monday’s vase: scrounged materials

November 10th, 2014


The last wind storm blew down branches on our road. On my walk, I picked up a nice gnarly, lichen-encrusted branch with a few fresh, green catkins attached and another, bare but for a multitude of red berries.


The vase is a long-time favorite that gets pressed into service only rarely.


A stone slab tops a receptacle with a permanent frog embedded in the base. It lends itself to Ikebanaish arrangements using sparse material.


The sharp tines of the frog hold the branches in place. I added the silly red felt bird (not too sure about the artistic merit of the bird, but he makes me smile).


The grey bird candle echoes the color of the lichen, as does the small ceramic piece by Betsy Wolfeson. I like this best viewed from above, so I put it on the floor for photos. It will actually live on a low chest this week.

Cathy of Rambling in the Garden started this celebration of indoor arrangements, and this week, celebrating a full year (52 weeks…yes, she really did it), she gives us a bit of history. Let’s see if she can inspire you to join in the fun.

favorites done right…at Treephoria

November 7th, 2014


Patricia of Plant Lust pulled some strings to set up a personal tour of Treephoria, a place that erases the “boring” from Boring, OR. That’s Patricia, with her hand up as if to say “here I am”.


Laura of Gravy Lessons and her pirate, Charlie, met us there.


Here’s our host and tour guide, Neil Buley. He was a fount of information.

Oxydendrum arboreum

They had several specimens of one of my favorite trees, Oxydendrum arboretum, or Sourwood. I wrote about the  s l o w  growth of mine here.DSC_0045

Last year, the poor thing died. That’s the dead trunk (the grey stick). New growth shot up from the roots and soon surpassed the height of the original tree that had struggled for years.


It’s most recent affliction is compliments of the deer, who have nibbled off most of the foliage.


So for a close-up of this splendid tree, we’ll go back to Treephoria. The leaves turn progressively redder and it blooms at the same time, making for quite a show.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Next up: Cercidiphyllum japonicum, or Katsura. I wrote about ours here. We love our Katsura, but the fall color, so far, pales in comparison to the mature specimen above.


Just look at the range of color in those leaves.


I couldn’t seem to stop snapping photos, especially when I saw it with a monkey-puzzle tree in the foreground for contrast.


OK, so that’s it for my favorites, but let’s wander around Treephoria a bit more. Cornus mas the Cornelian Cherry Dogwood was adorned with bright red, shiny fruits.


I’m kicking myself for neglecting to carry a notebook to jot down the names of things like these wavy leaves on colorful stems. Will I never learn?


Maples were spangled with their little wingy things.


Each one prettier than the last.



Here’s something for anyone who, like me, has been smitten with Franklinia but to no avail. Gordlinia Grandiflora is a cross between Gordonia and Franklinia, making it much hardier while retaining those wonderful flowers. I’m game to try this one.


There were some peculiarities too, like this thorny tree trunk. It of course calls to mind Danger Garden, whose earlier post of this place will show you more photos of this spiky wonder and an in-depth tour at a different time of year. Loree is also our host for the favorites meme. Be sure to check in this time, as the format will be changing a bit.

Speaking of hosts, a big Thank You goes out to Neil and Treephoria for hospitality and then some. If you are hankering for a tree and you don’t want to wait for a little bitty thing to gain some stature and presence, this is the place. They will dig, deliver and plant for you, so you know it’s done right.

in a vase on Monday

November 3rd, 2014


Praise be to the birds for all the planting they do around here. The hedgerow along the front fence is populated by many of these Cotoneasters. By the looks of the bumper crop of berries this year, they’ll soon be popping up in even more places.


A little closer look reveals how bright orange and shiny the berries are in natural light.


Out came this shiny black vase. I didn’t quite get it together for Halloween, but the season obviously was influencing my choices here.


Often, when using this vase, I will form a pice of chicken wire into a frog substitute to hold things in place. These branches were stiff and full enough to stay where I put them, unaided.


By inserting them at a low angle, they formed a grid that is able to support the stems of the last two red peppers from the veggie garden.


It went on the table amidst the small white pumpkins that will stay throughout the harvest season, some cast iron bird napkin rings and a few candles.


Losing power is not such a bad thing when plenty of candles are on hand and a stack of wood is ready for the fireplace.

