Witch-hazels are weird

Witch-hazels are weird

Think back to the first time you saw a Hamamelis (witch-hazel) in bloom. Did you think “wow, that’s beautiful!” or were your thoughts more along the lines of “what’s that freaky thing?” Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they are rather bizarre, like colorful crinkled up ribbons tied on bare branches.  Read More…

We Interrupt this Winter for a Sun Break

We Interrupt this Winter for a Sun Break

Could you use a little break from cold wet winter weather where you are? We’re approaching what I consider the “power through” part of winter in Portland. I get the winter doldrums later than some people, because I love it up through December, and clouds and rain feel right to this native Portlander. But I feel a twinge of impatience coming on. I want to clean up the messy plant skeletons and fallen leaves they tell us we should leave in the beds until spring, and get planting.

It’s plenty warm right now. Tomorrow’s forecast is 62°F. We’re headed into February, where we always seem to get a false-spring where you see people standing motionless on sidewalks soaking up the sun. It’s hard to believe that we’re still in for the late frosts that always hit. But be patient, we must.

This is the time of year I’d borrow a little sunshine and visit the non-dormant plants with a quick sunny vacation down south, if I had the opportunity. But it’s not in the cards this year, so I’m going to revisit some old photos I didn’t share from the desert garden outside of Las Vegas a couple years ago. Think warm thoughts.
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Childhood inspiration — sometimes you can go back

Childhood inspiration — sometimes you can go back

I always love hearing how, and when, someone caught the gardening-bug. In my case it was destined to be — it wasn’t anything I decided to do — gardening was just something you did, that everyone did. My grandfather grew a remarkable vegetable garden, wait — make that fruit and vegetable garden. He had the best raspberries in town and we snacked on sugar snap peas by the bagful. Both of my parents garden, although with regimented roles of dad as the lawn and veggie guy, mom as the tender of the “flowers” (even if it doesn’t bloom the ornamentals are referred to as “flowers”).

I don’t have strong memories of visiting nurseries when I was  kid, but I do remember stops at Northwest Seed & Pet. It’s a locally-owned business in Spokane, WA, opened 1944. As a kid what could be better? Your parents can get the boring stuff taken care of and you get to look at animals! Well, that was then. Read More…

A windowsill bark tray for little garden treasures

A windowsill bark tray for little garden treasures

I love giving gifts to gardeners. They can be so easy to please, as long as you know a little about their style. Miniature roses for the cactus lover would be a miss (but the cactus called miniature desert rose could do the trick). But when you’re talking about people who are happy playing in the dirt, you get to skip the mall, and never even change out of your muck boots if you don’t want.

One of my favorite presents I ever received was a piece of bark. Let me explain.

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rain — with a little gardening thrown in

rain — with a little gardening thrown in

Last week it was icy and cold, and I worried that I’d lost interest in gardening. Oh, I was still in it for my day job, researching plant info and managing the plant lust database. But I wondered if I’d made a switch akin to my relationship with magazines–wherein I’d stopped wanting everything in the magazine, and had become content to just look at everything in the magazine. I mean, who would want to go outside in thoroughly miserable, dangerous, inclement conditions?

Wait a minute!

Several days hence, it melted, and for a few glorious moments, blue sky appeared.

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Big, Bold, Statement Plants

Big, Bold, Statement Plants

I’m starting to think every front garden needs one. Mine sure does. A big old, stop-the-car, would-you-look-at-that, jaw dropping, statement plant. The kind you make sure to drive by when you’re in the neighborhood, like an old friend. Read More…

snow talk — with a little gardening thrown in

snow talk — with a little gardening thrown in

It’s an event when it snows around Portland, Oregon. Most of us don’t know how to drive in snow. And the city is not all that well equipped to keep things running smoothly, though they give it the ole college try. And they provide fair warning:

If you choose to drive, stay with your vehicle in a snow and ice storm. Any abandoned vehicle is subject to being cited and impounded. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.

People who move here from snowier climes are quick to rain on our parade. They think we’re ridiculous. But come one. Let us have a couple snow days in winter.

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