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sprig to twig » 2013 » March

Archive for March, 2013

out like a lamb

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Here is a glimpse of what the end of March looks like here:

Clematis armandii

We’ve encouraged the Clematis armandii to grow under the roof of the front deck. These parts are in full, fragrant bloom. The parts that have remained outside, where it is colder and wetter, are still in bud, thus extending the season for this star of the early spring garden.

C armandii in Carlton

It can’t hold a candle to the two plants covering this pergola in full sun in Carlton OR.

Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’

As it emerges, the Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’ forms these little rosettes (its most charming phase, in my opinion)

Forsythia

On Bloom Day, the Forsythia was still mostly in bud. Now look at it!

pussy willow

Pussy willows have gone from furry to fluffy…achoo!

Rhododendron PJM elite

The first Rhody to bloom is always PJM.

Rhododendron ‘Janet’

This year ‘Janet’ is giving it some competition.

‘Janet’ up close

Here’s a closer look at ‘Janet’. Now there’s a pink I can get excited about.

Ribes

Volunteer Ribes pop up all over the place.

white primrose

I don’t know what it is about white primroses: they seem to remain relatively pristine,

blue primrose

While the blue ones are quickly tattered, I presume by slugs and snails.

potted up corokia, etc

Some of the plants recently acquired need to be viewed close-up to be appreciated. The Corokia cotoneaster is featured in the oval pot, with Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Pam Harper’ at its feet. The round pot, upper left, has two blue star creepers (Laurentia fluviatilis) and one Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’ setting the stage for Nandina domestica filamentosa…almost invisible here, but I have high hopes for it.

lily turf from Home Depot

This pretty little silvery lily turf turned up at Home Depot…really the only thing that spoke to me there.

Easter brunch in Carlton

But now back to Carlton, where our hosts, Susan & Gilbert, set this lovely table under that clematis-clad pergola and served up a memorable Easter brunch. Can you believe that sunshine? What better way to bid goodbye to March and wish you all a Happy Easter.

a new bed is born

Monday, March 25th, 2013

With the last stretch of nice weather, I was finally able to address the issue chronicled at the end of this post.

digging out

Digging out the area and storing the soil in wheelbarrows and tarps was the hardest part.

straightening the wire screen

Meanwhile, I unrolled the wire mesh and weighted it down with rocks to help it uncurl. The plain old garden dirt was mixed with 1/4-10 gravel and dark hemlock mulch before returning it to the screened bed.

Itea ilicifolia and Acorus gramineus variegatus

Several plants had been waiting in pots (one for years) for this day. Two Acorus gramineus variegatus from Home Depot were divided into enough plugs to cover a large area. The pot in the above photo contains Itea ilicifolia, a plant I have high hopes for. See it here on Plant Lust. I’ve killed it before, but maybe the care that went into preparing this bed will do the trick.

new bed looking north

In the foreground is the lovely small tree that inspired the making of this bed. It has lived in a large pot for several years, and it was showing signs of longing for liberation. I thought it was ‘Red Bells’, but when I compare it to the excellent photos on Plant Lust, I think, instead, it is Enkianthus campanulatis var. sikokianthus. To its right is Hypericum inodorum ‘Albury Purple’. Impossible to see at this stage is Disporum hookerii. The sweet flag plugs take up the middle of the bed, where their root system is meant to protect the water lines beneath. In the distance, on the left, is a Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana). An Osmanthus too small to see is somewhere there in the middle distance, and on the right is the Itea. Where the new bed joins an existing bed a vigorous ground cover of Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’ will pretty rapidly migrate into the bare patches.

looking west

Looking west…

looking east

And one last shot, looking east. Take That! evil gophers! With this project taken care of, I guess it’s back to weeding for me.

Google Reader going…what to do?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

When I first learned about Google Reader from Loree I was thrilled. No longer would I waste time popping by sites I had bookmarked to see if they had posted anything new. I was never a big fan of the service: in the short time I’ve been using it, it has cut out on me, losing all of my data, at least three times that I can remember. Now it has announced that it will be shutting down in July. I figure “Why wait?”

