Il Orto Botanico dell’Università di Genova

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Today we ventured out to find a garden—and although what we thought would be a 14 minute walk turned into a hilltop adventure, well, we’re in Italy, so it was all fine. 

Established in 1803, the collection is not as historic or as grand at the one in Padova, but it’s a bucolic place, not well cared after, and overall, still a lot of fun. Since this university is also the owner of a large botanical garden at an estate along the Italian Riviera I will cut them plenty of slack. I cannot imagine the expense of maintaining both this property as well as the other. It alone is 44 acres so kudos to them. 

Along our walk there was much to see.

  

“Love greetings”

  

Random Graptopetalum growing out of a wall.

  

Several levels of gardens. A common sight in many areas in Italy.

  

Fig tree growing out of a wall. Just random fruit.

  

Strelitzia (bird of paradise) grow well here.

  

Citrus aurantium ssp. Aurantium var. Myrtifolia (bitter orange).

  

  

Colletia spinosa.

  

Street trees—literally.

    
 

Tecomaria capensis (cape honeysuckle).

  

Dahlia imperialis (tree dahlia).

  

Unknown little yuccas.

 
   

Fremontodendron californium a long way from home.

  

Iris japonica.

  

Pinus nigra.

  

Pittosporum.

  

Not sure.

  

Wisteria.

  
  

White rose with Colletia cruciata.

  

Amorphophallus ‘Konjac’.

    

Arbutus andrachne (Greek strawberry tree).

    

Unknown Rhododendron.

  

Unknown Magnolia.

  
  

My favorite bulb: Leopoldia comosa aka Muscari comosum.

  

Magnolia tulipiflora.

  

Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya pine).

  

Weedy Oxalis.

  

Where they catalog and keep their plants. Many here are historically medicinal ones.

  

Tamarix gallica (French tamarix) with a bad haircut.

  

Vitis vinifera with a little green lizard. Can you see it?

  

Cercis siliquastrum (Judad tree).

 
  

Cycas revoluta (female).

  

Scilla peruviana.

 

Myrtus communis subsp. Tarentina.

  

Myrtus communis subsp. Tarentina.

  
  

Water plant collection.

  
   

And then we wandered back downhill to our apartment, encountering this lovely grotto in the courtyard of a palazzo along our way. 

The Plant / Music / Writing Room is Growing

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Almost everything which matters to me now as a woman—and as a creative individual with an identity that I must nurture and respect so that I can be who I need to be—currently resides with me in this room.
I’ve assembled this cocoon to incubate in as I prepare for the next stage in my life. It’s like my own little Jiffy pod to germinate in and to begin growing my new taproot so that I can transplant myself when it’s time to go.
I am growing past just being a gardener. I am branching out and reaching for the sun.
Soon, I will be practicing the piano again and I will be thinking of the peace this instrument gave my Grandma Virginia for many years. She loved her piano and I want to honor that by finally enjoying it too.
I hope the plants won’t mind!
Oh, and speaking of plants, they are at the core of my specially arranged space and there will be more to come! This room will be stuffed with plants all winter.

Soon the vine attached to this window screen will dieback for the winter. Then the winter sun will shine brighter and the walls will grow colder as the Eastern winds hit the back of the house.

I will keep the painting of Paris by my side at all times to remind me of what’s to come.

This is the view looking back into the creative space from the dining room.

Monkey Puzzle Tree, Araucaria araucana.

To get away from this space though—and from all of the work I’ve been doing around the house—I’ve vowed to get out of the house for at least one weekend each month.

This past weekend I went to my father’s house just north of Astoria in a small community in southwestern Washington. I awoke to the sounds of chainsaws in the hills and when I walked into the kitchen each morning to make my morning coffee, I’d stand at the window and contemplate the Monkey Puzzle Tree while my coffee brewed.

In an effort to get some writing done, I also went to my father’s house to be alone and to be inspired.
For several days I watched the birds as they’d fly up and down the small coastal river behind the house. They were greedily picking at what remained of the salmon from the last run this season. The fish really do spawn and die and yet they still give back to the natural world until every last bone is picked clean.

The day I left for the trip I went for a five-mile walk beforehand to a specialty grocery store in SE Portland to pick up some special gluten-free ingredients.

