Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 52

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/cache.php on line 36

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/cache.php on line 389

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 556

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 678

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/query.php on line 21

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/banner6/public_html/wp-includes/theme.php on line 507
sprig to twig » projects

Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

no foolin’, it’s April

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

So let’s take a look at what’s been going on around here.

Opuntia ‘Bunny Ears’

This bunny is starting to grow some ears. See that little nubbin? I will be much more careful with this little guy than I was with his mom. He’ll get an outdoor vacation, but will come in come fall.

zinnia seedlings

Most of the seeds I started have yet to put in an appearance, but the zinnias show up in 5 or 6 days. Now that’s what I call encouragement.

Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’

A few of us showed up to help our pal Patricia dig plants. It wasn’t entirely a selfless act. I came home with a nice clump of Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’.

noid tree

And this tree with no name but scads of personality. The consensus was that it is a relative of the Monkey Puzzle Tree. Here’s the update from the always helpful AND knowledgeable Loree of Danger Garden fame: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Auricoriodes’. She supplied additional information, so check out her comment below if you’re interested.

wheelbarrow of transplants

March came through with several sun breaks surrounded by rainy days: perfect transplanting weather. I wrestled the wheelbarrow down into the woods, where I dug up several trilliums, salaal, vancouveria and a ribes to move into the cultivated part of the garden. Not that I have any illusions about my ability to compete with Mother Nature.

Ribes

The Ribes pop up here and there of their own accord. This is an experiment to see if they take to transplanting.

Dryopteris a cristata ‘The King’ and two Polystichum setiferum

I thought I would try ferns in the wall pocket this year. These come from Cornell Farm, which is way ahead of most places in trotting out a full array of plants. The one at top is dryopteris ‘The King’ and the two below are Polystichum setiferum. The tag says ‘Alaskan’, but these are very different from the Alaskan fern I already have. Anybody know anything about that?

ghost leaves put to use

Remember the ghost leaves left behind by Acanthus sennii? I put some of them to use to adorn a birthday gift, with the addition of a dried Chinese lantern for good measure. Here’s hoping April gets all joking out of her system today and sends us a bumper crop of sunny days to do what we love.

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.

the saga of the green pot

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

in its last location

This nice big green glazed pot has been migrating around the garden, looking for a home. I keep siting it where it seems to fit, and the surrounding vegetation slowly engulfs it.

backing up a bit

Up close, not so bad, but as we back up, it begins to disappear.

from the entry

Here it is, seen as walking from the parking area to the front of the house.

picking a site

In my determination to be more methodical about the whole thing, I backed slowly away from the house.

the long view

Trying to pick a spot where it would have the desired dramatic effect when approaching the house.

Yucca aloifolia

It had always remained empty, but now is planted with Yucca aloifolia, or Spanish bayonet, from Cistus. Rather than filling the whole pot with soil, I stacked nursery pots to a level where they could support a large nursery pot whose rim is perfectly positioned slightly above the rim of the ceramic pot. I figure I can always remove it if things get too gnarly in the winter months.

1/4-10 gravel

A trip to Scappoose Sand and Gravel was in order. We line up 8 of those five gallon buckets in a double row, and the attendant positions his big scoop right over them and lets fly. He has very good aim. Everything that falls outside the buckets get swept up and deposited into a ninth bucket. This is the gravel (1/4-10, crushed basalt that has been washed to remove any dust that might rise to the surface and form a crust) that gets incorporated into the planting soil mix and also used as mulch.

tools and soil mix

And here’s the soil mix: 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 gravel, 1/3 dark hemlock mulch. The blue handles are on heavy duty metal cutters to use on the roll of metal mesh (from Noami’s at $6.99 per roll) that gets put down to deter the evil gophers.

cardboard & wire mesh held down by rocks

In an effort to compensate for my tendency to overplant, I’m extending the bed by laying down cardboard, followed by metal screening held down by rocks.

new site from a distance

So here is the pot in its new situation as seen from a distance, coming in the drive.

looking the other way

And looking the other way.

another view

I have no illusions that this will be its final resting place, or that I will suddenly change my ways and resist the temptation to plant too many things around it and once again bury it under a deluge of plant material. Still, it was fun to take a more measured approach than my usual slap-dash. Another year or two should tell the story.

