favoritism friday

Seems like most recent acquisitions usually qyalify as “favorites”.

Such is the case with ‘Tiger Jaws’ (they look more like shark jaws to me). When I said “I must have this”, R’s response was “you already have a bunch of plants just like it”. How unobservant can you get? Loree must suffer such comments frequently, when she sees the subtle differences from one Agave to another.

A snippet of Boston ivy, pilfered from a Thurman St. wall, is finally making its presence known. Will there be a vine-covered pump house in our lifetime?

Cotinus horizantalis variegata

Could happen. This groundcover began life in a 4″ pot some eight years ago.

Some combos shine at certain times of the year.

Ya gotta love a bed that requires almost nothing in the way of maintenance…would that it were always so.

Hebe ‘Red Edge’

OK, so after that intro, we’ll close with a couple more new additions: I’m crazy about the architecture of this Hebe. As a side note for those of you who live nearby: all hebes are on sale at 50% off at JC from Saturday (special bloggers’ preview) until closing at the end of October.

How can you not love the frilly foliage of Farfugium, one of my most recent heart-throbs? Loree at Danger Garden came up with the idea of featuring favorite plants on the last Friday of each month. No need to single out a favorite child…go for as many faves as you like…and next month you can do it all over again!

IaVoM fireworks

I’m still trying to figure out the best time to cut Solidago ‘Fireworks’ to get the best performance in a vase.

Solidago ‘Fireworks’

Here it is, growing in a sunny spot. If I cut it at this stage, it quickly fades in the vase.

I have it growing in several places so I sought out a shadier area to cut a couple of stems just coming into bloom.

Blooming nearby was Helianthus maximilianii. Then I added some Pennisetum (?) seed heads to reflect the smoky color of the vase.

Ah yes, the vase: another goody from Goodwill. I like the way the stems show, faintly, through the heavy, smoky glass.

It took me a while to realize it but a candlestick nearby insinuated itself into the composition, echoing the color and shape of the vase.

We found it at a street market in India. All of the wares on display were shiny new brass objects. You had to ask to get to see the old stuff buried in baskets under piles of gaudy new textiles. This doesn’t qualify as an authentic antique because a candle holder was added to what was originally an oil lamp.

I don’t give a hoot about authenticity…am just charmed by the figures and the patina of age.

Taking a look back at last week’s vase: I was getting ready to dismantle it, when something struck me about the forms of the dead Kniphofias. I’ve been immersed in The Dry Bold Border, with a wealth of fabulous photos from the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I’ve often thought that the knifs are about as close as we can get to the look of those incredible blooming Aloes of desert gardens. It seems even in death they bring something of the dry garden aesthetic to our PNW eyes. How I do go on. In a Vase on Monday has a way of getting us going about the flowers that we grow and, by extension, all sorts of other things. Thanks, Cathy, for dreaming up this addictive meme. It’s one addiction for which there is no cure, and aren’t we glad of that!

some observations


Things have been turning up in the garden that I know I never planted: hitch hikers, perhaps, in the pots of new acquisitions.

While the Pinellia in the first photo is more than welcome, this cheery, daisy-like creature will need to be relocated to a more appropriate setting. (no ID on this one).

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

A single pot of ‘Jack Frost’ spread to make a nice presence.


Little seedlings appeared in Jack’s second season…

to quickly become a colony. At this rate, I will have bounty to share (woo hoo…I can feel less guilty as I make off with a massive haul at the next bloggers’ plant swap).

Rosa rugosa ‘Buffalo Gals’ hip

Complaining about the weather has been a major pastime of late. Something about the ice and snow, followed by torrential rains, followed by the summer from hell has been to the perverse liking of a rugosa rose that I bought primarily for its huge hips (would that big hips could be considered an asset for the human form). At long last, ‘Buffalo Gals’ are swingin’ those hips as promised.


I’ve commented here before about the Crape Myrtle’s failure to produce any blooms. After 12 years in the ground, here they are and the color is not all that bad.

Lagerstroemia ‘Arapaho’

But speaking of color, this Crape Myrtle has it all: dark foliage and deep, rich red flowers. The one at JC is absolutely stunning: exactly what this little guy aspires to be when he grows up.

Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’

I’ve been enjoying this cape fuchsia for its long bloom and stamina…

but just look at the exciting pattern it’s been hiding. Now I challenge myself to find a way to reveal the hidden treasure by clever (not yet devised by me) placement in the garden.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

I was so annoyed by the leggy profile of ‘Limelight’, interfering with the view from our deck, that I had at it with the loppers in what I considered to be a brutal attack. Wowsa! It came storming back with lush new growth and the most imposing flower heads ever. This may cure me of timid pruning but we still can’t see the garden from the deck.

You may recall my enthusiasm for Antriscus ‘Ravenswing’ here. After careful preparation and planting, the sight we were greeted with the next morning was this:

The dreaded gophers strike again! Planting anything here is a gamble but we are gardeners…so what are you gonna do?

These handsome fellows wreak havoc two ways:

Sedum ‘Matrona’

There’s the nibbling, as here, where they nip off every flower bud. Then there’s the “antlering”, where they use tender saplings to rub the velvet from their racks in anticipation of the mating rituals to come. It’s easy to abhor, and declare war on, the gophers, who perform their evil deeds below ground. Hard to feel the same antipathy for the graceful and majestic stag…we all fell in love with Bambi, after all.

I’m running long but how could I leave out cosmic happenings? We were not in the path of totality at Joy Creek but 99.something should be almost as good, right? Not really, as it turns out, but sharing it with friends made up for a lack of true awesomeness.

And then there was this! The day after the eclipse, we were sent a cloud angel/phoenix. I can’t top that, so I will stop now.

in a new vase on monday

I scored this clever vase on my last visit to Goodwill.

It’s a vase and a frog all in one and the top lifts off for easy filling and cleaning.

I’m not in love with my first effort but do look forward to playing around with it some more. I cut the material in the early morning, leaving it in a cool, dark pantry. Some of the Kniphofia remained upright, while others curled up like little foxes’ tails. K. ‘Percy’s Pride’ is the greenish one and usually the last of the Knifs to bloom. I’ve lost track of the names of all the orange ones but did find one little straggler to add to the mix. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is just beginning to color up (my favorite stage) so I added a few stems of that. Euonymous ‘Emerald N Gold’ and Artimisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ needed haircuts so I tucked the trimmings in as filler.

I liked the idea of leaving some of the holes unfilled to contribute a graphic element.

Often the arrangements I do at work are displayed against a wall. This one is on our dining table, to be viewed from all sides. The “back” side has quite a different look: softer, and perhaps more in keeping with the color of the vase. You can catch the full array of this weeks vases by clicking through to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

2 foliage posts in one

Tetrapanex papiferus ‘Steroidal Giant’

Finally, after two failed attempts, I have my own Rice Paper plant taking hold and adding some big-leaf drama to Delusional Drive.

Kirengeshoma palmata

Though the common name, Waxy Bells, comes from the flowers, it’s the foliage that does it for me.

Even when it comes to pots for the entryway, I opt for a collection of interesting foliage…

…though when it comes to Coleus, a collection can be every bit as colorful as a floral display.

Thanks go to Pam at Digging for providing a forum where we foliage afficiandos can strut our stuff. Officially, it’s the 16th of each month but Pam is easygoing when it comes to strict enforcement. Another venue falls on the 22nd of each month, ‘Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day’, hosted by Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides. Her blog is a joy and well worth a gander any day of the month.

monday vase catch-up

I had so much fun on Saturday, making bouquets for our Twilight in the Garden party at Joy Creek.

This big, dramatic one is placed by the cash register, where there is a lot of visual clutter that the eye ignores in real life. Oh, well…The inspiration was the dark leaves and pineapple flowers of Eucomis ‘Oakhurst’. Finding color echoes was pretty easy: Eupatorium (does Joe Pye go by another name now?) makes a nice, fluffy filler, along with the leaves of a dark Heuchera. Pinot grapes dangle over the vase and a few stems of Leycesteria formosa complete the picture. The wind blows through the barn in the afternoons at such a rate that we need to secure the vase with rocks. I quite like the effect.

We had tables set up in the gardens to hold refreshments so we had need of several more arrangements.

The leaves of Pulmonaria and Hosta, a sprig of Lamium, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ still in bud and a single stem of Gladiola in a blue glass cylinder added up to a simple color scheme.

