a vase and a stroll around Joy Creek


Cheater alert: these sunflowers are not from my garden. They were a hostess gift. I usually have a hard time finding a background for photographing my vases but I loved these in front of Richard’s painting in our kitchen, so there you have it: my entry into Cathy’s ‘In A Vase on Monday’ meme.

Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’

So now for a peek at what’s looking good at Joy Creek Nursery (well, a very narrow slice, really, of what stands out right now). Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ has a very long blooming period, with flowers that are slightly larger and redder than the browner floridus.


Flowers may rule, but foliage combinations bring their own subtle beauty to the shade gardens.

Fuchsia magellinica alba

Fuchsia magellinica alba

I’m crazy about this low-key fuchsia growing in both sun and shade at the nursery. Unfortunately we don’t have it available for sale but if enough requests come in, that could change.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

In full sun, ‘Lucifer’ is the first of the Crocosmias to bloom. It’s fiery presence and tendency to spread are mighty welcome in my garden.


Like artichokes on steroids, Cardoons have the stature to make a bold statement…and you can even eat the stalks if you’re willing to learn some Italian cooking techniques from the likes of Ann Amato.

Hydrangea 'Enziandom'

Hydrangea ‘Enziandom’

Some folks view Hydrangeas as old fashioned but I double dare you to come upon this stunner without gasping in admiration. In front of it is a Phormium that is blooming. I have seen them blooming at the coast or in a greenhouse but this the first one growing in an open field. Perhaps the great Phormium die-off is behind us?

Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangea quercifolia

We have Hydrangeas blooming in the shade, like this oakleaf form…


and in full sun, where they need more water but obviously perform beautifully.


There are lacecaps…

Hydrangea 'Preziosa'

Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’

and mopheads…


tucked into shady nooks…


or backing up a long path lined with sun lovers. So how about it? Are you a fan of Hydrangeas? And if not, did I manage to change your mind just a little bit? Allow me once final plug: the flowers take on duskier tones as the season progresses and can be dried to enjoy right through the winter months.

morning light


I’m not much of a morning person, but when I looked out the kitchen window this morning, I had no choice but to get out there. We are surrounded by cedar trees that throw long shadows with the sun breaking through to spotlight the Poncirus trifoliata behind the bird bath and the tree peonie ‘Gold Sovereign’ off to the right.

‘Gold Sovereign’

Here’s a closer look at ‘Gold Sovereign’, still sparkling with morning dew.

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’

And the ‘Flying Dragon’, having dropped just enough leaves to begin baring his claws.

‘Fat Albert’

Still trying to decide where to place ‘Fat Albert’, knowing he will grow to gigantic proportions eventually.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ goes from greenish to pure white before the many shades of dusky rose take over in the final act.

Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’

The play of light and shadow does wonders for Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’.


Rock, dark hemlock mulch and the wiry stems of Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ provide lots of textural framework for another clump of Helen.

dewy ‘Helen Von Stein’

Please forgive the preoccupation with Helen, but this was as close as I could come to capturing the sparkle of the dew on her silvery foliage.

accidental composition

Where would we be without serendipity? The maple leaf blew in to turn this simple composition into something special. I hope I can find more of the caramel sedge in the foreground…lots more.

back woods

No morning stroll could be complete without a visit to the woodland out back, where everything is left to nature. Uhoh, this early morning stuff threatens to become habit forming. Thanks for coming along.

Jane’s neighborhood

Back when it was still summer, The Mulchmaid invited our lucky blogging group to see the garden she and Ben (the Mulchman) have made. I have a hard time predicting the time it will take me to reach a new destination, and arriving early is out of the question. Hence I found myself with some time to kill and an interesting neighborhood to explore.

parking strip

It became immediately apparent that gardening is a big deal around here.

bench facing sidewalk

A bench facing the sidewalk is a nice, welcoming touch.

poetry post

I saw three poetry posts on my short stroll.

different styles

These old neighborhoods have an appealing mix of architectural styles.

driveway garden

People were taking advantage of any available space to make gardens.

lots going on

Several big projects were underway, and I saw a number of “FREE” signs attached to piles of stuff. I picked a nice tall tom pot out of one of those piles.