extending tomato season

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

finally…ripe tomatoes

We waited so very long, and just as they began to pour out of the garden (yes, those really are ripe…they’re ‘Great Whites’, new this year, and that’s what a ripe one looks like), the night time temps started dropping. Well, we couldn’t let go of the harvest without putting up a fight, so R put on his thinking cap.

black painted water jugs and sheet plastic

He painted several water jugs black, so they would absorb more heat during the daylight hours. A large sheet of plastic was stapled to the front of the raised bed.

night configuration

Come evening, the jugs are moved in close to the plants and the plastic is pulled over. A couple of furniture clamps on the free side of the plastic keep it from blowing off.

all tucked in

And here they are , all snug in their bed, while visions of spaghetti sauce dance in our heads.

coddling pays off

Yes, the coddling is paying off. On the other hand, some plants that came up from the compost in the darnedest places and received absolutely no attention are performing marvelously. I always heard that volunteers should be yanked out for fear of harboring disease, but R couldn’t reconcile himself to losing potential tomato factories…so there you are…another pearl of wisdom debunked.

the seed project: where are they now?

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

zinnia ‘Envy’

Let’s start with a success story. The green zinnia named “Envy” is one you won’t find at the nursery. Odd that a green flower should capture my fancy when there is already so much green out there. Must have something to do with rarity, a concept familiar to all gardeners.

early zins

Regular zinnias are notoriously easy to grow. These: not so much. Early on (late April or so) my success rate was spotty. These three pots were each planted with five seeds from the same packet. One pot yielded three plants, one coughed up only one and the third…a big zero. I moved all three (and a few others) outside anyway. That laggart came alive and pumped out five plants that soon shot past their coddled brethren.

struggling zinnia in the shade

Placement is everything. Compare the vigorous growth in the first picture to this poor guy struggling in the shade.

baby Amaranth

The seeds for Amaranth were way tiny, so they were scattered as sparingly as possible…and guess what? Same story in the performance department.

planting size

I waited for the successful plants to reach this size before planting them out.

success in a pot

Pretty soon the ones I put in a pot were looking pretty good. My theory was that if they got wonderfully dangly the pot could be raised to show them off.

in-ground failure

The ones in the ground had not thrived…exactly the opposite results from what was expected. Maybe the claims made by potting soil companies are legitimate?

in-ground success

In case you’re thinking I’ve stumbled upon a truism…not so fast. Here is one from the second batch that is doing fine in the ground.

others not so much

If its neighbors had filled in as intended, this would be a nice looking bed filled with ‘Love-Lies-Bleeding’. As it is, one is doing well, the others, so so. But wait! That shade cloth is covering a little Rhody that R is babying along, and it just occurred to me that he must be fertilizing it as part of the program. So much for my “tough love” approach (but please don’t tell him…he’s already incorrigible).

seed tray & cukes

The commercial seed tray setups gave pretty good results. Those four little cucumber plants on the right were responsible for mountains of cucumbers and are producing still.

castor bean seed

I was greedy for Castor Beans, so bought two packets of seeds. The directions advise planting directly in the ground, but I was out to experiment. Some went in the ground and are still so small that I only discover them when weeding.

rootbound

The rest went into the seed trays, which they quickly outgrew. Get a load of them roots.

comparison plants

They graduated to clay pots, here compared to a couple that were direct sown.

sidy by side castor beans

Proving again that each seed has a mind of its own, these two were raised under identical conditions and came from the same packet of seeds. The one in front is twice as big as the one in back, this time with no fertilizing intervention to account for the difference. This stuff must drive real scientists to the brink of insanity. Of course the one in R’s veggie bed is four times the size of my greatest success and already producing seeds for next year’s crop (sigh). How about you? Have you conducted any experiments this growing season?

dream time

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Well, those of us who thought the gardening season had begun sure got smacked down, didn’t we? Instead of doing, we’re reduced to dreaming of our perfect gardens. A while back, The Oregonian ran an article comparing the typical flower border to one relying on foliage for its impact. Excuse the quality. This is a scan of a newsprint photo, so what can I say?
foliage border

This appeals to me for many reasons. I love the layering of the many shapes and textures. Many of the plants will bear flowers, but there are none in this photo and still it holds one’s interest. Having been through spring and fall cleanup of perennial-heavy gardens, not to mention the deadheading through the summer, the ease of this approach is no small part of its attraction. We already have a number of Italian cypresses in place to provide those exclamation marks, and the driveway curves much like the path in the picture.

