May I continue? (May, 2018)

Standard

As is usual, I have not yet blogged about the annual Garden Bloggers Fling. Since I cannot afford to go to Denver in 2019, let’s hope that I follow through with my posts after I am finished with my monthly summaries. Maybe I could get around to posting about every other Fling I’ve been to as well. I guess some part of me has more fun attending these events then writing about them. I know, this doesn’t make sense. I just feel like everyone else who is actually a blogger does a better job of writing about the gardens. For me, they’re usual big health disasters that take a lot of work to prepare for, and recover from, so while I am there I am having as much fun as a human can possibly have while they’re in the moment.

All I can say is that Austin, TX did NOT disappoint and it was a great deal of fun to be there is such a large group of Portland friends. We showed up and we showed up strong!

(Funny family fact, the last known relative I knew about ever having been in Texas was my great-grandmother’s cousin and he was hung for cattle rustling. When I say I’m a spaghetti Westerner. I’m not kidding. Clearly this guy was not from my Sicilian side.)

After the Fling I was able to follow through on a little side trip to Peckerwood Garden. To say that it blew me away is not an exaggeration. I also plan to do a post about that in the future but let’s just say it was a business trip of sorts and I returned with a carryon bag overloaded with so many plants I can’t even remember what the final count was for cuttings, plants, and seeds, but it was a bit over the top. I also fell madly, and deeply in love with Clematis texensis while I was there.

I also realized that someone should name a begonia ‘Yosemite Ann’. Funny I’d never noticed the resemblance until I held one of those poor cane-like begonias up to my face. By this point in the trip I was delirious from health concerns, exhaustion, and excitement so if you see me doing this again, just be warned. I needed a nap pretty badly.

Upon my arrival home I was happy to see that my Beschorneria from Lance over at Garden Riots was kicking it and starting to bloom for me. I am sure in Texas this thing would have already gone to seed but hey!, this is Oregon, so I was thrilled to come home to this new surprise. Luckily I love hot pink and it sort of spared well with the classic giant pink Rhodie across the street.

The three cats continued to enjoy the quieter house and Felix continued to develop his odd quirks. He smooshed my seeds, sat in seed trays and on soil bags since he’s a house cat. LuLu wandered on her own and Oliver, well, he just loved life everyday with all of his heart. He’s just one big fluffy happy guy.

Life at Cistus Nursery had changed a bit while I was away. Sean had sold his house and had moved into the house at the nursery so basically all of the land was reunited under one roof so-to-speak. I also learned that the day Sean moved in Nigella retired officially from living in our retail area. I have to say it’s kind of amazing that she just knew she could do that. She continues to thrive in retirement.

Back at the house I think this was the point at which I was kind of amazed at how everything could explode at once. By the end of the month, I was pushing to get things in while it all just grew around me. That’s why I am doing more gardening this winter. I would have done this before but I just wasn’t well enough.

IMG_4185My neighbor’s meadow has continued to grow and develop. I help her with this a bit and I am trying to take more photos to keep track of what we add and remove. This is not a static place. For the entire warm season my neighbor puttered out in her meadow. She gets a lot of pleasure from spending time out here and it’s fun to watch as things grow and improve.

My other neighbor was someone I visited too. Little did I know then though that she’d be selling her place in just a few months. She’s already moved away so seeing these photos made me feel badly. I spent a lot of the summer and fall though working with what I was able to get from her place before the sale. Her houseplant collection was huge and that alone has taken me 3 months to sort and propagate. Once temps are warmer, I will begin to send her starts of her own plants. I’ve kept start of everything and have been selling the extras to pay off medical and/or personal debts. The process has only deepened my love of houseplants, improved my propagation, and I’ve learned to do some light retail work from my garage.

But back in May, I had no idea that’s how my year would end up. It’s still kind of amazing to think of how much I’ve done thanks to a balanced schedule, understanding folks, and anabolic steroids to help with my hereditary angioedema. I guess physical therapy isn’t the only miracle in my life.

