dream time

Well, those of us who thought the gardening season had begun sure got smacked down, didn’t we? Instead of doing, we’re reduced to dreaming of our perfect gardens. A while back, The Oregonian ran an article comparing the typical flower border to one relying on foliage for its impact. Excuse the quality. This is a scan of a newsprint photo, so what can I say?
foliage border

This appeals to me for many reasons. I love the layering of the many shapes and textures. Many of the plants will bear flowers, but there are none in this photo and still it holds one’s interest. Having been through spring and fall cleanup of perennial-heavy gardens, not to mention the deadheading through the summer, the ease of this approach is no small part of its attraction. We already have a number of Italian cypresses in place to provide those exclamation marks, and the driveway curves much like the path in the picture.

our new border

Which is not to say that we haven’t a long way to go, but then that’s half the fun, don’t you think? This photo was taken early in the season last year, after a number of the shrubs planted in the fall had been wiped out by the harsh winter. Some new things went in and seem to be making it through this latest blast, but only time will tell. I will post another progress report in a couple of months, when we can see how everything has fared. But as long as we are dreaming, why not go for broke and take a look at another border:

cactus border

This one in Oaxaca’s ethnobotanical garden. Can you imagine strolling down this white sand path lined with towering cacti?
Then spending the rest of the day exploring the extensive collection of cacti, agave, tropical plants and succulents? Dream on!

an alternative posting

Fellow Portland bloggers are all about the Yard, Garden and Patio Show, which took place in our fair city over the weekend. Saturday was my target day, but guess what? After incessant rain and gray skies, Saturday dawned bright and clear. I could not bring myself to spend such a day anywhere but in my very own garden. If you want to experience YGP vicariously, I can direct you to two excellent sources: Danger Garden and Mulch Maid. In fact, I was so sure of their excellent accounts that my decision to stay home was an easy one. Often their reports and photos top the live experience.

So what shall I write about instead? A couple of weeks ago, my daughter, Hillary, was visiting from San Francisco. We planned to catch a rush seat at a matinee performance at the Gerding Theater, but got the times confused. Instead, we took off walking, with no particular destination in mind. Heading South on 11th, we crossed Burnside and turned left on Washington, to discover a mini fashion district. Several small storefronts along Washington have been taken over by independent designers and dress shops. We fingered the luxe fabrics, tried on a few things and wound up here:

shop window

As an example of the sort of little shops I’ve been talking about. The others had been too dark inside to take pictures, but when we stepped through these doors…

shelf with plants

We found not only a space filled with light, but a plant sensibility that sent me digging in my bag for the camera.


Every display surface featured my kind of plants: everything from Tillandsias to this Sanseveria planted in moss and rocks in a glass cube.


Oh, and the clothes were pretty nice, too.

The shopkeeper gave us a card for the designer at Space Design Botanicals who had done the displays. We then wended our way back to the car via the Museum of Contemporary Craft, a stunning photography show at Blue Sky Gallery and a bowl of authentic French onion soup at a little bistro. It was a grand day, and we wound up thinking that missing the play had not been such a bad thing.

and the winner is…

No, I did not forget the drawing, and here’s proof:


See all those little slips of paper in the special pot? Each time a comment came up anywhere on this blog over the last month or so, the name of the commenter went into the pot. Yesterday, I had Richard reach in, stir around a bit and pull out one slip. Jane, aka the Mulch Maid will be receiving a little packet of note cards from me. If you haven’t already discovered her blog, you have a treat in store when you click on that link. Thanks to all of you who comment regularly, or even just once in a while. You make this such a rich experience, I don’t know how I ever got along without you.

february foliage follow-up

No matter what else is going on (or not) in the garden, we always have this.


Of course, during these bleak, rainy days, they stand more as dark sentinels, but I thought I would show them to you catching the morning light.

single cedar

And I especially like this shot, taken that same morning.

lichen or moss?

