James, over at Lost in the Landscape posted recently about the skeletal remains of leaves. His photos were sublime…mine, not so much. I have never been able to resist bringing all sorts of bits and pieces home from my walks. Bins, baskets and boxes in my workroom are filled with things like lichens, mosses, cones, pods and the like. I think I must be descended, not from apes, but from rats and squirrels. But I digress. The leaves here are from Epimedium ‘Lilafree’ after having been left on the ground through the winter. The Physalis, or Japanese lanterns, are appealing enough when they are papery and brilliant orange, but after weathering all that winter can throw at them, they are reduced to a delicate tracery of veins enclosing bright red berries at their hearts. The fragility of this booty precludes hoarding it, which somehow makes it all the more precious.

orchard time


This is what all of the trees in the orchard looked like a few weeks ago.


While I tend to throw myself at the garden in fits and starts, Richard is pretty good at pacing himself. A couple of hours a day, and pretty soon…


their haircuts complete, the trees are ready for prime time.


With a bonus of plenty of twigs to bring inside and force into bloom. These are pear blossoms that have been in a sunny spot in a vase with water for two weeks.


As you can see in this closeup, some blossoms have fully opened, while others are still coming on. I am partial to the little ball shapes before they unfold.


The cherry trees were a bigger project, requiring some engineering and using ropes as pullies to keep big, heavy limbs from falling on cats or humans. This stash of limbs and branches leads to fantasies of rustic structures.


Here’s a bucket of cherry branches sitting in water, waiting for the sunlight to work its magic and coax them into bloom. If you lived nearby, a big bouquet of these would be yours for the asking.

Our first year here, we were intimidated by the orchard and hired a neighbor/arborist to do the work for us. We paid attention while he lopped and lectured. Like so many things horticultural, timing is everything. Get that right (in general, because even there quite a bit of leeway exists) and the rest is just a matter of putting in the time. With days like we have been having lately, it is pure pleasure to be out there ‘playing’ in the sunshine.

it’s alive!…i think


I may have been too hasty, last spring, in declaring my newly planted Callistemon ‘Clemson’ dead. I cut it back hard, and it sent up new shoots from the base, but never produced the red bottle brush blossoms I so eagerly anticipated. Look at the above photo. Do you see what I see? I could swear there are signs of life, in the form of swelling nodes. Hands off this time. We’ll see what happens. It really should be hardy, as I have seen healthy specimens in the Reed ‘Hell Strip’. Fingers crossed.

foliage follow-up

Quite a few of us are bigger fans of foliage than of blossoms, so Pam’s brainstorm has us all aflutter. We can follow up Carol’s long-established Bloom Day with a post chronicling our standout foliage, then leave a comment on Pam’s entry so that like-minded bloggers can find us and share. This is my first time, and I am late (the target date is the 16th of each month). As with all things related to garden blogging, the rules are forgiving, so here goes:


Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’ knocked my socks off when I first saw it (in bloom). This one has been here for three years, the last two of which it formed long racemes of buds which were wiped out by bad weather. I don’t really mind, because the foliage looks like this all year. The ones at Cistus are 6′ tall, so it will only get better.


I keep adding heathers, but am not very good at keeping track of their names. This anonymous one snuggles up to Chamaecyparis ‘Barry’s Silver’.


In that same bed, the new foliage is showing up on the Rhus. I love the light, airy look and pale color at this stage.


Nothing seems to phase the Heucheras. They come through snows and deep freezes looking like this, and even seed around a bit. Think I’ll ever spot a sport to add to the growing horde?


The ‘Thunderhead’ pine is just a kid, but one of these days it will have started to sprawl and put forth the huge candles that attracted me to it in the first place.


Over in the vegetable patch, the rhubarb is beginning to push through the leafy mulch. See how crinkly and fresh the soon-to-be-huge leaves are at first.

Well, that was fun! Feel free to join in if you are a fellow foliage fancier. The more the merrier!

february=flower fever


I seem to detect a note of desperation in the search for blossoms among bloggers this month. These snowdrops are singing their swan song, and like anything that’s been around for a while, one must get down on all fours to appreciate them (unless, I guess, you have great drifts of them…i do not).


The violets are just beginning. This is the commonest, and my favorite scent: Viola odorata, a shovelful of which came to my garden from my mom’s many years ago and has claimed space in every shady nook and cranny in two subsequent gardens.


Out under the sweetheart trees (see yesterday’s post) a carpet of white violets went unnoticed by me until joining in Carol’s Bloom Day project. Thanks again to Carol for opening eyes to hidden treasures.


They are sparse now, but soon there will be swathes of them. Here, again, it was necessary to get down for a worm’s eye view. Am I soggy and muddy? Guess. Was it worth it? You bet!


