revisiting a vertical planting

Back when New Seasons opened the market in Slabtown, I did a post that you can access HERE.


The most outstanding feature of the handsome building was the vertical planting. I wondered how it would fare over time. Lucky, then, that we happened by on the very day that the heavy equipment was brought in to do maintenance.

DSC_0002 (1)

I was able to talk to the guys doing the work. They told me that they were replacing any plants that were dead or dying. A drip system is built into the structure but, even so, half-yearly inventory and replacement keeps the whole thing looking fresh. I wonder how many living walls enjoy that level of commitment or the resources to make it so. And hey…even the cherry picker has that “designer” look.


Plantings around the parking areas are maturing nicely. Somebody knew what they were about when they specified the plants. Often I see a promising installation that peters out or gets choked by weeds in no time. The care taken by New Seasons makes me want to shop there.

DSC_0010 (1)

You know how grocery stores put gum, candy and toys by the checkout, making it dangerous to take kids shopping? Well, this place is dangerous for kids like me.


I need blinders to get by the attractive displays at the entries.

DSC_0008 (1)

But if I need to pick up a hostess gift or a little birthday remembrance, this is my go-to shopping destination. Gotta support those plant-centric retailers, don’t we?

it’s vase day



I love the simplicity of plain white Calla Lilies.


No, this is not my patch, but one featured on the ANLD tour. I await the day when mine will be this photogenic.


Still, my planting has grown enough to yield material for a vase without sacrificing a presence in the woodland border.


I put a narrower vase into the large white one, to hold the stems upright.


Operating on the KISS principle, I didn’t want to interfere with the graphic elegance of the leaves and flower stems by adding any other material, so there you have it: my entry into the Rambling in the Garden ‘In a Vase on Monday’ hosted by Cathy.

recent acquisitions

Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue'

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’

I just got to thinking you might be curious about what I’ve been bringing home with me since I started working at Joy CreekEryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ is right at home, nestled between ‘Valerie Finnis’ and ‘Helen Von Stein’.


It’s prickly presence is a nice contrast to the softness of the lambs’ ears.

Sempervivum 'El Toro'

Sempervivum ‘El Toro’

A little further along Delusional Drive, Sempervivum ‘El Toro’ compliments the bronze tones of Carex buchanii.

Salvia africana-lutea

Salvia africana-lutea

My newest bed is devoted to orange. A couple of new discoveries were this Salvia africana-lutea


and Zantedeschia ‘Flame’. I have high hopes for them filling out this bed in time.

Itea ilicifolia

Itea ilicifolia

Now here’s the most recent addition. I’m over the moon about this one.

Itea ilicifolia at Bela Madrona

Itea ilicifolia at Bela Madrona

Here’s a shot of a mature specimen taken at the Portland Fling’s visit to Bela Madrona, and a link to more info on Plant Lust.


Even as a wee bairn, as seen here, its charms are unmistakable.


I can’t seem to stop taking pictures of it. You may wonder at my restraint, but I am trying to bring home only plants that I have places in mind for planting. It’s a challenge, being surrounded by so many temptations every day that I go to work. I know exactly where to put this one…so better hop to it. See you next time.

a vase and a stroll around Joy Creek


Cheater alert: these sunflowers are not from my garden. They were a hostess gift. I usually have a hard time finding a background for photographing my vases but I loved these in front of Richard’s painting in our kitchen, so there you have it: my entry into Cathy’s ‘In A Vase on Monday’ meme.

Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’

So now for a peek at what’s looking good at Joy Creek Nursery (well, a very narrow slice, really, of what stands out right now). Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ has a very long blooming period, with flowers that are slightly larger and redder than the browner floridus.


Flowers may rule, but foliage combinations bring their own subtle beauty to the shade gardens.

Fuchsia magellinica alba

Fuchsia magellinica alba

I’m crazy about this low-key fuchsia growing in both sun and shade at the nursery. Unfortunately we don’t have it available for sale but if enough requests come in, that could change.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

In full sun, ‘Lucifer’ is the first of the Crocosmias to bloom. It’s fiery presence and tendency to spread are mighty welcome in my garden.


Like artichokes on steroids, Cardoons have the stature to make a bold statement…and you can even eat the stalks if you’re willing to learn some Italian cooking techniques from the likes of Ann Amato.

Hydrangea 'Enziandom'

Hydrangea ‘Enziandom’

Some folks view Hydrangeas as old fashioned but I double dare you to come upon this stunner without gasping in admiration. In front of it is a Phormium that is blooming. I have seen them blooming at the coast or in a greenhouse but this the first one growing in an open field. Perhaps the great Phormium die-off is behind us?

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

We have Hydrangeas blooming in the shade, like this oakleaf form…


and in full sun, where they need more water but obviously perform beautifully.


There are lacecaps…

Hydrangea 'Preziosa'

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’

and mopheads…


tucked into shady nooks…


or backing up a long path lined with sun lovers. So how about it? Are you a fan of Hydrangeas? And if not, did I manage to change your mind just a little bit? Allow me once final plug: the flowers take on duskier tones as the season progresses and can be dried to enjoy right through the winter months.