our new border

Which is not to say that we haven’t a long way to go, but then that’s half the fun, don’t you think? This photo was taken early in the season last year, after a number of the shrubs planted in the fall had been wiped out by the harsh winter. Some new things went in and seem to be making it through this latest blast, but only time will tell. I will post another progress report in a couple of months, when we can see how everything has fared. But as long as we are dreaming, why not go for broke and take a look at another border:

cactus border

This one in Oaxaca’s ethnobotanical garden. Can you imagine strolling down this white sand path lined with towering cacti?
Then spending the rest of the day exploring the extensive collection of cacti, agave, tropical plants and succulents? Dream on!

succulent gardens

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

mother plants

If I see an unfamiliar succulent, I must have it. Each year, when their summer vacation outdoors comes to an end, they have overgrown their containers. That plant front and center is Ledebouria socialis. It has been divided so many times that wherever I go its offspring are in evidence. This year I rounded up all of the containers that I have been squirreling away and turned them into little succulent gardens.

Ledebouria socialis in box

It won’t take long for these little transplants to gain some presence. Don’t they look cute in this wooden wine box?

succkfd.jpg

This metal box spent a lot of time in R’s studio, where it accumulated the patina of paint dribbles and drips, making it a fitting home for three Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi cuttings.

Haworthia attenuata ‘Zebra’

Good thing I like the look of little plants all in a row, because many of my available containers were oblong box shapes. The divisions here are Haworthia attenuata ‘Zebra’.

collection of succulents

Here is a little sampling of the mini-succulent gardens in a toddler’s cowboy boot, a bag balm tin, a tea tin, a dolmas tin and a tuna tin. The last two also served a stint in the painting studio. I’m thinking these will make nice little hostess gifts. They definitely need to find new homes elsewhere, because we are being driven out of the dining room by overwintering plants.

keeping track

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

It took me a long time to come up with a system that works for me. For the longest time, I just planted willy nilly, with no concern for names of plants, their locations or performance. Then I joined HPSO and the focus shifted. My first attempt at following what was happening in the garden was to make notations on one of those big calendars with lots of room for each day. It soon became obvious that knowing the year-to-year shifts would be nice. By changing the color of the ink in the marker, the calendar could be stretched to cover about three years. That seemed like a lot at the time. Silly me. Hadn’t I noticed that once the gardening bug bit one soon began thinking in decades?

card & picture file

Those were the days before digital cameras, so I had already started a file for prints from the point and shoot, organized by year. In front of that, I placed alphabetized index cards where a card with pertinent info on each new plant purchased could find a home. It soon became apparent that some names were (for me) impossible to remember, so at the front of each lettered index card goes a list of common names with the Latin equivalent. All plant cards are filed under botanical names. When a plant turns up its toes, its card gets pulled and transferred to the dead plant section, with comments on what did it in. I also have extra lists of trees, grasses, succulents, ground covers and anything else that becomes an obvious category. If something was ordered from a catalog, the picture goes on the card. I also cannibalize catalogs for pictures of plants purchased elsewhere. Since the digital camera has taken over, the picture file has thinned out, but I still keep a yearly file and throw all my receipts, etc. in there.

hanging files

The problem of tracking changes from year to year remained unsolved, until the hanging files came along. The green files in front are filed by categories. Magazine articles or newspaper clippings on subjects of interest can go in there. Have you ever tried to go through old magazines to refind an article? Any luck? Me neither. The “plant” file has alphabetized sub-folders. The next bank of files, the yellow ones, are sorted by month. Wandering around the garden (an almost daily event) a clipboard intermittently comes along, to make note of when things bloom, conditions in the garden, etc. I include lists of plants purchased or moved and where they are located. Most of the time, everything that happens in the garden in the span of one month fits on a single sheet of notebook paper. I find it both satisfying and informative to pull out the pertinent file at the beginning of each month to compare notes from years past. This year I failed to follow this plan, depending on computer files from Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-up to provide the data. I guess I am just a paper person. Wonderful as those two events are, they just do not give me the scope of information I seek. From now on I will go back to the methods outlined here and enjoy the new-fangled stuff for the visual feast that it is.

