I love the way Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’ sets off other plants. I bought one from Cistus in ’05 and stuck it in this berm. It flourished, with many branches bending low to the ground (an open invitation to take a stab at layering). Here’s how it works. Take one of those low-growing branches, and make a small nick on the underside where it will touch the ground. Make sure there is a good bit of branch beyond the cut.

I happen to have these U-pins left over from some long forgotten floral project, but you could as easily craft some from wire coat hangers. Use them to secure the branch to the ground where the nick is. Pile some soil over that spot. I did this with the Lonicera in ’07. By ’09, I had a crop of new shrubs. All that’s required is to sever the branch where it leads from the mother plant to the newly rooted babe, dig up the newbies and use them as you will.


Transplant to new quarters and gloat over saving as much as $20 per new plant. The latest issue of BBC Gardens Illustrated showed a clipped hedge of these plants in a formal garden. It was a striking counterpoint to the darker boxwood hedges. I happen to prefer letting things sprawl as they like. Either way, it is good to have a lot of them to play with. Other plants I have had success with using layering are heaths and heathers, hydrangeas and barberries. Any woody shrub would seem to be a good candidate.

honesty, shmonesty


Honestly, how honest are we with ourselves? Oh well, because I hold Wendy, over at greenishthumb in high regard, here goes my best shot at revealing truths about myself.

  1.   I’m a reader, so I don’t mind so much when it comes time to put the garden to bed.
  2.   The books on my nightstand right now are: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (this one we are reading aloud), The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (my book club’s selection for this month, just started so too soon to tell, but highly recommended), and The Closers by Michael Connelly ( a Harry, short for Heironomous, Bosh crime novel and illustrative of my weakness for suspense wrapped in violence with a strong, enigmatic main character like Bosh, Jack Reacher, Virgil Flowers, and the female assassin in my daughter’s latest).
  3.    Favorite garden-related books are: anything by Mirabel Osler and Crazy About Gardening by Des Kennedy.
  4.   Aesthetics are usually more important to me than practical considerations, resulting in oddities like a beautifully arranged tabletop still life covered in dust. Fortunately, Richard picks up the slack there with a weekly dust-up.
  5.   I’m streaky when it comes to exercise. I love to swim and dance, but since we moved out here have found no place to do either. We live half way up a hill that makes for good exercise and contact with neighbors, but my enthusiasm for it comes and goes. My plan is to start the year carrying my camera with me on walks to record the coming and going of wildflowers, newts, bugs and such…which could lead to some posts here.
  6.   I came late to gardening. Full time freelancing in design and raising two kids on my own kept me busy for a lot of years. Then I started writing a newsletter for Max & Hildy’s Garden Store. The owner kept sending plants home with me so I could write about them. I found delight in the way certain Latin names roll trippingly over one’s tongue…even when butchering the pronunciation.  One thing led to another…you know how it goes.
  7.   Opening my garden for the first time in ’08 was an eye-opener. I realized how much I see my own garden as I imagine it to be. There are many interesting plants here, but spread out over a large property it will take a long time for things to reach critical mass. HPSO members are inherently kind, so while humbling, the experience was, overall, a pleasant one.
  8.   I fantasize about having a large frame on a wall (where a painting would normally be) where a loop of magical moments in film would show up at the flip of a switch. Most of these moments that come to mind involve dance: the grown up Billy Elliot leaping onto the stage at the end of the movie of the same name; a montage of Fred Astaire; the bit where an ordinary chair becomes Barishnikov’s dance partner in White Nights. The credits to The Three Musketeers, where D’Artagnan duels with his father in stop-action slow motion would be there too.
  9.    I have a “book in a box”, thirteen chapters on gardening thoughts and experiences that just rolled out. It has even been professionally edited, but the final push required to send it out into the world for acceptance or rejection seems beyond me. Blogging suits me better.
  10.   I just looked up “fetish”: 2. anything to which foolishly excessive respect or devotion is given. I have several of those, which I can rationalize as overcompensation. Last night we had dinner with friends and Ingrid and I got to talking about our shoe fetish. I went into rationalization mode, telling how my mom made all of my clothes, so that the only item I could shop for and purchase from a store was shoes. Not only that, but I have really ugly feet, so dressing them up in classy footwear made me feel better. Well, it turns out that shoe fetishes among women are nearly universal, so definition 1. an object worshipped by primitive peoples who believe it to have magical powers or to be inhabited by a spirit. is probably more on target. My other fetishes are hair and outerwear, and I won’t bore you with my rationalizations for those. What are yours?