A site called lifehacker did a lot of the groundwork with a survey of alternatives. The most attractive choice to me was Feedly, but I was not alone. When I tried to access it, I ran out of patience before it managed to fully load. The next best thing, as far as I could tell, was The Old Reader. I signed in via Facebook with no problem. The protocol for adding sites is nearly identical to Google’s…in fact, the reason it was developed was that the original version of GR was much preferred by these developers after Google insisted upon “improving things”. We all know how that goes. Well, I was bombing right along: culling through bookmarks and adding my favorite blogs, when everything froze up on me. I haven’t exactly given up. I’ll give it a rest and try again later. But I am left unable to make any recommendations. How about you? Have you moved on to something that works like a charm?

While we’re at it, I have a couple of other technical glitches that have been bugging me lately. All of a sudden, certain words as I type away get turned into links with no help from me. Anybody know what’s up with that? And the ADS! I never had too much trouble ignoring them before, but now they seem to pop up, filled with wiggly attention-getters, at the top of every page and no way to turn them off. Don’t get me started on the buxom beauties in various stages of undress that appear, unbidden, on my timeline and elsewhere. I’m pretty tolerant, thinking “OK, everybody’s got to try to make a living”, but these things are driving me crazy-nutso! Your thoughts?

March blooms

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’

At last! A few of the blooms reached their peak on Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’, albeit only the few that were hidden away and protected by foliage. The big, showy one on the top of the plant fell victim to freezing weather, as in seasons past.

Forsythia

The first few Forsythia flowers have opened, with many to follow soon. I like it best right now, though the full display is admittedly more dramatic.

Stachyrus praecox

Spring is such a yellow season. The Tete a Tete daffys are the first of the Narcissi to bloom. There they are, off to the side. I’m partial to the paler, creamier yellow of the dangling blossoms sparsly adorning the bare branches of Stachyrus praecox. Tiny matching butterflies hover around them, then disappear as the flowers fade.

Euphorbia wulfenii

The greenish yellow of Euphorbia wulfenii is in that early stage where it looks like the large congregation is bowing its heads in prayer.

Muscari latifolium

Not all is yellow. I planted lots of Muscari latifolia scattered about, hoping that they would multiply, as advertised. So far, no colonizing tendencies, but I do love that little dot of blue peeking through the tapestry of ground covers.

Tulipa kaufmania ‘Shakespeare’

These, however, are increasing at a satisfying rate. The first of the Tulipa kaufmania ‘Shakespeare’ will soon be joined by dozens more. Cloudy days leave them closed up like this, but all it takes is a few stray rays of sunshine for them to open fully and show their hidden beauty.

common violets

A fragrant ground cover of common violets has the sense to bloom early, when there is little competition. A few stems in a tiny vase can scent an entire room.

pretty blue weed

People always seem to be seeking blue flowers, so I leave this rampant weed to flower wherever it will not out-compete things I’m trying to baby along. Anyone know what it’s called?

Chaenomeles japonica

I’ve never been fond of the screaming salmon color of the quince we have, but if I cut a few branches just when the buds are beginning to swell, they bloom indoors in lovely pale, blushing shades.

Kalanchloe fedtschenkoi

And I love the pale orange sherbet shade of the Kalanchloi fedtschenkoi, which just illustrates how quirky and opinionated one’s color sense can be, with the fine line between “screaming salmon” and “pale orange sherbet”. Speaking of which, a new (to me) blogger, Anna Kullgren, has an entertaining essay on the subject, poking fun at Pantone’s color of the year.

Kalanchloe close-up

Lawn Gone! is a good read

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Lawn Gone! by Pam Penick

Pam is well know in blogging circles for her blog, Digging, and for hosting the monthly meme, Foliage Follow-Up, where the non-flowers in our gardens are given their just due. The idea of turning the American obsession with grass into an earth-friendlier approach has been gathering steam for some time. Here we have a practical guide to the whys and hows of the grassless revolution.

Many of Pam’s followers have already sung the praises of the book’s fine photography, supporting the ideas for alternatives to traditional lawns. They note that the book breaks down the planning and execution of lawn replacement into easily identifiable choices and steps. I second all that. Where I diverge, and feel that I have something to add to the conversation, is this: Pam is a wordsmith. She is highly readable. Scattered throughout the text are gems like this:

‘Devil’s Shoestring’ (Nolina lindenhameriana) puddles on the ground like a shrugged-off party dress.

