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.

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.