the saga of the green pot

in its last location

This nice big green glazed pot has been migrating around the garden, looking for a home. I keep siting it where it seems to fit, and the surrounding vegetation slowly engulfs it.

backing up a bit

Up close, not so bad, but as we back up, it begins to disappear.

from the entry

Here it is, seen as walking from the parking area to the front of the house.

picking a site

In my determination to be more methodical about the whole thing, I backed slowly away from the house.

the long view

Trying to pick a spot where it would have the desired dramatic effect when approaching the house.

Yucca aloifolia

It had always remained empty, but now is planted with Yucca aloifolia, or Spanish bayonet, from Cistus. Rather than filling the whole pot with soil, I stacked nursery pots to a level where they could support a large nursery pot whose rim is perfectly positioned slightly above the rim of the ceramic pot. I figure I can always remove it if things get too gnarly in the winter months.

1/4-10 gravel

A trip to Scappoose Sand and Gravel was in order. We line up 8 of those five gallon buckets in a double row, and the attendant positions his big scoop right over them and lets fly. He has very good aim. Everything that falls outside the buckets get swept up and deposited into a ninth bucket. This is the gravel (1/4-10, crushed basalt that has been washed to remove any dust that might rise to the surface and form a crust) that gets incorporated into the planting soil mix and also used as mulch.

tools and soil mix

And here’s the soil mix: 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 gravel, 1/3 dark hemlock mulch. The blue handles are on heavy duty metal cutters to use on the roll of metal mesh (from Noami’s at $6.99 per roll) that gets put down to deter the evil gophers.

cardboard & wire mesh held down by rocks

In an effort to compensate for my tendency to overplant, I’m extending the bed by laying down cardboard, followed by metal screening held down by rocks.

new site from a distance

So here is the pot in its new situation as seen from a distance, coming in the drive.

looking the other way

And looking the other way.

another view

I have no illusions that this will be its final resting place, or that I will suddenly change my ways and resist the temptation to plant too many things around it and once again bury it under a deluge of plant material. Still, it was fun to take a more measured approach than my usual slap-dash. Another year or two should tell the story.

at the corner of “oops” & “not so fast”

opuntia (dead)

No amount of waiting or wishful thinking is going to bring the Opuntiaback to life. I see them growing happily around town, and I put effort into planting properly. Some sort of critter or bug had been nibbling on it before the rain set in, so it probably let in the moisture to turn it to mush. I think I will try one in a pot next.

Agave neomexicana ($)

The jury is still out on Agave neomexicana. I think it’s too soon to give up on it, but it is not looking very happy.

leather fern

Nearby, this crispy critter is Astrolepis inuata, or wavy cloak fern. Looks hopeless to me, but I won’t dig it up just yet.

sedums engulfing hesperaloe and yucca

Bucking the trend at the other end of the same berm, the sedums are engulfing a Yucca ‘Bright Edge’ and a hesperaloe. My plan is to extricate them from the sedum’s clutches, move them somewhere else and hope for the best. My best plans for this berm seem to be destined for failure, so I just may let the sedums have it.

Romney coulterii (dead)

Meanwhile, out at the fence-line, the Romneya coulterii was not looking good.

Romneya coulterii (it’s alive!)

But wait! What’s this? Sometimes I am too timid about cutting back hard. Mom Nature has no such qualms. Time will tell if it was just what this plant wanted.

Rhododendron sinogrande (?)

We were so disappointed when we saw how dejected Rhododendron sinogrande was when we carefully removed his winter wrappings. Those drooping upper leaves soon darkened, curled up and fell off.

Rhododendron sinogrande (in recovery)

Soon the lower stalks formed big buds that looked like they would become flowers, but no, here they are unfurling replacement leaves. Even that stalk in the upper left corner is showing signs of new buds forming. Hallelujah!

Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’

In the six years that my ‘Casa Blanca’ lilies have been growing here, they have never been bothered by slugs. I went out there the other day in the pouring rain and there were slugs draped across many of the upper leaves. Looks like they have feasted to the detriment of this year’s blooms. We shall see. I tore them off with my gloved hands (they resisted as if they had been super-glued in place) and threw them back into the woods where they are actually beneficial. I will patrol the area more diligently in future.

nibbled geum

And then there are the deer. A friend gave me this geum. The buds were swelling and just beginning to color up. I was looking forward to the splash of orange: just what this bed needed. Instead, the deer neatly nipped off each bud. Time to mix up a new batch of my evil witches’ brew to spray on susceptible plants.

geum (coming back)

It worked! Here is the first cheery orange blossom to make it all the way to maturity. If you want to try my formula for deterring deer, you will find it here.
hydrangeas (struggling)

My hydrangeas took a big hit with the one-two punch of two harsh winters. Some did better than others, and if you want to know which ones will be hardiest you should check out Joy Creek’s blog. Hydrangeas are one of their specialties and they devoted their most recent blog post to the subject.

wall pocket (my bad)

Sometimes we have no one to blame but you-know-who. I have had great success with Ipomoea batatas spilling from my porch pocket. I found a couple of them, plus a coleus with exactly the perfect complementary color at our local one-stop market and popped them in the pot. I kept them watered, but they insisted upon this dying act. Well, I emptied the pot, scrubbed it out and soaked it in bleach solution overnight. The new coleus housed there is doing fine. So how about you? How has nature, in her many guises, conspired for and against you so far?

dream time

Well, those of us who thought the gardening season had begun sure got smacked down, didn’t we? Instead of doing, we’re reduced to dreaming of our perfect gardens. A while back, The Oregonian ran an article comparing the typical flower border to one relying on foliage for its impact. Excuse the quality. This is a scan of a newsprint photo, so what can I say?
foliage border

This appeals to me for many reasons. I love the layering of the many shapes and textures. Many of the plants will bear flowers, but there are none in this photo and still it holds one’s interest. Having been through spring and fall cleanup of perennial-heavy gardens, not to mention the deadheading through the summer, the ease of this approach is no small part of its attraction. We already have a number of Italian cypresses in place to provide those exclamation marks, and the driveway curves much like the path in the picture.

our new border

Which is not to say that we haven’t a long way to go, but then that’s half the fun, don’t you think? This photo was taken early in the season last year, after a number of the shrubs planted in the fall had been wiped out by the harsh winter. Some new things went in and seem to be making it through this latest blast, but only time will tell. I will post another progress report in a couple of months, when we can see how everything has fared. But as long as we are dreaming, why not go for broke and take a look at another border:

cactus border

This one in Oaxaca’s ethnobotanical garden. Can you imagine strolling down this white sand path lined with towering cacti?
Then spending the rest of the day exploring the extensive collection of cacti, agave, tropical plants and succulents? Dream on!


I love seeing before and after pictures of other gardeners’ projects. Of course we all know that when it comes to gardening, there is really no “after”. Those pesky, wayward plants refuse to maintain anything like a status quo. Still, whenever I am feeling discouraged, it cheers me up no end to look at the pictures I took when we first moved here. (update in response to Loree’s query: moved here in 2004)


Looking toward the house from R’s studio (that’s a corner of it on the left, back when it was just a goat shed with a dirt floor)


Here is how it looks now, with the lavender walk in full bloom.


Except for the orchard and, of course, the surrounding forest, everything was a blank slate. This was the view from the front deck along the entry drive.


Now the drive is framed by berms and I am quite liking how it is shaping up.

I will do more of these progress reports as photos become available.