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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Falling in love, with aloes

Falling in love, with aloes

Last spring, after hauling several awkward (and heavy) containers up from the basement, my husband Andrew proclaimed: “you really need to stop buying agaves and buy more aloes, they’re nicer.” I have to admit he’s right, aloes have considerably less-lethal spikes than agaves, and they can be just as dramatic in the landscape, even in containers – as I’m forced to grow them in my winter-wet USDA Zone 8 garden. They can however be fairly difficult to find in these parts (Portland, Oregon), something once true of the now, relatively, easy to find agaves that I love.

Aloe erinacea at the Huntington Gardens

Aloe erinacea at the Huntington Gardens, yes there are spikes but this one stays small and thus easily managed

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