Beauty and Brawn: Nolina ‘La Siberica’

Beauty and Brawn: Nolina ‘La Siberica’

If ever there was a must have plant, this is it.

I found my Nolina ‘La Siberica’ at Cistus Nursery. Nolina (isn’t that a great name) lived happily in our Alameda hellstrip garden for two years. When we moved last April, we transplanted her to Flamingo Park; she has not missed a beat. At the time of year when the garden looks a little bleak, this stellar performer deserves unabashed praise.

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The roots (spikes) of my obsession

The roots (spikes) of my obsession

A few years ago, at a party for “plant people,” I was introduced to a friend’s new beau. His first question, “favorite genus?” I didn’t hesitate, not even for a second, before answering…agave!

As I may have written here previously, my being a part of this plant lust endeavor can be traced back to a love for agaves and my personal blog, danger garden. My business partner Megan and I met because we read each other’s blogs, and we wrote about our passion for agaves, a lot. Of course being two introverts it took our third partner, Patricia, to actually get us talking, in “real-life.”

Recently we enjoyed lunch with friend-of-plant-lust Derek Powazek. Having escaped the big city (San Francisco), Derek seems to be adjusting to life in Oregon just fine. I won’t share too many details but he’s only been here a few months and has already bought a home, built raised beds and started a vegetable garden.  There’s talk of chickens. He did admit there’s one thing he’s missing…

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UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

So close, and yet…

I was in Berkeley last week, mere minutes away from so many places I wanted to visit.
15 minutes away from Annie’s Annuals, where I wanted to grab a few Musschia wollastonii, among other things.
30 minutes away from The Ruth Bancroft Garden, which I learned just this weekend expanded their retail shopping area.
A half hour away the other direction to get to the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
15 minutes away from University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley.
And this one kills me. A mere block away from Cactus Jungle.

Sadly, there was no time. Meetings started before places opened, and ended after they were closed. I’m kicking myself for not scheduling a return flight a couple hours later just to get a quick fix.

Double sadly, I did a California road trip a couple years ago from Palm Springs to Portland, and visited most of these places, bored my travel companion taking a million photos, and lost most of the photos in a computer backup failure. Tragedy!

All that remains are my memories and a few precious photos of UC Berkeley Botanical Garden.
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Dwarf Bigleaf Magnolia: One Sweet Tree

Dwarf Bigleaf Magnolia: One Sweet Tree

It’s hard to imagine there was a time I didn’t lust for specific trees. Not that far back, I could identify maples and conifers, and that’s about it. Now my list explodes with possibility. If you love tropical-looking, big gorgeous fragrant flowers, and quick gratification–Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei is just the tree for you. I found my at Cistus Nursery, and though it’s been in a pot for the past two years–awaiting placement in our new garden at Flamingo Park–it bloomed its wee heart this past season.

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I go out walking…

I go out walking…

One of my very favorite things to do is to walk a new neighborhood. Be it in my own city or one I’m visiting only briefly. There are always things to discover and they’re easier to see when you’re on foot…

I am attracted to dark houses, they seem more grounded in the landscape. Of course the fact they emphasize the plantings is a bonus.

dark house 1
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Berkeley Bound

Berkeley Bound

I’ve got a quick trip to Berkeley planned, and like any good plant-a-holic, I did a quick google search to see if there’s a chance to sneak in a quick nursery visit. Turns out I’ll be 17 minutes driving distance from Annie’s Annuals. Hmm. If there’s any break in the action, I just might be able to swing it.

I’ll have to be quick, none of this reading tags and hemming and hawing allowed. Get in, grab the plants, and get out. I’m ready for it. I’ve got a plant on my most-wanted list, I’ll stuff five or six of these in my carry on bag.

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plants en masse

plants en masse

 

Mass planting has its place, as evidence by the Hakonechloa shown above in my previous garden. People couldn’t resist petting it when they walked past. It was a such successful grouping, mentioned by Ms. Nestmaker way back when. I actually put that together, and then loved it. Isn’t that the greatest thing about gardening? You plant things, and often get even more spectacular results than imagined. It still surprises me no end, the great things plants do.

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plant lust, contained

plant lust, contained

It started with an innocent comment on Facebook. I mentioned I’m running out of space in my garden, and with no big projects this year I wasn’t sure where all the plants I’ll have to buy this season were going to go. Grace encouraged me to think about planting in containers as a way of squeezing in a few more. What!? Obviously she hasn’t visited my garden, otherwise she would never encourage the madness, and I told her so. She responded saying “I bet you don’t have more than I do”…

Sounds like a challenge right?

First I should tell you a little bit about Grace. She’s a fellow Oregonian who lives south, in Albany, and blogs at Gardening with Grace. Grace is also part of the plant lust team, she joined up with us last fall and works behind the scenes as a research consultant helping to flesh out the plant lust listings. She is also the author of Grace in the Garden: Thirty Years of Blunders and Bliss.

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A few good moss imposters

A few good moss imposters

Tell me I’m not alone. Now that it’s all moist and mossy out there, I frequently see moss that stops me in my tracks. There are just so many strange-good variations. I’m pretty sure people think I’m nuts, stooped and closely examining a rock or a spot of bark dust in a parking lot. “But this moss is different from the other moss, and I need to see what it feels like” I want to explain. But either I still look crazy, or I’m talking to a fellow crazy plant person, in which case they already understand.
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always more to see

always more to see

Have you ever noticed, the more you see, the more there is to see.

plant lust has changed my life in so many ways. I love working here. And by here, I mean at home with computer, cats literally on my keyboard, and the garden steps away. My boss, Megan, who says she isn’t my boss, is most definitely no slave driver–except insofar as it applies to herself.

 

IMG_2178_Datura

Datura flower with bee. Didn’t see till I stuck my nose in there.

 

In the beginning, what I didn’t know was legion. As irony would have it, the more I’ve learned, the worse it’s gotten. Oh I have learned tons, I’ll give you that, but it’s like anything you examine closely, the more you look at it, the more you realize there is to see. But that’s a good thing, right? Where I used to go awry more frequently, is in believing that I have to know it all before I could even get started. This is incorrect.

Datura Seed Pod

Datura Seed Pod

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