gbbd: april edition

Rhododendron oreotrephes

It’s Rhododendron time. This is R. oreotrephes, a dainty, small-leaved variety with pale lavender flowers.

R. 'Misty Moonlight'

I like to show the Rhodies in bud and in flower, because the color is usually more intense in the bud form. This one is called ‘Misty Moonlight’.

R. 'Markeeta's Prize'

Having said that, ‘Markeeta’s Prize’ is red from start to finish. I haven’t had the best of luck with red Rhodies, but this one seems to be bucking that trend. There are some excellent gardens where you can see Rhododendrons in all their glory. Two that come to mind are the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden in St Paul OR and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Milwaukie OR. Both are great sources of inspiration for companion plantings.


Always the first of the Irises to bloom is this short, deep purple one. You can see the full chorus of these little guys waiting in the wings.

Epimedium 'Lilafree'

The flowers on Epimedium ‘Lilafree’ are so dainty that they almost disappear. Worth the trouble to get down there for a frog’s eye view, though.


Weed? Wildflower? It’s a beauty, whatever it is. Any ideas?


Here’s another little weed that I prefer to think of as a groundcover. It rambles everywhere, so why fight it?

Ajuga 'Black Scallop'

Speaking of ground covers, Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ is one of the more satisfying ones. It is currently a sea of blue, but just as attractive when not in bloom.


I could easily go on and on, but instead I’ll leave you with the blooming redbud and pass you on to May Dreams Gardens, where Carol hosts Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th of each month. Happy Spring!

in a vase: violets are…purple

Viola odora

When the violets really get going, they can scent a whole area. I love that smell…reminds me of Yardley’s violet scent, which I wore as a girl.


They are itty bitty little things, so it was necessary to find a small container to show them off. The thimble in the above photo will give you an idea of scale.


This hand painted pitcher fits the bill perfectly and, ironically, the painting is of violets.


My Great Grandmother’s hands were never idle. She was always crocheting or quilting. I have quite a few pieces of her handiwork. Carrying out the theme of old fashioned flowers in an old fashioned container seemed to call for using one of them as a doily to complete the picture (I think this one was meant to be an antimacassar – now there’s a word I bet you haven’t seen lately, if ever) Antimacassars were used on the backs of chairs to protect the upholstery from the hair goop used by men back in the day. The goop was called Macassar. In my book, the doily’s value far outstrips that of any old upholstery.


I’m enjoying the powerful aroma being pumped out by these babies right now. But where did some folk poet ever get the idea that “violets are blue”? More posies await each Monday. Click HERE to open the door and enjoy.

another monday, another vase


Unlike the bright red one we had last year, this year’s poinsettia was already beginning to look ragged. I can’t say I’m sorry. I felt not a twinge of guilt as I had at it to add to today’s vase.


Two Fatsia japonica leaves are put into service: one as background for the bouquet, the other wound (underside out, the better to showcase the veins) around the inside of the vase. The stems here are best hidden because they’re not all that attractive.


I love the fresh little catkins on the hazels, so I cut three branches of them for a vertical element.


The seedheads of ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum are showing lovely russet tones. In they go.


I’m not sure which heather this is, but it picks up some of the russet, transitioning towards peach, while the Euonymous ‘Emerald and Gold’ has some of the poinsettia’s peach and some of the yellow of the Nandina berries. I headed out with low expectations today, but am quite happy with what I managed to ferret out. This meme is so much fun (and even more so as it gets more challenging in winter). It’s open to all, so head over HERE to join in.

in a vase on Monday


Praise be to the birds for all the planting they do around here. The hedgerow along the front fence is populated by many of these Cotoneasters. By the looks of the bumper crop of berries this year, they’ll soon be popping up in even more places.


A little closer look reveals how bright orange and shiny the berries are in natural light.


Out came this shiny black vase. I didn’t quite get it together for Halloween, but the season obviously was influencing my choices here.


Often, when using this vase, I will form a pice of chicken wire into a frog substitute to hold things in place. These branches were stiff and full enough to stay where I put them, unaided.


By inserting them at a low angle, they formed a grid that is able to support the stems of the last two red peppers from the veggie garden.


It went on the table amidst the small white pumpkins that will stay throughout the harvest season, some cast iron bird napkin rings and a few candles.


Losing power is not such a bad thing when plenty of candles are on hand and a stack of wood is ready for the fireplace.

Do visit Cathy to see what she scared up to put in a vase this week.

in a vase on monday


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’

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

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’


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

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

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.