in a vase on monday

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My intention was to base my vase today on the one sunflower that decided to bloom. Out there, secateurs in hand, I saw that there were many buds forming down the stem. Couldn’t go there. Instead, I cheated a bit and started with the dill left over from a pickling project. It came from the grocery store, not my garden. You will forgive that little indiscretion, won’t you?


It’s been said that a good way to test out plant combinations is to make a bouquet of the plants being considered. I’m turning that concept on its head and choosing plants that are looking good in the garden to put in my vase: a purple aster passalong (noid) with Helianthum maximilianii.

Solidago 'Fireworks'

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

I have Solidago ‘Fireworks’ growing in several places around the garden. It seemed like a good candidate to round things out.


This is the photo that gives the truest rendering of the colors.


This one gives you a better idea of the flower forms.


And here it is, towering over the tablescape in its large, clear cylindrical vase. Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) has a burgundy treat in store for you this week, so be sure to click through. She manages to find something vase-worthy in her garden every week of the year and invites us to do the same.

friday grab bag


First up, a look at what’s been happening around the neighborhood. Our neighbor, Jim, with whom we share a fence, hosted a wedding in August. His grandson, the bride-to-be and an army of friends worked all summer on sprucing up the place (which was already pretty pristine).


They did almost everything themselves, down to charming bouquets of home-grown flowers in canning jars on all the tables. We loaned them some of my banners for the occasion.


Across the road, Virgil planted a virtual hedge of Zinnias outside his fence. What a happy gift to all passers-by.


I’m experiencing some serious Zinnia envy. Plotting where to do something similar next summer seems like the best cure.


Zinnias are pretty upright, but wires run across the front, just in case.


One last shot, at the risk of boring you with my Zinnia fetish.

Helenium maximillianii

Helenium maximillianii

Back on my side of the fence, the late bloomers are putting in an appearance. I think I need to thin out the Helianthum maximilianii. They aren’t as tall as in prior years, perhaps because of crowding.


Asters ask very little to continue bulking up a little more each year.


How would you like to have dinner guests every evening? The herd has increased to about six, as far as we can tell. They drop by to feast on fallen apples and pears.


Here’s a little oddity that might work to the advantage of serious flower arrangers. A vase that was moved outside got blown over in the night. By morning the Kniphofia stems were already bending upward. I can imagine using this tendency to engineer the perfect configuration to fulfill a vision.


Zeroing in on the railing in the last photo reveals another visitor. It’s like a wildlife hotel around here. And with that, I will bid you adieu, with best wishes for a most pleasant weekend.

a vignette from the coast & some recent acquisitions


In order to join Anna (Flutter and Hum) for her Wednesday Vignette, I was scrolling through photos. When I came across this stately tree, seen near Ecola Park earlier in the summer (escaping searing heat in the city) I thought “this is it”. Do click through to see Anna’s eye for pattern, on display with this week’s offering.

Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire Orange'

Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire Orange’

As promised, I want to show you some of the things I picked up on my road trip with Amy. For seventy-five cents, how could I resist Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire Orange’? It might seem silly this late in the season, but I hear taking cuttings is quite effective. I’m going to find out.

Helenium 'Ruby Tuesday'

Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’

The Helenium I had by the fence line disappeared, and now I know why. They like to be kept moist. Time to try again with Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’.


I was smitten by the flower color and its stature (nice and tall).


I didn’t even know there was such a thing as White Star Creeper. Get a load of those plummy berries and that one remaining white flower. If this takes hold, I will be back for more. I also picked up a wooly thyme and a Sedum pluricale ‘Isle of Saklahlin’. All of the above came from Starkey’s Corner, formerly Larsen Farms.

Polypodium vulgare 'Bifidomultifidum'

Polypodium vulgare ‘Bifidomultifidum’

On to Dancing Oaks, where it was the ferns that called out to me. This Licorice Fern was spectacular growing in their display garden, still in tip-top shape after our extended heat wave.

Blechnum penna-marina

Blechnum penna-marina

One of the perks of traveling with Amy is her sharp eye for things I might otherwise overlook. Once she called my attention to the Alpine Water Fern, I knew I had to have it.

Asplenium ebenoides

Asplenium ebenoides

Dragon Tail Fern is pretty darn cute. Factor in the name and I’m hooked. A week of clouds and rain (whew) gave me the opportunity to get all of these new treasures into the ground. Which reminds me: better get out there and give them a drink to fortify against the latest heat wave.

gbq&a…and a vase

Well, I’m a pretty lame excuse for a meme master. I started out with the intent of posing a question on the first Friday of every month and inviting others to write a questioning post to link here so we could all answer one another’s questions and grow our knowledge. I let last month slide and it is now a few days past the first Friday, but what the hey. Since “better late than never” is my motto (admittedly by necessity) here goes: my question this month is regarding Ozothamnus ‘Sussex Silver’.

