HPSO and the Garden Conservancy Open Day Tour Preview (August 29)

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This morning fellow garden bloggers and I were invited to visit 3 of the gardens that will be included in the HPSO and the Garden Conservancy Open Day Tour. The event will take place next weekend (Saturday, August 29th) and proceeds will be split between the HPSO and the GC.

Years ago I participated as a volunteer for the Garden Conservancy at one of these events and ever since then I’ve wanted to help out again so I was really excited to be given the opportunity to tour today so that I could share the event with you here.

Following are some photos and impressions of what visitors can expect to see. I hope you sign up and can help to make the event a big success! (Only 3 of the 5 gardens were open to us for this, so I’m not going to be able to describe them all to you, but this is what we did see.)

The Lead Garden: Winchester Place Garden

(Zachary Baker & Leon Livengood)

This is the garden with Southern charm and a focus on detail. I think it’s safe to say that the theme was carried well throughout and while fairly formal, it’s still very welcoming and cozy. I could easily have lounged around sipping on my preferred drink of gin & tonic all day if I’d been allowed to do so. I still cannot carry off Southern charm but I’m not going to stop trying. Just don’t let me get all Truman Capote if you know what I mean. This lady does have her limits.

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Having added my own water feature this month, I was charmed by this one. They really can set the stage for your garden and for some are just the right element. This one gave off plenty of noise and it fit perfectly in its space. Being surrounded by Buxus was more than ok with me too. Since I enjoy Italian gardens so much, it will come as no surprise that I am a fan of boxwood and what it can accomplish in a garden setting. (There even had a mini hedge around a tree in a pot: brilliant.)

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A Tagetes and its friend.

All of the gardens were floriferous today. This one no more or no less than the others. Despite the heat we’ve had and the horrible smoke were experiencing from forest fires taking place in our region, the flowers were out and today they were smiling and for a time I was smiling along with them.

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Espaliered Camellia, Pachysandra ground cover, and statuary that’s on loan from a friend.

In addition to the spot-on brick walkway, there were many other fine details in this garden that transported me from where we were and I really think they did an excellent design job.
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The planters on pedestals really did the trick—and the iron fencing and gate too.IMG_3413

Plant combos everywhere were at their best today. IMG_3419

As we left my group paused at this unusual Japanese maple in the front yard. We were told by the owners that it happily grows out straight and flat with little training.

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Lastly, the lovely large maple tree in the front yard is something I overlooked in my intro. Although it’s not a mighty Southern Oak or Magnolia it does a great job of giving off a similar impression.

The Mitchell Garden

(Christine & James Mitchell)

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Our second stop is a lovely garden on a corner lot with a large grove of Doug firs at its back. When you drive up, the first thing you notice are the lovely conifers.

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But don’t let that first look fool you, there is color here—lots of color and blooms. They’re all very well choreographed as the mixed beds blend and grow together and as one area transitions into another. IMG_5160

Out back there is even an area for Agave and their friends. Surrounded by other lush foliage plants you won’t be fooled into believing that this is a desert. The transition is done well with a seating area and walkway. IMG_5154

This garden for me was lush and textural. Additionally, there was plenty of open space and seating areas for family. IMG_3392

I very much enjoyed the texture and color though with attractive plant combinations. IMG_3383

Simplicity was there too so your eyes could breathe. IMG_3371

And the Cleome in the front garden—it was my eye candy today.

The Prewitt Garden

(Nancy & Gordon Prewitt)

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The third garden has been lovingly tended to by a husband and wife for many years. As a matter of fact, they’ve been gardening together since their relationship began and I can think of nothing more romantic.

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Cornus sanguinea ‘Compressa’.

Like the house I grew up in, this family garden has been through many changes over the years. This is a hands-on place.

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The owner made this table after getting a piece of plate glass from a friend. IMG_3338

Along a fence I found this old succulent project. It’s clear that the owners are always adding new things and experiment with new ideas and plants. This place is crafty and I liked it a lot. IMG_5144

The edible area was large. Honestly, all of the gardens were large, but this lot had a very large area with raised beds dedicated almost exclusively to berries and vegetables.IMG_3340

My favorite bed was the asparagus bed. It’s the largest I’ve ever seen and it gave me asparagus envy.

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Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’.

With a little of that here and a little of that there this garden was a pleasure to relax in and it too felt like a place where family could gather and where a gardener (or gardeners) could find pleasure in their gardening tasks no matter what the season.

