Archive for July, 2011

can she bake a cherry pie?

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

quick as a cat can wink its eye

pie cherry tree

This pie cherry tree looked like a goner when we first moved here. R can’t stand to see anything die, so he did a lot of pruning and staking and babying. Last year we had our first cherry pie. This year it has gifted us with a regular crop.

bowl of cherries

To fill a one quart freezer bag it takes four cups of fruit, one heaping cup of sugar (the cherries are very tart) and two tablespoons of minute tapioca mixed together before stirring in. To some, I added a few drops of almond extract. Others got the zest of a lemon. Many cooks swear by gadgets like cherry pitters and apple corers, but I find that my fingers are the handiest gadgets around.

pie filling ready for the freezer

Here they are, all zipped up and ready to be popped into the freezer. There is limited space in there, and I can’t imagine having more than four cherry pies in a year. The birds and the raccoons are happy that we left some for them. We came upon two raccoons feasting on cherries. They were so absorbed that they barely noticed us…either that or the word has gotten out that this is a no-kill zone, no matter how annoying the critters become. More about that next time, but now I would like to direct you to Wendy’s blog for more ways to enjoy the season’ bounty.

a weekend in the high desert

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

snag

I am leading with this photo because I just read a post over at Lost in the Landscape where James has a few things to say about dead trees as ART. I happen to think (and I think James would agree) that Mom Nature has done a pretty good job of turning this dead tree into ART all on her own. We spent the weekend at Sunriver, a resort near Bend, OR. It is a kind of wilderness version of Disneyland, where families can access entertainment for all ages, and an event like the wedding that brought us here can achieve the iconic status that will burn itself into the memories of all who attended.

great hall

Just get a load of this room, where the reception took place. The “Great Hall” was a part of the fort that was later renovated as one of the key buildings giving the resort its character. It would be hard to top this as a setting for a wedding reception.

horseback riding

But we had lots of free time, during which we chose to explore the outer limits of the resort. The stable offers many levels of equestrian adventures. In that field behind the horses we spied many ground squirrels. Overhead, the red tailed hawks were perusing the menu. I did not happen to see one zeroing in on his dinner, but R claims that he saw one of the hawks soaring overhead with something dangling from its beak. It’s one thing to watch these things on “Nature” and quite something else to experience them first hand.

old horse

This old horse looked like it would be about my speed, if we had not been committed to proceeding on foot.

grasses and Indian paintbrush

We did, at least, stick to the horse trails, which took us off the paved paths for bicyclists and into areas where wildflowers like Indian paintbrush flourished.

more Indian paintbrush

Backing up a little bit, we can see the grasses and shrubs where the paintbrushes have chosen to proliferate.

pine forest

The pine forests have none of the underbrush typical of the other side of the mountains.

evidence of beavers

We might not catch sight of all of the creatures living here, but there is no mistaking the signs of beavers working the woods.

great meadows

The meadows are composed of many different grasses. It is hard to capture the undulating beauty of these seas of nodding seedheads, shimmering in the breeze.

wildflowers and grasses

Some of the wildflowers and grasses are familiar, but others are peculiar to this region.

bioswale landscaping

Where landscaping has taken place, there is a heavy reliance upon grasses, day lilies and willows. I think they must water these bioswales with some regularity to keep them looking this lush.

the “Great Hall”

The wedding took place on the lawn, cocktails on the terrace, and then we retired to this magnificent room for dinner and dancing. The site was originally a fort, so when, in the sixties, it was reconfigured into a resort, the log structures became the main lodge and the great hall. I’m repeating myself here, but the first photo showed the chandeliers, while this one features the spiral staircase built around a huge tree trunk. What a romantic setting for two young people to join hands and set off into their future.

sugar snap peas

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

sugar snap peas

These are by far my most successful crop (R is the head food gardener around here). Maybe it’s the “Oregon” in the name: Oregon Sugar Pod II. Whatever, one half whisky barrel is usually devoted to them. I think next year I will plant more so that I can freeze some. They put out just enough that I can use them in something about every third day. My favorite dish so far was a stir fry with a little bit of sausage, the last of the bok choy, onions and garlic sauted in sesame oil with a splash of soy sauce.

