July—in the Blink of an Eye (2018)


Garden life was a bit scattered last summer. By the time everything was blooming it was kind of obvious that I hadn’t exactly planned anything. This has been the way things have been around here due to owning and growing so many things. I just decided to embrace all of the color and to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Last summer my Pelargonium peltatum ‘Crocodile’ bloomed, Dahlia ‘Pooh’ reigned loud and proud in the driveway, and I discovered the bulky, fragrant, never-ending joy of Nicotiana langdorffii in full sun.

For the 4th of July, I took nurseryman and author Paul Bonine to the coast with our mutual friend Evan Bean (The Practical Plant Geek). We decided to do the peninsula tour in Washington State along with our professional gardener friends Skyler (Tangly Cottage Gardening) and her husband Allan.

Skyler is also a prolific blogger and has been reading, growing, and writing about plants for many years. Her knowledge is vast from her experience and because she knows her climate well. If you know Paul, you know that this made for great conversation. We discussed the existing plants in the area, took notes of potential new ones, and generally had fun with other gardeners.

On that first day though, it was fun seeing Paul and Skyler in her garden, standing in front of this Eryngium pandanifolium var. lesseauxii grown by Paul’s business, Xera Plants.

The visit and tour was only for a few days. We packed as much as we could in and topped it off with the exciting experience of watching fireworks for hours and hours. We dined at the restaurant at the Shelburne Hotel where we were able to see the work that Skyler has been doing in the garden there. She worked on the garden years ago but then work was suspended for a few years. Now she’s back and she’s redoing the colorful cottage look. Many of the plants included were grown from seeds she’d purchased like the sunset runner bean seen above.

The next day was the 4th and we toured more gardens near Oysterville and along the peninsula and we ended up being invited to an impromptu dinner by two talented gardeners at their home on the Willapa Bay. img_6382

Back at home my neighbor and I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the color of this Phacelia viscida I’d purchased for her meadow. A wildflower, we’re really hoping it will return this year and that it successfully reseeded heavily. We’ll have to wait and see. Stay tuned!

As the heat crept up, the cats became flatter and flatter, often hiding in the house near the A/C.

Felix clearly grew tired of my laptop, Oliver hid in the cat cave on the cat tree, and LuLu, the brave pretty girl, often sat on the cool pavement in the shade out in the garden with me.img_6406I continued to rearrange furniture too in the hope that it would inspire me to keep tossing and/or selling items I didn’t need. This mirror was something I picked up at a Goodwill in California years ago and it’s been kind of a nice addition to my office/tv room. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to finish painting in here.

At work so many things were happening. The strange Babcokia platylepis I’d sown finally bloomed. Hmmmmm. It looked like a fancy baroque dandelion, ok. I took home a Rhambus frangula ‘Asplenifolia’ to plant. The Aristolochia fimbriata I’d planted the year before finally were filled out. (They should be available at Cistus next year.) I fell madly and wildly in love with Pelargonium ‘Bird Dancer’— so much so that I expect that I’ll have a lot of them in the garden this summer. I watched the Colletia bloom along the driveway, and best of all, a threatened conifer endemic to California located in a border suddenly set a lot of seeds. Yes, that funny striped fruit contained a Torreya californica seed!

The natural world is simply amazing.

There was so much more though! I love summer, don’t you love it too?

I spent the rest of July soaking up the beauty of these three plants. They all held my interest well into fall. The Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’ had been a gifted cutting, but the Petunia integrifolia and Didiscus were grown from seed by myself. All three were so impressive and easy that I definitely will grow them again. img_6922At the end of the month I learned that my elderly neighbor and gardening friend was going to move back across the US. For years, many of the seeds I’ve sold in my shop Milton’s Garden Menagerie had been grown at her place.

On the day she told me of her plans, I was very sad, and had been eyeballing her incredible Ipomopsis aggregata. I actually took photos of it to remind me of that moment. It was a rough transition for both of us and I knew I had to buck up.

I took a deep breath and started to help her. img_6990While it was hot, hot, hot, I moved many of her gardening treasures to my home. She gifted me with so many things she’d gathered from friends and various places. I grabbed extra rocks, a pair of large terra-cotta planters, as well as all of her houseplants.