ANLD: new twist on ‘In a Vase on Monday’


I always admire the pots assembled by designers for the ANLD tour. It struck me that they are very much like flower arrangements, though longer lasting. I’m going to stretch the rules of the game this week and show you a few of them. The one above was in the garden designed by Lucy Hardiman.


In the garden designed by Barbara Hilty, this pot will soon be bursting with Nasturtium blossoms. I quite like the quiet simplicity of the foliage right now.


Amy Whitworth put together this symphony of foliage in a grouping of pots…


I didn’t catch the whole grouping in one shot so we’ll pan left to catch that cute little composition on the left.

I’ve heard of putting together bouquets to test the visual compatibility of plants. Container gardening is more challenging because the plants need to have similar needs to perform well over time. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. Now if you click through to Rambling in the Garden, Cathy will show you what she has found in her own garden to put in a vase this Monday.

ANLD garden tour coming up


Devised as a way to showcase the artistry of its members, this tour has it all.

DSC_0077Swoon-worthy plants shown off to best advantage in creative combinations (those fish swimming through a sea of grasses in the background are an example of the way art is incorporated into the gardens).


Often the plants can be seen playing ingeniously with elements of the built environment.


Clever ideas to swipe and make your own abound.


Some of those ideas might elicit a chuckle or two.


Blue sky is a bonus, but this blue wall can pinch hit on a grey day.


Art can be utilitarian as well as decorative and/or thought-provoking, as evidenced by this clever use of materials.


Trees are often as sculptural as any artwork.

This is just a teaser to whet your appetite. Here’s the info you need to get in on this tour: visit the ANLD website for the full scoop and to order tickets online or pick them up at Al’s in Sherwood, Cornell Farm, Garden Fever or either Portland Nursery. There are 7 gardens on the tour, each created by a professional landscape designer and chosen by a jury of his/her peers. After the tour, I will go into more detail for those of you who are out of our area. If you live in this neck of the woods, this would be a fine way to seek out design help or inspiration and spend a pleasant day doing so.

crammed in a vase

DSC_0010 (1)

I plonked a bit of everything in this big vase with the intention of arranging them into several bouquets. Instead, Richard confiscated it for his painting studio.


I’m not going to even try to identify everything in there.


A few close-ups will have to do.


If you click through to Rambling in the Garden, Cathy will have a vase worthy of the name, as well as links to the many others who participate in this popular meme.

grab bag on thursday


Here’s the little patch in the middle of the “lawn” meant to gradually expand to take over as much of the open space as I can manage. Several grasses came home with me from the swap so it will be expanding faster than I had even hoped. There’s a big rock there that we rescued from the highway verge (biggest one the both of us could manage…oh, for a truck with a lift).

Allium 'Gladiator'

Allium ‘Gladiator’ provided nice spots of color while blooming.

DSC_0015 (1)

The foliage on the oak tree from the Tough Love sale (can’t seem to find the tag) has such delicate foliage that I think it will provide sparse shade even as it grows.


R did some selective mowing, leaving patches of buttercups (they are the bane of my existence as they try to invade every bed and border, but I love their cheery presence here.

Rosa moysoii geranium

This rose, purchased from Roger Gossler at the Portland Fling, was purchased for her shapely hips. This is the first time I have seen her brilliant, single red blooms. Now I am in love all over again. Pay no attention to that woman behind the computer who claims to not care for roses.

Iris 'Raven Girl'

The Iris show was resplendent this year. A newbie this year is this near-black one…’Raven Girl’

Iris spec-x 'Alley Oops'

Proof that a silly name can’t keep a delicate beauty down…’Alley Oops’…really?

Panicum 'Heavy Metal'

Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’

And now for the Means report. It’s time for the super sales. All of these are 5 gal pots or larger, starting with Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’, one of my favorites, at $6.99 ea. It doesn’t look like much now, but the flower spikes are fabulous later on.

pink Rhododendrons

pink Rhododendrons

Good-sized Rhodys for $4.99.

variegated Agapanthus

variegated Agapanthus

At $4.99 ea. these variegated Agapanthus are a bargain even if they don’t make it through the winter.


They are just coming into bloom, with lots of buds showing.

Stella d'Oro day lilly

Stella d’Oro day lilly

If anyone is interested in Stella d’Oro, here they are for $4.99, about halfway through their bloom cycle.


Lots of good-sized Jaspanese Maples in several colors are $9.89 ea.


They are all dark, some redder than others.

DSC_0002 (1)

I’m not exactly sure of the size, but those pots are larger than 5 gallons. If you’re out this way on Sunday, stop by Joy Creek to say hello. The garden is looking fabulous and we have a new batch of Heucheras for just $7.50 ea…’tis the season of hot sales, dontcha know.

wednesday vignette


I was drawn to the sharp shadows created by the emerging flower heads on Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’. This one, at Joy Creek, gets more sun than my two plants and is denser and further along in the blooming process. These are easy to propagate by layering so I think I’ll start a couple more to place in a sunnier locale. Click through to see what Anna (Flutter and Hum) has in store with her Wednesday Vignette.

in a vase on monday


The subtle coloration and markings of these Iris from Alison are best appreciated in a vase, up close and personal. The dark leaf of Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ sets it off nicely.


Herer’s a closer look at that cute little vase by a local potter.


When the rain beats down a few tall bearded Iris, those come inside as well. Join Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) to see what she and others have found for their vases this morning.