Still crawling around to get this shot of ‘Diane’. She has put on nice spurts of new growth each year, so I think by next year she will be tall enough to make a real impression on her own, without the camera tricks for giving a starlet presence.


About the time my back threatened to revolt over the permanent stoop, here came Euphorbia wulfenii doing its thing right at eye level. It is still getting into character before straightening up and unfurling its full glory, but I like it almost best at this stage…so full of promise…very like February itself.

day for love

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to all you sweethearts out there.


Here’s my sweetheart in front of our “sweetheart trees”. We call them that because they have been standing there together long enough to grow that tall. Richard is 6’3″, so the trees are mighty tall indeed. When I mentioned, in a previous post, the logging that had gone on here, Jo asked if there were still big trees standing. Oh, yes.


I could point my camera in any direction and get a shot like this. Hemlock, Fir and Cedar, mainly, with Alder and Maple taking over in the logged areas (we’re hoping these will eventually shade out the dreaded blackberries)…living proof that nature abhors a vacuum.

yard, garden & patio show

I must confess to being a little disappointed in this year’s show. In the past, nurseries were known to pull out all the stops in an effort to outshine one another and go home with ribbons. I only saw one booth that went that route, but then it’s been a hard year. That said, I fired up the camera for a few things I found noteworthy.


ANLD built this colorful booth.


Then loaded it up with plants that echoed and/or complemented the jazzy color scheme.


These large sculptural leaves sprouting from the framework of another booth caught my eye.


A large glass “tree” seems to be making the rounds of shows. Karen had a picture of it in her post about the Seattle show. The background was so busy that I opted for a close-up, but it was huge.


My mission was to soak up atmosphere and speakers, not so much to shop. Chief Joseph pines were everywhere. I found some, tiny, in 4″ pots, for $60. Guess I will wait until they become common, which, by the looks of things, they are bound to do. What I did spring for was bulbs of Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ and Arisaema triphyllum, a Calluna vulgaris ‘Blazeaway’ to add to my growing heather collection, and Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘N’ Gold’.

Zeroing in on just a couple of speakers out of so many choices was tough. Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery spoke about bold foliage for small gardens. His point was that in a small room, filling it with finicky, small furniture makes it feel smaller than bold strokes. Well, we have a large property, but I figure the big stuff is even more important here. Cistus is nearby, so when I’m ready I will just pop on over to see what is available and grill the ever helpful staff. Sean’s talk was more along the lines of high entertainment for this plant-starved winter shut-in. Next, Dan Heims showed us shade plants….lots of shade plants, and filled us in on plant combinations, new introductions, and exactly the conditions to make them happy.


After all that stimulation, I was ready for a little walk. Miraculously, I had found a parking spot right across the street from the main entrance, so I decided to stroll around the perimeter of the convention center. I like the way plants spill over the balcony and contrast with the sand colored brick.


Bioswales carry runoff during the rainy months and are lined with draught tolerant grasses and basalt columns for year round interest, with traffic, bridges and skyline as background.


I have a very cavalier attitude toward propagation. When I read scholarly tracts on the subject, my head quickly begins to hurt. Every once in a while, a tip will jump off the page and lodge itself in the brain. For instance: a cutting of anything in the willow family will release a hormone that encourages other cuttings sharing the same container to produce roots. I don’t happen to have any Salix in my garden, but have found that Coleus provides the same service.


My studio windowsill sports a collection of clear glass containers filled with bouquets of hopeful cuttings. As roots form, they create swirling patterns as lovely as the foliage above. There are apparently certain times of the year that are best for taking cuttings, but my slipshod approach has not included record keeping to note when successful snippets were taken. An occasional rinsing of the jars reveals what is working and is an opportunity to discard the hopeless cases.


Choisya ‘Sun Dance’ has been one of the successes, though I fear for its survival after its most recent winter ordeal. Other champs have been geraniums, rosemary, lavender and forsythia. If I live long enough, I may fill up this garden yet.

couch bling


When friends bought a new couch for their TV room, they found it comfy but boring. Laurie had certain colors and sizes in mind, but didn’t want to wait. I loaned them some pillows to use while I worked on the custom order.


Working with a color palette chosen by someone else can be fun and challenging. I gave Laurie swatches of all my fabrics, from which she chose rust, taupe, steel gray and a touch of bright yellow.


I call this one ‘Bubbles’. I made two of these, so one is now available in my Etsy shop.


‘Waveburst’ is the other one she chose, after deciding that the loaner pillows would have to stay as well.


The mixture of colors, sizes and designs works surprisingly well. Indoor shots are never very true to the colors, but you get the idea. I love the isolation of my studio, but this project put me in touch with the kind of new thinking that collaboration can bring to bear.