Good fences make good gardens

Good fences make good gardens

You know the saying “good fences make good neighbors?” Well, I believe good fences also make good gardens. When we first moved to Portland the house we rented had low (3ft) tall fences in the back yard, as did the next few houses in line. No privacy, and no consistency. My idea of a great garden doesn’t include leggy roses and 1970’s project cars, yet by default they were part of my rental garden.

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Cholla and the Chocolate Factory: Part Two

Cholla and the Chocolate Factory: Part Two

This week is a good reminder to be thankful if you are one of those lucky people who experience a rush when you see a great garden. Not everyone feels that way about plants, which seems like such a shame.

I remember as a kid, running into the living room on Christmas morning, scanning the fireplace mantle for bulging stockings: the sign that something magical had happened. A botanical garden is pretty much the same thing. Someone kind and generous and capable of miracles crept in quietly before you arrived, left behind things you love, and your whole job is to enjoy them.

This garden was one of those great surprises. I knew there was a garden at the Las Vegas area chocolate factory, but it was a bit of a gamble. Most of the photos I’d previewed were of the Christmas light display, making it hard to tell what kind of garden it would be. And how much nature could really sneak into a place like Las Vegas? Would there be neon lights and slot machines among the cacti? But no, just a serene space with over 400 plants, a couple lizards and rabbits, and a few other passers by.
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I Get Fickle

I Get Fickle

Throw a wee winter storm my way, and apparently I’m done with the garden. I thought I’d be better, get out there and do this and that. Then I told myself, it’d be a good time to turn my interest toward indoor plants. Some challenges have ensued. But outdoors, the speed with which I lose interesting is astounding. Does that happen to other people? Read More…

Nursery visit: Annie’s Annuals and Perennials

Nursery visit: Annie’s Annuals and Perennials

Annie’s Annuals and Perennials is unlike any other nursery I’ve visited. I’ll let Annie herself tell you why…

“From humble beginnings as a backyard hobby 20 years ago, “Annie’s” has evolved into a 2 ½-acre “growing” nursery here in Richmond, CA (across the Bay from San Francisco). We provide plants to about 60 independent retail nurseries and open our doors for retail shopping here at the mothership, 9-5, 7 DAYS a week! For fellow Plant-a-Holics living far away, we also offer our plants by mail order.”

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Cholla and the Chocolate Factory: Part One

Cholla and the Chocolate Factory: Part One

Do you ever find yourself on a family vacation, and you want to visit gardens while the rest of the gang has a different agenda? Nah. Probably never.

In May of 2012 I meet up with family in Las Vegas. They were on a multi-month rock climbing road trip. I’m not much of a climber, hiker, or camper but they were staying in nearby Red Rocks doing as much of all of that as possible. Sometimes they trick me into a desert hike with the promise of cool plants. I’ll admit it’s fun to see agaves and cactus blooming in the wild, but pretty quickly I miss air conditioning, running water, and rattlesnake-free walkways. But sometimes I trick them into visiting a chocolate factory with the promise of free candy, while I get to check out the adjoining botanical garden.

As far as family adventure compromises go, I thought this one turned out quite nicely. Ethel M Chocolates in Henderson is less than a half hour’s drive from Las Vegas. The property includes a small but lovely botanical garden that’s free for the public to wander about. Your non-gardening companions can take a chocolate factory tour if they’d rather, but the garden is the main attraction in my book.

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Nature versus Nurture: Oregon Coast Style

Nature versus Nurture: Oregon Coast Style

Proximity to mountain, valley, and ocean is high on the list of Portland grooviness. Every year around this time, I go on a retreat with my fellow Book Babes. We’ve been making the trek for twenty years now, and almost without fail, we get glorious weather for our fall outings. We’ve seen great November weather loads of times at the Coast; and at Black Butte Ranch near Bend; and at Domaine Margelle Vineyard in the Willamette Valley; and even in Mosier, a little town east of Hood River the Columbia Gorge.  I saw my first covey of quails in Mosier. So exciting.

Columbia River from Mosier

Columbia River from Mosier

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Inspiration on paper

Inspiration on paper

Before blogs there were books. Or maybe I should say, before I read so many blogs I read a lot more books.

I have mixed emotions when I look at the 3 nooks where I keep my unread garden-related books. There is excitement and anticipation, I can tell you when, where, and why I purchased each title (or put them on my wishlist, from which they were purchased for me, by others). There is also a little guilt and regret, why haven’t I read them already! I must read them!

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Fall eye candy

Fall eye candy

After several record setting warm dry months in a row in Portland, I thought winter might have passed us by this year. But there are rumors (some might call them weather forecasts) that tonight is the night wintery weather arrives.

I try not to get too excited about the snow in the forecast because it so rarely actually happens and then I am heartbroken. I doubt the snow will actually happen on Wednesday, but I think we really will get a frost tonight, and then dip down to the mid 20s the next night, so our gardens will start going to sleep.

Now seems like a good time to soak up some of the gorgeous fall display we got to see this year.
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I Need a Thicket

I Need a Thicket

Truth be told, I’m having trouble sticking with the Plan, big P plan. Oh, I’m weeding and shopping and planting, but I seem to be happiest muddling my way through without a blueprint. But see all that grass up there, I can do better.

A glorious Echium pininana arose in a place of its choosing; a seed that hitched a ride from our Alameda garden. I love exactly where it decided to grow.

Agave 'Silver Surfer' with Verbasicum 'Arctic Summer' pal.

Agave ‘Silver Surfer’ with Verbasicum ‘Arctic Summer’ pal.

I planted a Verbascum ‘Artic Summer’ in my last garden, and the next year it seeded itself next to an Agave ‘Silver Surfer’. A brilliant pairing, and not exactly my idea. I do it on purpose now, but the plant taught me where it should go; it showcased how big velvety leaves compliment rigid Agave spikes.

 

I also LOVE this combination of Sempervivums and Sedums. The planter was intended as a sink. I found it in the free pile after a street sale in my old neighborhood. All these sedums were rescued from the old garden. I tossed them in this outcast as a temporary measure. There were two free sinks, and I’ve yet to use the second one, but I’ve got plans–in that I plan to use it.

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