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I hope this was a decent introduction to what I hope will end up being a lovely day next weekend! If you go, come back and tell me about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts and thanks again to the garden owners who let our group in a week early.

More of the Garden Makeover and, well, Reduction Mammaplasty

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Damask Rose aka Rosa x damascena.

Last time I didn’t mention why I was rushing. I’m not even sure that I said I was trying to hurry through a pile of mulch, but I was and I’ll get to that in a bit. I can’t believe I chose to have another surgery at this time of the year, but I did, and I’m glad that’s over now.

Next year I’ll be able to harvest the Damask roses for edible purposes. This year, they had to fade and their petals were sadly trampled by rain but at least I smelled them frequently as the clock ticked on my impending procedure last week.

IMG_2630 IMG_2635Just in time we cleaned up the front area but there is much left to do. I finally was able to move the Aucuba ‘Gold Dust’ and I hope that it’s happier beside its companion next to the fence.

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Lord Quincy between scenes of the Bug Ballet. He’s quite a dancer.

The day after my surgery was glorious. After resting and before returning to the surgeon to be checked out I wandered around the garden high on pain pills and the miracle of sudden weightlessness from my chest. (Don’t fret. Mom was driving me  back downtown.)

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I walked around the garden rejoicing too that this recovering would not be nearly as bad as back surgery. I was already up and walking and was even able to pull out a few weeds here and there.

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Yes, there was still a lot to do, but I thought about the victories we’d achieved before the surgery.

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I had just moved this Aucuba on the right.

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Rosa ‘Julia Childs’.

Last week I spent wandering outside for a bit each morning with my coffee before I returned to bed for a long nap. IMG_2706

Each day was full of surprises like discovering vine weevils in my  Dranunculus vulgaris.

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Although they might look a bit crooked in this photo I can assure you they’re not. It has something to do with how I was holding the iPhone.

Then there’s the whole getting to know my body in a new light kind of thing. Since this is a gardening blog I won’t go into my reasons for wanting this done, but I can assure you that they were medical, physical, as well as emotional. I wish I’d done this sooner, and if you’ve thought about doing it, do it. It really is life changing.

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After a few days of rest I ventured over to an elderly neighbor friend’s house last weekend. (Yes, it’s ok I did this. Walking is encouraged after this kind of surgery.) We talked, I admired plants along the way, took note of an arrangement she’d made in the house, and we both noted that this tiny broom she’d had for ages had finally bloomed. Of course neither one of us remembers where it came from but she bought it years ago with me.

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I also ventured out that night to attend a talk and potluck with some other hort-heads at Sean Hogan’s house. There is plenty more to tell you about that fun evening but I really wanted to show these photos of the Abutilon megapotamican. With some protection it’s hardy and I think it’s just lovely.

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With some improved weather the cats and I have been regularly going outside. Maurice only goes if it’s really warm, and well Quincy, he goes no matter what and we find him passed out in Maine coon mode in the hall on a daily basis now.

IMG_2809Just today I went out for an hour, and I saw that my Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) was blooming.

IMG_2812Before I came in to cook dinner I admired my Fuchsia splendens too.

There have been a lot of changes around here during the last few weeks and I’ve been feeling so much better. I still need time to rest though and to clear the pain. Tomorrow I leave for a weekend in the coastal woods and I’ll return to share some moments from that trip too. I’m really excited to get back to the Estancia.

(Next time I’ll also tell you a bit about having a garden acquaintance come over to help me in the garden. Oh, what a boost that gave me!)

The Alaskan Honeymoon: Part One (Anchorage, AK)

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We knew we’d landed in Anchorage when we saw this at the airport.

Yes, it was thrilling, but it was sad at the same time.

Rhodochiton vine in a planter outside of a hotel in Anchorage.

We landed late on Friday night and stayed in Anchorage for two nights.

Most people wouldn’t recommend this, but we were exhausted! We stayed downtown at the Hilton and had a great time.

A closeup of the vine.

We had an open air market across the street to walk to and we ate breakfast at the Snow City Cafe.

Then we visited the Anchorage Visitor Information Center.

I can’t say enough about its original “green roof”.

It very much fueled and gave fire to the pioneer blood in my veins.

The Fuchsia baskets are obviously overwintered. Look at those woody stems!

This was the beginning of the floriferousness too.

With all those extra daylight hours, the blooms are a bit different up North. I don’t know how this happens exactly, but I saw it on several occasions and I’ll continue to show you images of these amazing plants.

