cocktail flag


Our super-charming cousins, Noami and Ian, have been in town, and introduced a new use for what I have always called “Pot Flags”. Noami describes it better than I do (in the post linked above), but basically the concept is to put out a flag whenever the bar is open, or you are just in the mood to entertain. That way, friends or neighbors will feel free to pop in when the time is right.

As it turns out, buying through my website was less than self-explanatory, so I will be working on correcting that. In the meantime, I have begun to add flags to my Etsy shop, where more will be added on a regular basis.

bookies in sellwood

Delma lives in the Sellwood neighborhood. She hosted our book club in her art-filled condo Saturday afternoon, and then we went for a walk around the ‘hood.


One intersection is designated as a community gathering place, with hand-built structures on each corner. This one is a play station for kids. The street itself (in the foreground) is painted with swirling, colorful designs that are changed or updated regularly.


Under-cover benches grace two of the corners. I think this is straw bale construction. Love the streamers. Directly across from this bench is a coffee/tea station with a couple of carafes, tea bags and a selection of mugs on pegs.


We couldn’t resist trying out the other bench, but it was way too cold to linger for long. The orange house in the background gives you some idea of the character of the neighborhood: lots of old-time houses, gardens galore, and in-fill projects designed to complement the mix.


Before we move on, here’s the artful little news kiosk, filled with local newpapers “The Sellwood Bee”, produced just down the street.


The commercial strip is lined with antique shops and boutiques. On this weekend, they had conspired to put on “Decemberville”, complete with horse-drawn carriage rides up and down the main drag, and goodies like hot cider and homemade cookies offered for browsers.


Fittingly, the swankiest building on the strip holds a shop filled with luxury items from many eras.


Just inside the door is this room-high tree with a white feathered peacock.


One of many chandeliers. There wasn’t a one of us who failed to find something to lust after in this shop…which made us short on time to do the other intriguing places justice. You could do worse than to plan on spending a whole day soaking up the atmosphere in Sellwood.

new shop on Etsy

Have you discovered Etsy? It is an online shopping site for handmade items. I just opened a shop there to sell the pillows that are the latest offshoot of my line of banners, pennants and flags. All are the result of an effort to bring color into the garden, even on the grayest days.









I would like to invite you to visit my shop to see more photos of each item. Tell me what you think. I always value the kudos, brickbats and/or suggestions of this close-knit community of bloggers. Thanks!

weddings & banners


Anna chose a pale turquoise for her bridesmaids’ dresses and other accents, so the banners marking entry to the grounds played off that, while the banners near the altar used many variations on white, with only the streamers in turquoise.


Each of those white chairs held a pierced wood fan with a greeting from Gil and Anna. The fans were pressed into service immediately, as it was an unusually hot day (though not into the 100’s as predicted). You can see the banners in the distance, over the heads of the handsome crowd.


First down the aisle was Linda (mother-of-the-bride), setting the bar pretty high in terms of beauty and graciousness.


Whitney, Anna’s sister, was maid of honor. See…it runs in the family.


And here comes the bride…on the arm of her handsome father, Barry.


No gardener will fail to note the floral arrangements throughout this wedding, from the bouquets and boutonnieres to the lavish arch seen here.


The horse arena had been converted to dining hall, complete with hardwood dance floor


While the displaced horses loitered just outside, as if to provide a little extra atmosphere.


Even the cake carried out the theme.


Waving goodbye to sated guests, a last banner marks the exit.

ANLD recap

After a long stretch of overcast days, the morning of the ANLD tour dawned bright and clear, with a gentle breeze and temperatures in the 70’s. I made a list, but failed to check it twice. As a result, I left behind a very important item…my camera! Oh, well, you will just have to take my word for it: the banners were smashing in the two gardens designed by Mary Baum. Her main garden on the tour featured a formal garden in the front (in keeping with the colonial design of the house). The owner fancies red, so liberal splashes of bright Geum encouraged me to place a red and purple Which Way close to the house. The large expanse of perfect lawn provided a background for several Spinnakers. The broad front porch was furnished with white wicker furniture…what a setup for decorative pillows.