While strolling along, I saw this unusual garden ornament and I thought about how funny it was to see a doll in the garden. It tickled my inner goth girl.

But best of all, that day as I walked, before I took off to write, after I’d just finished nesting in my new creative space I saw what I can only call: The writing on the wall.

Shore Acres State Park and the Darlingtonia State Natural Site

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The last night of my trip was spent at another yurt, but this time it was located in Sunset Beach State Park just outside of Coos Bay, Oregon. This is an amazing part of the state just south of our huge sand dunes. I didn’t have the time to visit them at length during this trip, but driving past them brought back memories from when I was a child. I’d also forgotten that once again, it is another unique environment with more unique plants so I will certainly return again soon.
In a way, I was kind of sad my adventure was over. I’ve been chronically ill for ten years and it was a relief to get out and travel at my own pace with all of the necessary comforts and without any kind of static from upsetting or worrying others. Illness triggers things in all of us in different ways and it is often the elephant in the room. Chronically ill people don’t like to be alone too much though, and we really hate to be told that we should hang out with other people like us so that we can find others who understand. Isolating all of us together can just hurt more. Anyone can understand what we are going through—if they want to do so. Many do not want to consider the time when they too will be faced with a health difficulty, but it will happen, and when it does, it will help a lot to have a friend who can help.
The trip has led me to make three resolutions for the upcoming summer months concerning how to keep healthy so that I can live in my garden and hunt plants from time to time in the woods or wherever:
  1. Ask for help when I need help and no more new projects so that I can finish whatever I’ve already started. I usually stop because I get to the point where I need help and then I won’t ask.
  2. Simplify my life and my home.
  3. Remember to have fun and to enjoy all of my friends while sticking to the activities that have always been essential to me. Even if my own life has changed, none of my friends will be upset for me so long as I remain who I’ve always been. We all return to comfort foods, and we all know who our comfort friends are, right?


Before I left for the day’s adventures I found these little beauties beside the car. The one on the left is another twinberry and the one on the right is native salal.

Twinberry bloom.
That last day was much drier than the one before but it was still cool and windy. I jumped into the car and headed out to see the views that I’d remembered as having been so beautiful.
I was so pleased that I’d chosen to go and as my eyes took all of this in for about an hour or so, my body was filled with a kind of pleasure that only the experience of art can replicate but it is always stunted by the surroundings of a museum and the disruptions of others’ gazes. Nothing interfered with my experience that last day and I took it all in for as long as I was able to do so.
My love of Romanticism is showing through, as this most obviously is a manifestation of my complete understanding and acceptance of the Sublime. I think that my trip to see what has always inspired me, was a complete success since I feel recharged and so much more calm now. I hope to return to this idea more and more in the future when it comes to discussing garden and landscape design and if I am well enough, I would like to really dig in to some great critical theory as applied to gardens.
Near the end of the road are the remains of an old estate built by a lumberman who’d made a fortune in the timber industry. Today it is Shore Acres State Park.

The home that once stood on the site burned down years ago but the estate garden remains and that is what attracts visitors to the park. Where the home once stood, there is now an information building and shelter that can be used as a shelter for whale watching during rough weather.

Can you imagine having a patio like this one beside the ocean? Those urns are amazing and the crashing waves incredible! It must have been a lovely home. I wish I had a patio with a view like!
Shore Acres Gardens
Don’t you just love the Giant Dracaena?
Hebe bloom.
Well-clipped Azalea x’Hino-Crimson’.
Garden Pavilion for weddings and concerts.
Azalea with the original gardener’s quarters in the background.
Entrance to the Asian garden and pond.
Close up of Berberis darwinii.
Garden gateway to cliff overlook and private beach below.
View looking back toward the entrance from the garden gateway to the ocean.
Some kind of hardy Heliotrope?
View looking back toward the entrance from the Asian garden.
Species Rhododendron. Not sure which.
Sorry for the blurry photo but I loved that this planter was so simply planted with only a Lamium.
This is a very interesting and simple water feature.
The much loved Monkey-puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana).
Returning to the entrance.
Guest services and gift shop building that was added later. Its architecture really adds to the experience.
I seriously applaud all of the work that has gone into keeping the park open to the public. It is a treasure and I recommend that everyone visit it if they happen to visit the area.
Darlingtonia State Natural Site
Just north of the coastal town of Florence, Oregon sits a tiny little park. To get there from Coos Bay it takes about an hour and a half by car. Little did I know that again, my day would brighten even more with the kind of experience that you don’t get often when you are delighted by a sight and a child-like happiness lingering in your heart’s passageways just bursts out shocking you to discover you’re still able to feel that way. It is good to be reminded of that from time to time.
Here is more information about the Darlingtonia Wayside with information about how to get there.

