plant lust list: Camellia

plant lust list: Camellia

Seriously. There’s not Camellia one in my garden. I thought I didn’t like them. But I suspect it’s a prejudice born of those ubiquitous mis-pruned Camellias of my youth. When I was a kid, every yard had at least one, and usually more. Apparently, though, they ain’t supposed to be primarily giant light-blocking lollipops–good for concealing pint-sized, water-pistols packing assailants. I mentioned last week that I’ve been studying the Gosslers’ Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs. Focusing on one Genus at a time is much better than mad-scanning and racing to the next plant. Breathe, Patricia! Here’s what the Gosslers have to say about the lovely Camellia: These ornamental shrubs have been grown in their native lands for hundreds of years by gardeners, and they have been grown in Western gardens for at least 150 years. The glossy, dark green leaves of Camellia japonica are a standard feature in the gardens of the Pacific Coast, and in the South from Virginia to Texas. The flowers can be single, semidouble, or formal double, ranging in color from white to pink to deep red, with many hundreds of variations. Our problem in the Northwest is that the flowers can be blemished or ruined when they bloom in early spring. We have tried many forms of C. japonica over the years, but our climate is too cool, and the flowers are ruined most years by rain and cold weather. (OOOOOH, another reason I thought I didn’t like them. Wrong plant in the wrong place.) However, we really like some of the hardier species’ first-generation hybrids and Camellia x williamsii hybrids. Camellia includes an enormous range of...
in search of the gardening grove

in search of the gardening grove

I’m having trouble keeping track of what’s what. There was the holiday blur, with odd hours and events, vacation days, a couple December birthdays–or maybe a dozen–I can’t really remember. And then we had the situation with weather. So extra bodies around the house, some “working from home.” I always work from home, usually with plenty O’solitude. I didn’t get much done. There is rumor of more inclement weather headed our way, though I’m hoping it’s a ploy to get us tuned back in to local news. After all, the lines-at-the-airport and post office stories are wrung dry. So, I’m contemplating how to recover my gardening groove, or at least a garden-planning groove, but challenged. I’ve been digging out books and magazine, trying to hook something that will ignite a spark. Slow going. Also, what about gardening after it’s been weathering heavily? How long must one to wait to know what survived? For instance, when it has looked like this for over a week, what happens? Does snow really insulate the plants–or are frigid temperatures before and after a mitigating factor? I know, light-weight by many people’s standards, but big around these parts, and I have no idea. How do you plan around this? I can report that the Rhodocoma capensis seems to have pulled through with aplomb. It’s one of those mounds in the photo above, somewhere on the right. I lost track of what was where. Is that common in snowy climes, or just my ADD kicking in? The jury is still out on the Fatsia japonica to the rear. It’s standing partially upright again, but looking quite the Dr. Seuss character. The Black Mondo...
Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017

As you may know, the garden is in a bit of disarray. So instead of plant pictures, we’re sending along photos of some fine-feathered friends. This morning just as Bill and I headed out for a winter walk, I got the bright idea we should go look for herons to photograph. So we jumped in the car and drove five minutes to Whittaker Ponds, where bird life is generally abundant. Today, not so much. We saw quite a few ducks and geese, but they were way out in the middle–too distant for decent shot. And then as we were driving home, I espied a Great Blue Heron in a tree, right by chance, where I’d espied one a couple weeks earlier. A quick U-turn later, we were back on the trail. We crept stealthily toward the bird. Ah hah! The following pictures compliments of Bill Wagenblatt. Feeling as if we’d already had the best of luck, we hopped in the car and turned toward home, again. And THEN we saw a big white bird, the Great Egret, sitting in another tree, close to where we’d managed to scare away the first one. The photographer with the big lens over yonder. (Bill usually photographs vintage race cars, but he’s ever the good sport.) And then, grumpy Egret. I think he saw us and did not find us amusing. A little bit closer. Such stealth we employed to sneak up on this one, to his ever-growing chagrin. I gather when they shift from standing on one foot to standing on both, viewing time is becoming limited. But lucky us. Captured in flight. Coooool. Wishing you a wonderful new year, full...
getting a grip in the garden, one hopes…

getting a grip in the garden, one hopes…

How do I always forget how cold it gets when we head into winter? I always imagine I’ll do this task and that–after the weather is finished with being too hot. Hah! Rumor has it we’re getting our first freeze over the next couple days. Soon, I can put away any notion of wrapping up my gardening chores–at least for the next couple dark months. Thusly, I did a walk about out there–to see if that could kick me into high gear. We’ve had a super mild fall and a lot of the plants are still looking terrific. Poor things, their run is about done. And the Brugmansias, crazy how good they look. If they don’t survive, it was worth it, enjoying them all this extra time. It’s still blooming, for Pete’s sake. (We don’t have any mulch-worthy leaves in our garden, so I raked up a few bins from the neighbors’ yard. They have a giant big leaf maple, so leaves aplenty.) It’s colder this morning, and there was a bit of snow forecasted. Nothing is happening here–of course. I took the opportunity for a few shots around the garden, pre-snowpocalypse. (Native Oregonians often stand around holding our breath at the suggestion of snowflakes falling from the sky. I cannot tell you how many times the weather folks have snatched that football from beneath our feet, and yet, we stand, still breathless. P.S. Peeps who’ve moved here from snowier climes are asked to kindly refrain from commenting on disdain for snow. I’m serious!) Our snow is so fleeting–this from last January–so please let us enjoy it for the second or two it lasts. Back to the present. How crazy is this, the tropical-style...
I wish I’d planted that

I wish I’d planted that

The garden is feeling camera shy this week. It’s had a long dry summer and we are both really looking forward to some rain. I’m starting construction soon, finally replacing my chain link fence after years of masking the eyesore with plants. Since many of my plants took a beating this year anyway (due to many factors, spilt milk), it seemed like a good time to hit the pause button and get a proper backdrop in place. At this point I’m just coasting out the summer and looking forward to next season, in this case, spring, when the construction is done. In my fantasy garden “next season” is never two seasons away, waiting out the fall and winter in anticipation of spring, holding over with only the evergreens, so the garden isn’t completely asleep. It would be much more fun to approach winter with anticipation of a spectacular garden show. I have such envy every time I see winter trees and shrubs covered in fruit and berries, and realize the garden could still be unfolding all year round, festively decorated and inviting the birds to stop by. Arbutus unedo is topping my wishlist. The fruit is a showstopper. It looks like something sugared for a Thanksgiving platter. It’s related to the Pacific madrone, but much smaller and easier to handle in a city garden. It’s usually around 15 feet, but can top out at 30′. If 30′ is more space than you have, there’s also Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta,’ which grows up to only about 10 feet, or Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’ which grows to 8′. It likes sun but...