Thursday, July 31, 2014

Favorite Plant This Week Is 'Dynamite'--Sort Of

Last year:
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This year:
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Lagerstroemia 'Dynamite'.  I never would have imagined a pair of trees could thrill me so.  I rarely, if ever, do the Favorite Plant meme because honestly, I love them all, every day--there's never a favorite.  But this week...wildly exceeding all expectations.
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Swoon, baby, swoon.
 photo FrontJuly0519_zps45b881b3.jpgPerhaps I avoid this meme because I can't stop at one plant.  How can I not mention Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'?  
First I probably should admit to deserving slaps with a wet noodle for keeping 'Fred' in a pot.  Shame on me.  Here he is rescued from the pot and placed in the ground where he belongs (in my garden).  You are undoubtedly a better keeper of potted plants.  I am--well, it's shameful.   
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Dear 'Fred' recovers quickly.  Look at him in the ground for a few months, with his taupe-edged foliage of aqua and lavender:
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'Fred' also deserves mention for cresting last week.  I placed the crest in a pot of dry mix, and after just five days, look:
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So you see, I must also sing the praises of 'Fred Ives'.  

But how can I not quickly mention that the Mexican Tulip Poppy,  Hummannia fumarifolia, has come back after being smashed by the tree trimmers?
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As sweet a plant as any in the garden.
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Oh, and that after years of looking dreadful, yes, in a pot, Echeveria 'Arlie Wright' is finally recovering from all my mistreatment?
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You see? I have no more discipline with a "favorite plant this week" meme than I have in the garden.  Less, perhaps.  I have not mentioned the roses--'Belinda's Dream', 'Firefigher', 'Easy Does It'--nor the hydrangeas, the begonias, the fig tree...
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Hopeless.  Plant discipline:  hopeless.    

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lizzie In My Nephew's Hand

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After the photo, Lizzie was carefully let go in the same spot she was found, to return to her earwig-eating ways.

The Western Fence lizard carries a protein in its blood that destroys Lyme disease.  When infected ticks bite a lizard, the infection in the tick is destroyed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Luxury Of Slow

Agave pumila, a recent acquisition.  Agave pumila may be the slowest Agave of all--it is not known to have ever bloomed.  Annual growth is in the fractions of an inch, and its origins are obscure.  

I'll get back to Fling photos, but today I'll consider the slow.  It's not just the plants--I'm slow to go outside these past few days.  Typical late July weather:  mid 80sF  (~29C) means it is too hot to garden even when the sun dips low in the sky.  I've managed to get a few blocks up on the west slope, to redo the stairs, but not much more.  
And they need to be redone again.
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The 'Blue Glow' seedlings are painfully slow.  They haven't apparently grown at all since I put them into a raised bed.  At least they haven't died.  
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The Aloe capitata seedlings are double the size of the Agave seedlings, even though they are five months younger.  They are nearly 2" (5 cm) tall already.  Also now in the raised bed, they have grown, but 2" plants five or six months after germination--they can be considered slow. 
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Slow also are the remaining heavily variegated A. desmetiana plantlets.  Most reverted to the yellow-margined green parent.  The remainder, with considerable variegation, are slow.  As they revert to more green, they speed up.  This one has three leaves that strongly resemble 'Joe Hoak'.  I will try coring it in hopes of getting rosettes that are fully 'Joe' from that area of the plant.  The pair I tried coring last year didn't work out very well.  They might have been too small, and I didn't core enough to kill the apical bud.  Coring requires practice.  
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While on the subject of A. desmetiana, I was very slow in realizing a yellow companion, yellow with a slight touch of gold, precisely accents their beauty.  Even a mere Coreopsis 'Early Sunrise' creates magic.
Meant for each other.  Better late than never:
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A different kind of slow:  this Japanese Anenome hybrid was a give away at last year's Fling--more than a year later, the first flowers are finally about to open:
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My slowness can be cruelty:  I left these sweet Zephyranthes candida bulbs in the little nursery pot for far too long last year.  Guilt finally got them into the ground this spring, and they forgave me with these dainty flowers:
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So photogenic.  This photo turned out looking like Art Nouveau painted glass:
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I may have been cruel to the Zephranthes Zephyranthes, but Euonymous 'Chollipo' has been cruel to me.  I bought three of them based on their purported tall, narrow, vertical growth habit.  That was back in 2010.  The growth never materialized.  I gave up on them completely.  Then, of course, as if on cue, the narrow vertical growth appeared.  Plants can read minds.  
Four years of this, so I start reaching for the shovel...
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Within two months, this:
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Past seven feet tall now:
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But why so slow, Chollipo? 
A typical bare root rose here will bloom six or eight weeks after planting.  Not so with 'Ascot', which took seven months to produce flowers.  Slow. 
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Not everything has been slow this summer.  I planted this Iochroma 'Purple Queen' back in April when it was 4" (10 cm) tall.  It's now about 7' (210 cm).  Too subtropical for my garden, really, but it's for the hummingbirds. 
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Not every plant--or gardener--has the luxury of slow. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fling 2014: Ideas and Lessons (Plan to Steal!)

I'll ponder a few ideas and lessons I picked up from Fling gardens and steal let them inspire me. 

Idea from the JJ de Souza Garden:  the use of a single non-green color over and over again throughout the garden, swimming in a sea of green--I liked that.  If one gets tired of that non-green color-- just switch it out everywhere for a completely different effect.  The entry gate announces the primary color:

 Orange you glad you're here?
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Orange was repeated in many different ways, but never overwhelmed.  In containers and flowers:
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In the furniture:
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In tiny dots of color. 
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Idea from JJ de Souza again:  some odd detail, apparently a mistake, used in one area, repeated in another, so you know it wasn't a mistake after all.  The gardener winking at you.  Cool!  Or maybe it was just a really cool coincidence.
A Carex tuft by the front yard dining table:
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And one by the back yard dining table, too:
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Idea from the Ernst/Fuller garden,  the gas meter got sexed up without hiding the important part (the numbers):
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Another idea from Ernst/Fuller.  This translucent plastic panel fence made the neighbor's plants a mysterious, ghostly presence, while still providing privacy:
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Lesson from Floramagoria.  Add a few unusual plants;  be a little more adventurous--gardeners who visit can puzzle over them no end.  What is that?  Bait the botanimaniacs, in other words.
Oooh!  What is that?
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Oooh!  Is that a white frosted Fatsia?
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Idea:  reinvent garden cliches.  Gnomes, for example:
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Not your Grandmother's gnome, that's for sure:
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And a bust on a column--not your typical example, either:
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Different kind of--erm--froggie?
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Lesson:  more places to sit, not less.  Someday I'll have time to sit in the garden and look.  Someday.  Have the chairs waiting.  People sit down, relax...we all need more of that these days. 
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And not necessarily just chairs...
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And regarding garden chairs, here's a link to the excellent post by A Growing Obsession on what could be called Portland's Greatest Sits.

Lesson:  the smaller the space, the more important the details. 
Danger Garden, meticulously detailed...
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Chickadee Garden, charmingly detailed...
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Lesson:  the larger the space, the greater impact of mass plantings and repetition.
This is actually the Long Beach Airport, which we flew out of, but it illustrates the impact of repetition, and it was on the trip:
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Lesson:  what if your garden is neither jewel-box sized, or enormous?  In the Floramagoria garden, neither compact nor very large, massed small bog plants, repeated in several areas, makes the best of both ideas. 
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Fun stuff!  Portland gardeners are stylish, inventive, and smart.  Now, how many ideas can we steal--uhh, be inspired by?