How about you? Do you have a system? A journal? What works for you?

dividing iris

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

irismat.jpg

When iris begin to form a solid mat, it is time to begin thinking about dividing. Some people wait until flowering starts to taper off, but by then the simple chore has become challenging (I speak from experience).

weedy iris

Weeds love to lodge themselves where it is almost impossible to remove them without damaging the meaty rhizomes of the iris. Dividing provides an opportunity to clear out the weeds in the process and start anew with a clean bed.

lifted rhizomes

Using a fork or shovel, lift the whole mass of tangled rhizomes and tease them apart.

iris discards

Some of them will be spent and shriveled. Close examination will reveal holes where borers have penetrated some of the healthier looking parts. All of these should be broken off and discarded.

ready to plant

Once the healthy sections with vigorous leaf growth have been separated and brushed free of dirt, the leaves should be trimmed to about 6″.

planting hole

Make a hole about 3″ deep and wide enough to spread the roots. Make a mound in the center of the hole upon which to place the rhizome.

finished planting

Fill in, covering all of the roots, but leaving the top of the rhizome showing. Water in well, and that’s it. The new transplants may skip a year of blooming, which is why I like to stagger my transplanting. I plan to keep closer tabs on their progress and label the various colors so that I can plan placement better. The fans of lance-shaped leaves make a dramatic contrast to other leaf shapes when used strategically, so I spread some of these around where I think they will make an impact, and still had plenty to share with neighbors. Come spring, I hope to get some shots to show you the fruits of my labor. Oh, and mid-August through September is the best time to tackle this job.

pruning the lavender walk

Monday, September 6th, 2010

lavwlkblm.jpg

Above is how the lavender walk looked back when it was in full bloom. I think it was a photo in an architecture magazine that put this bee in my bonnet. It showed a sloping field of row upon row of lavender, each individual plant forming a perfect mound. Now, if one were to ask me about my own style of gardening, I would have to say blowsy and undisciplined, as much as I admire controlled minimalism. Oh, well, I guess that is how garden rooms got started: gardeners loathe to commit to one style of gardening figuring out a way to have it all. At the last YGP Show, a respected speaker warned that lavender would eventually turn woody and die, but back when I was contemplating this project, the advice I had seen, and have followed with success for 6 years, was to cut it back by about one third each year after blooming.

prnlavcls.jpg

Last year, for the first time, I left this chore until spring. It did not seem to make a difference at blooming, but the plants did seem a little bit woodier at this pruning. The last two days were ideal to the task: sunlight played with the clouds, a light breeze was blowing and this chore could easily pass for aromatherapy. It did take the better part of two days to accomplish, with only sixteen plants involved. That field in France that got me started must have a better method, or a slew of workers. Anyway, I usually start from the bottom, cutting out dead wood (but be careful, not all wood is as dead as it looks), sculpting as I go to form each plant into a rounded tuffet, with the top getting that third removed. The new growth coming along will be a sagey gray-green, while the old stuff will be regular old medium green. Along with the flowering stalks, I take off the first two or three little tufts of new. This is a sitting down job. The perspective is better that way, and my back says “thank you”.

prnlavse.jpg

The bed is 30″ wide and the plants are planted 30″ apart on center. In the above view, we are looking towards the SE. From this angle they look like shocked Marine recruits.

prnlavnw.jpg

But from the other side the view is just as I envisioned it. Guess the moral to that story is to site such a feature accordingly (not what I did). The brown lawn is a Portland signature. Around here, being green means seeing brown for a good part of the summer.

prnlav2knds.jpg

I fully intended the plants to be all of a kind. Purely by accident, three oddballs snuck in. Luckily, they wound up at the end of the line. As you can see, the plant in the foreground is better suited to my purposes. It is Lavenda ‘Melissa’. The others, due to their undercover stealth, are anybody’s guess. I will be on the lookout for two more Melissa’s to replace them. Why only two? Because the gap for people and wheelbarrows to pass through has become overgrown.

prnglavbk.jpg

Speaking of overgrown, here’s a lavender more characteristic of the approach in this garden. It is still throwing up fresh wands, and the bees love it. It is a different variety, with longer wands, planted before I paid much attention to nomenclature. Hard for me to say which style I prefer. What do you think?