vignette and more from Cistus

vignette and more from Cistus


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.


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.


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


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


Artfully displayed…no shortage of vignettes here.


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.


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’.

friday surprise


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.


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


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’.


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


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.


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,


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?


favorites done right…at Treephoria


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”.


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


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.


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


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.


Just look at the range of color in those leaves.


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


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.


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?


Maples were spangled with their little wingy things.


Each one prettier than the last.



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.


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.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree)


Richard discovered a Katsura in a friend’s yard in NW Portland. It had everything he was looking for in a tree: slow-growing, with a graceful shape and small, heart-shaped leaves to provide dappled shade. When the leaves fall, they do not compact into a solid, soggy mass like the maple leaves do, but float delicately to the ground and quickly decompose with no need for raking.

from afar

I love the way it glows against the background of the dark cedar trees.

looking up

Looking up, it shimmers against a blue sky.

heart-shaped leaves

Looking for more info for this post, I discovered that the botanical name for the Katsura tree is Cercidiphyllum japonicum, it likes moderate watering during dry spells and it emits a smell most often described as caramel in the fall. I had to squash the leaves to get any hint of scent, but then my olfactory sense is not the greatest.


We haven’t much in the way of fall color around here, now that the sourwood bit the dust, but this week’s favorite is doing its best to make up for that. Learn more at Great Plant Picks and then pop over to Danger Garden to see what Loree has in store for you this week.

This week’s fave: Polystichum setiferum ‘Pumoso multilobum’

Polystichum setiferum ‘Pumoso multilobum’

My favorite of all the ferns, Polystichum setiferum ‘Pumoso multilobum’ swirls in a way that has caused it to be compared to a whirlwind. As it matures, it becomes fluffier. I have two of these, and they anchor the woodland bed.


It’s really hard to capture the dynamic nature of this plant in a photo, but trust me: it has more than a little personality.


I keep stepping back to try to give you an idea of its presence in the woodland. I give up! It simply needs to be seen to be believed. Come on out any time and I will introduce you to this, my favorite plant in the garden this week. Check out Danger Garden for Loree’s fave of the week, and be sure to see the comments for links to others’ choices.

For more information about my personal fave, go to Great Plant Picks.


Dancing Oaks Open House

the approach to Dancing Oaks Nursery

We had dinner at Cuvée Friday night and spent the night in Carlton. The next day, my friend Susan and I headed even further into the countryside to visit Dancing Oaks Nursery. I had only been there in high summer and Susan had never seen the place. It is far FAR off the beaten path, but well worth the trip through gorgeous countryside. The above scene is the one that greets you as you approach the nursery. Having driven through pounding rain, we were heartened to see the skies clear.

a spiky greeting

Nothing like a spiky greeting to get things off to a good start.

one of the hoop houses with resident cat

Where to start? We followed our noses through several hoop houses jam-packed with plant life, and in this case overseen by one of the many cats who rule here (see him stretched out over the door at the far end?).

magnolia Michelia yunnanensis

Most of the plants under cover are well marked, like this Magnolia.

the Magnolia itself

Here is the plant that goes with the label. Isn’t it a beauty?


It was the red leaves that attracted me, but knowing that this is a Tibouchina lets me know that velvety flowers are its real calling card.


Nice to know that it has another season in which to shine.

a touch of humor in the hoop house

Can you tell that the people here have a lot of fun doing what they do?


Having combed through the greenhouses, it was time to stroll around the grounds. Still stripped down to winter bones…

white barked trees (?)

sporting their own spare beauty. I neglected to ask about these trees, but I love them.

art in the garden

This is a good time to appreciate the garden art sprinkled about.

glass fish art

This colorful glass fish is nestled in grasses bordering a pond.

grasses and cat tails

Across the pond, grasses and cat tails have been allowed to dry in place.

rill feeding the pond

A little rill feeds the pond and serenades us all.

fence around pond

A rustic fence surrounds the rill, with seating nearby.

rough wooden structure

Transitioning to the pergola is this rough wooden structure.