Across the street, Mary has created a garden in perfect harmony with the charming cottage, while avoiding the typical “cottage garden” look. Unusual plants abound, and the tapestry of acid lime greens, deep burgundies and golden ground covers were just the foil needed to display Pistil (the bracket was even already in place).


A couple of Spinnakers in compatible colors flanked the front walk.


dan hinkley was here

Yes, that Dan Hinkley, he of the vast knowledge, storied reputation and fabulous gardens. Considering all this, I feared that his talk might be a bit over my head. Instead, he had his large audience of hortheads in stitches a good deal of the time, and the all-too-short presentation flew by.

Always, he has been known for his far-flung travels to discover rare and exotic plant life. He then painstakingly coaxed these treasures into production to offer to an eagerly awaiting audience. Many of us who fell hard for them lacked Dan’s skill at meeting their diva-like requirements and they languished in our own gardens. Here is an excerpt from the HPSO flier announcing his appearance:

Now, with the benefit of time and experimentation, he has drawn some conclusions about garden plants which, despite their novelty, exquisiteness or pampering, are bound to let us down, and those which, on account of their familiarity, subtlety or effortlessness, are often overlooked or ignored altogether, even though they unfailingly reward us.

Woohoo…this was to be a talk about plants we can all grow, a foolproof list of old reliables. I expected him to wax eloquent about Rhododendrons, but it was not to be. His comment about Richard’s beloved rhodys: “I just can’t do them. I have visions of growers sitting around speculating on ever more annoying colors to develop.” (I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s pretty close). Well, he did throw in a good word for seeing them as foliage plants. We picked up on that approach some time ago, and always add to our growing collection based on leaf shape and size, with bloom color a distant second consideration (and there are some fetching colors to be had, as long as we steer clear of the gaudy neon shades).

One of the funniest sequences, complete with sound effects, dealt with Tetrapanax papyrifera, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. His experience saw it popping up everywhere. Given its daunting size, that could definitely pose a problem. Again, a disclaimer that ‘Steroid Giant’, the variety we proudly introduced to our landscape, is less thuggish than others of its clan.

Acacia pravissima (see my post of March 23, ’08), he offered up as a sure-fire hit. I agree that the spiky evergreen foliage is fascinating and elegant. When it blooms, as ours did for the first time in the spring of 2008, the fuzzy yellow blossoms are delightful. Contrary to Dan’s experience, our acacia was no match for the winter storms of 2008. That could well be because it suffered some damage when it iced up in 2007, and was a little worse for the wear and tear.

Dancing Oaks Nursery has impressive stands of Lobelia tupa. I double-dare you to set eyes on them there or in Dan’s slides without getting that familiar acquisitive feeling deep in the pit of your stomach. I gave them everything their little pistils are said to desire, only to have them disappear, never to be seen again.

Sooo…am I feeling discouraged just because every selection I happen to have personal experience with contradicts Hinkley’s perceptions? Not one whit. I am going to be on the lookout for a Hakea, charmed by its needle-like evergreen foliage and curly white blooms. My Western Garden Book lists it as hardy only to zone 9…will I never learn? I’ve not had much luck with Agapanthus, but am encouraged to try again, newly impressed by their beauty. The Yuccas and Nolinas are well worth a trip to Cistus, even if the latter pose a likely health risk (severed feet discovered beneath the Nolina must surely be an exaggeration, right?) I’ve been looking for something to plant beneath the cherry trees, and Cyclamen coum looks like just the ticket. The Mahonias seem like a sure bet. I was particularly taken with duclouxiana. Olearia mollis is a candidate for the evergreen border we are developing along our drive. Its mounding habit will enhance the textural mix, becoming a fragrant cloud when it blooms.

Despite any disparate experiences with individual species, many of us came away from Dan Hinkley’s presentation hankering after a long list of plants, and with a new appreciation of the man himself. His self-deprecating humor and playful approach to horticulture made for an entirely entertaining morning.