So there are my true confessions. Now I am supposed to tag some bloggers I admire so they can play the game and we can all get to know each other better. I kind of dragged my feet getting around to this, so many of my faves have already had their say. On the bright side, that makes it easier to narrow it down to seven, and these are all blogs you will enjoy, if you have managed to stay with me so far.



We can plant bulbs all the way through December. That means that we can wait for them to go on sale. That brown paper bag, top-left, holds regular big yellow daffodil bulbs that were half price at the local Feed & Seed. Of course, there were only twenty of them remaining in the bin…but still… Top-right, ‘Salome’, was also half price at the local one-stop-shopping center. Everything else, I ordered from John Scheepers. They carry all sorts of exotics, and I had my heart set on Allium ‘Hair’, an oddball character that I spotted for the first time last spring. It looks like an alien invader, so of course it has an engraved invitation to invade my space. To round out the order, I added Brodiaea ‘Pink Diamond’, Allium sphaerocephalon, or drumstick allium, and ‘Lemon Drops’ narcissus.

Last Saturday was a rare, wonderful day to be out in the garden. I got exactly half of the above bulbs into the ground. The soil yielded to my shovel in a most accommodating fashion. The sun warmed my shoulders without overdoing it. Night fell before I could completely overtax neglected muscles. Oh, for another such day to complete the job.

bloom day, berry day, leaf day

If it weren’t for Carol, over at May Dreams Gardens, I’m not sure I would be out there between cloudbursts looking for lingering signs of life. Lo and behold, a few hardy souls are still pumping out flowers


Like this sedum.


The blossoms on Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ go unnoticed most of their long blooming season. Now their “last man standing” status casts them in a new light.


While ‘Percy’s Pride’ outperforms all of the other kniphs. It manages to look fresh even while the downpours have taken the starch out of most of the remaining flowers in the garden.

It pays to look elsewhere for the late season drama:


The smoke tree turns many shades of red, russet and bronze.


A close-up reveals the modulation in a single leaf (love that thin line of bright red edging on a maroon leaf)


Spent blossoms leave behind these bracts (anyone know the exact terminology for them?) on the Hepatacodium miconoides.


Plain old barberry has a brilliant final act, paired with the skeletons of globe thistles


The same barberry bursts with bright red berries (or are they drupes?).


As does the beautyberry.


Rosa ‘Dortmund’ produces a nice crop of hips. If they weren’t so pretty, I might try making jelly…perhaps when there are more of them.


Out along the front fence, where we are encouraging a mixed hedgerow, several of these unidentified shrubs have volunteered.


Nice leaf form and pretty berries make them more than welcome.

If you are frustrated by winter scarcity, links over on Carol’s site can take you to tropical climes, or anywhere anyone gardens.

pantry pleasure


The larder is nearly full. Those pickles in the upper left corner of the shot are from a friend. A few jars of lemon marmalade are from back when Meyer lemons were in the markets. Everything else came from our yard, or surrounding wild areas (the blackberry jam and syrup). The syrup was meant to be jam, but it never really jelled. The next batch, I added some apples (high in pectin) and it not only jelled too much, but the apples diluted that wonderful wild blackberry flavor. I hate to use packaged pectin because of all the sugar required, so I’ve been reading around. Irma R. in Joy of Cooking says that cooking time makes all the difference, so more experiments with our endless supply of blackberries next year. In the meantime we will endure runny syrup oozing through the holes in our toast and dripping down our chins. For the record: my blackberry pies turned out perfect.