(Yes, I’m sure that these are well fed too.)

Some Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium).

The native plants were plentiful.

Fireweed is by far the most spectacular of all during September and you’ll be seeing a lot of it as these posts progress.

This amazing shrub was really enchanting. It is native to colder northern regions but I cannot recall what it is right now. Any thoughts? I picked seeds and I know it’s in the pea family.

The Sorbus were plentiful but I’m not completely certain which ones I was seeing.

This was my honeymoon after all so I tried not to go too crazy with the plant ID.

We saw a lot of lilacs but only a few with blooms.

This one is a smaller bush variety.

I’m ashamed that my evergreen tree ID is so shabby. I’ve chosen to show you this amazing tree even though I’m not certain what it is.

Please forgive me. I promise to study.

On the way back from one of the best Japanese dinners I’ve ever had, we found these rhubarb plants being grown in the lawn of a Catholic church. (They are the plants up near the fence. Others were planted in spots on the other side of the sign too—right in the middle of the lawn.)

Makes me happy that they’re thinking about the food or lawn question too.

There was more floriferousness nearby as we walked past the mall on our way back to the hotel.

When I saw the Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) I had to smile. It’s not at all a plant I think of when I think of Alaska but I was so happy to see such a fine specimen.

Then there were the rose hips on the Rugosa roses. I just couldn’t get enough of these plants. They are all over the place and they grow so much better up North than they do down here in Oregon.

It became so clear to me right away that Alaska is not the northernmost edge of our climate, but that we are the southernmost extreme of its climate. I felt a strong kinship with the region right out of the gate.

That last night I tried on my kind of bear fur hat in the hotel gift shop—the totally silly fake kind. I thought a bit about Ms. Palin and wondered what kind of mama bear I could be if I tried. Luckily I lost my taste for politics years ago, but I remain interested at least in what politicians are doing—or NOT doing.

A very large part of me felt at home in Alaska. It reminded me of the Oregon I grew up in and the people I knew as a girl.

This was just the beginning though and so rarely am I so comfortable right away in a new place.

More to come…

Wordless Wednesday: I giardini delle due donne

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Climbing Monkshood (Aconitum episcopale) grown from seed.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) in its new home.
Pink Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua) grown from seed. Sadly the plant was eaten a bit this year.
The backyard.
Tradescantia ‘Bridal Veil’.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).
Fuchsia ‘Celia Smedley’.
Unknown Rosa.
Unknown cabbage (Brassica).
Notorious female feline.
Potted geraniums (Pelargonium), with St. Francis statuary, at the home of an Italian woman.

Wordless Wednesday: Sunny Times in the Back Garden

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Impatiens tinctoria with Fuchsia ‘Autumnale’.
Mona the Cat under her hammock shade canopy.
Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’. Yes, we can grow it in the ground.
Adiantum peruvianum.
Some of my pole apples (Malus).
Begonia boliviensis.
Clematis heracleifolia. 
Acquired as Graptopetalum paraguayense.
Coleus and Begonia in planters. I grew the Begonia plants from seed I bought last fall on sale.

Planning and Watching the Garden in June

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Unknown Cistus from the neighborhood.
Finally started walking around the neighborhood again. I cannot say enough about how badly chronic back injuries need to be moved. It is amazing how intensely my back can hurt and yet a nice long walk can make it all go away.
Still waiting for the Dracunculus vulgaris to open.

Right now I’d love to show more of my garden but it’s a bit messy yet. Right after this post is posted I will go back out there to weed, trim, and plant away. Finally, I hope to list some more plants on CL too.

Fuchsia procumbens ‘Variegata’.

Still been busy indoors with “life responsibilities” so it is so great to go outside to see little blooms here and there.

Alpine strawberry, (Fragaria vesca.)

Often I stop to munch on things as I walk by since they truly are so tasty. For instance, I am such a lover of alpine strawberries.

The front porch flowerbed.

I think that it’s time for me to begin giving real tours of my actual garden. Next time we’ll be starting with this bed. I show it here a lot since it usually looks ok. I will rearrange it and post pictures after this weekend. Finally, I will be blogging again about playing with some plants.

First bloom of the year on my Begonia boliviensis.
I am really looking forward to talking more about the plants I’ve grown from seed too. This Begonia is a good example of that!

It’s been fun playing with my photos recently too. I do love photography. In addition to reading books about gardening and plants again, I’ve been thinking a lot about photography.

La vita è bella!