gbq&a: what is a shopping experience worth?

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New Seasons is a natural foods market along the lines of Whole Foods, but home grown. Way back when we lived in Sellwood (a SE Portland neighborhood) one of our neighbors started a little hippie grocery. He grew a lot of the produce on a vacant lot across the street and was in the vanguard when it came to displaying veggies as if they were the crown jewels.


Over the years, the concept grew and that little corner store morphed into a chain of well designed, high-concept markets. The latest installment recently opened in Slabtown in NW Portland.

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Outdoor amenities include living walls, plantings of trees and grasses and built-in benches for sipping your latté or nibbling your organic salad in the sunshine.


A nicely curated selection of plants is displayed at the main entrance.


Walk through those doors and you are greeted by a well-stocked flower shop with cut flowers and some potted succulents, herbs and orchids.


We checked it out on opening day. It was doing a brisk business, to say the least.


Carrot sculptures seem to be a theme, as is the color scheme, which remains consistent with each new store. So here is my question for your consideration. Are you willing to pay a premium for a pleasant shopping experience where you can be pretty sure of top quality, many locally produced goods and environmental sensitivity? I used to be able to add local ownership to the list of assets, but with success comes the lure of cashing in by selling out. While most of these stores are scattered around the Portland area, they are now owned by a corporation. I’d like to hear where you come down on this before going into my own thoughts about it. Won’t you leave a comment? All opinions (including rants if you’re so inclined) are welcome and I’ll come back next week to add my two cents.

To participate beyond simply commenting, write a post posing a question, linking to and from this post. I have every intention of doing this thing on the first Friday of every month if the interest is there…seems like there should be plenty of curiosity to go around and I know many of you have answers to spare.

gbq&a…and a vase

Well, I’m a pretty lame excuse for a meme master. I started out with the intent of posing a question on the first Friday of every month and inviting others to write a questioning post to link here so we could all answer one another’s questions and grow our knowledge. I let last month slide and it is now a few days past the first Friday, but what the hey. Since “better late than never” is my motto (admittedly by necessity) here goes: my question this month is regarding Ozothamnus ‘Sussex Silver’.

Ozothammus 'Sussex Silver'

Ozothammus ‘Sussex Silver’

Here it is earlier in the season, in bloom, looking pretty. Richard did what I call a brutal job of pruning last year. It has been in the ground since ’09.


It was the fine curtain of silvery foliage that attracted me to this plant in the first place.


As the flowers fade, they turn into these brown blobs. All the shiny new foliage grows beyond the unsightly mass. So here’s my question: does anyone have this plant and, if so, how do you deal with it?


And now for something completely different. My vase this week started with a single stem of Sedum ‘Cherry Truffle’. I have it growing in a pot with some Dusty Miller (don’t ask which of the many plants that get that catchall name) and I knew I wanted to keep that color combo going.


The Hydrangea ‘Prezioza’ has been turning various shades of dusky purple. I cut two of the deepest plum flower heads. They are dense enough to support the taller stems without needing a flower frog.


A few shorter stems of Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’ and Artemesia ‘Valerie Finnis’ and I was done.


Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) never fails to put together a stunning vase from materials gathered from her own garden every Monday. She invites you to join in. Please do…or simply browse for inspiration.

GBQ&A: what do you think?

Rainbow leucanthoe

As you may know, we stop by Means often. Occasionally, there is an irresistible bargain on offer. Richard came home with several rainbow leucanthoe with the idea that they would make good hedging material. After all, they were only about $3 each, and had nicely variegated foliage that is evergreen. Then I saw the above specimen in an open garden visit and my perspective changed.


As a specimen plant, its arching branches give it an elegant, vase-like shape, frosted with flowers that resemble those of Pieris. This raised a question in my mind. I hope you can help. Does the “specialness” of a plant depend on its use? Can a plant that is common as dirt rise in status when it is well placed and spotlighted? I’m beginning to think I should dig up one of the hedge plants and move it to a place of honor, where it can flourish like the one shown at the top of this post. Do you have any ordinary plants that you have cast in starring roles? I would love to hear your thoughts and examples. I’m trying to do a Q&A post at the beginning of each month. Won’t you join me? Just write a post posing a question you would like your blogging friends (and mine) to ponder (if you link to this post, you will tap in to my blog buds, who are rife with info and opinions), then leave a comment here with a link to that post. C’mon…it’ll be fun!


Here it is, the first of May. Happy May Day! Do you have questions that you would like to throw out into the blogosphere for our highly intelligent and generous community of garden bloggers to mull over? If so, why not write a post about them and link here? I have never failed to find answers that way and you can too. I aim for a post like this at the beginning of every month. Sometimes life interferes, as it did in April…simply indicative of the loose non-rules for joining in.


Last year, I planted several Dahlias, with visions of sumptuous borders, beds and bouquets. These visions were foiled by gophers, excepting only the ones that were placed in this herb bed. I’m wondering if any of you have heard of this as a legitimate strategy. It could possibly have been a happy accident.


I know that the deer avoid beds populated by strongly scented and flavored herbs like Rosemary. Do you think the same thing is at work underground? I will be experimenting with adding more herbs to several beds. In the meantime, all of the lily bulbs went into large pots this year. Now: how about telling us what has been puzzling you of late?



I was very excited to find this succulent at Thicket last summer. It is in a pot with other succulents that all seem perfectly happy, but this guy is going all spotty (and not in a good way like ‘Spotty Dotty’).


The new growth is coming in looking like it’s covered in lint. I’m not finding visible insects. My guess is that it wants less water. If that is the case, I guess I’ll have to give it a pot of its own. That’s a shame, because it is just the textural element I want in this pot. Any ideas?

So here we are in the first week of March. If you would like to join in the question and answer game, please write about what puzzles you and link back here. My question last month can be found HERE. As I suspected, generous garden bloggers came forward with solutions from which I was able to make a plan going forward. Anna had a question about her Fargesia murilae that is about half dried out. Should she cut it back, and if so, how long do you think it would take for it to recuperate?


I got questions. You got answers? The garden is rife with puzzles. It has been my experience that throwing a question into the blogosphere never fails to produce answers. So how about this? Let’s use the first week of each month to pose one (or two, or more) of those questions that have been nagging us and see what comes back to us. No chain letter type threats: “if you don’t do this Flora will cast a withering spell on your precious plants”, just a friendly Garden Bloggers’ Q&A. I’ll kick things off:


You may recall my non-traditional Christmas tree. If not, you will find it HERE. After a little over a week adorned with angels and such, it was beginning to leaf out and even form buds. A freeze was coming. I feared that it would turn up its toes if I moved it outside into those conditions, so I just moved it into a corner of the living room. We keep the temperature at about 65 degrees. I now have a fully leafed out, blooming Cornus sericea  ‘Cardinal’. I’m wondering if I did the right thing and when would be the best time to put it in the ground. Help me if you can.

You know how these things work. If you have a question of your own, write about it and leave a link to your post here. A link back to this post on yours will keep the ball rolling. I’m thinking we could aim for any time during the first week of the month, but loose rules are the best rules, so bend them to your own best use.