Archive for April, 2011

joy creek spring

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Beautiful spring days have been few and far between this year, so when last Saturday dawned bright and clear, I knew it was time to head for Joy Creek Nursery.
rogersia

An early visit allows one to focus on emerging plants like this Rogersia. Sorry, I failed to make a note of the full name, but I will be back to see if it maintains the wonderful bronze tones it is showing early in its cycle. If so, I must have one of these.

hosta

No slug damage on these emerging Hosta leaves, and the light was just right to emphasize the dance created by their veining.

muscari macrocarpum ‘golden fragrance’

And speaking of dancing foliage, get a load of this clump of Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’. It is always a learning experience to see how they do things here. I have been wanting some of these, and now I will order up a small amount and plant them all in a clump, like this, rather than spreading them out.

berberis lologensis

The almost needle-like leaves of Berberis lologensis stay on the plant through the winter. Its flowers are more prominent than those on most barberries.

bamboo structure

When you have a nice bamboo grove like the one at the entrance to Joy Creek, the bonus is plenty of material to build structures like this.

conifers

Vignettes of conifers have kept this garden interesting all winter. Now they take more of a supporting role as the divas begin to take the stage.

pruned rhodys

I have written often about the way they have limbed up the huge Rhododendrums around the house, so I thought I should show you what they look like. Quite an improvement over the way they so often are allowed to become big, dark blobs of leaves in foundation plantings around town.

metal sculpture

Several of these metal sculptures do their part to keep things interesting.

arcostaphylos densiflora ‘Harmony’

This was not primarily a shopping trip, but after all the hospitality shown me it would have been downright rude to leave empty-handed. I have been wanting a Madrone to add to my evergreen drive, so right after I leave you, out I go to plant this Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Harmony’. Oh, and about that hospitality…if you go on a weekend, they make the best chocolate chip cookies!

wildflower walks

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

trilliums

Walking our road is especially pleasant (between downpours) this time of year because the wildflowers are out in full force. The clumps of Trilliums seem to increase with each passing year. They are about three weeks ahead of the single plant that blooms in our woodland garden. They seem to be the same variety, but the roadway lets in more sunshine.

Oregon grape

Same story for the Oregon grape, our state flower. In fact, the governor’s mansion in the state capitol is called ‘Mahonia Hall’. I thought that planting a clump of these in a garden bed would be a surefire low maintenance, high impact strategy, but not so. Mine get leggy and scruffy before blooming, while those that chose their own sites bloom profusely on shrubs with shiny, undamaged leaves. This took the wind out of my early intentions to rely heavily on natives at home.

claytonia

This is the first year that I have noticed little clumps of miners’ lettuce Claytonia growing along the road. I sought out seed and grew some one year, but it is so much more fun to find it in the “wild”. It makes a wonderful, tender little addition to salads.

candy flower

Much of what is blooming now is so diminutive that only an extreme close-up will do. This dainty beauty is, I think, what is called a ‘candy flower’. Anybody know of a good source of information on Willamette Valley wildflowers?

yellow violets

Here’s another tiny dancer that would escape notice if we never left our car. I’m sure it has a name, but ‘yellow violet’ will have to do until a better-informed wildflower watcher comes along to set me straight.

snake grass

These snaky grasses are so attractive that I have tried more than once to incorporate them into arrangements. They refuse to cooperate, so I guess I will have to be satisfied with enjoying them in situ.

pigs
Living in the country, it is best to stay on the good side of neighbors. One irritated neighbor cleared all the brush that screened his place from his neighbor across the road and installed a family of pigs. We tend to breathe through our mouths while navigating this stretch of road.

leyland cypress hedge

Mostly, though, our neighbors couldn’t be nicer. This poor fellow was working on taming the Leyland cypress hedge he inherited from his predecessor. He is obviously going to need to borrow a taller ladder. We fell into conversation and he invited us to see what he has been up to behind that hedge.

greenhouses

These cute little greenhouses are giving things a great head start, especially with the reflected heat from the house and the driveway.

raised beds

While around back these raised beds are surrounded by trellises for climbers. This is going to be a kitchen garden that qualifies for being called a “parterre”, if ever I saw one.

Well, I strayed quite a bit from the subject of wildflowers, but over at Clay and Limestone this is Wildflower Week, with links to other blogging gardeners sharing wild discoveries.

got your Easter chicks?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

chick sign

This sign out in front of Linnton Feed and Seed on Highway 30 announces the arrival of the chicks.

dog by fire

Step inside, and it is like being transported back to simpler times. The staff is free to bring their dogs to work. This guy is planked out in front of the pellet stove when he is not wagging a greeting.

seed potatoes and onion sets

The seed potatoes and onion sets take up a good deal of floor space this time of year. Come fall, cover crop seed is available by the scoop or in large quantities.

chicks

When we moved to the country, I began buying eggs from a neighbor. Store-bought eggs just won’t cut it with us any more. These eggs have yolks that are saffron-hued, and stand up in the pan in a way that only Dolly Parton could describe. When my neighborhood source became less dependable, I discovered that the eggs went fast at farmers’ markets. Get there more than an hour or so after opening and they were likely to be gone. Now I just stop by the feed and seed, drop off my empty cartons and pick up eggs supplied by area farmers. I haven’t the temperament for keeping chickens myself, but if it came to either that or super market eggs…I might consider it…there is that much difference.

veggie starts

Tempting racks of veggie starts, bales of hay and bagged supplements line the parking lot. Get your garden goodies here! Oh, and Happy Easter!

foliage…where would we be without it?

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Digitalis

Rosettes that will soon begin to send up tall stalks of common foxgloves could easily pass for something more exotic. They migrate into and around the garden from surrounding meadows and roadsides. It is always fun to see where they will pop up each year.