Ozothammus 'Sussex Silver'

Ozothammus ‘Sussex Silver’

Here it is earlier in the season, in bloom, looking pretty. Richard did what I call a brutal job of pruning last year. It has been in the ground since ’09.


It was the fine curtain of silvery foliage that attracted me to this plant in the first place.


As the flowers fade, they turn into these brown blobs. All the shiny new foliage grows beyond the unsightly mass. So here’s my question: does anyone have this plant and, if so, how do you deal with it?


And now for something completely different. My vase this week started with a single stem of Sedum ‘Cherry Truffle’. I have it growing in a pot with some Dusty Miller (don’t ask which of the many plants that get that catchall name) and I knew I wanted to keep that color combo going.


The Hydrangea ‘Prezioza’ has been turning various shades of dusky purple. I cut two of the deepest plum flower heads. They are dense enough to support the taller stems without needing a flower frog.


A few shorter stems of Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’ and Artemesia ‘Valerie Finnis’ and I was done.


Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) never fails to put together a stunning vase from materials gathered from her own garden every Monday. She invites you to join in. Please do…or simply browse for inspiration.

wednesday vignette


Look closely, a bit below and to the left of center, at the photo above and you will see a stem of orchids pushing its zigging and zagging way into the light of day.

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You know how it is with orchids. Someone brings you one as a gift, it blooms, seemingly forever and when the flowers fade it gets relegated to some obscure spot where it will be neglected into oblivion. This one landed on the corner of Richard’s desk. My first clue that something was afoot: the single stem lined with buds. When questioned, R admitted to having watered it about once a month.


Here it is today, relocated to the living room, where we can enjoy it as long as it chooses to grace us with blossoms. R is henceforth designated orchid custodian of our household. Join Anna (Flutter and Hum), the self-designated custodian of Wednesday Vignettes.

monday vases are cream & sugar

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You can probably tell that this cream and sugar set is from the 1970’s. It seemed perfect to showcase the rustic colors prevalent in the garden right now. I gathered a bit of everything.

Cotinus 'Purple Robe'

The first Cotinus I ever saw had a bright red border around its dusky purple leaves. I searched everywhere, to no avail. Now I’m thinking it was a stressed specimen (it lived in a hellstrip in NW Portland). Mine is not quite as dramatic, but this hot summer has produced a similar effect. This went in as the base for the first bouquet.

Dahlia 'Akita'

Dahlia ‘Akita’

After adding a bit of feathery willow and a Dahlia ‘Akita’, I decided that was enough.

Dahlia 'Groovy', Euphorbia 'Fire Charm', Rosa glauca

For the second vase, the base consists of several stems of Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’ (most just leaves but one with a late flower) and some more sprigs of the willow (for continuity). A second ‘Akita’ is joined by Dahlia ‘Groovy’ and a stem of Rosa glauca hips and leaves.

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Here’s a closer look before I take these inside…


where they fit right in with the color scheme we’ve got going in our dining room. Gee…I sorta feel like I should have a dinner party.


My eyes proved bigger that my vases, so there was plenty of material left over to fill another vase. This one has two different Kniphofias some Zinnias, the last ‘Akita’, a NOID Dahlia and a few snapdragons.


Here’s the back side of my afterthought vase. Oh, and there’s a stem of Phygelius ‘Moonraker’ in there too. Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) is your gateway to ‘In a Vase on Monday’, where bloggers are invited to find something to “plonk” in a vase every week of the year.

month-end favorite


My favorite plant in the garden right now is Artemesia versicolor. I ordered this a few years ago from High Country Gardens, one of my few ventures into the world of mail order.

Artemesia versicolor

Artemesia versicolor

I love the way it roils over the stone edging of this berm, reminding me of the crest of a wave breaking on a rocky shore. Loree (Danger Garden) brings us a chance to strut our favorites on the last Friday of each month. Won’t you join in?

road trip…and vignettes

Amy admiring Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

Amy admiring Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’

Amy (Plan-it-Earth Design) and I hit the road on one of those hot August days. Our destination was Dancing Oaks Nursery, just outside of Monmouth. It involved a beautiful drive through the countryside (we took the back way and avoided the confusion of Salem) and a couple of stops along the way.

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This used to be Larson Farms. It was recently taken over by new owners who have been pouring new energy into the place and it shows.


The stock is well presented and cared for, the prices are good and the service is friendly. I look forward to checking back often, as they promise to have timely events and merchandise throughout the year.


