome in my garden.

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Like artichokes on steroids, Cardoons have the stature to make a bold statement…and you can even eat the stalks if you’re willing to learn some Italian cooking techniques from the likes of Ann Amato.

Hydrangea 'Enziandom'

Hydrangea ‘Enziandom’

Some folks view Hydrangeas as old fashioned but I double dare you to come upon this stunner without gasping in admiration. In front of it is a Phormium that is blooming. I have seen them blooming at the coast or in a greenhouse but this the first one growing in an open field. Perhaps the great Phormium die-off is behind us?

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

We have Hydrangeas blooming in the shade, like this oakleaf form…

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and in full sun, where they need more water but obviously perform beautifully.

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There are lacecaps…

Hydrangea 'Preziosa'

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’

and mopheads…

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tucked into shady nooks…

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or backing up a long path lined with sun lovers. So how about it? Are you a fan of Hydrangeas? And if not, did I manage to change your mind just a little bit? Allow me once final plug: the flowers take on duskier tones as the season progresses and can be dried to enjoy right through the winter months.

grab bag on thursday

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Here’s the little patch in the middle of the “lawn” meant to gradually expand to take over as much of the open space as I can manage. Several grasses came home with me from the swap so it will be expanding faster than I had even hoped. There’s a big rock there that we rescued from the highway verge (biggest one the both of us could manage…oh, for a truck with a lift).

Allium 'Gladiator'

Allium ‘Gladiator’ provided nice spots of color while blooming.

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The foliage on the oak tree from the Tough Love sale (can’t seem to find the tag) has such delicate foliage that I think it will provide sparse shade even as it grows.

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R did some selective mowing, leaving patches of buttercups (they are the bane of my existence as they try to invade every bed and border, but I love their cheery presence here.

Rosa moysoii geranium

This rose, purchased from Roger Gossler at the Portland Fling, was purchased for her shapely hips. This is the first time I have seen her brilliant, single red blooms. Now I am in love all over again. Pay no attention to that woman behind the computer who claims to not care for roses.

Iris 'Raven Girl'

The Iris show was resplendent this year. A newbie this year is this near-black one…’Raven Girl’

Iris spec-x 'Alley Oops'

Proof that a silly name can’t keep a delicate beauty down…’Alley Oops’…really?

Panicum 'Heavy Metal'

Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’

And now for the Means report. It’s time for the super sales. All of these are 5 gal pots or larger, starting with Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’, one of my favorites, at $6.99 ea. It doesn’t look like much now, but the flower spikes are fabulous later on.

pink Rhododendrons

pink Rhododendrons

Good-sized Rhodys for $4.99.

variegated Agapanthus

variegated Agapanthus

At $4.99 ea. these variegated Agapanthus are a bargain even if they don’t make it through the winter.

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They are just coming into bloom, with lots of buds showing.

Stella d'Oro day lilly

Stella d’Oro day lilly

If anyone is interested in Stella d’Oro, here they are for $4.99, about halfway through their bloom cycle.

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Lots of good-sized Jaspanese Maples in several colors are $9.89 ea.

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They are all dark, some redder than others.

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I’m not exactly sure of the size, but those pots are larger than 5 gallons. If you’re out this way on Sunday, stop by Joy Creek to say hello. The garden is looking fabulous and we have a new batch of Heucheras for just $7.50 ea…’tis the season of hot sales, dontcha know.

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.

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

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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.

friday grab bag

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So well camouflaged was this fine fellow that I would never have seen him had he not leapt into the air right at my feet. Which raises a question: do they change color, chamelionlike, to blend in to varying backgrounds? The markings are the same as those on a bright green sibling spotted on bright green leaves and a dark green one in the dark green grass.

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I was headed to that green building across the street, an art supply store.

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Out front of Little Baja was one of these welded outdoor fireplaces ( is chimnera the term?) so I had to go check it out.

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There were others in heavy terra cotta in styles ranging from straightforward to comical.

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I bought a large terra cotta pot here many years ago. While others have flaked or broken as a result of freeze/thaw cycles, my pot from Little Baja has soldiered on through it all.