Standing sentry at the entrance to the pergola, an Edgeworthia is just beginning to come into flower.

looking through the pergola

It will become a dark tunnel when things leaf out, but the sun plays peek-a-boo now, as we head down the path through the pergola.

large pot at tunnel’s end

Looking back the way we have come, a large pot catches the light and beckons to us.

weeping blue atlas cedar

A weeping blue Atlas cedar has been trained up one upright and allowed to weep down from above.

Eucalyptus berm

Some newer looking berms act as a buffer between the cultivated garden and the natural areas beyond. The star of this berm is this Eucalyptus, while beyond Agaves, Opuntias and Yucca reign.

Iris r. ‘Pixie’

A few flowering plants have broken dormancy to bejewel the landscape. These Iris r. ‘Pixie’ are joined by Hellebores

and random clumps of snowdrops.

Agave, rain chain and bowl

At the pavilion, where goodies were being served, I loved this arrangement of pots, one holding a dramatic Agave, another filled with rocks to receive the runoff captured by the rain chain.

willow chairs

Don’t these willow chairs tempt you to sit a while and bask in those rare rays of sunshine?

blue pots

As we wandered, refreshed, back towards the sales shack, I couldn’t stop clicking away. Here’s another of many rain chains, this time hanging from a tree branch. Pots are used throughout the garden as containers and as stand-alone sculptural pieces.

Magnolia buds about to burst

An ancient looking magnolia stellata seems to be saying “Come back soon and see me strut my stuff”.

valley view upon leaving

You would be doing yourself a disservice if you hurried away without indulging in some chit chat with the owners of this edenic corner of the world. Here’s the view out over the valley as we reluctantly bid adieu. I know you will want to know what came home with me, but that will come in a later post. I have used restraint at each stop on this spring’s buying spree, but the plants are piling up. I will soon need to deal with them, and then all will be revealed…I promise.

the Hoyt Arboretum

a typical view

Covering 187 acres of Portland’s West Hills, Hoyt Arboretum is a living museum where joggers, dog walkers, lovers, strollers, photographers and, first and foremost, tree lovers can immerse themselves in nature any day of the year.

lots of cars

Sunday brought a break in the weather, so people were out in force. The parking lot was full and cars were parked all along Fairview Blvd. Still, with 12 miles of trails, it never felt crowded.

entry palms

The visitors’ center is not open on Sunday, but there are pamphlets available with maps, etc., and a large informational board showing which trails offer the optimum experience season by season. For autumn, the Maple Trail is recommended, but first we had a look around the entry plantings. It always seems a little odd to me to see zonal denial plants like palms and agaves in public spaces (like the train station, much as I like the plantings), but the arboretum proper features trees from all over the world, so I guess the patchwork in the entry makes a certain amount of sense.

rocky berm

This rocky berm might have slipped right by me had not Loree posted about crevice gardens a while back. I don’t know if this can go by that name because those had plants tucked in here and there. This one is all rocks.

pot with evergreens

Several large planters break up the space.

Pseudopanax ferox

When one of the pots sports an unusual plant like this Pseudopanax ferox

Pseudopanax ferox signage

there is detailed signage to tell all about it.

crape myrtle

The same system held elsewhere: ordinary stuff went unidentified, but anything out of the ordinary was well documented.

flaming color

 On our way to the Maple Trail, we passed through an area planted entirely with natives, but I was saving my sputtering battery for the colors of autumn.

closer color

The color was slightly more intense, but this is pretty close.

long view with bright tree

The long views were splendid, and with well-placed paths and rolling hills there was a new vista around every turn.


See what I mean?


Parts of the landscape were enveloped in pockets of fog.

family and sumac

This little family was capturing memories backed by the flaming foliage of sumac.

Acer sign

Since the arboretum was established in 1928, there are many magnificent old trees with signage affixed to their trunks. More recent additions, like this paperbark maple, are marked by small stone pillars bearing pertinent information.

