In a Vase on Monday (on Tuesday) and more

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All of the big, showy flowers are showing up early this year. I say, while we got ’em, flaunt ’em.

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The bearded iris ‘Immortality’ starts as an icy blue bud that unfurls to pristine white perfection.


This clump is about ready for dividing. I plan to put some closer to the house, where we can truly appreciate them.


The tree peony ‘Chinese Dragon’ produces magnificent deep red flowers but I haven’t perfected the pruning techniques that would coax the shrub into a pleasing overall shape. Enter the close-up, a device used by gardener/photographers to fool you into thinking that all is sweetness and light. To fill out the bouquet, I added a few stems of Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ and some Tellima grandiflora, a wildflower that looks something like Heuchera.

And now for the “and more”: (Joy Creek) has changed up its Sunday seminars a bit. There is still the occasional free talk we’ve become used to, but there are now expanded sessions for a nominal fee. Coming up this Sunday is a class called Troughs the Easy Way, taught by a true rock garden star, Christine Ebrahimi. This might be a creative way to spend part of Mothers’ Day. Disclaimer: I am now part of the JC team, but my enthusiasm is genuine and I just have an inside track on what’s going on there.

friday grab bag…and more foliage


I’ll start with the foliage, joining (Christina) for her Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day. Finally, after three tries, I’ve gotten a Tetrapanax ‘Steroid Giant’ to take. Thank you, (Jane).


Valerie Finnis must have been something special to get this beautiful Artemesia¬†named after her…and (Linda) is just as special for passing it along.


My consolation prize for missing Hortlandia was a visit to Xera, where I OD’d on luscious plants and brought home these two.


Here’s the tag description for Podocarpus macrophyllus ‘Maki’: “A compact form of the Japanese Yew Pine that forms a wonderful fine textured shrub with a distinctly asian appearance to 4′ tall in 5 years and 4’wide. Waxy needles are fresh looking year round. Adaptable to many situations including understory shade. Tough and draught resistant when established but just as happy with regular irrigation. Tolerates extreme heat well and may be grown against a hot wall and even endures dry shade. Underused.” Amen to that! I have it in a pot for now, but it sounds like a trooper, wherever it lands.


You may detect a theme developing here. This one is Pitosporum tobira ‘Tall and Tough’: “Japanese Mock Orange is an exceptionally tough, handsome and long-lived evergreen shrub. Scrolled green/black leaves are good looking year round. In May/June, clusters of white/cream flowers emit a powerful orange blossom fragrance. Full sun to shade in average well-drained soil. Light summer water, extremely drought tolerant when established. To 6′ x 6′ in 5 years. This selection is much hardier to cold than other P. tobira. Fantastic shrub.” OK, there might be more than one theme here, but the one that grabbed me was the indestructible part. The flowers are already starting to open and my nose knows that I did the right thing.


Speaking of indestructible, take a look at Berberis ‘Jamesiana’. Isn’t it a beauty? Now tell me, how can it be that R has a vendetta going against this fabulous shrub. It does have a very prickly personality, but that is just because he keeps hacking away at it to liberate a nearby Italian cypress (of which we have MANY).


On one side, it is complemented by Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’…


…while on the other a carpet of Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ does the honors. Jim’s¬†pendulous flowers will give way to pearlescent pale yellow drupes on their way to blushing red later on.


I hope you won’t tire of my going on and on about (Joy Creek), but how can I help myself, surrounded by plants like this Weigelia middendorffiana with its charming splashes of orange peeking out of buttery yellow blossoms?

That’s my roundup for this week. I hope you have a memorable weekend.

vignette & more foliage


While out shooting foliage, this photo rose to the top to be featured as this week’s Wednesday Vignette, hosted by Anna (Flutter and Hum).


For this month’s Foliage Follow-up, hosted by Pam (Digging), I was attracted to newly emerging leaves and needles. Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’, or Bird’s Nest Spruce, is a uniformly colored background plant most of the year, but in early spring the new growth is a fresh spring green that raises its value considerably.


This little procumbent deodor cedar is interesting by virtue of its form, but even more so right now, with the new needles coming in.


Right after Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ finishes blooming (with flowers that look to me like dirty handkerchieves) the real show begins, earning it its name.


Here we have the Cotinus blushing bright red before putting on its ‘Purple Robe’ and cozying up to ‘Thunderhead’ pine sporting the “candles” that will become new foliage (at least the ones that escape being snapped off to control the growth pattern).


Ending, where we began, with Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula Purpurea’. It’s at its very best when the leaves are brand new and coppery and pleated like this.

vase, wildflower walk and a new job


A ball of chicken wire is a handy device for holding stems upright in a vase.


The patch of Lily-of-the-valley growing through golden baby tears has grown exponentially each year (starting with a single start from a friend).


I wanted to keep the simplicity of the white and green.

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Pristine little bells give off a powerful scent (but not too powerful). Cathy of (Rambling in the Garden) hosts a weekly In a Vase on Monday meme to tickle your nose and your eyeballs. I highly recommend it.


I knew when the Hortlandia posts started rolling in I would regret having missed it. But who would pass up time in the gorge with good friends, good food and wildflowers? Not me!