Lysimachia ‘Alexander’

Shy little rosettes of Lysimachia ‘Alexander’ push their blushing noses through the mat of spent stems, giving precious little indication of the aggressive, upright plants they will become.

emerging peonies

Herbaceous peonies are deep scarlet when they first emerge. In the three years they have been in the ground, they have yet to bloom. That’s OK by me, because they are spectacular foliage plants.

sumac

My sumac does not go in for a showy dying act in the fall, but displays some subtle coloration as the leaves unfurl.

sedum

Variegated sedum is at its very best from now through June, when it starts to produce lackluster, leggy flower stalks. Pinching it back has not proved to keep it looking fresh, so I just ignore its profligate ways until cutting back time in the early spring.

eucalyptus

Peeling bark and a satiny finish that invites stroking are every bit as good a reason to grow this eucalyptus as its aromatic leaves.

cherry and cedars

In its cloak of lichen, the volunteer cherry seedling seems almost to be in perpetual bloom. Against the dark background of tall cedars, it brightens the woodland we see out our dining room window year round.

I am a day late, so you may need to scroll down a bit when you click to find Pam’s foliage follow-up post, with links to other foliage fanatics amongst us. Have fun!

not your normal bloom day

Friday, April 15th, 2011

We have set new records for rain and cold, so everything is about three weeks behind schedule. Here are a few of the things that have dared to show their faces regardless of the weather:

anemone blanda alba
the anemones are doing fine, though there are fewer of them than usual.

clematis armandii

Evergreen clematis did not die back as in previous cold years, but the blossoms and scent fall far short of the clouds that engulfed us in years when the winters were mild.

euphorbia ‘ascot rainbow’

‘Ascot Rainbow’ is the only Euphorbia to hold its own. All of the others look like Holocaust survivors, though they do put out the occasional blossom:

euphorbia ‘persian velvet’ blossom

as evidenced by this blossom on Euphorbia ‘Persian Velvet’. I won’t ruin your day by showing you the whole plant.

ribes blossom

The natives, like this Ribes, which mostly show up voluntarily, remain undaunted other than deer damage.

ribes bush

As bold as they are, the deer refrain from coming this close to the house, so this one is achieving good size.

viburnum tinus ‘robustrum’

Out in the front hedgerow, the Viburnum tinus ‘Robustrum’ that has been in the tight bud stage for ever so long is finally beginning to open up to the occasional ray of sunshine.

dicentra spectabilis

I didn’t do a very good job of capturing the color of the emrging Dicentra spectabilis, but this is one of the few old fashioned flowers I could not do without. The flowers emerge before the foliage, but hold on long enough for it to catch up. I like the way the baby’s tears and sedums are filling in to form a dense mat, making a nice backdrop for the bleeding heart and the black mondo grass out of the frame.

fritillaria maleagris

Some things simply must come inside to be fully appreciated. The delicate foliage and subtle coloring on the checkered lily get a little lost in the landscape.

fritillaria melaegris

But Fritillaria meleagris will reward closer inspection. For closer inspection of blooms around the world, May Dreams Gardens is the place.

dressed-up trees

Monday, April 11th, 2011

plum trees

All over town, the trees have donned their Easter bonnets and are letting us know in no uncertain terms that Spring is indeed a fact of life.

Naito Parkway/Steel Bridge

If I were called upon to judge this Easter Parade, the prize would go to this long line of beauties stretching along the west bank of the Willamette River. I especially enjoy the contrast between their pouffiness and the industrial look of the Steel Bridge in the background.

blossoms up close

At close range, one is enveloped by a scent that is at once forceful and yet as delicate as the blossoms.

entry stele

But let’s back up and enter the park as was intended. We are greeted by this column with a bas-relief of a Japanese elder carrying a child, the first clue that the park is dedicated to those Americans who endured internment camps in wartime.

courtyard

Natural boulders are set into the courtyard, each incised with a poem or statement honoring them.

embankment

With more of the same all along the embankment.

trees and the river

See that patch of blue sky? We Portlanders do not take such things for granted. People were out in force, lolling on the grass, strolling along the river and grinning ear to ear. Gotta jump on it when we can, because tomorrow, it will surely rain.

trees behind fence

On the way home, I spotted these fluffy trees in huge planters behind the chain link fence at Bedford & Brown. This is the place to go if you are in the market for estate scale pots and statuary. That would not be me, but I have to stop by to gawk every once in a while.

Bedford & Brown sidewalk

This shot was taken looking down the sidewalk in front of Bedford & Brown. The street trees are magnolias.

arborvitae and ivy

Here’s a closer look at the arborvitae that march along the fence at regular intervals with ivy growing on cables to form those cross-bars in the spaces between. I think of this as a striking example of the use of mundane materials to create a fine effect. Heck, the chain link fence even works, because it allows us to peek into the sculpture yard even when the place is closed. A disclaimer about English ivy: it is deadly in the wild, but you can see why people like it. This composition filled in from a scrawny beginning in something like 3 or 4 years. They keep it closely trimmed, so it is not about to produce the berries that birds might drop in Forest Park to eventually strangle the trees there. Have you any ideas for an alternative plant that could substitute for the ivy here? If we want to stamp out invasive English ivy, we will have to think of something.

the up-side of constant rain

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Yes, there is an up side.

waterfall on Hwy 30

We needn’t drive up the
Columbia River Gorge to see waterfalls. This is one of the larger ones, but all along Highway 30 (also known as St Helens Hwy) there are freshets like this, carrying runoff into the river.

waterfall close-up

I can enjoy this sight every time I drive to the grocery store, at least until the summer drought comes along and dries it all up.

grass

And then there is the grass.

more grass

Doesn’t it look spectacular right now? I love it when it is all swirly and uneven and green as …well…grass.