favorite - for now - moss

April 11th, 2014


The damp days of spring shine a spotlight on moss. Leave a rock in our garden for any length of time and it will take on a lush patina of the stuff.


Shady spots become densely carpeted.


Color and texture varies, keeping things interesting.

Irish moss

As if nature hasn’t contributed enough, I have introduced plugs of Irish moss here and there.


This is just its presence in the garden proper. In the deep woods it hangs from branches, engulfs the snags of fallen trees and knits everything together in a tapestry of green. I fail to see why so many are bent on eliminating moss. It is always welcome here. See what others are loving this week by visiting Danger Garden, and why not join in with your own favorite?

no foolin’, it’s April

April 2nd, 2014

So let’s take a look at what’s been going on around here.

Opuntia ‘Bunny Ears’

This bunny is starting to grow some ears. See that little nubbin? I will be much more careful with this little guy than I was with his mom. He’ll get an outdoor vacation, but will come in come fall.

zinnia seedlings

Most of the seeds I started have yet to put in an appearance, but the zinnias show up in 5 or 6 days. Now that’s what I call encouragement.

Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’

A few of us showed up to help our pal Patricia dig plants. It wasn’t entirely a selfless act. I came home with a nice clump of Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’.

noid tree

And this tree with no name but scads of personality. The consensus was that it is a relative of the Monkey Puzzle Tree. Here’s the update from the always helpful AND knowledgeable Loree of Danger Garden fame: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Auricoriodes’. She supplied additional information, so check out her comment below if you’re interested.

wheelbarrow of transplants

March came through with several sun breaks surrounded by rainy days: perfect transplanting weather. I wrestled the wheelbarrow down into the woods, where I dug up several trilliums, salaal, vancouveria and a ribes to move into the cultivated part of the garden. Not that I have any illusions about my ability to compete with Mother Nature.


The Ribes pop up here and there of their own accord. This is an experiment to see if they take to transplanting.

Dryopteris a cristata ‘The King’ and two Polystichum setiferum

I thought I would try ferns in the wall pocket this year. These come from Cornell Farm, which is way ahead of most places in trotting out a full array of plants. The one at top is dryopteris ‘The King’ and the two below are Polystichum setiferum. The tag says ‘Alaskan’, but these are very different from the Alaskan fern I already have. Anybody know anything about that?

ghost leaves put to use

Remember the ghost leaves left behind by Acanthus sennii? I put some of them to use to adorn a birthday gift, with the addition of a dried Chinese lantern for good measure. Here’s hoping April gets all joking out of her system today and sends us a bumper crop of sunny days to do what we love.

Stachyrus praecox: this week’s fave

March 22nd, 2014

Stachyrus praecox

The dangling blossoms of Stachyrus praecox appear on bare branches in late February. The Outlaw has a much more floriferous one in his Bloom Day post. It may be because I put mine in the wrong spot and keep cutting it back.

S praecox leafing out

Long lasting, the flowers are hanging on even as the plant begins to leaf out.

tiny butterflies

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a decent shot of the tiny, pale yellow butterflies with brown markings that arrive with the flowers. There are two of them clinging to the raceme on the left. They flutter about the bush like a cloud, then disappear once the flowers fade.

orange butterfly

I don’t know my butterflies, but this orange one, a type I’ve not seen here before, flew in to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll refer you to Backyard Gardener for specifics. I wrote about it once before here while still laboring under the false assumption that I had procured the plant in a photo I’d been carrying around. I later determined that the photo was mislabeled and was really Stachyrus salicifolia. I got one of those last year, but I fear it may have succumbed to our harsh winter. Danger Garden has a favorite to share, as she does every week. Check it out.

Foliage Follow Up: new leaves springing up

March 20th, 2014

Berberis thunbergii purpurea

My focus on foliage this month is all about newly emerging leaves. The branches of the Berberis thunbergii purpurea have acquired a hoary coating of lichen. I’m not sure how healthy it is for the plant, but I do like the way it sets off the tiny, colorful leaves.

magnolia leaf bud

I spent many years mistaking these small buds on the magnolia for flower buds (false hope springs eternal). Now that it has finally graced us with blooms the past two years, I can recognize them for what they are. The flower buds have a fuzzy surface, while these are smooth.

tree peony

Peony foliage is super satisfying from beginning to end. Here a tree peony, ‘Chinese Dragon’, begins to unfurl.

Alchemilla mollis and herbaceous peony

Herbaceous peonies come up from the ground bright red, there on the right, while Alchemilla mollis captures water droplets in its pleated leaves on the left.

Oxalis ‘Klamath Ruby’

The new leaves of Oxalis ‘Klamath Ruby’ are folded up, showing the purple that will be harder to see once they open fully.