Is this lichen or moss? I don’t know, but I sure do like the way it has encrusted the trunks of the Cleredendrum tree.

red fred

The heaths and heathers, I plant not for their blooming season, but for the way they color up in early spring. This one is called, appropriately, ‘Red Fred’.


Out back, in the “dry” berm, things did not go so well. The Opuntia has turned to mush. The main paddle under there may survive. It looks pretty good. I’m guessing I should hustle out there and cut off all the squishy parts. Any thoughts on that? I had feared that this would overtake the whole bed, so maybe this is not such a bad development.

agave neomexicana

The good news in that area is that the Agave neomexicana pulled through like a champ. Thanks go to Maurice Horn at Joy Creek Nursery for steering me to this one after failing with some others chosen with no help from an expert.

And thanks to Pam at Digging for creating a venue where we can all celebrate the true stars of our gardens, the foliage.

bloom day indoors & out

<aloe ‘carmine’

This always seems to happen. Last month on Bloom Day, ‘Carmine’ was just coming on. This month it is a little bit past its peak, but I will show it to you anyway because I find its little tubular blossoms so charming.

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi

See how the Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi has progressed since last month? It will continue to put out these little danglers for some time to come.


While this supermarket Kalanchoe, a gift from a friend, has been producing clouds of pale apricot blooms for months now.

Moving outdoors, one must look closely to pick up on the few emerging blossoms, but we can always depend on primroses even while the slugs give them a run for their money.

Something went screwy with photo editing last night when I was doing this post, but the outdoor pictures were nothing to write home about anyway. Suffice it to say there are violets just beginning to arrive on the scene, snowdrops scattered here and there and some viburnums and daffodils getting ready to pop. Right now it is snowing: big, sloppy, torn-tissue paper flakes that melt on contact with the saturated ground…at least so far. Now I am off to May Dreams Gardens to tour some gardens with more to offer this month.

a case for the vase


Seems like the bundles of blossoms at the supermarket get stingier every year. I could not resist the bucket of daffodils placed coyly near the checkout stands. There were only five stems to a bunch, so I bought two, thinking that a mere five would make a pretty poor showing. Then, when I got home, I remembered this vase, given to me by my daughter a few years back. It has a shallow tray, which I filled with pebbles, because there are few things I love more than pebbles. A metal superstructure fits into the tray, forming a grid that holds each individual stem upright and separate from its fellows. This bouquet manages to be impressive while using only the five stems, so I had another five to use somewhere else.


Here is that same arrangement from a different angle.


Here’s another favorite, a slab of slate with a hole drilled in the middle…


attached to a container that doesn’t show unless we get down and peer at it from this angle.


A frog is positioned right under the hole. This is a particularly useful vase during the winter months, when flowers are only available from resources other than our own gardens. I can buy a single dramatic flower, secure it in this vase and enjoy without breaking the bank. Even in high bloom season, I am often reluctant to deplete the outdoor display. With vases like these, it is possible to have the best of both worlds.

take heart, it’s february


I have far too few of these to make much of an impact, but as a harbinger of things to come, it lifts my spirits.

Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’

I am not exactly bowled over by Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’. I think I might have walked right by her a few times before noticing that she had burst into bloom. Up close, the color is nice, but I detect no scent…guess that comes more with the yellow, which I am not all that crazy about.

more ‘Diane’

Backing up a bit, you can see how I could have missed the show entirely.

yet more ‘Diane’

I am still backing up, and now we can see that the blooms are all on the older wood. The newer branches rising in the middle are bare. I think by next year, when those branches produce flowers, the effect will be dazzling. Isn’t that always what we tell ourselves? There is always next year.

Gosh! I sound like I am complaining. Shame on me. Today was sunny and clear. I wandered around the garden after my walk, and signs of life are everywhere. Buds are swelling. Daffodils are pushing up through the mulch, as are several of the earliest alliums and tulips. We made it through another winter and the show is about to go on. Whoopeee!