The cutting table became a workshop for a day, as apple/pear sauce with ginger and various preserves got dressed up for the holidays. Forgive me if stating the obvious insults your intelligence, but some of the little tricks took me several seasons to figure out, so I’ll pass them on, just in case. That overturned clay flower pot has a ball of twine inside, with one end coming out through the hole. Makes it oh so easy to pull off the desired length without chasing the ball around the room. If you don’t sew, you may not have scraps of cloth laying around. Most quilting shops or fabric stores have bins of roll ends for sale. I like using a different fabric/twine/label combination for each flavor. When positioning the circle of cloth over the top of the jar, it is difficult to get it centered and gathered evenly, unless you start with a rubber band, make those adjustments, then tie off with decorative twine of choice. I use raffia, garden twine, rikrak, kitchen twine or whatever, and often tie in a dried pod or some other tidbit from the garden along with an identifying tag. It is surprising how many possibilities for tags present themselves in an office supply store…or even that section of a one-stop shopping center.

I’m not too crazy about spending a beautiful day (like when the cherries demand attention) indoors cooking, but now that the rains are here, and Richard is glued to the Duck (University of Oregon) games on Saturdays…what could be better than good music on the stereo (R always makes sure there are speakers in the kitchen, sly devil that he is) and a pot of applesauce burbling away on the stove, scenting the house with its cinnamon-y goodness. Whenever I hear whooping and hollering from the TV room I can get there in time to watch the replay.

potting area at work


Next door to my son’s coffee shop, Ristretto Roasters, is a delightful shop called Ink & Peat. Many of the succulents in this shop are planted not in soil, but in moss. Long ago (so long ago that I can’t remember where) I picked up this wire shoe. Putting two and two together (shoe + mediumless succulents) I decided to try an experiment. I filled the shoe with moss and stuck in a few of the overflow clippings of succulents. Time will tell how successful this experiment will be, but it looks pretty cute right now, don’t you think?

pot on

I love the cunning little potting sheds featured in magazines. They usually feature shelves stacked high with clay pots, furniture painted in vibrant colors, maybe even a few color-coordinated pillows scattered about. All in all, a totally inviting shabby-chic aesthetic. My potting area, by contrast, has consisted of upended buckets supporting old boards, piles of plastic nursery pots in all shapes and sizes and bags of compost, etc. folded over with a brick on top to keep the rain out.


No cunning shed for me, but at least it is protected from the heaviest downpours and hidden from sight by these low-hanging cedar boughs.


And progress is being made. Richard made me a table to go under there, and I invested in a few lidded plastic containers to hold potting soil, pot shards and such. I’m with Megan, over at nestmaker, who dreams of a little outdoor hangout where dinners and poker games can take place. I’m a long ways from that ideal, but just upping the convenience factor and getting rid of some of the more unsightly elements has made this quite a pleasant place to spend time puttering and potting.

halloween recap

Can’t seem to let go of this holiday…but this will be the last of it for this year, I promise. We took a little trip to St. Helens (the town, not the mountain) to deliver boxes of apples and pears to a friend with a bakery there. Driving through on Hwy 30, one would never suspect that if you turn right, away from the strip mall atmosphere hunkered around the highway, you can wind your way down to the river’s edge, where you will find the charming remnants of the original town.


All along both sides of the main drag, at regular intervals, inventive scarecrow-like figures stand sentinel.


Like this tattered shade.


A towering pirate.


And a wacky chef doing a jig.


An ornate iron gate protects the grandest house on the street.


Where a gathering of ghouls and goblins await intrepid “trick or treat”ers (if, that is, they can get past the giant spiders cavorting on the stairs).

On the way home, we stopped at the Scappoose Fred Meyer to pick up a few things. The joint was jumpin. A costume contest for kids was attracting bevies of tiny princesses and fairies, hordes of skeletons, spacemen and hobos. My favorite was a mere babe in full pirate regalia. The woman who pumped our gas sported impressive black feathered wings, dark glasses and black horns sprouting through a maroon wig styled in a short bob. We live down a sheltered lane where nary a costumed kid has ventured in the six years we have lived here, no matter how much we doll up the house in attempts to lure them. That makes it vital for us to get out and about to soak up the ghostly atmosphere. Wouldn’t miss it!