first blooms


In its sixth year, this Hydrangea petiolaris decided to put forth a couple of blossoms


Not that I have been holding my breath, mind you. Its purpose in life was to camouflage a fairly unsightly woodshed. Having accomplished that, it is turning the corner nicely and being trained along the back side of the house.


Meanwhile, back in the woodland, the Arisaema triphyllum nearly escaped notice. It put in its first appearance during the wettest spring in recorded history, so visits to the outer reaches were few and far between. It was already past its prime by the time I spotted it hiding out under the shelter of its own leaves. I am hoping it will multiply. A stand of these would be much more impressive than my one lonely specimen. I do love those mottled stems…similar to those on Dracunculus vulgaris, which refuses to bloom for me, but is putting on quite a show in the danger garden. Maybe mine needs more sun, or maybe Loree feeds hers a constant diet of Vestal Virgins?



James, over at Lost in the Landscape, did a post recently bemoaning the difficulty of staging shots of big, bold, dramatic plants. Oh, man, can I identify. A work in progress is the planting along the fence between us and our oh-so-wonderful neighbors. They are tidy in the extreme, but the collection of outbuildings, woodpiles, etc. make for a poor background when taking pictures or just sitting on our deck gazing over the landscape. These three Eremurus are ‘Cleopatra’. They are new this year, and it looks like I have finally found the spot where these temperamental beauties can be happy.


I tried taking pictures from many different angles, but nothing quite does them justice. Others that have been moved around from year to year looking for a happy home will be moved to this bed in the fall. It seems to have it all: full sun, good drainage and no watering after the bloom cycle is completed. Now I just have to figure out how to create the background to set them off as they so deserve. Any suggestions?

3-nursery spree

If you come to stay with us for a weekend, you can expect to be entertained by trips to the wonderful nurseries that surround us. My dear friend Susan had given me a gift certificate for Joy Creek. Does she know me well, or what? R’s sister Kathryn had come to stay, so we started there. Their display gardens are beyond compare, so it’s a great place to start. Even non-gardening guests can appreciate a stroll through paradise. I have taken you there many times, so I will simply show you the plants that came home with me.


R spotted this Abies Koreana ‘Horstman’s Silberlake’. Maurice Horn, co-owner and plant expert, was on hand, so we were able to get the straight scoop on the plants that caught our eye. I had lost another Abies, so was a little leery of blowing a good part of my wad on this one. The goner had been a smaller specimen than this, and when I saw an adult sporting dark, upright cones I was the goner.


Sometimes a plant seen in another garden lurks in the back of one’s mind. I didn’t realize the need for Carpenteria Californica ‘Elizabeth’ until I came across this one. The scent is elusively intoxicating.


Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ will replace the ‘Vandehberg’ lost in last winter’s harsh cold. It is supposed to be one of the hardiest.


Not many agaves at Joy Creek, but Maurice assured me that Agave neomexicana would survive here. I have it in a pot for the time being, just to be on the safe side.

Next stop, Cistus, down the road and across the bridge, to Sauvie Island.


You know you are in the presence of engagingly quirky minds when dead trees present this kind of opportunity.


You know those phormiums Portlanders have mostly given up on in the last 2 years? Here’s what happens when they live in a greenhouse setting…they bloom! My greenhouse envy was ratcheted up at least three levels.


I had promised myself an agave from Cistus, which is the only way to narrow the choices in this candy store. Agave furkiana ‘Blue Haze’ will live in a green pot to set off its wonderful pattern.


While the wavy cloak fern, Astrolepis sinuata. a fern that thrives on sun, will go straight to my dry berm.

My mission, besides doing something fun with Kathryn, was to find some showy plant material to fill big pots around our entry. Our first two stops brought us face to frond with the exotic, the sought-after…the costly. Now it was time for some big, bold, ordinary stuff. Means Nursery, here we come.


For about the price of one very special plant at the other places, I picked up some Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’ and a couple of Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ to echo the black stems of the taller plant and spill over the edges of two of these large terra cotta pots.


This Pieris was one of several shrubs that will live in pots to liven up the entry for a season and then move to borders later on. I thought we might have overloaded Kathryn’s tolerance for nursery visits, but she went back to browse on her own the next day, and was full of plans for an overhaul of their grounds to go with a recent remodeling. Another gardening fanatic in the making?

a wild bloom day

The roadsides are crazy quilts of wildflowers these days.


With meager photographic skills and equipment, it is impossible to capture the magic of a bank of grasses punctuated by foxgloves.

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All I can do is share my best efforts and let your imagination take it from there.


Wild lupine share none of the diva-like qualities of their hybridized relatives.


So lovely, and without a bit of effort on the part of humans…as far as I can tell. We had a picnic up the Columbia River Gorge on the one beautiful weekend day in recent history. We were marveling over the fabulous sprinkling of wildflowers, most of which would be attacked with gusto if they dared to show up in the “cultivated” landscape.

Plenty going on in my garden, too, but with the rain and gloom, I decided to dip into pictures taken in the few breaks in the weather. They just happen to have all taken place on the road. Carol will put you in touch with world-wide gardeners and their blooms. Don’t miss it.


With all the driving around I’ve been doing lately, the dogwoods have especially captured my attention.


The pink ones seem to be the first to put in an appearance. While these would not be the chosen ones for my own yard, they do add sparkle to roadsides.


Here’s a closeup of those pink blossoms.


One property that I visited had this tree sporting both pink and white blossoms.


Upon closer inspection, I could see that the white-flowering branches were sprouting from below the graph.


This was probably my favorite of the early blooming dogwoods. I love the simplicity and purity of the bract/blossoms.


When we were shopping for a dogwood, we were warned away from the native Cornus florida because of its susceptibility to dogwood anthracnose. Indeed, the whips of dogwoods that came from the Arbor Day Society would seem to bear out that theory. The Kousas grew to adulthood and the Floridas konked out. On the other hand, this fine specimen stands in a field near our house. What to make of it?


The Kousas have a charm of their own, pointy little things that they are. Maybe if they were the temperamental ones, they would be my favorites…isn’t that kind of how it works? Here’s a site with info on all the many kinds of dogwoods. I still hanker after the red twig variety for winter interest, and am coaxing a few Cornus canadensis to act as ground cover in the woodland. Oh, and then there is that layer cake variegated beauty that would surely feel at home somewhere around here. We gardeners are so lucky…we never run low on things to wish for.

more oddities on the road


Excuse the poor exposure. The light was all wrong, but I just had to share this guy with you. My preference is for plants that already have personality. Still, the personality that has been imposed upon this plant did stop me in my tracks and make me dig around for the camera.



What do you think of this? Doesn’t it look like a stage set for the operatic version of Hansel und Gretel? It is so over-the-top, that I just have to love it, despite my well-documented feelings about plant torture. Almost qualifies for the WWTT category dreamed up by Loree.  Follow that link for a kindly chuckle, and to see what I am talking about. Care to weigh in?