For the last few months I’ve been treating, feeding, dividing, repotting, and selling many of them. I didn’t both to count how many plants I took care of but it was a lot and now I have small babies of them all.

I’ve propagated many for folks who’ve purchased them locally, and I have a collection to ship to her when she’s ready to receive them. While it’s been really hard for me to lose her, and I miss her a lot, it created an opportunity to learn about a lot of amazing plants all at once. I am grateful for that—but I still do miss her.

Been a long time in the garden: Wine, Women and Song


Was taken to a few wineries in September for my 41st birthday. Here I am shoveling some very delicious Willamette Valley grapes in my face. Thank goodness for friends and their cameras.

A few months have passed since I last blogged. With a blogoversary on the horizon I think it’s time for me to begin again. This time of year is always very busy for me with all of my indoor gardening and seed work. I have plenty to share so stay tuned.IMG_5477

Cooking has continued to play an important role in my life. As a gift, my combined wedding anniversary and birthday gift from my husband was an amazing meal at Castagna.

I could write a book about that incredible meal but instead I’ll recommend that you read about the chef and go there yourself. It was an incredible dining experience and one I’ll never forget.


LuLu and Quincy loved to chase one another in the willow arbor.

Mid September our little buddy Quincy went missing one Friday night. He wasn’t with us for long, and we miss him dearly. I refuse to give up hope and continue to search for him. Luckily our county has a wonderful system for lost animals and I receive daily notifications.


Gardener, garden writer and designer Kate Bryant enjoying a bit of salmon fishing.

Dad took two of my friends and I salmon fishing back in September. It was a quick trip but we all had a wonderful time with lots of laughs and great food. We may not have caught anything, but a boat of fishermen did offer us a free fish to take home.


During September I also visited Sarracenia Northwest for their Open House. This is a beautifully fun story and I promise to write more about it in an upcoming post.  IMG_5814

The tomatoes kept coming this year and they kept me busy. As a matter of fact I finished up eating them just a few days ago. I was a bit shocked to have ripe tomatoes from the garden on November 1.


With a tromboncino squash I was gifted I made homemade gnocchi with butter and sage sauce. It was a great idea for a little garden writing group that I’ve helped to start just to get me to write more. I want to write more. I really do.

I decided to purchase my first fancy apron after catering for a small party. This was a lovely reward after having succeeded with all of those fundraiser dinners this summer. As difficult as that work was, I do miss entertaining and making menus. Am taking the holidays off too because I cannot afford to feed as many people as I used to so taking a holiday will be a nice break.IMG_6783

To thank friends who offered to help me this summer after my last surgery I hosted a pizza party. I avoided making Italian-style pizza for a very long time, but I feel comfortable with it now. IMG_6057

As I stated a few months ago, I was yearning to return to school. I did. I am taking one class right now and am loving plant ID in the horticulture department at Clackamas Community College.


There have been the garden visits to friends’ green realms with more meals and laughs. I am a big fan of Felony Flats Botanical Garden and its head gardeners Eric and Robert.


Petunia exserta.

In addition to school and a new part-time job (more on that in my next post), I’m beginning to take care of my seed shop again and have been collecting, accepting by mail from friends, and shopping online again for things I’d like to grow. As I rip out the garden, I am looking for new growing spaces while considering the possibilities.


White alpine strawberry.


Pelargonium peltatum, the species from Cistus Nursery.


Lastly, I also hosted the Fall Garden Blogger Plant Swap. It’s kind of like Fight Club so I won’t go on and on about it, but if you’re a blogger and you live nearby, let me know. The primarily requirement is that you be a blogger. IMG_6183

LuLu has been my new little furry rock since Quincy disappeared. She’s taken up as my stalker where my little old lady Macavity left off when she passed away last year.

Here she is loving up Maurice but we all know she’s just letting him know who’s in charge. She’s a bossy pants, piglet. In addition to climbing the walls and my pant legs, she’s almost always underfoot. I adore her and her youthful kitten energy.IMG_6246 Luckily LuLu goes out a little bit, but she’s not going to be allowed to be an outdoor cat. Here she is helping me to collect tomatoes. IMG_6264She also helps me with my botanical studies. Here she is letting me know that DOGWOODS bore her.
IMG_6859So welcome back! Welcome to indoor gardening and there’s more to come. I promise!