Where good beer and great gardens mix

Where good beer and great gardens mix

In its former life the building, and the surrounding grounds, served as an elementary school for my neighborhood. Students for miles around came to what was then known as the John D. Kennedy Elementary School – from it’s opening in 1915 – until it shut down in 1975. After its closing the building stood empty for many years, until the time came to tear it down and the neighborhood, along with those who had attended and taught at the school, together with the Portland Development Commission, fought to save it. Several proposals were considered, but the winning offer came from the McMenamins, founders of a thriving local chain of brew pubs, hotels and theaters. They started renovation in the spring of 1997 and on October 22, 1997 the doors reopened… Read More…

Grasses Having a Moment

Grasses Having a Moment

I’ve been lying. Many a time, I have said, “pppffffftttttt, flowers, they don’t do much for me. I like leaves!” And what am I doing now? Screeching to a stop to go photograph and pet the blooms on the grasses. Nothing makes me lament my shady lot quite as much as seeing glorious grasses in full bloom, dancing around in the sun.
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sod reduction: this could work, right?

sod reduction: this could work, right?

Ever so often, I ask my gardening pals about sod removal. What are their favorite techniques. Should I try this? Should I try that? How about the lasagne method–that’s a thing, right? Is there an easier way than stripping sod and hauling it away? Etc. Ad nauseum. I do most sincerely apologize for being Patricia the Pest. But I need to know these things. I love knowledge. Plus we inherited a lot of lawn with Flamingo Park.

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Ushering Out Summer with a Mesmerizing Mystery Grass

Ushering Out Summer with a Mesmerizing Mystery Grass

Like it or not, the calendar, indifferent to our preferences, announces the final day of summer today. Me, I love this time of year. The heat loosens its grip on our days, and my favorite plants are peaking. Grasses are blooming, the big leaves are at their biggest. The angle of the sun makes everything look magical and golden. It gets me in the mood for plant hunting, and I’ve got it bad for this mystery grass. I’ve got to get this into my garden.

UPDATE: Okay this is funny. It turns out this is Stipa barbata. The Annie’s Annuals description describes this plant similarly, so if I had just searched plant lust for “Mesmerizing Grass,” it would have led me to its identity. How random. But the photos we had were from the stage where the flower looks more like mexican feather grass, before it gets all puffed up and wispy.
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thank you rain gods

thank you rain gods

The big winter weather joke around the Pacific Northwest is a forecast calling for “snow on the valley floor.” That’s the Willamette Valley we talking about, and we hardly ever get snow, at least on the northern end. Those of us who grew up here are always rooting for the white stuff. It creates a magical world that we rarely see. Some even have a strict snow policy, and I’m all for it. People who move here from snowier parts of the country often have trouble letting us enjoy our fleeting glimpse of snowflakes. We’re glad to have you, especially if you garden. But if it’s not too much to ask, might you please refrain from spoiling our brief snowy good times.

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You know you’re a collector when…

You know you’re a collector when…

Q. How do you know you when you’ve crossed the line and officially become a plant collector, rather than “just” a gardener?

A. When you buy a plant just because it’s so darn bizarre and the words written to describe it, “truly a plant magnet for the plantaholic,” seem to insist you must, simply must, have it.

Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Laciniata’ has been on my radar for a while now. I’ve always regarded it as a peculiarity. Interesting – but not something I “needed.” However there I was, at a plant sale, not looking for anything in particular when I spotted a nice looking little specimen. Then I read what our plant lust nursery partners had to say about it and – just like that – it jumped into my arms! Read More…

The Plants of Union Way

The Plants of Union Way

Have you noticed a trend of stylish shops with stylish plants on display? I’m seeing a lot of good plants in new places, and I like it.

My stepfather was stationed in Germany when he was in the military, and always remembers coming across a sign which read “Grün ist Leben,” green is life. Indeed. We never really knew what the sign maker intended. I guess it could be interpreted as a drug reference, but we like to think it’s a gardening thing.

Recent Design Within Reach catalogs showed off their fancy pants furniture alongside big agaves and cacti. I’ve noticed agaves and yuccas and opuntia, oh my… in all kinds of fashion photography. It makes perfect sense to me. Plants should be a part of our lives. Grün ist Leben.

Birthday-season has kicked off in my world, and I have a gift giving occasion just about every weekend from now through the end of the year, making September-December one big holiday party blur. For reasons I can’t explain, not everyone wants plants as gifts, so I’m venturing outside of the nursery shopping I’d really rather be doing during this frickin’ perfect planting weather. Happily, plants are having a moment in stores of all kinds, so there’s still some garden-y inspiration to be found while wandering the aisles.

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Yellow on Green, Part 2 – the spikes

Yellow on Green, Part 2 – the spikes

Last week I shared a few of my favorite yellow variegated plants, the soft ones. The ones that don’t want to draw blood or poke your eye out. This week stand back, grab a band-aid and (hopefully) enjoy as we look at the spikes…

This gorgeous Agave lophantha was a gift from a fellow Agave-addict, Gerhard. It was a pup from his plant, and just a year into living here, in my garden, I see it’s already sending out four pups at it’s base. You’ve got to love a plant that makes you more free plants. Read More…