friday faves

Begonia 'Polka Dot'

With Joy Creek Nursery just one hill over from our place, regular visits get to be a habit. That’s where I found Begonia ‘Polka Dot’. Next stop: Fred Meyer, where I spotted a pot with red glaze to match the undersides of PD’s leaves. I needed something to fill and spill and just happened to have a sedum on hand to do just that. It was a good day.


Milkweed pods are bursting, releasing seeds equipped with shimmering paragliders to take them to parts unknown.

Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’

Pearly purple berries of the Beautyberry will be earning their name until the birds discover them.

Callistemon pityoides

Callistemon pityoides

Earlier in the month I celebrated the first time my Bottlebrush has bloomed. I look forward just as much to the gnarly pod thingies that will be left behind. Loree (Danger Garden) does a roundup of favorites on the last Friday of the month. Click through…you won’t be sorry.

a vignette from the coast & some recent acquisitions


In order to join Anna (Flutter and Hum) for her Wednesday Vignette, I was scrolling through photos. When I came across this stately tree, seen near Ecola Park earlier in the summer (escaping searing heat in the city) I thought “this is it”. Do click through to see Anna’s eye for pattern, on display with this week’s offering.

Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire Orange'

Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire Orange’

As promised, I want to show you some of the things I picked up on my road trip with Amy. For seventy-five cents, how could I resist Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire Orange’? It might seem silly this late in the season, but I hear taking cuttings is quite effective. I’m going to find out.

Helenium 'Ruby Tuesday'

Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’

The Helenium I had by the fence line disappeared, and now I know why. They like to be kept moist. Time to try again with Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’.


I was smitten by the flower color and its stature (nice and tall).


I didn’t even know there was such a thing as White Star Creeper. Get a load of those plummy berries and that one remaining white flower. If this takes hold, I will be back for more. I also picked up a wooly thyme and a Sedum pluricale ‘Isle of Saklahlin’. All of the above came from Starkey’s Corner, formerly Larsen Farms.

Polypodium vulgare 'Bifidomultifidum'

Polypodium vulgare ‘Bifidomultifidum’

On to Dancing Oaks, where it was the ferns that called out to me. This Licorice Fern was spectacular growing in their display garden, still in tip-top shape after our extended heat wave.

Blechnum penna-marina

Blechnum penna-marina

One of the perks of traveling with Amy is her sharp eye for things I might otherwise overlook. Once she called my attention to the Alpine Water Fern, I knew I had to have it.

Asplenium ebenoides

Asplenium ebenoides

Dragon Tail Fern is pretty darn cute. Factor in the name and I’m hooked. A week of clouds and rain (whew) gave me the opportunity to get all of these new treasures into the ground. Which reminds me: better get out there and give them a drink to fortify against the latest heat wave.

vases and a visit



I kept it simple today, with two arrangements that started with pruned branches. Here, they’re from the Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’. The flowers on the dark-leaved sprigs are nearly gone, but one little cluster remains. A red rose grows in an unfortunate spot close to the house. Perhaps I should instead deem it fortunate, because the deer will not come that close to nip off every bud before it has a chance to develop. Anyway, this one perfect red rose smells divine.


So here’s your view, as you stoop to bury your nose and drift on the memories the scent evokes.


Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ was threatening to bloom, so I gave her the “Chelsea chop”. I don’t know why silvery plants insist on yellow flowers, but if you catch Valerie while hers are still tight little buds they can be quite pretty in a vase. Digitalis blooms in colors ranging from white through purple. I chose this one in order to keep things subtle and added a single chive blossom just for fun.


Mondays are made special by Cathy (Rambling in the Garden), who encourages us to find something in our gardens to put in a vase every week, regardless of the weather. Offerings range from simple to simply over-the-top. Don’t miss it.


Saturday, we worked all day in the garden, so Sunday had “Road Trip” written all over it. A drive through the country down Canby way took us first to Secret Garden Growers Nursery. A long border showcases many of the plants they offer.


Like this stunning Peony.


Other display beds are newer, promising an even richer experience in years to come.


When you will be coming back to buy plants from the nice women who will serve you popcorn and lemonade under the shade of the stately honey locust tree. I found Kirengeshoma palmata. When I admired this plant during the Fling, I was told that it is nearly impossible to find. Imagine my excitement.


Down the road a piece is Miller’s Manor Gardens. Their display gardens are well established. I picked up lots of ideas for mixing perennials with conifers and deciduous ornamentals.


This alleyway formed by weeping blue atlas cedars might have been the highlight of the trip.


