Snow Day

Snow Day

Controversy! Some of us at plant lust and friends love snow, and others hate it. I’m in the minority on the love-it side. Snow makes my heart happy. We only see it every few years in Portland, and it’s usually fleeting. I watch the winter weather forecast eagerly, looking for signs of hope. Most of the time, snowflake forecasts are fools gold. Even though I pray for snow, I understand the heartbreak when those of us pushing the limits of our planting zones have our hopes for mild winters dashed. I know a wintery day brings some people down the same way a 100 degree day sinks my heart. But the universe is indifferent to our suffering, all we get to do is watch. This weekend’s snow was followed by freezing rain. I know. Even less popular than snow. Some of the plants may not survive their ice bath. But boy was were they pretty. Opuntia NOID, shared by another Portland Gardener with a large mature plant. Hope that means it’s hardy. Opuntia humifusa should be just fine. Hardy to zone 4, and a real trooper, having survived a mad vandal ripping it to pieces one year in the heat of summer, and an over-crowded, over-shaded situation the next. This Agave NOID might be toast. It spent cold nights indoors in previous years. Such thick snow and ice for this poor thing. Maybe the squid agave will make it? Zone 8b. A girl can hope. Chief Joseph Pine shouldn’t be phased. The ice just magnified the gold needles. I really love this plant. The Fatshedera flowers looked like miniature...
Goodbye, winter

Goodbye, winter

Huge sigh of relief, we have arrived at spring. There will be plenty of time for celebrating the obvious beauty of the season headed our way. But now that winter is officially behind us, I want to take a moment to appreciate the plants that provided bright spots in winter’s final month. I love this garden-obsessed city. I’m so grateful to have neighbors with such showy winter plants in front yards were we can all enjoy them. And now that planting season is upon us, don’t forget to think about the stuff that makes you happy in the grey months so you have plenty of eye candy next time winter rolls around. One reason to welcome the cold weather is that it turns Chief Joseph Pine to gold. They were super hard to find a few years ago, and expensive. Now they’re much easier to find, but are still one of the pricier plants in the nursery. Which can be a problem if you have the desperately-want-the-plant-you-cannot-have disease. Thanks to this gardener planting his on the hell strip so we can share the view. And now that the weather’s warming up, it’ll fade back to green until next year. Edgeworthia’s huge bright flowers call from blocks away. The flowers glow like lightbulbs when the sun hits them. If you, like me, are completely without Edgworthias, this is a wrong we need to right this spring. Which one to get? One of the yellow varieties, like Edgeworthia papyrifera? Then again the orange Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’ is a good one, and orange flowers are more uncommon in winter than the yellow....
Unexpected groundcovers

Unexpected groundcovers

Groundcovers are… The icing on the cake? The bow on the present? The cherry on the sundae? Whatever cliche fits best, they deserve some special attention. Last week I realized how important groundcovers are to pulling together a garden, and I’ve been looking for some good contenders ever since. I’m sure we’ve all seen certain plants get overused as carpets in parking lot beds and in front of new homes as builders’ favorites, and those plants get crossed right off our lists. Lucky for us there is no end to new and unusual plants, which is why we garden, isn’t it? For groundcovers to make the cut on this particular list, they had to meet some basic criteria: – Be super cool or weird – Have a long season of interest – Don’t rely on flowers as the main attraction – Be reasonably easy to grow – Be frost hardy Don’t be something I’ve seen a million times Cotula hispida Where to start? The adorable silvery balls that catch beads of water and sparkle like diamonds? The soft texture you can’t help but run your hands through? The happy yellow globes of non-obnoxious flowers that pop up in summer and hover like tiny UFOs? Swoon. It looks too delicate, but our ever-trusty friends at Xera Plants say it’d do well between pavers. I’ll take one for every inch of sunny well drained soil I have available, please. Echeveria amoena, Baby Echeveria Echeveria is one of those plants I usually have to sigh and envy Californians for. Since we see sempervivums around here so much (and I still love them...