Acer griseum bark

OK, so some helpful graffiti artist took exception to the Acer griseum designation (did you notice the “not a” scratched onto the sign?), but one look at this peeling bark should be enough to set him/her straight.

Acer griseum leaf

Here’s the leaf of the above tree. Color, leaf shape, interesting bark: all have me convinced that this is one to hunt down for the R&R Ranch.

Acer pseudosieboldianum var. tatsiense

And while I’m in the market for more red, how about the color of those leaves recently fallen from Acer pseudosieboldianum var. tatsiense?

tatsiense tree

And here is the tree itself. As you can see, we decided on this outing in the nick of time to catch the tail end of the color show. There are plenty of other reasons to visit the arboretum in all seasons and all kinds of weather. Next trip: evergreens, or maybe just a brisk walk unencumbered by camera. If you happen to come away with a wish list, a good place to start your search would be Plant Lust. I usually just carry around my desiderata, waiting for one of my coveted beauties to show up. This particular tree seems to deserve a more concerted effort on my part.

here’s what November looks like

leaves caught in cherry tree

This strikes me as the epitome of autumn: leaves settled in the crotch of the ancient cherry tree.

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’

As the leaves begin to fall from the Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, the quirky, taloned branches form a tracery through which the colors of the season can be glimpsed.

kousa dogwood

The Kousa dogwood is doing its bit as it rises from the golden arms of the Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’.

Callicarp ‘Profusion’ and Nandina

Not to everyone’s liking, but reds and purples is one of my favorite combinations: Beauty berry backed up by a common, low-growing form of Nandina.

Joe Pye Weed

Even in death, the Eutrochium nee Eupatorium (grrr) pleases my eye…

Eutrochium silhouettes

especially as seen silhouetted against a leaden sky.

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’ silhouette

Speaking of silhouettes, how about Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’? The petals having fallen neatly away, we are left with perfect round balls.

Anemone balls

Here’s a less dramatic shot of Mme Jobert. The balls are shiny and green and provide a long-lasting element for late season bouquets.

‘Henry Eilers’

Some things are struggling to make a showing before frost hits. I don’t think ‘Henry Eilers’ is going to make it. He will be moved to a sunnier spot next spring.

Kniphofia multiflora

Kniphofia multiflora is giving Jack Frost a run for his money. I’m pulling for him.

hardy Aloe

I’d given up on this hardy Aloe long ago, but here it is, putting in its first appearance after hiding underground for a few years. Moral of story: never give up.

Phlomus russeliana

I never tire of the architecture of Phlomus russeliana. I will not cut these seed bearing stalks of pom poms until spring, and the whorls of leaves will hang on through the winter.


I spy the hips of Rosa ‘Dortmund’ through the stalks of Joe Pye. Have any of you made culinary use of hips?

Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’

I leave you with a peek at the last flowers holding on: Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’. Where once there was a profusion, only a few intrepid die-hards remain. I love this season, how about you?

hawthorne tree love

aralia tree

I have always admired this house in the Alphabet District of Northwest Portland. It has a classy, sophisticated paint job and a lovely yard. I fell for one of those Aralia trees back in the days when I was working for Max & Hildy’s, but couldn’t justify the $400 price tag. I visit this one every once in a while, and it is, in some ways, better than owning one.

hawthorne tree in bloom

On one of these visits, I just happened to hit upon a day when the hawthorn tree at the corner of the property was in full, glorious bloom.

tree from across the street

The house is three stories, so can get an idea of the scale of this tree.


As I was poking around, trying to get a good angle on the tree, I began noticing the other plantings doing their part to set the stage.

more foliage

front walk


down the street

Things were looking pretty nice down the block as well.

in the other direction

There is a soft spot in my heart for hawthorn trees. My Gram had a row of them in the parking strip in front of her house when I was growing up. When new people bought the house, their first act was to chop them all down. Perhaps, had they waited long enough to see them in bloom, the hatchet might have remained safely tucked away in the toolbox (where, in my humble opinion, it usually belongs).