This is what it feels like to walk through that alley.


Paths meander through the property, some flanked by Irises, all clearly labeled. We were told that the Iris Society had visited the day before, 600 strong.


Fall in love with an Iris here, and you will have no trouble tracking it down by name. That held true for other plants as well.

Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'

Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’

Cornus kousa 'Gold Cup'

Cornus kousa ‘Gold Cup’

Quercis robur 'Concordia'

Quercis robur ‘Concordia’

Clematis 'Empress'

Clematis ‘Empress’


Shade gardeners are not short-changed here. There’s an extensive collection under those trees.


R had a long talk with the conifer guy while I wandered around. He had something pretty specific in mind and finally Nathan just gave him a little pine tree to try out. That’s garden people for you. I came away with some Digitalis obscura because the one I put in last year came through like a champ.

The Canby area is just south of Oregon City on Hwy 99. These stops were listed with HPSO, but you could find plenty of places to scratch your gardener’s itch if you were to meander around those country roads any time.

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’


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.


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.

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


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

flying dragon marmalade

Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'

These are the fruits on Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, otherwise known as hardy orange. I have written about this small tree many times. Last year one of you blogging buds suggested using the fruit to make marmalade. The thought had never occurred to me. I had always thought of them as purely ornamental, maybe even poisonous.


Well, once planted, it was a thought that grew on me. At the same time I was picking the last ripening tomato and the first ever huckleberries, I decided to give it a go.


A search for Weck jars took me to Sur La Table, where I found these little Italian jobs that appealed to me even more. They have a single, rather than two-part, lid, but otherwise are treated the same. I later found a full array of Weck jars and bottles at Schoolhouse Electric.


I’ve had these two charming books for a long time, so they’re probably out of print.


Sloe Gin and Beeswax is a feast for the eyes. Its recipes use metric measures, but it addresses all kinds of esoteric ingredients, like medlars.


Even it made no mention of Poncirus fruit, but I pieced together a recipe from several sources. Covering the fruit with water, I simmered them for about an hour. Once they had cooled, I halved them, scooped out the pulp and seeds into a small pan and cut the peel into strips. Add the juice and seeds (the seeds act like pectin) of one lemon to the small pan, some water to cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain off the juice into a large pot, add the peel, 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar. Bring to a furious boil until it reaches 220 degrees F. I stirred in some toasted walnuts and whole coriander seeds. Process like you would any jam. The result is not to everyone’s taste (but then you could also say that of marmalade in general). I consider it something of a gourmet novelty and will gift it to only the very most special people.


Are you growing anything that presents a culinary challenge? If so, I would love to hear about it. And if it was you who suggested this adventure, I thank you.

what’s new


I stopped by Means to pick up a little something to plop in a pot and what should I find but this glorious Brugmansia for a mere $1.99. Who could resist such a thing? Not me.

black olive pepper

And yes, I did get this cutie for the aforementioned pot. It’s some kind of a black olive pepper, but you know how it is at Means: great deals but not always the best labeling. We can forgive them that, I think.

Marilyn’s frog

Marilyn is downsizing, so her frog came to live with us…standing in for the real thing, which is heard (mostly in the spring) but seldom seen.

Melianthus major with Carex conica ‘Snowline’

Finally, after several unsuccessful tries, I’ve gotten a transplant of Melianthus major to take hold. A recent trip to Xera turned up these cute little Carex conica ‘Snowline’ to surround it.

Tricyrtis hirta

Just this morning I spotted the first two blooms on Tricyrtis hirta, the common toad lily.

Rosa moysoii geranium

We had a mini nerd night at the Fling. Roger Gossler brought this Rosa moysoii geranium. Those hips got my attention.


Don’t they look swell in the red pot?

Kalanchloe behariensis

Not long ago, Kalanchloe behariensis was featured as my favorite plant. Seemingly overnight, it turned all leggy and gangly. Major surgery was called for.


Out of one came many.


Each has a slightly different personality.


I don’t really need three of these, so at least one of them will probably wind up at a swap.


Last night’s dinner guests came bearing plants, a red achillea and a prostrate rosemary. Bill and Hilda know what I like.


Speaking of guests, this beauty has not been seen in these parts before, so I’m grouping him with all things new. What’s new with you?

ANLD highlights


As promised yesterday, I’m going to show you some of the highlights of this Saturday’s ANLD tour from my point of view. One theme that ran through several gardens was the use of cor-10 steel edging to define paths. I especially loved the sinuous one above.


