Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m sometimes tempted to write off holidays that seem primarily Hallmark driven. But that’s the curmudgeon in me. When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day ranked right up there with Halloween. I can feel the cramp developing in my right hand just thinking about all those cards for school the next day.

First Communion, Holy Cross in Portland, Oregon.

First Communion, Holy Cross in Portland, Oregon. That’s little Patricia 3rd from left, 2nd row from the top.

My first communion picture is germane, because I used the Parish Bulletin as my checklist–to make sure I didn’t miss anyone. Everybody got a card from everybody. You’ll note my check marks end with Janet Nicholas. That’s when my mom caught me using what I guess she considered an important historical document. I wouldn’t remember a thing about it if I hadn’t gotten in trouble.

First Communion announcement, and hand check list.

First Communion announcement, and handy check list.

Hah. I guess Mom was right. I still have the damn thing.

Okay. What was I talking about?

Right. I love getting cards, for any occasion, though admit, I’m not great with a calendar. I have trouble sending the right card at the right time–always thinking everything is waaaay out in the future, until it’s in the rearview mirror. I’ve had some good Halloween cards in the drawer for years. They’re like plants that never make it from the pot to the ground. Is it like that for other people?

Of course, flowers are always lovely, for Valentine’s Day, or any old time. Mister likes them too, but in a different way. I don’t want to embarrass him here by showing damage. But you get the idea.

Posy & Mister snuggled to form a heart.

Posy & Mister — two kitties make a heart.

Last year I didn’t bring flowers inside because of him. But this year, as dog is my witness, they’re coming in–even if it means guarding full-time with squirt bottle in hand.

Paeonia NOID. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they bloomed on Valentine's Day.

Paeonia NOID. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they bloomed on Valentine’s Day.

And since the flooziest of my flowers don’t put in an appearance until May, there are other plant options to satisfy a heartfelt yearn–say Epimediums. Tony Avent penned this great article on the history of Epimediums aka Fairy Wings or Horny Goat Weed.

Many Epimediums dress in heart-shaped leaves. It's fairy-wing flowers are bonus.

Many Epimediums dress in heart-shaped leaves. The early spring flowers are just bonus. (April 2013)

I love this tough performer, in all its leaf forms.

Epimedium wushanense -- not heart-shaped, but look at it! (April 2016)

Epimedium wushanense — not heart-shaped, but look at it! (April 2016)

Here’s another that more nearly adhere’s to a heart-shaped theme.

Epimedium NOID (April 2015)

Epimedium NOID (April 2015)

The above was a gift from a former neighbor. I transplanted from our Alameda garden, and then abused heck out of it here as I moved it around trying to find it a good home. It’s tough as Honey Badger.

Epimedium NOID mingling nicely with another heart-shaped stunner Saruma henryii.

Epimedium NOID mingling nicely with another heart-shaped stunner Saruma henryi.

The Saruma henryi aka Upright Wild Ginger was a gift from Megan. She first saw it at Lan Su Chinese Gardens: it was love at first sight. This “hearty” plant was a start transplanted from her garden to my Alameda garden, and then finally here. Another tough and gorgeous performer–with velvety heart-shaped leaves.

Of course, my Epimediums don’t look anywhere near this terrific yet. But they will in short time. I got myself out into the garden today–the picture of that lovely Paeonia above inspired me. And praise be: I saw buds on an Itoh Hybird Peony, the one that produces these wild and crazy blooms. I call them all Floozies, but this girl is leader of the pack.

An inherited Itoh Hybrid Peony. I call her "Floozy".

An inherited Itoh Hybrid Peony, I’ve dubbed “Floozy”.

It was so nice to be outdoors–a respite from the rain. There was sunshine. I went for walk. Sweet vignettes were there for the viewing, and made my heart sing. We’re so close to full-swing gardening.

Little yellow flower encountered during neighborhood stroll. Yay.

Little yellow flower encountered during neighborhood stroll. Yay.

Wishing you hearts and flowers and plants this Valentine’s Day–with more sunny skies just around the corner.


The Cunninghams. That's me on the top, then David, Bobby, Dad, Edward, Mom with Philip, and Kathy.

The Cunninghams. That’s me on the top, then David, Bobby, Dad, Edward, Mom with Philip, and Kathy.

P.S. The card atop this post was my dad’s from 2nd Grade. The back is addressed to Clovis from Richard Hart; it’s marked 5¢. Amazing Dad managed to hold onto it all those years–especially with this household crew underfoot. He gave it to me in 1996. I asked for it as my inheritance. Irish folks. That’s how we roll.


  • Oregon Russ

    Heart full of succulents image from the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

  • Tim Vojt

    Happy Valentine’s Day. Those are some great historical photos of the not-so-distant pass. Love them.
    Great plant photos. I wish I had more room and sun for more peonies. Floozies are intoxicating.
    It took me a while to see what the fuss was about Epimedium and now I can’t get enough. Such tough and amazing plants with an amazing variety of leaf shape, habit and flowers, as well as foliage that (at times) changes color over four seasons.
    Love them!.
    I’ve looked at Eomecon chionantha with lust in my heart, but head it could spread fairly aggressively. May be just the right plant with a shallow-rooted tree.
    Enjoy your sunshine!

    • I think I’ve mentioned before–I thought about taking those peonies out. What was I thinking? Crazy talk. I hope that Eomecon doesn’t go too crazy. But lots of roots where it’s planted, so not much else will grow there. I need to get out and cut down all those grasses–while we still have sun. Rain for the rest of the week, and beyond. After the storm damage, I’m rethinking so many things. Ai yi yi. Did you happen to see Lance Wright’s scholarly article on “load of ice and snow.” This dude knows so much. I read the whole thing & will need to again. Tons of info. https://gardenriots.com/2017/02/05/the-strength-to-stand-surviving-the-load-of-ice-and-snow-in-portland/

      • Tim Vojt

        Thanks for the link. That’s quite an informative article-although I did not read the entire thing because it wasn’t really relevant, as my zone forces me to choose most plants that withstand that sort of abuse. I still enjoyed it. That guy is smart!

        • Ah. The pesky Zone thing. I want to go back and re-read Lance’s article, but I’ll have to rest up first. That was a long one. He always has tons to say. But I was particularly interested in how trees fair with snow and ice. We don’t often have to consider that. I’ve been looking at the damage around the neighborhood & trying to apply his logic of what fails and why. I never quite got how horizontal branches/joint are stronger. I think Lance said, they thicken at the bottom, and that what does the trick. Oooooh. So much to know. It could practically scare a gardeners off all but the most surefire bets.