Do visit Cathy to see what she scared up to put in a vase this week.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light': my favorite (this week)

October 30th, 2014

Miscanthus 'Morning Light'

The grasses really come into their own about now, none more so than Miscanthus sinensus ‘Morning Light’.


I had admired it in several gardens before getting one of my very own. I had never seen it in Autumn, so had no idea that, on top of everything else, it would burst into bloom like this.

Miscanthus sinensus 'Morning Light'

As usual, Plant Lust provides information and sources, should you be moved to track this one down for your own plot. A dark background shows off the inflorescences, but be sure to site it so that the light (morning or evening) will set it ashimmer.


No week would be complete without checking Danger Garden to see what Loree has crowned fave of the week in her garden and to join the conversation in the comments. See you there!

in a vase on Monday

October 27th, 2014


The turned wood vase with glass liner seemed just right as a base for this autumnal arrangement. Indoors, with flash, I get lots of shadows. They add to the effect, but we’ll move outside to take a closer look with truer colors.


Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’ turns shades of mahogany as the weather cools. Earlier, the blossoms wilt quickly when cut. Now they will last until I tire of them and toss them out.


Same story with H. ‘Limelight’, which starts out green, spends many weeks snowy white, then fades to dusty rose.


A few branches of Stachyrus praecox enlarge on the color scheme.


Spent seed heads of Phlomus russeliana turn dark, almost black. I love them for structure.


There’s one branch of beauty berry Calicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ in there for a boost of color. A few stems of Northern Sea Oats seem to find their way into everything these days. Now won’t you check out Rambling in the Garden to see what Cathy has found to put in a vase today?

how can this be my favorite (this week)? Rosa ‘Dark Knight’

October 23rd, 2014

Rosa 'Dark Knight'

I don’t even like roses all that much, but our friends MC and Lolys were visiting from Mexico and a visit to the Rose Garden was on the agenda. Lolys was searching for a black rose, which led to the discovery that there is an index of all the roses, with a diagram to help find them. We sought out every rose with a name that indicated darkness. It was late in the day, so my photo is far from representative. Instead, click here to see what it really looks like and read cultural info. This source refers to it as ‘Dark Night’, but I like my name for it better (did I misread the label at the Rose Garden, or was I simply blinded by romantic tendencies?)


Here are the happy tourists with one of their guides.


As long as we’re in the Rose Garden, I may as well show you a few of the other specimens that caught my eye. It was the way they caught the light, rather than their intrinsic beauty, that caused me to click my shutter, so no names were noted.




The setting is as much a reason to visit the Rose Garden as are the roses. There are fountains, and paths, and a megawatt view of Mt Hood framed by towering trees. Yay for visitors who blast us out of our ruts to soak in the iconic Portland landmarks we often take for granted.




And hooray for Danger Garden, who came up with the idea of featuring a plant each week that is the gardener’s pet (for that week only, so we needn’t have a stroke trying to decide).

Fall is for Foliage

October 16th, 2014


I always have to have at least one pot of coleus to brighten the porch area. A couple of 4″ pots from the super market soon fill a good sized pot with color to rival any blossom.

coleus Aurora Black Cherry

Each year there’s a new batch of varieties from which to choose. The name of the big, dramatic one in back escapes me, but the one in front is ‘Aurora Black Cherry’, with a pot of basil in the foreground.

Cornus kousa

Out in the garden proper, leaves are turning and the dogwoods are producing their charming fruits.

Callicarpa 'Profusion'

Beauty berries are plumping up and taking on that metallic sheen.

Paeonia 'Gold Sovereign'

Some of the best leaf color comes from the tree peonies and will only get better until the end.

Lecesteria formosa

Where once were pretty little white flowers, now dangle plump, shiny purple fruits on the Lecesteria formosa.
Hypericum inodorum 'Asbury Purple'

Here’s Hypericum inodorum  ‘Asbury Purple’, sporting shiny black berries to top off the foliage that gives it its name. Other foliage fanatics will join Pam for Foliage Follow-Up just as we do every month the day after Bloom Day. Don’t be left out.

And now there is another foliage meme here, by Christina, on the habit-forming blog, Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. Check it out and expand your horizons with even more fabulous foliage.

