Archive for September, 2011

my book, BeBop Garden, is here!

Monday, September 26th, 2011

BeBop Garden cover

In case you didn’t know, I wrote a book about getting bitten by the gardening bug and the revelations and little observations that came with that new pastime (some might call it an obsession).

You can order one at the sneak preview price by clicking here. Or, if you just want to know “Why the goofy title?”, the first few paragraphs tell that story, and are included on the order page.

A couple of blogging buddies have written reviews. To read what they have to say, go to Danger Garden and Gardening With Grace. If you haven’t already discovered these two excellent gardener/writers, you are in for a treat when you browse through their blogs.

Please let me know if you would like to be in the loop for notifications of related events like readings, signings, etc. Just leave a comment here, including your email address. I promise not to bombard you with missives…just the occasional update when something new happens.

time to feast

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

tomatoes on the vine

We wait, and we watch, and we even name some of the tomatoes, as they seem to be as slow to develop as a human child.

Estelle the tomato

Think that sounds crazy? Meet Estelle, a tomato with not only personality, but, um… attitude.

beginning of the tomato harvest

And then, all of a sudden, we are bombarded with an avalanche of tomatoes…among other things. Today was spent putting up tomato sauce, with Norah Jones on the stereo and anticipation of opening a jar of summer deep in January. But the first, the juiciest, the most perfect of the early (all things are relative) arrivals was ceremoniously made into BLT’s. The base was Dave’s Killer Bread, lightly toasted. I must indulge in an aside about this bread,made by an ex-con who puts his story on every package, along with the slogan: “Just say NO to BREAD ON DRUGS”. Slather Dave’s “Powerseed” with Best Food’s Real Mayonnaise and pile on thick slabs of home-grown tomato, pepper bacon from the butcher shop, fried until crispy, and a generous pile of lettuce. We wait all year for this, and, in my book, it beats out turkey at Thanksgiving, or any other seasonal treat you can dream up.

Visit Wendy for the Garden to Table Challenge to see what others are doing with the season’s bounty.

morning after=foliage

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Stachyrus praecox

Stachyrus praecox blushing prettily…ahead of the game in the march toward fall color.

katsura

with the Katsura tree not far behind.

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp niphophila

The Eucalyptus tree sheds leaves on a regular basis, but not before they turn this lovely pinkish color. I gather them up and spread them on paths.

Eupatorium maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’

Even better than the blossoms (except to the bees) of the Joe Pye Weed are these sturdy pink stems holding vigorous whorls of leaves.

Rosa glauca hips

The plummy hips of Rosa glauca have yielded a few new starts, so I will now be able to plant some that I can cut back hard to enjoy that fabulous blue/blush foliage. All things come to she who waits, right?

Berberis jamesiana

And speaking of waiting, the Berberis jamesiana, which I planted in 2007, is finally beginning to produce the waxy, pale yellow berries (drupes?) that got my attention at Dancing Oaks Nursery.

Now that you have had a peek at my foliage favorites, you might as well visit Pam to see what she and her other followers have in store for you.

late summer (yes, it still is) blooms

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Campsis x tagliabuena ‘Madame Galen’

Campsis x tagliabuena ‘Madame Galen’

Echinops banaticus ‘Blue Glow’

Echinops banaticus ‘Blue Glow’

‘Blue Glow’ in bud

‘Blue Glow’ in bud

‘Blue Glow eaten by gophers

‘Blue Glow’ eaten by gophers…guess they didn’t find it tasty: they did this to one and left the others alone.

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

I should perhaps used the fireworks setting on my camera to capture Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’.

Gaura lindenhamerii

Started from HPSO seed many years ago, this Gaura lindenhamerii was transplanted to this spot earlier this year, and is already waving its wands of butterfly-like blossoms on long, waving stems.

Rudbeckia subtomentosum ‘Henry Eilers’

Rudbeckia subtomentosum ‘Henry Eilers’

Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’

Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’

Eupatorium maculatum

Eupatorium maculatum (10′ tall)

Oxydendrum arboreum

Oxydendrum arboreum

So there you have my hit parade for September. I counted 66 things blooming, but how boring would that be? If you want more, or just want to engage in a little zonal envy, May
Dreams Gardens
is the place.

HPSO fall sale

Monday, September 12th, 2011

hpso sale checkout

The fall sale is always calmer than the one in the spring, but this scene at the check-out tables at around 11:30 in the morning was shocking. I have been hearing from friends in the biz that they are just hanging on. The last couple of harsh winters could be discouraging late season splurges as well.

checkout looking the other way

There were quite a few plants in the holding area, but normally there would be people three deep waiting to claim their plants. When I worked in holding, we quickly ran out of designated spaces and had to improvise. I had arrived with firm resolve to resist coming home with a bunch of stuff that would need babying through the winter. I’m going to mark my weakness up to a spirit of largesse in helping to keep these growers growing. On the bright side, there were parking spaces close by (in the shade, no less) and it was easy to chat up the vendors about plants of interest.

Stapelia (lepida?) (planiflora?)

Case in point: this fascinating flower was in a booth selling “succulents”, a frustrating generality to those of us who are drawn to this large and varied category. Let’s back up and take a look at the whole plant.

