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in a vase on monday

Monday, August 4th, 2014


Gladiolas are kind of awkward in a border, but I do love them in a vase. I thought I planted some deep purple and some red ones in an out of the way spot but only red appeared (admittedly, two slightly different shades of red…can you tell?)


It was such an out-of-the-way place that I forgot to stake them. Three of them flopped over and became twisted as they reached for the light. I thought it would make them impossible to work with, but in fact I think it makes the arrangement more interesting the way they curl up on the right side.

Casa Blanca lily

I used the stiff, sword-like leaves of the glads themselves to hold them in place. One lonely stem of Casa Blanca lilies was more or less buried in a back border, which made it easier for me to sacrifice it to the bouquet gods. When you buy lilies from the florist, all of their wonderful anthers have been snipped off. I understand why they do this, because they are loaded with pollen that stains what it touches. I’m careful when handling them and make sure not to set them on a cloth, but these wouldn’t work half as well without those furry anthers relating to the bright red of the glads. The only other thing I added was a single leaf of Hosta ‘Guacamole’. The character of this arrangement will change almost daily, as lower blooms fade and those that are now tight buds unfurl. I’ll have to keep rearranging, but that’s the price we pay for these big, bold statements.

Visit Cathy to see a very different posy and an invitation to join in and/or explore what’s there for the pickin’.

two weeks of ‘in a vase’

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

pink peonies, etc.

This is a bouquet I put together last week. The pink herbacious peony has finally reached critical mass, and produces enough flowers that I can cut a few without making the garden suffer. I’m not crazy about pink, but paired with deep wine and burgundy it takes on an altogether punchier personality. Here, I’ve used tall stems of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ and three big, shiny Heuchera leaves. The red of the Red Dragon stems shows to advantage in the vase. A few airy sprigs of the wildflower Silene complete the picture.


I thought you might like a closer look at some of the elements.

in the border

The iris growing in front of the peony was pristine white. For the fleeting moments that both were in bloom, I had me a magical combo.


This was the border that yielded both of the dark elements.

Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’

The peonies lasted less than a week, but everything else was as good as new, so I refreshed it with three stems stolen from my Eremurus patch. This one is ‘Cleopatra’.

I learned of the ‘In A Vase’ meme on Christina’s wonderful blog. The source, and where you can join in the fun of gleaning bouquets from your garden, is Cathy. See you there?

Arisaema, a group of favorites

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Arisaema triphyllum

When I first introduced Arisaema triphyllum to the woodland’s edge, I had visions of it forming a colony of Jack-in-the-Pulpits. That was in 2010 and there is still only one.

A. taiwanese

Frustrated by its recalcitrant ways, I added A. taiwanese from my first visit to Xera in 2013. Already it has gone from one to two blooms. Maybe it has something to do with the source?

A. taiwanese foliage

The foliage on this one is quite beautiful.


It’s a good thing too, because the flowers hide coyly beneath the leaves. Love those patterned stems.

A. concinnum

The HPSO spring sale, Hortlandia, yielded yet another to my growing collection: A. concinnum. It is less of a shrinking violet than the others, in that the leaf bends away from the flower. As it unfurled, the leaf looked like it might be diseased or slug-damaged, but I needn’t have worried.

A. concinnum

Sorry for the out-of-focus photo, but since it is pouring rain at the moment, I’m stuck with it. I hope these close relatives can learn to get along in the colonization I have forced upon them. You can learn more about the many faces of Arisaema here. Join us over at Danger Garden by leaving a comment with a link to your favorite plant in the garden this week.

In a vase, tree peony ‘Chinese Dragon’

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014


The tree peony ‘Chinese Dragon’ blooms in May, when it usually is beaten down by heavy rain. Rather than rail at the misfortune, I decided to bring them into the house and join in Rambling in the Garden’s meme, In a Vase on Monday.

p align=”left”>Here’s a shot that shows the shape of the vase. It’s one I got from a potter friend, Alyce Flitcraft. It has the typical tall conical shape, but then flares out at the top.


Plus, the rim of the flare is slightly ragged, making it even more interesting.


Here’s a close-up of the flowers and the lovely foliage, which goes on to be used as filler in many other bouquets, long after the fleeting flowers have passed.

a visit to Drake’s 7 Dees

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Anna Kulgren

My blogging buddy Anna has introduced me to the charming garden store where she now works. Let me direct your attention to the color of her sweater.

Anna’s signature color

As you can see, Anna is already making her presence known with the repainting of this wall in her signature color.

background color

Almost anything looks great against a background of this muted, sophisticated purple.

blue pots

A collection of blue pots sets off fiery stems and blue-green spiky plants to perfection. I wanted to bring the whole display home with me (sadly, not in the budget).

red pots

This table top featured red pots…equally enticing.

early season plants

It’s still early in the season, but already the yard is filling up with interesting plants.

in the greenhouse

Let’s move indoors. On this rainy day, the sound of the rain on the glass made shelter feel all the cozier. What a delightful space.

indoor vignette

Engaging all the senses, there were arrangements of plants and decorative items on all sides.


the staff

These are the folks who make it all happen, and you won’t find a friendlier bunch anywhere.