Hydrangea ‘Wave Hill’

Tender little poufs of leaves decorate the tips of Hydrangeas’ otherwise bare branches. This variegated lacecap is ‘Wave Hill’.

noid Hydrangea

Another Hydrangea, this time noid mophead that blooms in a heavenly shade of blue.


You can see why these are called trout lilies when you look at the markings on the leaves. I have several Erythroniums but this is the best of the lot. When it blooms, the pagoda blossom will be creamy ivory in color. I wish I knew its full name so that I could order more.

variegated sedum

Sedums are some of the first things to poke their little noses above ground.

Euphorbia ‘Excaliber’

Euphorbia ‘Excaliber’ pleases me most right now, when it looks almost like a ground cover with beautifully patterned leaves.

Acanthus spinosa

Hard to believe that Acanthus spinosa will soon dominate this berm. I have to dig up several of the outliers each spring just to keep it from swallowing everything else. Plenty to share, and it is one of my favorite plants in the garden. Now I’ll send you to Digging, where Pam can connect you with other foliage fans, as she does each month on the 16th (I’m obviously late, but Pam is forgiving (she is a gardener after all).

Belated Bloom Day

March 17th, 2014

viola odorata, purple

Running late, because Wordpress was protecting me from unknown threats. That’s OK because it freed up my weekend to get out there and start weeding. I have several patches of these wonderfully fragrant violets.

white violets

The purple ones are on purpose, but white ones, equally fragrant, carpet several areas of their own accord. They make sweet little bouquets to bring that heavenly scent indoors.

Narcissus ‘Tete a tete’

The first daffys to put in an appearance are the diminutive ‘Tete a tete’.

pussy willows

I’m cheating here, because they have already gone over and are covered in pollen (achoo), but I was thrilled to have a few pussy willows for the first time this year.

hazel catkins

Another sneeze producer, the catkins of hazel and alder create a scrim at the edge of our property.

snow drops

The snow drops have been going strong for a couple of months, but still sport a few photogenic blooms.


I don’t share the widespread enthusiasm for Hellebores, but they are said to work well as an underplanting with Rhodys so I guess I’ll try it.


Most of what is blooming now is at ground level. Forsythia is an exception.


You have to look closely to even see the diminutive blossoms on the native huckleberry. I have high hopes that they will result in berries. Dare I hope for enough for a pie? May Dreams Gardens is the place to catch up on what’s blooming in others’ gardens.

Trilliums, a walk on the wild side

March 12th, 2014


On one of my walks last week, I noticed what looked like trillium foliage emerging from the duff. On the off chance that they had progressed to the blooming stage, I took my camera along yesterday. Sure enough, a few blossoms were in the vanguard.

trillium leaves

Coming along behind the leaders, I saw lots of foliage. I’m looking forward to a carpet of Trilliums in the near future. I think this wildflower is Trillium grandiflorum, though there are as many as 50 different varieties. Seeing them growing wild in the woods takes me back to the days when my friends and I would explore forested areas on horseback. We were cautioned never to pick a trillium because it would kill the plant. I don’t know if that is true, but it did impart a certain mystique to the pristine flower.


Here’s abit of info taken from The Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

Pedicellate Trilliums
Trillium grandiflorum (white wake Robin, white trillium, great white trillium)

This species is the showiest, best known, and most loved of all trilliums. It is the provincial flower of Ontario, Canada and a highly prized shade garden perennial throughout the world. Its natural range extends from Maine and southern Quebec west to Michigan and Minnesota and south along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. It grows in well-drained, rich forest soils with a preference for sugar maple and beech forests.

All species of trillium seeds are naturally dispersed by ants, who are attracted to a fleshy, fat globule attached to the seed coat called a elaiosome. The ants will take the seed a distance from the mother plant, eat the globule, and discard the seed or they will take the seed back to their nest and discard the seed underground once the globule has been consumed.

With ants to disperse the seed and suitable soil conditions Trillium grandiflorum can form large drifts over the years. Native Americans used the grated root as a poultice for eye swelling and as a tea to relieve cramping during menstruation. The common name wake Robin alludes to the danger of rousing the goblin Robin Goodfellow if the flower is picked. It may also refer to the plant’s use as an aphrodisiac. Geoffrey Grigson reports in his book The Englishman’s Flora of the “use of Robin as a pet name for the penis.” Author John Lyly wrote in 1602 that “They have eaten so much wake Robin, that they cannot sleep for love.”
The ants have not been doing their job on the one plant in our woodland garden. It continues to put in a solo performance. I did read somewhere that the best time to transplant is when they are in flower, so I may step in and bring some out of our deep woods into the garden proper. I join Danger Garden in posting a garden favorite (hint: hers is not a plant this week). You can participate by leaving a comment with a link in her comments to your “favorite” post. Try it, you’ll like it.

a visit to Drake’s 7 Dees

March 10th, 2014

Anna Kulgren

My blogging buddy Anna has introduced me to the charming garden store where she now works. Let me direct your attention to the color of her sweater.