I can’t identify all of the elements in this one but I wanted to show it to you anyway.

An assortment of Heuchera leaves forms a little nest into which are inserted an assortment of Sedums, again in bud form.

Here you can see it set off by the metallic green of its vase.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Delusional Drive, that is) I’ve been keeping it simple, while still feeding the craving that Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday has instilled in so many of us. To sample her (and others’) latest creations, hop right on over to Rambling in the Garden for a peek.

a happy accident

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Atropurpurium' with NOID Clematis

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Atropurpurium’ with NOID Clematis

I’ve become a foster parent to many plants that have lost their tags or have passed the point where they are attractive enough to attract buyers. One such is this Clematis. I had no idea what to expect when I planted it at the base of the Pittospermum acquired from Loree at the spring bloggers’ plant swap. Imagine my delight when it crept through the branches of the small tree and produced a bloom that could hardly be a better color to contrast with the elegant dark foliage.


It began unfolding its vivid, pale lavender petals to reveal a purple center…


..growing ever paler with each passing day, while the tight knot of stamens opened into a fluffy pom pom with dark tips and insects nibbled notches around the edges. What a happy surprise was the entire process. Eventually, that bit of Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ that you can see in the first photo will form a tight ground cover with yet another color echo.

a vase & a new foliage fave


I seem to be into muted colors lately..a visual cool down for these super-hot summer days.


I planted Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’ for the berries. This is the first year that I got to them before the birds made off with them.


The little Sputnik pods are from Carex greyi.

Echinops banaticus 'Blue Glow'

Echinops banaticus ‘Blue Glow’

I had to fight the bees for this one.

Lysimachia 'Alexander'

Lysimachia ‘Alexander’

There are only a few stems in my big patch of ‘Alexander’ that retain the white margins. Most have reverted to all green. Some NOID Hosta leaves carry out the theme.


Now lets see…what else is in there? Several stems of Sedum ‘Jade Frost’ and some Amsonia foliage…all assembled in a cut glass rose bowl which has, so far, never been used for roses. I’m playing catch-up, but you can still click over to Rambling in the Garden for In a Vase on Monday.

Camaecyparis pis. 'Snow Reversion'

Camaecyparis pis. ‘Snow Reversion’

Now here’s my latest purchase…


and the inspiration for that purchase growing in the gardens of Joy Creek.


Here’s a close-up of that humungous specimen. It occasionally sends out green shoots that are immediately lopped off to maintain the integrity of the snowy mass. I’ll never see mine reach these proportions, but it’s all about the journey, right? Just ask Pam, over at Digging when you click through to see her Foliage Follow-Up.

in a vase

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A trip to the Goodwill Store yielded a couple of small vases perfect for this time of year, when the pickins are slim. I cut a few stems of Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ and one of Senecio greyii to pick up the blue tones of the stoneware vase.


Small hips shading from red to deep plum are from Rosa ‘Dortmund’ while the large orange hips are from a NOID red rose.

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There was a spot of sunshine in the back yard so I took a chair out there to showcase my little bouquet.


This last photo is to show you what a difference lighting can make. Here, it was coming from behind. My eye sees the color as somewhere between that shown in the two settings. For me, this is one of the major frustrations of photography. Oh, well…like gardening, it is one of those things that I will continue to enjoy but never master. Could that actually be part of its appeal? Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) provides a portal to a wide range of vases from clever bloggers, many of whom even found flowers for their posies in the dead of winter.

in a vase on monday


With all of the autumnal, burnished tones cropping up out there, I’m kind of going against the grain with this bouquet. The Anemone ‘Honorine De Jobert’ has been blooming for quite a while and I didn’t want to miss out on featuring it in a vase. After cutting a few stems of that, I decided to add a few white Cosmos to fill in. Some are the straight singles and others are the seashell form. The striped blades of Miscanthus ?, a few stems of Chasmanthium latifolium, Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’ and Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ are held in place in an oval clear glass vase by river rocks.

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One of my favorite features of the anemone is the little balls that are left behind as the petals fall.


I needed a plain background to set off the delicacy of this arrangement, making it difficult to get far enough away to include the whole thing in the picture frame. This was the best I could do. Once again, I am joining Cathy at (Rambling in the Garden) for her weekly In a Vase on Monday meme. Why not join in and let your inner floral designer shine?