Wendy posts wonderful garden-to-table recipes every Saturday. I’m jumping the gun (or dragging my feet, depending upon how you look at it) because we’re heading for Sunriver in the morning. My camera is all charged up and ready to go, so I hope to have fun shots to share when we get back. Have a great weekend!

art fair at Portland Nursery

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

We usually go to the Portland Nursery on Stark Street, but when we heard about a garden art fair at the one on Division, we decided to go the extra few miles to check it out. It was a gloomy, rainy day, so not much gardening was going to happen. I guess I am one of only a handful of people that think that way, because attendance was sparse.

art fair tents

A large area of the nursery was given over to tents for the artists, with one big one for performing musicians. The hay bale seating was a nice touch, considering the old-timey fiddling and such. I was expecting more in the way of garden art. I’d say at least 50% of the artists were jewelers.

snail shells holding succulents

A gardener’s hands do not make the best showcase for jewelry, so I zeroed in on…big surprise…succulents. I thought these hanging snail shells, each with a little succulent, were delightfully inventive.

terreriums in bowls

There were succulent terrariums in bowls,

hanging globe terrariums

and hanging globes,

hanging teardrop terrariums

and hanging teardrops.

wall planters

But here we were in plant central, so it wasn’t long before we were out there inspecting plants. This outlet of Portland Nursery lacks the display gardens of the Stark Street location, but they compensate by using every vertical surface for displays like this one.

collection of fountains

There are large hunks of real estate given over to displays like this one featuring many styles and sizes of fountains.

cascading leaf fountain

This cascading fountain was set apart at the entrance to the shade house.

concrete planters

The pot selection is impressive, especially for this late in the season. I was wowed by these massive concrete numbers.

Sedum oregonense ‘McKenzie River Form’

I found this unique sedum in the native plant section. Sedum oregonense ‘McKenzie River Form’ is touted as evergreen-ever glaucous.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet’

I fell for this little guy: Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet”, which caused some hilarity when R discovered that I had purchased…yes it’s true…an arborvitae, after having spent the better part of our gardening life together vetoing his every attempt to sneak one in. I guess that proves that there is no such thing as a “bad plant”. How about you? Is there a family of plants you profess to hate? Has one of its distant cousins crept into your affections when you least expected?

morning after…foliage follow-up

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Head feeling a little woozy after over-indulging in the glut of blossoms in yesterday’s GBBD posts? Pam has come up with the perfect tonic to set you straight. Here are a few of mine before you skip on over there to see what she has up her sleeve for July.

Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’

Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’

prostrate Ceanothus

A prostrate ceanothus…that’s all I know about it

Ceanothus x ‘Blue Jeans’

Ceanothus x ‘Blue Jeans’ By having several of the California lilacs, the bloom time spreads over a long time, but what I really like about them is their shiny, year-round foliage: a little different on each variety, but still recognizable.

Cotinus ‘Purple Robe’

Cotinus ‘Purple Robe’

Ginko biloba

Ginko biloba (still a mere baby)

Tetrapanex papyriferous ‘Steroid Giant’

Tetrapanex papyriferus ‘Steroid Giant’ Giant? Hardly! Will this ever become the towering grove of mammoth leaves I envisioned (and was warned about) when I planted it in 2009? Oh well, they are pretty little things, just not what I expected.

Phlomus russeliana

I keep dividing my Phlomus russeliana. The new divisions are foliage plants for a while. The leaves are just a little bit fuzzy.

I could go on and on when it comes to foliage, but must remember that old show biz adage: “always leave ‘em wanting more”. If you really still want more, pop on over to Digging.

July Bloom Day

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Buffalo Gals in bud

Remember the old song “Buffalo Gals Won’t You Come Out Tonight”?