October Bloom Day: winding down

October 15th, 2014


The days of bountiful bloom are past, but looking around with blooms in mind, a surprising number caught my eye. Nicotiana sylvestris fell prey to nibbling deer as it was just getting ready to bloom. I was irked, but the plant reacted by branching out and producing more flowers. Now it scents the evening air with its pristine white, dangling blossoms. I will let this go to seed in hopes of volunteers next year.


One of my favorite late season bloomers is Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’. Known for its aggressive ways, I am more than happy to see it increasing in number year by year. As the petals fall, they leave behind amusing balls at the top of long stems.


Staying with whites for a while, here’s another one considered invasive by some but welcome here: Queen Anne’s Lace, or Daucus carrota.

Aster 'Monte Casino White'

Aster ‘Monte Casino White’

I had an Aster that looked just like this for many years until it got shaded out. I was happy to find Aster ‘Monte Casino White’ recently at Joy Creek. It was even on sale.


Seven Sons, so called because each flowering stem has one central floret surrounded by six more, still has flowers coming on (happy bees) while older blooms are starting to leave behind the rusty colored calyxes this tree is known for.

Coreopsis 'Cruizin' Broad Street'

This pretty little Coreopsis ‘Cruizin’ Broad St’ from Jockey Hill came with some new information: shear after the first flush of bloom and it will look like this later on. I will apply this principle to ‘Moonbeam’ next year. It has been putting out the occasional flower amidst a lot of developing seedheads.

Asclepias 'Red'

This pretty ‘Red’ milkweed may not be hardy but it is producing seed. I definitely want more of this.


All of the surviving Dahlias will continue to flower until the first hard frost.

Persicaria 'Lance Corporal'

The tiny little red flowers dotting the wand-like stems of Persicaria ‘Lance Corporal’ are hard to photograph, but when they catch the light just right it is a magical scene.

Liriope is here for its grassy presence edging borders but late in the season these shy lavender flowers are a nice bonus.

Chasmanthium latifolium

Are these considered flowers? Whatever they are, the grassy leaves of Chasmanthium latifolium take on new life crowned with these oat-like whatevers.

Carpinus japonica

The flowers on the Hornbeam, Carpinus japonica, look like hops.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

All of the Hydrangea blossoms are fading to the dusky colors that make them look like tintypes. This one is ‘Limelight’.

Rosa 'Dortmund'

At the same time that Rosa ‘Dortmund’ is concentrating on her hips, she can’t resist throwing out a last flower (the last rose of summer?). A few other lingering blooms are scattered about, but here I’ll pass you on to May Dreams Gardens to check out the world’s garden doings.

sometimes it’s about the vase

October 14th, 2014


I fell in love with this little vase without even thinking about how useful it would be late in the season, when the pickings are sparse.


I was down to a single Zinnia today, but it makes up in pizazz whatever lack there may be in numbers.


If there is to be only one, I feel lucky that it is a red one.


Meanwhile, the dahlias keep coming, so I refreshed last week’s bouquet and added some little off-white pumpkins from the grocery store. This meme is bound to get ever more interesting as flowers fade and we must go farther afield to find material to put “In A Vase On Monday”. Won’t you join us?

in a vase on a Monday in October

October 6th, 2014


I decided to start with this vintage pitcher, whose discoloration from age reminds me of the changing colors of the season. The glass frog fits perfectly, allowing me to create a network of leaves to support the flowers to be added last.


I love the burnished tones of peony leaves. These are rescued from an earlier bouquet so they curl and droop in ways that I find pleasing. Prunings from Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ and seed heads of Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ provide some even darker elements.


Cathy, who hosts In A Vase On Monday, has made me aware of the importance of props when staging photos, so I added an unknown volunteer veggie (or fruit, who knows?), a little metal box shaped like a tangerine and a split open seed pod from the peony.


So here’s the setup.


And a close-up from a little different angle, where you can see the three different Dahlias: ‘Alfred Grille’ (the pale one), ‘Groovy’ (the small red one) and big NOID magenta. There’s also one sprig of Chasmanthia latifolia in there.


Here’s one parting shot: can you see the little rootlets in that vase? Sometimes a long-lasting bouquet will give you bonus new plants, as did these stems of Sedum ‘Stardust’.