This was one of the most interesting projects. They have managed to modernize a typical bungalow with dark colors and restrained plantings.

hens & chicks

The use of river rock looks severe until you look more closely and see the sedums and sempervivums planted there. This is obviously a new planting. I can imagine it developing into something quite striking.

along the sidewalk

Repetition adds to the minimalist modernity.

parking strip



Jane and Ben’s gardens are wonderful. I like picturing them surrounded by like-minded neighbors.

some observations

cherry blossoms

The cherry trees are blooming, but not the great white cloud of years past.

lichen and moss on cherry trees

The trees are covered with lichen and moss. I wonder if that has anything to do with the sparse bloom. Of course the rain could also be the culprit. Any theories?

Euphorbia wulfenii after the rain

The rain has certainly taken its toll on Euphorbia wulfenii. When it stands up straight it reaches our second story, and is magnificent. Here, it’s been beaten down to the ground. Ah, well..we takes our chances with this one, but it’s well worth the gamble when things go right.

Anemone blanda ‘Alba’

I planted lots of white anemones, but the heathers have overtaken most of them. Time to order lots more.

fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’

Last year the Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’ went wild and grew clear to the top of the deck roof. Usually, it dies back and/or it gets cut back to the ground. Not this year! It’s leafing out already and I am tempted to give it free rein and see what happens. Do you think I’d be creating a monster?

Saxifraga dentata

I’m crazy about the sawtoothed leaves of the Saxifraga dentata I got from Loree at the last plant swap. I left this much of the clump intact, to be on the safe side, but what I really wanted to do was spread it around as a ground cover.

Saxifraga dentata divided

Success! Here are the starts I separated from the main clump last fall. Looks like I’m good to go.

Mahonia ‘King’s Ransom’

I have a big patch of Mahonia ‘King’s Ransom’. It flowers nicely, but the foliage is rather diseased looking and the plants are leggy. Right after the flowers fade, I am going to cut it back hard. If it doesn’t behave itself next year, it’s coming out (sometimes these threats are just what’s needed).


Another disappointment is this Hellebore, always looking down demurely, afraid to show her face. She would be just right for a terraced garden, where one could catch her off guard by looking up. Anyone out there ready to give her those conditions?

Elizabeth Caruthers Park


This two acre park is tucked into the South Waterfront development, a gentle respite from the glass towers rising all around it. You can see it from a landscape architect’s point of view here and learn about its namesake here by scrolling down to Anna B’s comments. But first, lets just stroll around and see what there is to see.

bridge over swale

At the southern end of the park there are swales spanned by plank bridges in sweeping curves.

another view

My first impression was of all native plantings, but in fact there are some non-natives worked in to better serve the design.


These birches are a case in point.

birches from farther back

I can’t imagine this scene without them.

boardwalk bench

Benches have been worked in here and there, each in a style appropriate to its surroundings. Here the bridge planks have been extended to keep sitters out of the flow of foot traffic.

heading North towards the berm

Heading North, you can see the wedge-shaped berm creating a grassy clearing at the center of the park.

looking back

Looking back at the berm from the far side, you can see that the plant material and style of planting has changed.


Mass plantings of Cistus (no signage mars the scheme, so my minimal info will have to suffice).

long borders of Cornus

Long borders of red twig dogwood

variegated red twig dogwood

…must be equally striking once the branches are bare.

grasses and liriope

Here’s a long border of grasses fronted by liriope.

decomposed granite paths

On this northern end of the park, the paths are made of crushed decomposed granite.


The fountain was not operational on this day, but each of those (rubber) pads has a spout. I can imagine it will be a powerful draw on sunny, hot days.


Liriope used alone.


One of several styles of lamps, with the tram in the distance. I want to visit this park sometime after dark to see the effect of the lighting.

wind-activated music makers

…and again on a windy day to hear the music

lunch spot



Not all benches look the part.

dressed-up trash cans

Even the trash cans get the royal treatment. Let me leave you with a few shots of the featured plants and invite you to check out this park at 3508 SW Moody Ave if you find yourself in the neighborhood.