Buffalo Gal blooming

Well, I guess these Rosa ‘Buffalo Gals’ will oblige.

color echoes in Rhododendron berm

I am really liking the way the colors are working out in this bed, so I’ll show you the overview before zooming in on a few of the individuals. See how the Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’ ground cover echoes the color of the Acanthus flowers, with Verbena bonariensis weaving through the berm with its perky lighter purple blossoms bouncing along on stiff, long stems? Two kinds of Eremurus introduce amber through orange, with a bright orange geum that you can’t quite see in this shot and the acid green of the Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

Acanthus spinosa

Here’s a closer look at the Acanthus spinosa.

Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’

Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’ with the much shorter ‘Ruiters Hybrid’ just peeking into the frame lower left.

East berm with lotsa yellow

Looking at the east berm from one end, there’s a whole lotta yellow for someone who started out shunning that particular color. The tall thing front and center is a volunteer Verbascum, with Lysimachia ‘Alexander’ trying hard to cast off its variegation to the left and Phlomus russeliana barely showing, stage right.

Calla Lily

I am crazy for the architecture of the Calla Lily. Is it still properly called Zantedeschia?

Macleaya cordata

I turned a little bit to the left, standing in the same spot where I took the last picture to snap these plume poppies, Macleaya cordata, happily wrapping themselves around the foundation of the house and nodding at us through the second story windows when we are inside, looking out.

water lily

We trimmed back some limbs on the cherry trees to let in more light, and so the water lilies have consented to bloom.

Alliums shpaerocephalon (drumstick) and ‘Hair’

This makes me think of the story of The Ugly Duckling. That funny looking Allium (which I love, by the way) is called ‘Hair’. I have several of them scattered about, but I especially like it mixed in with its more conventional cousins, the drumsticks (Allium sphaerosephalon).

Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’

More yellow…guess I’m hooked. Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’ blooms yellow on nearly yellow foliage. It makes a stunning ground cover, giving the tall lilies the shade they like at ground level.

Campanula punctata ‘Pantaloons’

This is something new I picked up from Means Nursery: Campanula punctata ‘Pantaloons’. It was a five gallon plant. I put it in the ground at the woodland’s edge. It immediately began to droop and wither despite careful watering. Richard dug it up, to find that the gophers had been at it and eaten right up the middle. He put it in a big pot with lots of good soil and stuff and it seems to be recovering. Maybe I will put it into a wire basket to replant it where I want it next spring. Isn’t it cute, with its double flowers?

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’

This hydrangea, ‘Preziosa’, is one of the few that came back strong after the harsh winter. I like the bronzy tones in the leaves, the deep maroon stems and the many different subtle colors of the blossoms.

black hollyhock

This nearly black hollyhock, Alcea rosea ‘Nigra’ is putting in an appearance just in time for bloom day.

Rosa ‘Dortmund’

Rosa ‘Dortmund’ is blooming madly, but I like glimpsing its masses of single blossoms through the tall foliage of the Joe Pye Weed.

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Irish moss

Irish moss

Hydrangea petiolaris

It takes a long time for Hydrangea petiolaris to take hold, begin to climb and flower (six years is about standard) but when it does, look out. This one is ready for another training session.

cucumber blossom

Some of the blossoms hold the promise of good eating ahead, like this lemon cucumber blossom.

Speaking of promises, May Dreams Gardens keeps the promise of connecting you with blogs of blooms on the fifteenth of every month. Try it, you’ll like it.

the Jean Chapin garden

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Greenware Pottery bird bath

I open with this shot because it so perfectly illustrates the symbiotic relationship between the garden and the art…

large water pot with lilies

although this huge water pot was actually the first feature to greet us as we entered.

clay figures in the garden

Strategically placed here, there and everywhere are examples of the art that pours out of Jean’s Greenware Pottery.

corner of the Greenware Pottery studio

If you can tear your eyes off the ground level vignettes and raise your head, you can glimpse the studio where it all happens.