The drive to their place in Mosier was a dream journey.


We wanted to take some shots out their windows to show how our bird-saving silhouettes can be used without obstructing the view.


And what a view it is!


The last time we hiked Rowena Crest, the Balsam Root was just finishing up. This time it was in full flower.


Lupine on the crest was just getting started, though we saw drifts of it coloring roadsides at lower altitudes.


Less bold, but worth a closer look, larkspur amidst the grasses,


and all sorts of dainties tucked in here and there amongst the bolder show-offs. We passed several fields of Camassia turning the landscape blue but they were behind fences so no photos.


Last, but certainly not least, I answered the call to help out at (Joy Creek Nursery) on Sundays. What kind of a dream job is that? I hope you’ll stop by to say “hello” if you’re in the neighborhood, stroll the fabulous display gardens and fall for a few of the enticing plants in the sales area.

wednesday vignette


Not sure if this is Euphorbia ‘Firecharm’ or ‘Dixter’. They are both planted in this bed with no distinguishable difference that I can see. I’ve heard complaints about their vigor but this flaming beauty is welcome to as much territory as it desires in this garden. Anna (Flutter and Hum) often dishes up deep thoughts to go with her Wednesday Vignettes. I wouldn’t miss it, if I were you.

my vase is late so there’s 2


So much of what is blooming now is old fashioned, like the lilac. I love it and wouldn’t want to miss having that fragrance in the house, but wanted to update it some.


Combining it with the acid green blooms of Euphorbia wulfenii and a single ‘Queen of the Night’ tulip did it for me.


A new vase came from the local one-stop for half off.


You can’t get much older-fashioned that bleeding heart and forget-me-not.

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Rescued from prissiness by a few emerging bronze leaflets of tree peony. If you haven’t yet tuned in to ‘In a Vase on Monday’, I strongly recommend you click through now to (Rambling in the Garden) to see what it’s all about.

friday grab bag

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How ironic is it, that picking out the negative spaces in our window silhouettes is called “weeding”? Looks like I can never escape this chore.

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Here’s a sneak peek at what our latest product is apt to look like (from the outside, looking in).


What a difference a few sunny days makes. Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ is in full bloom.


It comes along quite a bit earlier than C. impressus ‘Victoria’ and is a duskier blue (like denim) to Vicki’s clear blue.


In the “delightful surprise” category are these Epimediums, NOID from one of our bloggers’ swaps.


All surprises are not necessarily delightful. The Alliums I planted in the fall are coming up nicely and look almost ready to flower, but all of the leaf tips have browned in a rather unsightly fashion.


Plagued by gophers, our “lawn” looks like a war zone. Taking Amy’s (Plan-it-Earth Design) advice, I’m starting to plant it with things that will disguise the damage, need little to no mowing and quit pretending to be lawn.

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This is the first little patch, using a nice big clump of Carex I got from Anna (Flutter and Hum), which I divided and spread out over a fairly large area. The clumps of Prunella vulgaris were left in place (I’m choosing to view them as wildflowers rather than weeds). The Alliums were tucked into open spaces and I’m thinking Camassia next. At this rate, it’s a project that could become my life’s work, but I’ll show those gophers who’s boss.

blue & yellow, with a bit of red, in a vase


What we have here are a few branches of Berberis replicata, some Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ and the new growth of Pyracantha.


‘Blue Jeans’ was stretching out into the driveway and it was all I could do to keep R from whacking away at it before it began to blue up and I could do double duty pruning and flower arranging. The flowers are still fairly tight buds. As they bloom out, this shrub will produce a cloud of blue.

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The Pyracantha in the front hedgerow are still a bit gangly, but that makes them easier to access for cutting. They, like the Pieris, are at their best when the new leaves appear in striking shades of red.


Here’s what the mature ones look like along another fence line.


The blue and yellow theme continues, along the other side of Delusional drive, with a sea of Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’, punctuated by the occasional yellow daffodil.


You have to look closely to notice the little Haworthia daffy’s, but they are one of my favorites.


Another reward for close inspection: the drupes from last year remain on the Berberis stems, adding another layer of interest and a deep burgundy accent.


So let’s have one last look at what I made of it all, then hop on over to see what Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) has in store for us this week.

friday grab bag

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Dontcha just love hostess gifts? These real eggshells were hollowed out to receive some tiny sedums and sempervivums (hens and chicks), putting a new spin on the chicken or egg conundrum. Peter (the Outlaw Gardener) featured some eggshell planters that are made of porcelain. It’s a fun idea, either way.


This was so easy. Late fall, Freddie’s had bulbs on sale, buy one get one free. They went into a couple of clay pots over the winter and now bring all kinds of cheer to our front steps. Credit goes to (Jason) for reminding me to do this (his display is about ten times more extravagant).


Just in case you are suspicious of the “tough love sale”, this Magnolia stellata came from there last fall, and just look at it.

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Impossible to truly capture (except for a few of you) but the morning light these past few days compels me to try.

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And I simply could not stop at one…nor two, but I’ll refrain from that old home movie habit of putting you to sleep. We’re looking to have an exceptional spring weekend…hope yours is great too.