Fall foliage wish list

Fall foliage wish list

Oh, October. So dreamy, with the leaves all ablaze. And over much too quickly. If there’s one month where I’d like to press pause and enjoy it a little longer, it’s October. Second best to being able to freeze time is planting more of this stuff at home, so there’s more time to admire it.

Because there’s no such thing as too much fall color, I keep a running wish list whenever I see spectacular fall foliage I must have. This year has been bananas. So much jaw dropping, vibrant color everywhere. We’ve had a pretty dry October in Portland, so the leaves have been sticking around longer, and those that have fallen are dry and crispy.

In no particular order, because I haven’t the heart to rank one plant better than another, these are a dozen dazzlers that made the list.
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Black Flower Round up

Black Flower Round up

Just another warm sunny October day here in Portland. The usual.

When I travel, I always meet people who say “Portland? It must rain all the time.” Or my favorite, “You probably get snow year round.” I wish.

I’m soooooo tired of watering plants. Maybe later this week the skies will finally open and give us a break.

It’s not quite time for sweaters and boots and blankets and hot drinks by fires, which is when I really start getting in the mood for Halloween. But that’ll roll around soon enough.

In the meantime, how about some black flower ogling to get in the mood for spooky times? (more…)

Grasses Having a Moment

Grasses Having a Moment

I’ve been lying. Many a time, I have said, “pppffffftttttt, flowers, they don’t do much for me. I like leaves!” And what am I doing now? Screeching to a stop to go photograph and pet the blooms on the grasses. Nothing makes me lament my shady lot quite as much as seeing glorious grasses in full bloom, dancing around in the sun.
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Ushering Out Summer with a Mesmerizing Mystery Grass

Ushering Out Summer with a Mesmerizing Mystery Grass

Like it or not, the calendar, indifferent to our preferences, announces the final day of summer today. Me, I love this time of year. The heat loosens its grip on our days, and my favorite plants are peaking. Grasses are blooming, the big leaves are at their biggest. The angle of the sun makes everything look magical and golden. It gets me in the mood for plant hunting, and I’ve got it bad for this mystery grass. I’ve got to get this into my garden.

UPDATE: Okay this is funny. It turns out this is Stipa barbata. The Annie’s Annuals description describes this plant similarly, so if I had just searched plant lust for “Mesmerizing Grass,” it would have led me to its identity. How random. But the photos we had were from the stage where the flower looks more like mexican feather grass, before it gets all puffed up and wispy.
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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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Sweet Little Log Planters

Sweet Little Log Planters

We had a wonderful, cool misty break from summer heat last week. The plants and the Portlanders seem to be in much better spirits. I know I am.

We’ve naturally been showing off sun worshipping plants the last few months, but I don’t want the woodland plants to feel left out. I have always had a soft spot for shady characters that make me think of a cool, mossy, ferny forest. I’m loving the little log gardens I’ve noticed here and there lately.
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Tiny Garden

Tiny Garden

Happy September! This is my absolute favorite month. All the big leaved plants are peaking. Trees and shrubs start pushing new growth. The weather gets more cooperative for digging, moving, planting. And we’re bathed in golden diffused sunlight at the end of each day. What could be better?

I wanted to share another little bit of happy today. There’s a tiny but well done sidewalk garden on Broadway that always makes me smile. The bold, bright wall color is such a cheerful backdrop for a few well selected plants. I love instant gratification in a garden, and this is the type of garden you could pop in to a little sidewalk planter in an afternoon, and have a fab planting, no patience required.
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August’s Last Hurrah

August’s Last Hurrah

I’ve been holding out for rain, garden on pause. Avoiding the temptation of nursery visits. Averting my eyes to avoid confronting the sight of plants unquenched from my unreliable hose offerings. The weeds, they’ll have to stay until the soil more willingly releases them.

Could it be, the wait is finally over? Do I fall for the meteorologists’s sweet lies this time? The promise of precipitation? The return of workable soil, hospitable to new nursery spoils? Even though there remains another week of our typically hot, dry August to endure enjoy? Might our hottest, driest summer ever be prepared to yield, even briefly, to warm rains?
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This Summer’s Most Wanted Plants: Big Ol’ Flowers

This Summer’s Most Wanted Plants: Big Ol’ Flowers

I love finding inspiration from other people’s searches on plant lust. I’ll admit, I’m a little set in my ways in my garden, and sometimes doubt I’m going to be swayed by popular opinion. But I’m always pleasantly surprised at what jumps out at me and right onto my wish list. It shakes me out of my comfort zone and gets me checking out plants I otherwise would have overlooked.

This summer, our most popular search term was big flowers. Normally when I daydream about plants, big leaves come to mind, but I can get behind a big flower craze. Come to think of it, one of the most memorable plants I saw in a friend’s garden this spring was an unnamed peony with a plentiful crop of monstrous of a peach-ish-brownish flowers. Even a foliage lover like me couldn’t help but see the charm.
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