container garden by studio

Another outlet for Jean’s creativity is her way with container gardens. This one sits in front of the studio. If you look closely, you can just see some of her products in the background.

small container garden

Small pots with cunning plantings are tucked in without ever looking like afterthoughts.

shade garden

A beautiful old tree around the other side of the studio holds an assortment of bird houses created by the artist, while providing the conditions for a shade garden.

phormium love

One of several healthy looking phormiums caught my eye. I asked Jean about them, hoping to hear some magical formula for nursing them through harsh winters. She simply buys new ones each year: they are that important to the architecture of the garden.

the pond

Between the studio and the main house sits the pond, the most recent addition to this six-year-old garden.

pond plantings

The plantings around and in the pond guarantee that its newness bears not a hint of rawness.

color echoes

I couldn’t stop snapping photos of this particular combination for the color echoes spanning different textures. In the background are daylilies in vivid sunset tones, further forward, a dwarf cotinus billowing amber and in the foreground, the strappy phormium tying it all together.

phormium with green ball

By panning a little to the left, you can see how yet another texture has been introduced with the smooth green ball cozying up to the phormium. The whole garden has been considered this carefully. To the back of the house, the garden steps down to a grassy area and then the river. Jean and her husband were deep into preparations for next week’s Garden Conservancy tour, but Jean’s generous nature demanded that she spend time with us, sharing insights and inspirations.

shopping

Back at the studio came the hard part: deciding which of Jean’s whimsical garden creatures would come home with us.

my dragonfly

I settled upon this dragonfly with ceramic body and tail and wings fashioned of willow twigs.

dragonfly face

I figured you need to see a close up to appreciate the happy, loopy expression.

flying fish

Marilyn saw how difficult it was for me to choose, so she bought me one of the flying fish, now frolicking in my heuchera bed…a fitting reminder of a lovely day.

Dear Dulcy: we miss you already

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Many of the “friends she never met” have come forward to declare how much her writings meant to them.

Hendricks Hall, U of O

Here is a picture of Hendricks Hall. It sits across from the “Fish Bowl” (the student union) on the University of Oregon campus. We were one of the last groups of girls to use it as a dormitory. No, that is not a typo: I know that nowadays we would be called women, but we were not at all “womanly”, nor did we aspire to be. This was an old-timey dorm, where five of us shared a suite of rooms: a study/living/mostly card-playing room, a sleeping porch and a dressing room, with a large bath shared by everyone on that floor. I loved the stew of students from all walks of life, most of whom I would never have met in my little working class hometown. As you can imagine, the days were filled with drama as we clashed and bonded in about equal parts. By mid-term we had sorted and rearranged ourselves into amiable groups. Dulcy was a mere slip of a girl: an only child who grew up in San Francisco, with the story-telling skills to bring that seemingly exotic childhood to vivid life. She had a dusting of freckles on her peaches and cream complexion and a shy demeanor that belied the rapier wit hiding just beneath the surface (the red hair might have been a clue). It was Dulcy who could build a credible story (and deliver it absolutely dead-pan) to deflect the suspicions of the housemother when she came sniffing around trying to expose suspected transgressions. I was looking through old photos, hoping to find one of Dulcy from those days. Many of the pictures I did find are of roommates whose names are lost to me, but Dulcy (no pix…sorry) was an indelible character. We just happened to be on the sidelines as she struggled to choose among several suitors. She obviously chose wisely, a soulmate who has seen her through to the very end.

Life carried us in different directions, and we lost contact. I was not surprised to see her turn up in the pages of The Oregonian, where she proceeded to win over a large audience with the same humor and self-deprecating manner that had made her a much sought-after friend and companion all those years ago. Her subject was gardening, but it was the warmth of the life stories that so endeared her to her many fans, gardeners and non-. So I join with the many who never met her, but knew her well, in bidding Dulcy Moran Mahar a sad, fond, tender adieu.