So by all means, read this book for the useful information it contains, but do not fail to revel in the language. It will deliver every bit as much literary satisfaction as the novel on your bedstand.

a time to plant

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Excuse me…I don’t mean to go all Biblical on you, but after playing the acquisition game for a while there’s nothing for it but to get some of that new stuff in the ground. And what a day for it! Yesterday was bright and clear and today a gentle rain is watering in all of the new plantings.

plants from Yamhill sale

First up, the group of plants I got from the Yamhill native plant sale. A friend told us about this, and volunteered to pick up our plants when he took the drive to collect his. The prices were good, and the website was easy to navigate. I ordered five Camassia leichtlini var suksdorfii to plant at the woodland’s edge, hoping that they will naturalize over time; two Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed); one Disporum hookerii (Hooker’s fairy bells); three Sequoia sempervirens (coastal redwood); two Arbutus menziesii (Pacific Madrone); and two Cornus nuttalii (Pacific dogwood). I asked Bob to pick up some huckleberries if they had any on hand, and they did, shown bottom left and center. Turns out they had run out of dogwoods and sequoias, so they substituted extra Madrones, a couple of Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) and nine crab apples (Malus fusca).

Malus fusca potted up

Not sure what to do with all of those crab apples, I potted them up to grow on for a while. They can reach thirty five feet and enjoy moist conditions. I might put a couple of them in the front hedgerow, but if they appeal to you, let me know…or I can bring some to the next plant swap.

Arbutus menziesii

What to do with five Madrones, when they can top out at twenty to fifty feet was an even bigger challenge. Well, they’re supposed to be slow-growing and appreciative of poor soil with good drainage, so I just stuck them at intervals along the border I’m developing approaching the house. We’ll see what happens. I can always cut them down or, if I don’t wait too long, dig them up for relocation. As you can see by the first photo, most of the things in this batch of plants pretty much disappeared when planted. If they prosper and put on a show, they are sure to show up in future posts.

Dyckia hybrid

The Yard, Garden and Patio Show came next, and the only plant I bought was this Dyckia hybrid. It is meant to take the place of a deceased Echeveria in a pot of succulents. I hope I will have better luck with this. I rarely go on a buying spree at the show, because I don’t want to haul plants around with me, especially when there are so many stellar nurseries nearby where I can just drive up and load plants into the car. I am kind of kicking myself for not picking up a few of the unusual dahlia bulbs (or whatever you call those things) on offer, though.

Primula Elatior Reno Mix

A quick and dirty stop at Means to pick up a couple of things to stick in porch pots yielded this perky Primula Elatior Reno mix (I like the way the flowers rise above the rosette of leaves) and a surprise. As I browsed the tables, a young man approached and inquired if I needed help finding anything. What?! He proved to be quite knowledgeable and friendly, running counter to the reputation of an outlet that has sold boring plants in quantity with no one in the place knowing anything about the merchandise. When I called this to the attention of Ransom, he chuckled and allowed as how that was their reason for hiring him. Guess I’ll be pulling off the road on my way to Freddy’s more frequently in the days ahead.

Helleborus ‘Pink Beauty’

I was surprised to find small pots of Hellebores for a mere $6.50. See how nicely ‘Pink Beauty’ nestles into the cachepot that sits next to our front door? I’ll find it a permanent home later.

Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’

I’ve long admired the foliage of Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’, but hadn’t realized how colorful the bare branches were in winter. This will be a great addition to the driveway border that is oh-so-slowly coming together.

the haul from Dancing Oaks

The Open House at Dancing Oaks yielded more than plants. Who could resist the cold pressed hazelnut oil at right? As you can see, we didn’t even try, as we have already drizzled it over the incredible (and colorful) eggs. Front, left, is Nandina domestica filamentosa, which will form a dome similar to Japanese maple, but lacier and more see-through. Behind that is Acanthus Syriacus to add to my “collection” of three. In the center is Cyclamen coum, silver form. New stems form in cunning spirals. This may go under the Nandina. The last plant is hiding beyond the frame, but wait…

Corokia cotoneaster

There it is: Corokia cotoneaster and yes, I’m ready to give it another go after having destroyed a couple of them.

grasses from Scott

On Sunday, Scott, of Rhone Street Gardens brought me this wonderful bunch of grasses: three Muhlenbergia cappilaris, a huge (like its name) Stipa gigantea and in the bag, I believe, a Miscanthus, but which one escapes me (Scott?). Next time the sun breaks through, I will get these into the ground. Since Scott was mainly making room in an already crowded garden it was not quite a swap, but I did serve pie…and on our walkabout we identified a couple of things he’d like (next time).

Now that I have most things planted, I can forge ahead into Spring with a clear conscience. Hortlandia will be coming up soon, after all.