Blue Atlas Cedar

This mature specimen of weeping Blue Atlas Cedar drapes over the fence near the parking area. I consider this emerging garden center a real find. To find it yourself, go to 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Portland OR 97225. If you are coming from Portland, it is just past Six Corners, where there is a New Seasons Market, or call 503 292 9121 for directions.

GBBD August edition

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Hydrangea quercifolia

The yard is sporting its summer tan and many of the garden’s stars have left the stage. A few wily characters have been saving themselves for the final act. One of these is Hydrangea quercifolia. It is finally in full bloom after weeks of warm-ups, but the real show will begin when the foliage begins to turn color.

Ricinus communis

I saved seed from the Castor Bean, Ricinus communis, and started several, but the only one that took did so in his own place in his own time. It’s not a very impressive specimen, but I do love the oddball flowers.

Rosa rugosa ‘Buffalo Gals’

Out along the fenceline, Rosa rugosa ‘Buffalo Gals’ has become a substantial shrub and continues to pump out blooms over a very long season. I happen to like these gals best in tight bud.

Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’

The parent plants have dozens of flowering spires, but Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ is so accommodating that even these new divisions put out in their first year.

Campsis x tagliabuena ‘Madame Galen’

Some things get better with each passing year. One such is Campsis x tagliabuena ‘Madame Galen’, draping herself over the top of the fence.

Nicotiana glutinosa

I started a few annuals from seed, not knowing quite what to expect.
The seed packet referred to Nicotiana glutinosa as “Peach Screamer”,

Peach Screamer

but these demure blossoms look to me more like they would speak in a whisper.

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’

I always look forward to the late arrival of Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’. The first few to open are a startling contrast to the dark leafy background

Honorine buds

and I especially like all the little round balls of buds that will eventually add to the display.

Mezoo trailing red Dorotheanthus

Little red paint brushes are starting to pop out on Mezoo, trailing red Dorotheanthus.

Tropeaoleum ‘Empress of India’

All of the annuals, like this Tropaeoleum ‘Empress of India’ do a great job of filling in with ongoing blooms while the remains of Alliums continue to contribute interesting notes.

I’ll stop there and send you over to May Dreams Gardens, where Carol plays hostess to flower-loving gardeners month after month.

Pennisetum ‘Tall Tails’ is this week’s fave

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Pennisetum ‘Tall Tails’

Those lovely, fluffy spires earn this Pennisetum its clever name: ‘Tall Tails’. Scott of Rhone Street Gardens brought me three of these. I planted two of them at the edge of this bed, where other grasses are also featured. ‘Tall Tails’ growing near ‘Heavy Metal’

That’s Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ growing to the right. I like its upright habit in contrast to the fluffier look of the Tails.

more Tails

Now that I see what it will do, I will plant the third one (still in a pot) next to the first two with visions of a future mass of these guys waving their tails in the evening light.

last look at Pennisetum ‘Tall Tails’

Here’s one last look, with thanks to Scott for introducing me to a new favorite, and to Loree for providing the platform for writing about our favorite plants on a regular basis.

Olearia x mollis ‘Zennorensis’ this week’s favorite

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Olearia x mollis ‘Aennorensis’

A few Sundays ago, I met up with Linda at Cistus and this was one of two plants I could not resist. It is living in a pot until I decide on a good place for it.

serrated leaves

The sharply serrated, slender leaves were the main attraction, but here’s more to like from the plant tag: “Architectural, layered shrub, to 4-6′ with golden, flaking bark; dark stems; 3-4″ leaves, narrow, silvered and serrated. White flowers appear in summer, but not in great abundance. Perfect for that powdered silver garden. Sun to part shade. Even moisture especially in hot summer climates. Frost hardy to at least mid USDA zone 7″. My plant is not as silvery as the description or the photo on Plant Lust, where you can read more about it.

Rhododendron sinogrande

I’m thinking (taking that “powdered silver garden” talk seriously) that it might work well in combination with the metallic new growth on Rhododendron sinogrande with the contrast in leaf size and shape but similar coloration. This is a spot where I water regularly. My only concern is that it may not get quite enough sun. Guess I’ll just move the pot over there and see how I (and it) like it.

more Olearia

So here’s a last look at my Olearia x mollis ‘Zennorensis’…

more sinogrande

and Rhododendron sinogrande. Your thoughts? While you’re mulling it over, why not pop on over to Danger Garden to see what Loree has on deck for this week’s favorite.

late-blooming gardener, my guest blog

Friday, April 26th, 2013

I’d like to invite you to visit Rusty Spade to read the piece I wrote for Petunia’s ongoing series of gardeners’ stories. While you’re there, you might as well explore her delightful blog. For those of you who have been curious about what the BeBop Garden looked like, I managed to dig out some old photos of the before, during and after to be included in that post.

Blooming Blogs

You might also like to visit Blooming Blogs. That’s where I hooked up with Petunia, as well as many other new blogging friends. If, like me, you found Blotanical incomprehensible, this might appeal to you. It’s quite new, so you would be getting in on maybe not the ground floor, but still early on when your voice will be heard and you can influence its development.

And here are a few peeks at what that garden looks like today:



Corokia cotoneaster

That’s what a happy Corokia cotoneaster looks like.


Melianthus major

Viburnum ‘Snowflake’

the Hoyt Arboretum

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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.