Anna’s signature color

As you can see, Anna is already making her presence known with the repainting of this wall in her signature color.

background color

Almost anything looks great against a background of this muted, sophisticated purple.

blue pots

A collection of blue pots sets off fiery stems and blue-green spiky plants to perfection. I wanted to bring the whole display home with me (sadly, not in the budget).

red pots

This table top featured red pots…equally enticing.

early season plants

It’s still early in the season, but already the yard is filling up with interesting plants.

in the greenhouse

Let’s move indoors. On this rainy day, the sound of the rain on the glass made shelter feel all the cozier. What a delightful space.

indoor vignette

Engaging all the senses, there were arrangements of plants and decorative items on all sides.


the staff

These are the folks who make it all happen, and you won’t find a friendlier bunch anywhere.

Blue Atlas Cedar

This mature specimen of weeping Blue Atlas Cedar drapes over the fence near the parking area. I consider this emerging garden center a real find. To find it yourself, go to 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Portland OR 97225. If you are coming from Portland, it is just past Six Corners, where there is a New Seasons Market, or call 503 292 9121 for directions.

Yucca ‘Bright Edge’ is this week’s fave

March 7th, 2014

Yucca ‘Bright Edge’

It’s easy to love a plant that weathers the storms and comes through looking as perky as ever. Such a plant is Yucca ‘Bright Edge’. The sedum ground cover around it is equally sturdy, so this is one little spot in my garden that doesn’t cause me to flinch as I pass by.

‘Bight Edge’ baby

Can you see Bright’s baby in the background? I separated that pup from its mom at the time of planting in the fall of 2009. It has put on very little growth since then, but I can wait…satisfied that it lives.

‘Bright Edge’ buried in snow

When you see what it had to contend with last month (and the month before that), you can see why its survival instincts are cause for celebration.

Yucca ‘Bright Edge’

So hooray for ‘Bright Edge’! Now why not hop on over to the Danger Garden to see what Loree has in store for you.

reading at Drake’s 7 Dees

March 7th, 2014

Holy moly, I am so stoked to be doing a reading from BeBop Garden at Drake’s Seven Dees in Raleigh Hills. Their presence at the Yard, Garden and Patio Show last week was nothing short of inspirational. Their store at 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Road, PDX 97225 is well worth a visit. I was there to hear Ann, The Amateur Bot-ann-ist talk about starting seeds. It was a blustery day, but the rain beating on the greenhouse just added to the cozy atmosphere and they had all the goods on hand to go home and put Ann’s excellent advice right to work.

BeBop Garden cover

So if you already have one of my books, bring it for me to sign. I’ll also have books available. I’d love to see you there Saturday, March 8 at 3pm. If you can’t make it, here’s a promise: I will take pictures of the nursery and do a post to lure you to this delightful nursery on one of your next plant-seeking expeditions.

nature keeps me guessing

February 22nd, 2014

Those Kalanchloes are an odd bunch. I wrote about K. beharensis here, where I showed where I took a cutting to start a new plant. While the cutting took on the characteristics of the mother plant, the new growth on said mom came in looking like this:

rounded leaves

In case you don’t feel like following the link, here’s a photo of the original leaf shape…certainly not the rounded leaves seen above.


K. fedschenkoi

I let this Kalanchloe fedschenkoi do its own thing. I’ve often been amazed at the many personalities taken on by this plant, but here’s a new one. The stems stretched out and most of the leaves fell off, leaving just these little tufts of leaves at the tips. Look…new little leaves are sprouting around the edges of those leaves (much like another in this family called ‘Mother of Thousands’). I plan to continue to leave it to its own devices just to see what it will come up with next.

Opuntia ‘Bunny Ears’

Poor, poor bunny. I knew it would hate damp, but I thought it would be OK with cold. Sorry, bunny.

new bunny

Back when bunny was thriving, a pad fell off and I stuck it in a pot. It hasn’t done much since then, but I guess bunny lives on.

leaf ghost

Another goner may be Acanthus sennii. Only time will tell, but it left behind these lovely ghost leaves to remember it by should the worst happen.

Euphorbia wulfenii

Some of the buds of Euphorbia wulfenii are nodding in the usual way, getting ready to raise their heads and burst into bloom…

wulfenii goner

while others (on the same plant, mind you) are demonstrating what is meant by the expression “nipped in the bud”.

Agave casualty

Here’s another casualty of my faulty reasoning. Loree, do you think it’s truly dead? Even the central spike of this Agave has turned to mush.

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp niphophila

The Eucalyptus has been peeling and dropping leaves like mad. Not sure if it is reacting to the freeze or if this is normal.

new sedum growth

No matter how bad things get, we can depend on things like the sedums to be nosing out of the ground, pushing out little rosettes of new growth. Thanks, Mom: you may keep us guessing, but some things we can depend upon.