Hydrangea quercifolia


the Hoyt Arboretum

a typical view

Covering 187 acres of Portland’s West Hills, Hoyt Arboretum is a living museum where joggers, dog walkers, lovers, strollers, photographers and, first and foremost, tree lovers can immerse themselves in nature any day of the year.

lots of cars

Sunday brought a break in the weather, so people were out in force. The parking lot was full and cars were parked all along Fairview Blvd. Still, with 12 miles of trails, it never felt crowded.

entry palms

The visitors’ center is not open on Sunday, but there are pamphlets available with maps, etc., and a large informational board showing which trails offer the optimum experience season by season. For autumn, the Maple Trail is recommended, but first we had a look around the entry plantings. It always seems a little odd to me to see zonal denial plants like palms and agaves in public spaces (like the train station, much as I like the plantings), but the arboretum proper features trees from all over the world, so I guess the patchwork in the entry makes a certain amount of sense.

rocky berm

This rocky berm might have slipped right by me had not Loree posted about crevice gardens a while back. I don’t know if this can go by that name because those had plants tucked in here and there. This one is all rocks.

pot with evergreens

Several large planters break up the space.

Pseudopanax ferox

When one of the pots sports an unusual plant like this Pseudopanax ferox

Pseudopanax ferox signage

there is detailed signage to tell all about it.

crape myrtle

The same system held elsewhere: ordinary stuff went unidentified, but anything out of the ordinary was well documented.

flaming color

 On our way to the Maple Trail, we passed through an area planted entirely with natives, but I was saving my sputtering battery for the colors of autumn.

closer color

The color was slightly more intense, but this is pretty close.

long view with bright tree

The long views were splendid, and with well-placed paths and rolling hills there was a new vista around every turn.


See what I mean?


Parts of the landscape were enveloped in pockets of fog.

family and sumac

This little family was capturing memories backed by the flaming foliage of sumac.

Acer sign

Since the arboretum was established in 1928, there are many magnificent old trees with signage affixed to their trunks. More recent additions, like this paperbark maple, are marked by small stone pillars bearing pertinent information.

Acer griseum bark

OK, so some helpful graffiti artist took exception to the Acer griseum designation (did you notice the “not a” scratched onto the sign?), but one look at this peeling bark should be enough to set him/her straight.

Acer griseum leaf

Here’s the leaf of the above tree. Color, leaf shape, interesting bark: all have me convinced that this is one to hunt down for the R&R Ranch.

Acer pseudosieboldianum var. tatsiense

And while I’m in the market for more red, how about the color of those leaves recently fallen from Acer pseudosieboldianum var. tatsiense?

tatsiense tree

And here is the tree itself. As you can see, we decided on this outing in the nick of time to catch the tail end of the color show. There are plenty of other reasons to visit the arboretum in all seasons and all kinds of weather. Next trip: evergreens, or maybe just a brisk walk unencumbered by camera. If you happen to come away with a wish list, a good place to start your search would be Plant Lust. I usually just carry around my desiderata, waiting for one of my coveted beauties to show up. This particular tree seems to deserve a more concerted effort on my part.

here’s what November looks like

leaves caught in cherry tree

This strikes me as the epitome of autumn: leaves settled in the crotch of the ancient cherry tree.

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’

As the leaves begin to fall from the Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, the quirky, taloned branches form a tracery through which the colors of the season can be glimpsed.

kousa dogwood

The Kousa dogwood is doing its bit as it rises from the golden arms of the Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’.

Callicarp ‘Profusion’ and Nandina

Not to everyone’s liking, but reds and purples is one of my favorite combinations: Beauty berry backed up by a common, low-growing form of Nandina.

Joe Pye Weed

Even in death, the Eutrochium nee Eupatorium (grrr) pleases my eye…

Eutrochium silhouettes

especially as seen silhouetted against a leaden sky.

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’ silhouette

Speaking of silhouettes, how about Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’? The petals having fallen neatly away, we are left with perfect round balls.

Anemone balls

Here’s a less dramatic shot of Mme Jobert. The balls are shiny and green and provide a long-lasting element for late season bouquets.

