autumn leaves…etc.

autumn leaves…etc.

Summer is glorious but I have always been drawn to the subtlety of the muted tones as things wind down in the garden. Here is the latest example: Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ has been starring in a parade of bouquets at Joy Creek. It lasts and lasts. This week the supporting cast is especially strong: Cotinus ‘Grace’ and Hydrangea quercifolia foliage, the fading blooms of Hydrangea ‘King George’ and several plumes of Miscanthus ‘Cosmopolitan’.

Meanwhile, at home, Iris ‘Immortality’ is gifting me with a second flush of blooms. I like a single flower, backed up by a branch of Ponciris trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ (those wicked thorns would do any dragon proud), complete with three of its fruits. It should be fun to see what others are finding to put in a vase as the choices dwindle with the season. Go to Rambling in the Garden to get in on the act.

my special island

early days (with visitors)
recently (with mothers day orb and new tree)

I decided to begin a new island where it would get full sun. I call it Bali Hai, referring to the song from South Pacific…”Here am I, your special island, come to me, come to me.” Richard finds this super-silly, but oh well… This summer photo features Penstemons ‘Margarita BOP’ on the left and ‘Blue Springs’ on the right. The folks that discovered Margarita used to end their days on the back porch drinking Margaritas, hence the name, BOP standing in for Back Of Porch.

Chamaecyparis lawsonia ‘Blue Surprise’

I was so excited when I brought home the little tree in the upper photo (isn’t that color to die for?) Well, die it did. If you look closely you can spot a small tuft of green at the base so I’m not giving up on it (anything could happen).

early planting of Siberian bearded Iris
Those same Iris ‘Immortality’ blooming in May

So satisfying and they are giving me a second bloom right now. More iris? Yes, please!

Carex ‘Ice Dance’ (I think)

My good friend Anna gave me a big clump of this, which I separated to make a nice sweep of grasses.

and look at them now, with Lavendula ‘Marshwood’ in the foreground.

I have been incommunicado for some time. If you are reading this, you have somehow refound me and I would love it if you would tell me how in the comments. I now go as, which makes a lot more sense than my prior handle. It took a lot of time on the phone with various providers to get here, but WELCOME! I hope this is the start (or renewal) of a beautiful friendship.


So much of what is bloomingnow is a treat for the nose. I look forward to the scent of lilacs that transports me to my gram’s casual side yard (never referred to as a “garden”). The bottlebrush blooms of privet and a few store-bought Alstromeria fill in the blank spots.

Lily-of-the-valley, Convallaria majalis is taking over the bed where it was introduced. I was warned, but it just means I can cut as many as I like and sniff away.

Enkianthus is an extremely slow-growing tree with clusters of bell-shaped flowers adorned with subtle stripes.

See what I mean? I adore these.

This is indeed the season for an embarrassment of riches. Excorda ‘The Bride’ is showing off her gown of white and turning heads. The Rhodys are strutting their stuff (here we have ‘Horizon Sunset’) along with Choisya ‘Sundance’ with fragrant white blooms.

Whensome things wimp out, others come along to take their place. Here I added three stems of our native Camassia and a few Centaurea montana.

Who doesn’t love a touch of blue?

The red vase was just asking for some red Rhodies and a dark Anthriscus leaf to set them off. Am I filling every nook and cranny with flowers? You bet! Why, there’s even a little posy in the port-a-potty. Don’t mis out on Cathy’s collection of bloggers’ vases at Rambling in the Garden.

Now…if you are moved to leave a comment (and I adore getting comments) please do not be put off by the ominous “fatal error” message. I haven’t the skill to fix this annoying problem. On the up-side, your comment will appear nevertheless, so please ignore the nasty warning. Who knows what WordPress is up to here: seriously, if you have any ideas for a fix I will be eternally grateful.

magical succulents + iavom

They tend to be a bit fragile, so bits and bobs are always breaking off from the mother plants.

I had a pot that needed some filling in at ground level so just poked those bits into the soil. Voila! In a matter of weeks they had surpassed all expectation. Kinda reminds me of Jack and his magic beanstock.

This little vase is an afterthought because it took shape a couple of weeks ago. The mums last and last in a vase even though the great outdoors destroyed what was left out there. Supplemented by some dried Persicaria and Chasmanthium latifolium and a decorative leaf plucked from a NOID houseplant, I’ll offer it up for Cathy’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’.

dahlia time

You still have a couple of days to catch the dahlia festival at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby OR. We went last Monday to avoid the crowds…HAH! It was wall-to-wall people but a fun, festive atmosphere. (I just missed catching a shot of an adorable little girl peeking out the center of that flower graphic)

Row upon row of incredible flowers stretch as far as the eye can see.

Thanks to clear signage, you can wander the fields to create a list of must-haves.

My latest heartthrob is the pom pom form, like ‘Maarn’, above. Hard to believe that nature can produce such geometrical perfection.

‘Spartacus’ is a whoppin’ big guy with recurved petals and a velvety richness.

‘Gitt Crazy’ has wonderfully modulated shades of color and a name that must have come from a late-night session fueled by who-knows-what.