Yes, of course I bought some things but I’ll save that for a later post or we could be here all day. Speaking of all day, this is a long drive, made longer by the fact that neither Amy nor I have much of a sense of direction. Traveling back roads, we got off the track and were having too much fun to notice until a sign that said “15 miles to Lincoln City”. Oops! We were nearly to the coast.


Backtracking ate up a good deal of time, and speaking of eating…the little town of Dallas OR looked like our best bet. Too late for lunch, too early for dinner, we did NOT eat at this rather charming little restaurant. Oh, well…food was not the highest priority on this trip. Besides, the day was getting away from us.


At last! The oaks were not dancing on this hot, still late afternoon but they were no less magnificent for that. We were greeted warmly, even though by now it was nearly official closing time, and encouraged to take as much time as we liked (these guys are SO gracious).


This place is inspiring. I swear, one of these days I will start out at the crack of dawn, pack a picnic lunch and spend the whole day here.


Of course it’s about the plants, but there are plenty of ideas for presentation as well. Any trip to Dancing Oaks should include plenty of time to wander the extensive display gardens.



There is a large plaza with water features. That huge pot on a pedestal holds bog garden plants and spills water into the pond.


Some of the happiest carnivores you will ever see live in the shallows of those water features.


Overlooking the plaza is a handsome building devoted to special gatherings and events. Get a load of the size of that palm on the left!


Not sure about the identity of this tree but loved the pale trunk and the candelabras of white flowers. Any ideas? I think that is ‘Esk Sunset’ on the right.


Everywhere we looked there were layers upon layers of elegant combinations.


See what I mean?


Even in death, these Alliums put on a show. Come to think of it, they do seem eerily spectral, haunting their little corner of the garden.


The chalices of this rain chain were a nice shape…and available for sale at point of check-out.


And now for a few parting shots, any of which I offer up as a vignette to link with Anna (Flutter and Hum) for her roundup of Wednesday Vignettes.



belated bloom day ending in a vase

Datura from seed

Datura from seed

Still enjoying the results from seeds generously provided by Botanical Interests at the Portland Fling. I sowed Datura seed in several pots. Each bloom is short-lived, starting out like this early in the day.


By early afternoon, it will have fully opened. Pam (Digging) has some mysterious evening shots you won’t want to miss. She mentions the scent, which I failed to notice. The next blossom to open is definitely getting the sniff test.

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The seed pods are nearly as interesting as the flowers. I am allowing them to go to seed. They are very easy to grow from seed, and I will obviously have enough to share. If you want some, just let me know.

Anemone 'Honorine de Jobeert'

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobeert’

I look forward all year to the late appearance of Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’.

Anemone 'Honorine de Jobert'

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’

She towers regally above her shady companions and the buds (little balls) are as interesting as the full blown flowers.

Kirengeshoma palmata

Kirengeshoma palmata

New to me this year is Kirengeshoma palmata. Some things are well worth the hunt.

Dahlia 'Sunshine'

Dahlia ‘Sunshine’

Because I lost Dahlias to gophers last year, I put new ones in pots. They are less showy than they would be in a border, but you do what you have to do.

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Same story with the lilies. I was so impressed with the lilies at the Portland Fling that I just HAD to have some. Out of several that I planted, this was the only one to produce a flower, and it was not the deep, rich orange I was after…one of the dangers of growing from bulbs or seed.

Dianthus gratiannopolitanus

Dianthus gratiannopolitanus

One of the truly xeric plants is Dianthus, so I’ve been adding them here and there in the hope that they will survive no matter what the weather gods throw at us. The thing is, they have a heavenly scent…so I put a few of them in this planter near the front steps to seduce visitors (and me) with their clove-like aroma.

Abutilon megapotamicum

Abutilon megapotamicum

Nearby is an Abutilon megapotamicum that has vining tendencies, unlike the more upright versions.

Bat-faced cuphe

Bat-faced cuphea

How cute is this? Bat-faced cuphea.

Crocosmia "Emily McKenzie'

Crocosmia “Emily McKenzie’

You can see by the sunburned foliage in the background that the Crocosmia have not fared so well in this hotter than usual summer, but ‘Emily McKenzie is blooming after skipping last year…so what are we to make of that?

Phygelius 'Moonraker'

Phygelius ‘Moonraker’

How subtle is this? Phygelius ‘Moonraker’ is one of those quiet presences so easy to overlook.

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Now let’s look at a posy of field daisies that makes a nice centerpiece for a luncheon out under the trees.

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They won’t last long, but placed into the square red vases, they make a statement about nature’s contribution to a luncheon “en Pleine air”.

This is what happens when writing a post after a long day and a couple of glasses of wine. I forgot to add links to Carol (May Dreams Gardens) for Bloom Day and Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) for In a Vase on Monday.