Stapelia plant

Talking to the woman who was overseeing the booth, I learned that it is a Stepelia, and that this large, blooming specimen with the $25 price tag started a year ago as a plant this size:

my 4? Stapelia

for a mere $4.

my Stapelia pot

So on my way home I stopped by Garden Fever to pick up a pot for it. It will be overpotted, as directed, so I am expecting some of those op art flowers to show up next year. I was sure there was more to the name, so I Googled it and found several photos that looked like the very flower, but with different names: Stapelia planiflora? Stapelia lepida?. I also learned that the common name is carrion flower or starfish flower. Then I made the connection: James, over at Lost in the Landscape had written about the stench emanating from carrion flowers…oops. I didn’t notice an odor around the booth, so maybe this is a less offensive variety. Loree has a much better picture on her blog about the sale. I promise I won’t be as long-winded about the rest of my swag.

Acca sellowiana

Acca sellowiana, or Pineapple Guava is Zone 6-9, but it will live in a bigger pot on the front deck until early spring.

Drimys lanceolata

As will Drimys lanceolata or Mountain Pepper, a Zone 7 evergreen shrub from Dancing Oaks Nursery.

hpsopepprcls.jpg

The coloring on Drimys is a lot like the Madrones, with the deep red stems.

Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea’

Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea’ is billed as Zone 5, so it is going into the ground.

Saxifraga ‘Whitehill’

Saxifraga ‘Whitehill’

Verbascum ariaphaenum, Selaginella krausseana ‘Aurea’, Cornus canadensis

And finally, a little trio of proven winners, Verbascum ariaphaenum, Selaginella krausseana ‘Aurea’ and Cornus canadensis, back there in the dark.

heat wave - Rooster Rock

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Rooster Rock is a huge park just outside Portland in the Columbia River Gorge. I can’t believe that I have lived here most of my life and had never been there. It was not for want of trying: the place fills up pretty fast on weekends and holidays. When our friends suggested a picnic in the middle of the week it was one of those “Aha!” moments.

the Columbia River

This is the view from our picnic spot looking down at the river (the hills rising on the other side are in the state of Washington).

vista lookout

Looking the other way, across the parking lot (see! no cars!). Despite temperatures in the mid-nineties, we had the place nearly to ourselves except for a gaggle of nude sunbathers and the odd dog walker. For a truly scenic outing, one can take the old Columbia River Highway that winds past a number of waterfalls and to the top of that cliff in the distance, where there is a picturesque lookout with an incredible view of the gorge. Silly me: I failed to take a picture of the rock outcropping that gives this park its name (it looks like a giant rooster’s tail).

late afternoon

After a refreshing swim, we settled down, with our wine and all sorts of good things to eat, to watch the sunset.

later still

It just got better and better,

full-on sunset

The haze from nearby forest fires does wonderful things for sunsets…reminds me of sunsets seen from Griffith Park in Los Angeles when I lived there in the 60’s. A guilty pleasure, but it is beautiful.

critter wars

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

ant guard

Our cheapo hummingbird feeder had outlived its usefulness. At one time, it had effectively foiled the ants attracted to the sweet nectar, but now they were back and the results were fairly disgusting. At our local one-stop-shopping center, I found this glass ball feeder. It is better than the kind with the feeder tube, because several birds can use it simultaneously. My experience has also been that the rubber nipples on those tubes have a tendency to fall off, letting the nectar drip into a big, messy, sticky puddle. On the same shelf as the feeder was a baffle device to repel ants (it’s the green thing at the top). Guess what? It works!..at least, so far.

foiling the raccoons

We have tried several methods to protect the goldfish from marauding raccoons. The water lily pads and duckweed give them places to hide, but lately the raccoons have taken to feasting on the lilies. The small stakes placed across the pond are not about to prevent them from having their salad course, but by disturbing the stakes, they signal to the fish to swim for cover. So far, they have avoided becoming the entree.

I have written here about our many pacifist efforts to come to terms with wild visitors. Gophers, on the other hand, have been known to drive the gentlest of souls to acts of revenge. It is only in the last couple of years that they have shown up here. Neighbors who have lived here for 30+ years say that it is a new problem. Our yards look like the battlefield after a cannonade.

gopher’s victim

The Pinus mugo ‘White Bud’ is not the first precious plant to fall victim. When something begins to look a bit peaked, we can be pretty sure that when we dig it up we will find the root system eaten away. Sometimes we will find just the tip of a plant showing where the rest of it has been pulled down into the villain’s tunnel.

illustration of gopher

Last time we went to Portland Nursery, we picked up one of the sound devices advertised to drive rodents mad (or at least drive them AWAY).

sound device

Four D size batteries go into that white tube, which is then inserted into the black tube. The whole thing gets buried in the ground and capped off with that green lid, emitting a high-pitched sound that goes undetected by all but the target varmints for the life of the batteries. It has been successful enough to prompt the purchase of four more, to keep at least the areas close to the house from looking like a war zone. When we first googled the problem, we laughed off many of the suggested remedies as far too violent. As conflict escalated, we found ourselves praising the cats for their hunterly instincts. Yesterday, I caught sight of R oiling and cleaning his .22