The fields will be open through September. Here’s a glimpse of what you will miss if you can’t make it to the festival: music, food, crowds of happy people, and extensive indoor displays of cut flowers like those above. I prefer seeing the flowers growing in the fields, where the varying heights and strength of stems are obvious.

We came home with a nice bouquet…

…and a full color catalog that I cut up to make my selections (it was a little too overwhelming to me to make up my mind on the spot). Prices range from a low of $5.95 to upwards of $25.00 for new introductions. You can order online HERE for delivery at planting time. OOOH what bouquets I dream of making next summer!

company coming…what to do?

Richard has a passel of Estonian cousins who were converging in Portland for a big family reunion. I knew about this a year in advance and had visions of getting the whole garden ship shape by the first of October.

Hah! You know what they say about best-laid plans. At least I had enough sense to concentrate first on the approach to the house. Delusional Drive was fully weeded and looking pretty darn good, if I do say so.

Once I accepted the fact that that was as far as it would get, I put out a few banners to dress up the drive a little more…

…and let it go at that.

Once they reached the front deck, there was plenty of food and drink to distract them from the flaws in the rest of the garden.

And after all, the point of the gathering was to catch up and retell the fascinating stories that make up the family lore.

R did conduct a few tours, primarily of the forested area, where Mom Nature never needs to apologize for her gardening skills.

Then it was off to Neskowin, a charming little beach town on the Oregon Coast.

Beachcombing, of course, but wandering the lanes here are a treat for the horticulturally inclined.

Cottages have ruled for years but new construction is often upscale and modern, with landscaping to match.

The cottage gardens tend toward the blowsy and colorful.

This gardener was not shy about the use of color.

The use of driftwood and stones establishes pride of place.

Coastal storms have a way of sculpting trees into works of art. Often they are the only ornamentation needed.

Here the remains of a tree support a collection of whirligigs to turn in the wind.

A fitting farewell to the beach and the cousins: sunset looking out to sea with Proposal Rock in the background. this year I really really do hope to whip this garden into shape.

winter vase

Richard brought in the lichen-covered twig some time ago and paired it with the little faux birds nest (made by Monica, our Joy Creek display wizard). I thought to tie the little red wooden birds onto the branch. They are fairly heavy, so I needed another branch for a counterweight to keep the whole thing from falling over. Hence the Berberis thunbergii with the bright red berries.

Sitting on a windowsill, it’s the first nod to holiday decorating…we’ll get into full swing this weekend.

Meanwhile, I must show you this handsome fellow. A friend gave me a gift certificate to the Backyard Bird Shop…what fun! Now you can have some fun by clicking through to Rambling in the Garden, where Cathy will put you in touch with her flower arranging blogging buddies par excellence.

a monday un-vase

Our illustrious leader, Cathy, celebrated the anniversary of her beloved ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme with a challenge: use something that is not exactly a vase. Well, I’ve been derelict in my posting lately but could hardly pass up such an opportunity. Froggy usually holds a pencil or two or just sits around being uselessly decorative.

I wanted to keep it simple so that the impression would be of him shooting out his long tongue to capture supper. Thus a single stem of Chasmanthium latifolium, the red leaves of Nandina and a dried wand of Persicaria.

When you visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden you will need to backtrack a few posts to see all of the inventive solutions by her huge and growing cadre of devotees. If you choose to do so, it will be well worth your time.

favoritism friday

Hamamelis ‘Diane’

Naturally, favorites this Fall have a lot to do with color. In the shadows to the left is a Nandina in shades of red. Center stage is occupied by a Witch Hazel sold as ‘Diane’. The blazing orange foliage is typical of her and she blooms red, just as she should. Shooting skyward out of the center springs anotherHamamelis altogether, which is currently covered in yellow blooms. For a couple of years, I cut out all of those tall center limbs. More recently, I decided to let her have her way, with these results.

Am I glad I did? Despite the rather peculiar growth pattern, I have brilliant foliage with flowering branches peeking through.

In the east berm,Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’ adds red notes, a couple of barberries sport a melange of autumnal hues to set off bright red berries and a Heptacodium miconoides towers above it all with those pinky-orange bracts that take over after the flowers have had their turn.

Every once in a while, a combination turns out exactly as planned (hoped for). So it is with Dahlia ‘Karma Sangria’ and an unknown Chrysanthemum.

There are more of the Dahlias atop those tall stems outside the picture frame. A few of the stems bent down accommodatingly to fill in near ground level. Loree at Danger Garden may be abandoning her end-of-month Friday Favorites meme, so be sure to catch what she’s loving right now.

dahlia divas in a vase on monday

Dahlias are the stars of the garden right now. I started mine late so they are just coming on. I fear they may not reach their peak in the race against frost. The pinky-apricot ones are ‘Karma Sangria’. The dark one, barely distinguishable from the Coleus foliage, is ‘Shadow Cat’. Someone with imagination came up with these Dahlia names (not the cringe-worthy handles we often run across).

Aster ‘Purple Dome’ joins the dark background. Yes, I know they are no longer “Asters” but I refuse to memorize the ridiculously long new designation.

There are a few wands of Liriope ‘Big Blue’ hiding in there and some foliage of Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’. For more vases on this Monday, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.