One last note (of admitted self-interest): his garden was punctuated by a number of banners much like my ‘Spinnakers’. I don’t quite know whether to feel gratified or threatened, but they did look smashing.

local 14 is history

Having been looking forward to Local 14 for months, I must count it a success: not in terms of sales (will get into the strikes against us on that count further on) but meeting and working with outstanding women. Each of them was generous with advice based on long experience, and was genuinely interested in showing everything off to best advantage.

It was also an opportunity to experiment with displaying banners under adverse conditions. The Oregonian has many ways of predicting rain: everything from occasional showers to spotty rainfall. This was the first time I can remember them calling for “pouring rain”. They weren’t kidding! The banners are impervious to any amount of rain, but hang tags are another story. I thought the problem was solved by putting plastic zip lock bags over the tags. Oops! They filled up like little water balloons and dropped to the ground…I call this on-the-ground training.

The Gala Grand Opening of the show fell on none other than the night of the Palin/Biden debate. Not many potential attendees (engaged citizens, all) were about to miss that piece of theater. Then there was the freshly crashing economy…well, you get the idea.

I did get to connect with some long-lost friends who responded to the mailer and came to look and to visit…what could be better than that?


so sad

This is a sight we never want to see:


In the four years we have lived here, there has never been a problem with birds flying into our windows. Somehow, two days in a row, the fates aligned to invite disaster. I heard a whump, and when I went to investigate, there was this sweet little fellow, neck broken from the impact.

Several years ago, I did some research on this very subject. It seems there are several explanations for this kind of bird behavior. If they can see right through to the other side of the house, they think it is a corridor. If they see a reflection, they may read it as a rival bird. In either case, the instinct is to fly smack into the window. People have come up with all sorts of solutions, most of which involve some sort of “danglies” in front of the window, with assurances that their affront to one’s inner decorator need only stay in place through the mating season. But wait! This is not the mating season…meaning our window camouflage might need to stay in place indefinitely.


pennants by ricki to the rescue! This pair of pennants, complete with streamers, fills the bill without getting in the way of the view out the kitchen window. They are decorative enough that I won’t mind leaving them up. I am sure that this is a seasonal phenomenon having to do with the angle of the light, but with lives at stake, we don’t want to take any chances.

protect yourself

…or at least protect your banners!


UV rays will destroy any fabric, given enough time. The first banners I made are Spinnakers, and I have purposely left them out in all kinds of weather so I can tell customers what to expect in the way of longevity. It has been nearly three years now, and they have faded in what I consider a rather charming way. Commercial banners are usually given a three to five year life expectancy. Now along comes a product that promises to extend that span almost indefinitely.

We took a drive to the coast to escape inland heat. A huge kite shop had this product on hand, so we picked some up to try it out. The jury is still out (guess it will take three years before we can make our own comparison), but testimonials on their web site are pretty convincing. The site offers a search to find vendors carrying their products, or you can order directly…so who says space exploration is of no earthly use?

put a little ‘zin’ in your life


I love the way these zinnias pick up the colors in the banner and seem to shout a cheerful “Hello!” to anyone leaving the car park in back and approaching the house via the path to the right. These are Benary’s Giant Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I started them indoors in early March and set them out after the tulips in this bed had died back. Zinnias are satisfying to start from seed, because green shoots appear in a matter of days and progress is noticeable from then on. An ample application of slug bait protects the small plants when they first venture into the garden. After they reach about a foot in height, they seem able to fend for themselves. Next year, I plan to add some of the Profusion series, which are shorter, at the outer edges of the bed to help with the transition from flat to tall.

The tree on the left is Cupresseus macrocarpus ‘Citrodora’. At the back is Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ just working up to its burst of glory. That’s the great thing about these zinnias: as long as I keep picking and/or deadheading, they will keep popping out fresh blossoms, partnering with whatever temperamental perennial comes along, until a hard frost stops them in their tracks.