The short walk to the bog was full of the typical forest imagery yet it was all made more beautiful that day by the rain and the light. Bright green moss clung to everything, and the skunk cabbage stink was working its magic with the bugs. The forest world was as it should be…

And then the magic hit me and I was seriously in awe. This was so incredible—even if the plants were not necessarily at their best.
Don’t you just want to make snake noises? Ssssssssssss. Sssssssssssssssss. Ssssssssssssssssssssss.

I hope to return to this site a bit later this year so that I can catch them in bloom.

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So, this is the last post from the trip. Though I have been home for awhile now, the posts have had to go on. I am still so grateful that I was well enough to travel on my own for a few days but I have paid heavily for the vacation and I am still not quite recovered. Believe it or not, my right calf is swollen from pressing on the gas petal. Stupid swelling problems that just get sillier and sillier.

The many seeds and seedlings I have cannot wait any longer, and I have to plant my new Burpee ‘Black Cat’ Petunias. I don’t usually fall prey to special new introductions named to make me crave them, but I totally fell for this one. They really are black and I am happy I spent a bit extra for them.

Houseplants in Bloom and One Ripe Pepper

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This last week has proven to be more than I’d expected. The house is abuzz with blooms, the Norfolk Pine lights are twinkling, the Espelette pepper is finally ripe, and we made some unexpected headway on my rare illness.
In other news, let’s bring on the blooms while I recover, yet again, from my most recent health flare-up. This little jewel we purchased up in Seattle last year when we went to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I neglect it all of the time and yet it rewards me again and again with its blooms. I highly recommend these for dependable re-blooming houseplants. Not everyone loves the color fuchsia, but it does work wonders during the dark of winter.
Monkey Plant (Ruellia makoyana)

I posted a single bloom from this little gift a week ago but since then it has been joined by a friend.

Streptocarpus, Butter Blues, with 2 blooms!

This is a single bloom on a rather sprawling plant that seems to be in bloom almost continually just so long as I listen to its needs. My friend gave me this plant in the form of a cutting and it grew really well and quickly. I will have to post pictures again when it is covered in these tiny little hovering lilac kisses.

Sinningia, not sure which

We bought this Norfolk Pink years ago to use as a small Christmas tree. It was very small when we purchased it and now it is large enough to wear 20 battery-operated lights all on its own. They are so cute.

Twinkle, twinkle little star!

The Black Jewel Orchid and I have not been great friends though I have read that these are easy plants to live with. This picture makes the leaf look really dusty, but it wasn’t that bad. Notice those amazing pinstriped lines. Even if these are a bit picky, the leaves alone make them worth it. They really add to the plant’s year-round interest.

Leaf of the Black Jewel Orchid, (Ludisia discolor)

This is our very first bloom on our Black Jewel Orchid. When the plant grows larger, there will be many more of these spikes. I hope that it will add more than one spike per year though. They bloom during winter so I guess no matter what I should not complain right now. It really is beautiful to look at when it is so cold outside.

First blooms on our Black Jewel Orchid (Ludisia discolor)

Lastly, the Espelette Pepper I wrote about a post or two ago is finally ripe. I am so happy that I brought it inside and gave it a chance. Sometimes we too don’t make it on time and need a bit of encouragement to keep up.

Ripe Espelette Pepper ready for Christmas harvest!

Hopefully I will be able to keep up with all of the seed catalogs coming in the mail. Nothing makes me happier at this time of the year than my seed starting! Hope you are all excited for the coming season too. We have planters to plan, structures to straighten and so much to do.