‘Henry Eilers’

Some things are struggling to make a showing before frost hits. I don’t think ‘Henry Eilers’ is going to make it. He will be moved to a sunnier spot next spring.

Kniphofia multiflora

Kniphofia multiflora is giving Jack Frost a run for his money. I’m pulling for him.

hardy Aloe

I’d given up on this hardy Aloe long ago, but here it is, putting in its first appearance after hiding underground for a few years. Moral of story: never give up.

Phlomus russeliana

I never tire of the architecture of Phlomus russeliana. I will not cut these seed bearing stalks of pom poms until spring, and the whorls of leaves will hang on through the winter.


I spy the hips of Rosa ‘Dortmund’ through the stalks of Joe Pye. Have any of you made culinary use of hips?

Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’

I leave you with a peek at the last flowers holding on: Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’. Where once there was a profusion, only a few intrepid die-hards remain. I love this season, how about you?

the accidental forager


I once went to quite a bit of trouble to track down Claytonia seeds to plant in the garden. I finally found them from Nichols Garden Nursery, based in Salem, Oregon. They have just about anything you could want in the way of seeds. They grew quite satisfactorily, but the life cycle was very short, and in the end, I concluded, not really worth the effort involved. How much more fun, anyhow, to find it growing in the wild.

Miner’s lettuce

Also known as miner’s lettuce, it is…well…”cute” is the only word for it. Each longish stem supports a couple of levels of round, slightly cupped leaves with a topknot of little white flowers. I found it growing in profusion along the verge of the road I walk nearly every day. The few handfuls brought home had begun to go to seed, but that just added a tiny bit of crunch to what is otherwise a tender, delicate salad. I threw everything into a strainer to rinse, then tore the whole plant: stems, leaves flowers and seeds into bite-sized pieces (I hate that chi chi custom of leaving salad makings whole so that they whip you in the nose and drizzle dressing down your chin). This salad was all about freshness and delicacy, so I just used a light dressing of oil and champagne vinegar. It would be easy to overpower these greens. Over at Greenish Thumb, Wendy has a recipe for the perfect drink to accompany this salad…or most anything, come to think of it. Hint: it involves gin.

Janet’s sale & a walk around her neighborhood

When I wrote about Janet’s sale a couple of years ago, I included photos of her garden, so this time around I thought I would take you on a tour of her immediate neighborhood.

house in the trees

Hers is a long-established neighborhood, shaded by many mature trees and landscaped yards. The architecture is varied, but largely camouflaged by flowers and greenery.

a border of greenery

Strolling down the street takes one past a variety of styles. This is very close to the look I am aiming for along our entry drive.

more of that border

Looking back along that same border.

dogwood tree

I felt fortunate to be there at this dogwood tree’s peak of perfection.

a typical style

A typical layout is a streetside border (no sidewalks) through which can be glimpsed an expanse of lawn, with the house beyond.

corner border

another corner

Janet with customers

Once I had made my selections: a claret day lily, two monkshoods, a Syrinchium striatum, a fall aster and a Heliantum maximillianii, there was a lull in the buying frenzy. I had brought Janet a copy of BeBop Garden and we posted an “out to lunch” sign and headed to neighbor Mike Darcy’s place to take him a copy. Do you know about Mike? He has been the voice of gardening at 101 on the FM radio dial for years. Tune in on a Saturday morning at 9 am, and he can carry you through your weekend chores with garden talk, a call-in section if you have a burning question and, for instance, last Saturday’s fascinating interview with Richard Turner, editor emeritus of Pacific Horticulture magazine. Mike has a glorious mature garden which I would have loved to point my camera at, but we were in a rush to get back to the plant sale. Maybe another time. I can tell you that Mike’s newest preoccupation is a hive of bees, which he has discovered holds a fascination for his grandson. I didn’t get to see Nick in his own little beekeeper suit, but I have a mental picture and am told he is reading everything he can get his hands on regarding apiary pursuits. What a great, educational bonding experience.

back yard view

Having a “native guide” is always an asset. Taking a shortcut back to Janet’s, we were able to take in this view. I will leave you with this image…no word required.