Fine attention to detail is one of the hallmarks of these installations, as here, where several elements come together and dovetail perfectly.


This was another path treatment that appealed to me.


I’m lifting lots of ideas for plant combinations from this tour…loved the purple poppies with the Kniphofia ‘Timothy’.


Dynamite color combinations needn’t rely on flowers.


Seating areas offer another opportunity to play with color. I love the way these chairs add a zesty zing to the chartreuse tones of the foliage.


Taking advantage of a small porch pulls the garden right into this seating area. I failed to photograph another seating area where I sat a while (but Danger Garden captured it perfectly). It took advantage of a driveway with large planter boxes that were on wheels so they could be moved aside when access to the garage was needed: one of many examples of the problem-solving approach taken by these designers.


Use of materials is another interesting feature of the tour. Here, the material was poured, then carved to resemble stone.


Nearby, in the same garden, the same material was used simply, as poured, to form raised planter boxes (personally, I preferred this approach).


Here’s another approach to raised beds.


A close relative of the raised beds is this formal retaining wall of cast concrete.


We were served lunch at Garden Fever!, where service is served up with a sweet smile and you can find many of the things you’ve been falling for on the tour.


Case in point: This charming wall pocket and most of the plants it contains.


Each Designer is paired with an artist. In this case resulting in a large slumped glass luxury bird bath.


Everyone fell hard for this garden gate. Other bloggers (links in yesterday’s post) featured close-ups, so I will give you more of a long view of its placement in the garden. This artist also created a new twist on a bottle tree that must be seen to be believed.


I failed to ascertain if this was the work of an artist or the garden designer. Which goes to show the fine line between the two. At any rate, the carefully placed stones are part of a fountain.


Many times the placement of ordinary elements like this large, empty pot, could pass as garden art.






Several of the gardens had structures. This one had an eco-roof.


The large deck off the back of the house is the result of close collaboration between the designer and the owners. They wanted several large areas for seating and/or staging groupings of potted plants. Most of the owners made a point of the problems that were creatively solved by the designers.


I was especially taken with the planters designed by owner David P. Best. I love the assymetrical shape, which was not an easy thing to convey to the fabricator. This one, near the basement door, is painted a light color and planted with Rosemary. Another, on the front porch, is equally handsome in a darker color and planted with some sort of rush.


A longer version.


Notice how the foliage of the maple exactly matches the color of the door? If this were to happen in my garden, it would surely be a happy accident. I have no doubt it was intentional in this case.


So…have I managed to pique your interest in spending your Saturday strolling through six enchanting gardens, engaging in stimulating conversation with artists, designers and owners and filing away your own set of inspirations for future projects? You might win two tickets by backtracking to yesterday’s post and leaving a comment. Barring that, you can purchase tickets at Portland Nursery, Cornell Farms, Dennis’ Seven Dees, Garden Fever!, Xera Plants or online at

Eremurus, always a favorite


From the very first sign of it breaking through the ground, Eremurus generates excitement and anticipation.


This is what ‘Cleopatra’ looks like right now.


I borrowed a photo taken in July of 2011 to show you what there is to look forward to. I’m pretty sure they will be bloomed out by July, so this must be evidence that they are early this year.

Eremurus ‘Ruiter’s Hybrid’

My first attempt was Eremurus ‘Ruiter’s Hybrid’. It would bloom one year, then do nothing the next. This isn’t a bad shot, but nothing compared to the way the light was hitting it before I dashed into the house to get the camera. You know how that goes, I’m sure.


Now that I have moved it to the berm where Cleo was performing well, it produces several “candles” and comes along later for a long blooming season. I get most of my bulbs from John Scheepers, where the photos of Cleopatra make it look a much deeper orange than it ever gets for me. Oh well, I can live with that small disappointment. Here’s what their catlog has to say:

Desert Candle or Foxtail Lily: Deer and rodent-resistant, these willowy spires are comprised of densely packed florets that open progressively from the bottom of each spike up, with a sparse, low growing rosette of long, strappy leaves. Preferring rich, well-drained soil with bright sunlight and protection from wind, these woody, tuberous rootstocks should be planted upon receipt 36″ apart, never crowded, and covered with only 2″ to 3″ of soil. They dry out after harvest and rehydrate once planted. Loosen the soil at each each planting site and gently place each brittle, spidery rootstock with its pointed crown pointed up. Avoid breakage. In marginal zones, apply a 2″ layer of mulch after the ground freezes. Zones 5-8.

Does one plant stand out in your garden as a momentary favorite? Danger Garden gives you an opportunity to gush about it.