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A gallery of gargoyles are inviting me back sometime before next Halloween.

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Should your taste run to more imposing statuary, they’ve got you covered.

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Personally, I was drawn to these simple cubes. If I remember correctly, medium sized ones were $59 and the large ones were $105. I just don’t know how they would fit in with all of the terra cotta I already have. Anyway, Little Baja is a fun destination if you’re a local and you find yourself on East Burnside (around 15th or so).

vignette and more from Cistus

vignette and more from Cistus

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I’ll not even try to identify the plants in these photos from an August visit to Cistus. A few more things were in flower back then and I was attracted to the peachy little flowers peeking through the spikes. I offer it up as this week’s Wednesday Vignette, hosted by Anna (Flutter and Hum).

Caesalpinia gilliesii (thanks, Linda & Christina)

Caesalpinia gilliesii (thanks, Linda & Christina)

One can always find treasures in the display gardens surrounding the nursery.

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They are always tweaking and rearranging to keep things fresh. These bottles had migrated from the branches of a tree snag to a rusty armature planted in the midst of a mix of bright flowers.

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A few flower stalks had already become ghosts of their former selves, haunting in their wraithlike beauty.

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The indoor areas are worth visiting regardless of the weather or the season.

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Artfully displayed…no shortage of vignettes here.

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After getting revved up on plants at our swap last Sunday, I had to swing by Cistus on the way home to check out their Tough Love Sale. The first day was Saturday and I have it on good authority that the place was a madhouse peopled by plant nuts.

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I’m sure things had been picked over but just look at those two marvy trees that came home with me. Sure, they’re a little root-bound, but I’ve had a pretty good success rate with things from this sale in the past even though I’m still trying to track down what some of them are. These happened to come complete with tags: on the left, Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’, on the right, Quercis phellos (think…a scratch on the tag made it hard to tell if one of those l’s might be an i). There were still plenty of trees and perennials there hoping to be adopted late Sunday…just sayin’.

gbq&a: what is a shopping experience worth?

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New Seasons is a natural foods market along the lines of Whole Foods, but home grown. Way back when we lived in Sellwood (a SE Portland neighborhood) one of our neighbors started a little hippie grocery. He grew a lot of the produce on a vacant lot across the street and was in the vanguard when it came to displaying veggies as if they were the crown jewels.

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Over the years, the concept grew and that little corner store morphed into a chain of well designed, high-concept markets. The latest installment recently opened in Slabtown in NW Portland.

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Outdoor amenities include living walls, plantings of trees and grasses and built-in benches for sipping your latté or nibbling your organic salad in the sunshine.

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A nicely curated selection of plants is displayed at the main entrance.

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Walk through those doors and you are greeted by a well-stocked flower shop with cut flowers and some potted succulents, herbs and orchids.

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We checked it out on opening day. It was doing a brisk business, to say the least.

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Carrot sculptures seem to be a theme, as is the color scheme, which remains consistent with each new store. So here is my question for your consideration. Are you willing to pay a premium for a pleasant shopping experience where you can be pretty sure of top quality, many locally produced goods and environmental sensitivity? I used to be able to add local ownership to the list of assets, but with success comes the lure of cashing in by selling out. While most of these stores are scattered around the Portland area, they are now owned by a corporation. I’d like to hear where you come down on this before going into my own thoughts about it. Won’t you leave a comment? All opinions (including rants if you’re so inclined) are welcome and I’ll come back next week to add my two cents.

To participate beyond simply commenting, write a post posing a question, linking to and from this post. I have every intention of doing this thing on the first Friday of every month if the interest is there…seems like there should be plenty of curiosity to go around and I know many of you have answers to spare.

wednesday vignette from Joy Creek

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If you visit Anna (Flutter and Hum), (and I highly recommend that you do) you will find a thoughtful treatise on light as a design element. That’s why I chose the above photo, featuring a very different, but no less effective, light as my vignette. A visit to Joy Creek Nursery inevitably yields more special little scenarios than you could shake a stick at. So this is more of a pick-your-own vignette post.