Lastly, I had to leave these two goofy pets. On the left is my friend Paul Bonine’s pup Miles. He has a fondness for me and I for him so when he fell asleep between Paul and I like this I melted. He’s such a sweet dog too. Then there is Oliver. Sigh. Oliver is a terribly handsome cat but he’s a scared of everything. Most of the time he just wants to snuggle or sleep. Other times, he’s like this, and luckily when I laugh at him, he never even registers it. Can’t say that about there other members of the current kitty crew.

(I swear this is a garden blog.)

Snow, Beauty, and Grief in February 2018

Standard

February of 2018 started out quietly. After months of renovating the kitchen I was trying to return to normal for all of us—including the cats.  It was cold and grey. I’d signed up for a few more classes in horticulture at Clackamas Community College. My hope was that I’d feel better and do more in the coming year but I honestly wasn’t sure yet what that would mean.

There were still a few more things to add. John picked this old chandelier for the dining room and a light for the entry too. The cats began to relax and LuLu took over the kitchen again. I started seeds, and some were soaked in hot water in my grandma’s vintage mugs. I enjoyed the winter light that now could come in all along the north side of the house thanks to having opened up the back room. For Valentine’s Day, I received a juniper bonsai. Life was really settling in.

On February 11th, I lost a good friend. George Hull and I didn’t know one another for very long but he was very supportive of my drive to propagate and to eventually breed some plants. He was a plantsman who saw me as a plantswoman. He encouraged me and mentored me. He understood my spinal issues because he too had sustained injuries from a serious fall. I miss having him around to talk to about the chronic pain. In his absence, I try to channel the qualities I miss most about him so that I can share with others what he shared with me. I do miss him though. I know a lot of us miss him.

So that’s when I really embraced my garden. Mourning is a long process when you care about someone, and losing George was difficult. My Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ bloomed longer last season than it ever had. The Camellia japonica ‘Black Magic’ bloomed before, during, and after we had snow. It was magnificent! My heart also opened to a new plant, the Camellia x ‘Yume’. With a name that translates as ‘Dream’, this former Surrealism was immediately smitten. The pink and white petals really did it for me. Wow!

At work, winter moved on. Hummingbirds sipped from the Arctostaphylos when it snowed, the Garrya were dressed in their winter best, and the Aristolochia californica started to bloom. Though I’ve not yet planted one of these amazing vines in my own garden, I plan to do so soon. It’s a favorite of mine at work. Additionally, the Cirsium diacanthus (aka Ptilostemon afer) seeds I sowed started to look great. In retail, I met Rhododendron ‘Snow Lady’ for the first time.

IMG_9583

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Hiltingbury’.

Before class one night at Clackamas Community College I went back to the row of Hamamelis to find the one I’d really liked a year or two ago. It was Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Hiltingbury’ and I was happy to see it again. Yes, there are others that are more popular, but I really like this one. I don’t have room for it in my garden, but I look forward to seeing it again next month when I return to take another class.

There were two more unusual things that happened that month.

A designer up in Seattle wanted a tree that he’d seen at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show but the show was over, and his client hadn’t gotten back to him in time, so he contacted the grower while they were driving home. It just so happened they were near Portland so it was delivered to my house where he came to retrieve it a week or two later. I didn’t see it installed, but it’s likely a really beauty. It was a weeping Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’.

The second fun event was a propagation workshop for the bloggers at Joy Creek Nursery. I felt right at home in the greenhouse taking cuttings although it’s not what I do primarily do at work.

Lastly, we had some snow. It seems like that happens from time to time around here. I don’t mind it at all. As a matter of fact, I kind of like the cold of winter. What was the most entertaining though was watching our part Norwegian forest cat Oliver, aka Ollie. That’s him with the wide eyes in that last photo. If you could zoom in you’d see that there were tiny snowflakes coming down. I was surprised at his excitement. He sat at the window all night watching it snow. While the snow was here, he ran out when I let him and he’d borrow and dig and jump around. His joy brought me much joy.