friday grab bag

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Spring is bustin out all over here in Portland OR. Lots of these street trees soften the urban landscape with clouds of pink and white raining petals everywhere.

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For as long as we lived in NW, Homer ran his little grocery on the corner. The first of these Magnolia trees that he planted was stolen (dug up and carted away in the middle of the night, no less). Undaunted, he quickly replaced it. Here it is in all it’s glory, a tribute to Homer, rest his soul)


Want rocks? Loosened by a cycle of freeze/melt and record rainfall, the cliffs along Hwy 30 between Portland and Scappoose lost their grip and let slide several rockfalls. You’ll see lots of rock walls in gardens around here, meaning that these piles will slowly diminish over time. Get em while they’re hot (and drop by for a cuppa if you can).

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Santa brought me three new books. Woo hoo! the reference library is slowly overtaking shelves of old magazines. I’m thinking some of those magazine pages might be put to use copying (Loree’s) fab fake flowers. First, of course, I’ll cannibalize them for all the good ideas I saved them for in the first place. Think I’ll ever get around to any of that? Nah.

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This is one intrepid slug. We live in a house with a daylight basement, so here he is crawling across the equivalent of a second story window. Kinda have to admire him, even while cursing his jaws of steel.


When potting up or starting seeds, I’m always annoyed by dirt falling out through drainage holes. Mesh bags that held fresh fruit from the grocery store to the rescue…and another way to recycle discovered.


Now here’s a fun Etsy discovery for all you Opuntia lovers (Copper Cactus Candlabra). Click through if you want to see a full size photo. This is fake done right…almost as effective as the aforementioned fab fake flowers. Friday seems like a good day to sweep up the bits and pieces that never quite fit into themed posts, so that explains my scattershot approach here. May your weekend refresh and replenish you. See you next week.

what’s going on around here (?)

You may have noticed that this site is looking sort of strange. I’ve been tinkering with the code and am still a long way from getting it to look the way I envision it. Snatches of time get devoted to this experiment, so please bear with me. I figure as long as the words and pictures come through, you won’t mind putting up with a little “under construction” disorganization. So let’s get on with it.


This little fella is perusing the salad bar. If you look closely, you may be able to see the little buds of antlers on his forehead.


Which means that by next year he will have added this kind of damage to his repertoire. Funny how they have zeroed in on just two of the Italian cypress trees to use for antlering and leave the others alone.


Wouldn’t you think Mom would teach them to steer clear of the castor bean plants? Maybe they’re just going through that rebellious phase.


Here’s his sis on a brighter day. They sometimes visit together, but Buster will make himself scarce once those antlers become obvious. We’ve never caught them in the act of antlering the trees.


I expect the spiders to want to move indoors, but slugs? I’ve been finding about one a day on the doorstep. This one was getting ready to ring the doorbell.


The Brugmansias got moved into my studio. They dropped all but one bud, but that one put on a pretty good show. The tall one from Means is now completely bare, but the one I got at HPSO in spring is still adding leaves.


It’s worth tipping up that dangling blossom to get this view.


Campsis ‘Madame Galen’ produced several huge pods this year. Just one pod yielded all these seeds. Anyone want some?


Here’s my Echeveria ‘Haagal’, looking leggy and anemic. I’ve been told that this is their response to light levels that are too low, but even when it is placed in brightest sun, it stretches out like this. You can see where I have cut back older stems. HERE it is in its former glory. I have this problem with all Echeverias, so as much as I love them I’m about to give up unless I get some terrific advice in response to this plea.

I’m baaack…sort of


The Brugmansia I bought at the spring HPSO sale might not produce any blooms this summer but it lured this handsome fellow to nestle into one of the leaves. I offer him up by way of apology. I’ve been locked out of WordPress for a month or so. Too many other things were going on to take the time to dive in and solve the problem. Today was the day. Some glitches remain, but at least I can join in the celebration of gentle autumn rains (punctuated by many of those glorious, crisp days we can usually count on).

Guess I saved draft instead of publishing. Now I just have to figure out how to make the photos bigger. Hah! Another dragon slain (slayed?). Perfection continues to elude me, indoors and out.

ant moat and other critter talk

Ants were piling up in the hummingbird feeder. Disgusting. I had gotten an “ant guard” from Freddy’s that worked reasonably well, but when I went back for a new one they had disappeared from the shelves.

ant traps

I bought ant traps and placed them on top of the beams from which the feeder dangled. They were unobtrusive (you probably can’t even see them tucked into the space between the two beams). They were also ineffective. The next time I was in town, I headed for The Backyard Bird Shop, fully expecting the same kind of glum answers I get whenever the dreaded gopher conversation comes up.

ant moat

Instead, a perky, friendly young woman responded to my question with “Oh boy, do I!” and led me to this simple, elegant solution to my problem. There were other models, but this cheery upside-down red umbrella, for a mere $8.99 spoke my language. Plain water goes into the moat. A drop of cooking oil breaks the surface tension of the water so the ants can’t float. It works! I checked it after two weeks in place and it wasn’t even filled up with dead ants. Totally non-toxic, so if a chickadee decides to perch on the rim and take a sip, no harm done.

ant moat in use

Would that all problems could be solved so painlessly. If you are local, I highly recommend The Backyard Bird Shop (they also have a good selection of greeting cards). Otherwise, just Google “Ant Moats” to find a source.


Have you discovered that slugs are deft climbers? This guy was lolling on the remains of a Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ flower. Earlier, I found one similarly draped over a Casa Blanca lily bud nine feet off the ground. I’m squeamish about squishy/yucky things so snipping these guys in two doesn’t work for me. It has nothing to do with soft-heartedness: when we gardened in town I used to toss them into the road for the traffic to obliterate. Here, they get tossed into the forest, where they actually do some good. I always wear gloves for this very reason.

frog in the grass

This little guy is a different story: always welcome, no matter how much noise he happens to make. The frogs were oddly silent last spring, but I always look forward to their raucous chorus.

Sami at rest

Sami is looking relaxed here, but if Mr Frog made a peep she would be quick to segue into attack mode. Froggy stayed close to me for protection and made nary a sound.


It’s odd how attached one can get to fish. We had just been congratulating ourselves for having devised an early alert system that had kept ours alive for four years. The one you see was the granddaddy. There were two medium sized and three babies. We came out one morning to find all the poles knocked about, the water lilies trashed and no sign of fish…the work, I’m sure, of those adorable little raccoons.

the deer family

The deer family has no fear of us, but it’s still hard to get a good photo of them. This one was taken through the window as they munched their way through the dandelions (welcome to them) en route to a main course somewhere in the midst of the beds and borders (not so crazy about their choice of entrees).