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A long, hot summer has taken its toll on many gardens, but here there is always plenty to admire. My intent was to zero in on the things that were keeping this garden looking fresh.

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Dahlias, of course. Because they put on such a dramatic late-season display, they are often overused (a gaudy mash-up competing for attention). Worked into a border and surrounded with plenty of interesting foliage, they shine.

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Monkshood (Aconitum) catches the slanting rays of filtered sunlight: so blue, so beautiful, so deadly.

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Asters take autumn by storm. There are tall ones, small ones, sprawlers and uprights.

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I’m inclined to like the lacy white ones and the deep blues. Whatever your taste, there’s probably one for you.

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The way they spill over the path is almost enough to excuse their pinkness (I’ll bet there’s a white one that would do that).

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Fading seedheads (I’m guessing of Fillipendula rubra) can be as decorative as any flower. How about that view of the distant hills through the trees?

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Hydrangeas have a long bloom time. To my mind, they gain in beauty as they fade to shades that seem to come from some antique tintype.

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Joy Creek has a huge test garden for Hydrangeas, where you can see flowers in all their stages as the mounding shrubs blend into the hills in the distance.

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Mustn’t forget grasses when looking for Autumnal interest. Whole undulating landscapes can be made up of grasses alone.

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Zebra grass makes a nice backdrop for Penstemons, another Joy Creek specialty.

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The zebra grass bears closer inspection. A dwarf form, ‘Gold Bar’, was a Joy Creek introduction.

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I visited last Sunday, when Alex LaVilla was giving a talk on Great Plant Picks. Sunday seminars are a gift from Joy Creek to the gardeners among us. Next Sunday, Sept 27, 1pm, will be your last chance to get in on one of these in 2015. Susan Latourette will talk about conifers and their use in the landscape.

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So let’s wind this up with a last grassy vignette, shall we?

treated like royalty at little prince nursery

I somehow clicked the wrong thing and lost all of the photos taken on our bloggers’ visit to Little Prince of Oregon nursery. Their logo is a crowned frog prince and their motto is “our plants won’t croak”. That down-to-earth friendliness and gentle humor pervades the place and its people. They welcomed us with open arms (and food and drink and complimentary caps) and turned us loose to wander and shop at will. Here’s what came home with me:

Agave lophantha 'Splendida'

Agave lophantha ‘Splendida’

Agave 'Hammer Time'

Agave ‘Hammer Time’

Agave gentryi 'Jaws'

Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’

Abutilon megapotamicum

Abutilon megapotamicum

Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon'

Liriope spicata ‘Silver Dragon’

Geum chiloense 'Double Bloody Mary'

Geum chiloense ‘Double Bloody Mary’

sempervivums

A trio of Sempervivums that got separated from their tags. I’ve given up trying to keep track of the different names of the semps anyway, but these look like the makings of a nice combination.

Tillandsias

and a small sampling of Tillandsias, selected from a mind boggling array of these fascinating air plants.

I don’t feel so bad about losing my photos of Little Prince, because others in our group did a bang-up job of writing up our visit, complete with excellent photos. Click on Danger Garden and Mulchmaid to take Loree’s and Jane’s virtual tours. The next time you are plant shopping, look for the crowned frog prince logo. You will be getting plants raised by people who care.

Hilda’s Garden

Hilda in her garden

What could be more delightful than having lunch with long-time friends who are also gardeners? It was a grey day, but Hilda’s smile could light up any amount of gloom.

raised beds

This is a food-centric garden. Hilda does the planting and tending, while Bill pitches in by building structures like these raised beds out front,

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and systems like this one for capturing water, tucked away behind a grape vine on a trellis.

espaliered fruit trees

Espaliered fruit trees divide the space.

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Many of the plantings could pass as purely ornamental, but careful thought has gone into attracting bees and other pollinators.

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Colorful Achilleas spill over gravel paths.

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No reason yummy cannot also be beautiful.

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Not that there aren’t a few plants included for their beauty alone.

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Some architectural fragments peek out here and there.

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Ditto bits of whimsy.

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A bench for taking it all in.

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Thanks, Bill and Hilda, for inviting me to spend an afternoon in your urban oasis.