The 2015 Sample Plants from Terra Nova Nurseries have Arrived!

Standard

In full disclosure, these plants were given to me by Terra Nova Nurseries. They’re my complimentary sample plants and I was thrilled when they were delivered to me on Monday while I was sleeping after a 12-hour overnight hospice shift.

This isn’t my first batch—there have been others—but I’ve been a bad blogger, and I’ve neglected to talk about the others in the past. I’m not going to let these delightful new friends fall by the wayside this year. Oh no, no way. This is a great batch of plants!

Let me introduce them here, and then I’ll post later about how their doing…

Mukgenia Nova(TM) Flame

Leucanthemum ‘Belgian Lace’

Heuchera ‘Champagne’

Agastache ‘Violet Vision’

Lobelia ‘Grape Knee Hi’

Heucherella ‘Autumn Cascade’

(If you’re curious to know more about them and I’ve not followed up yet, just ask me and I’ll give you an up-to-the-minute update!)

The Little Foster Boy Who Loved Seeds

Standard
Last weekend I was surprised by a 9-year-old foster respite boy—but it was a pleasant surprise.
False Yucca Seeds, Hesperaloe parviflora.

Usually on Friday nights kids don’t want to watch me sitting at the table sifting through seeds. Our kids are usually fairly emotional and like to have us right there with them, watching a program with them, or participating in their play.

Cardinal Flower Seeds, Lobelia cardinalis.

Last weekend I was left alone in the evening. It felt kind of odd and a twinge of guilt crept up, but then I squashed it because I liked being able to work quietly after dinner without any major interruptions.

False Freesia, Anomatheca laxa.

I was sorting and sorting and didn’t notice when the room became silent.

My little helper hiding behind the lamp to preserve his anonymity.

Then I felt his eyes on me and he drew nearer. There were a few questions about how to do it, and why I do it, and then he sat his toys down. He was mesmerized by the process and before I knew it he was sitting beside me sorting too.

And that was Friday night! Ahhhhh…..

Elms in the Park Blocks of Portland, Oregon.

Due to his anxiety issues, running errands for my upcoming trip required some planning, but all that really meant was that he needed park breaks in the city so that he could forget about all the people. Near Powell’s he as able to run around in this playground in the park blocks. I admired the elm trees while he let it all out.

Licorice Ferns, Polypodium glycyrrhiza.

Before we left to go to the store I showed him how the epiphytic Licorice Fern grows on trees whenever possible in our area. He stood there on the sidewalk staring up at that tree for much longer than I’d expected.

This lily at a flower stall captivated my little weekend visitor.

At the market in NW Portland we stopped to buy flowers for my daily Ikebana.

Pumpkin Stick Tree, Solanum integrifolium.

I let him pick what he wanted for a Halloween theme and we talked about the flowers he really liked.

Monkshood, possibly Aconitum carmichaelii.

This was the first Monkshood he’d ever seen and he couldn’t stop looking at it. He wanted to call it a Hoodie Flower and that made me laugh.

Once we were back home he posed with our purchases and then we started working on Halloween cookies. Until he left on Monday he continued to sort seeds with me and he asked me many questions. He opened up a lot during this time and when he left it was hard for me to say goodbye. Part of me felt ashamed though to have been so biased in my feelings for him just because he loved seeds but I totally fell for him.

I am currently still sorting outdoor plants before I take off for my next plant and seed hunting trip in California.

I wanted to post that I have many winners and losers and these are examples of each. Both are hard to find plants, but only one made it. The Dicentra would have made it if I hadn’t neglected it, but so it goes…

DIG Floral & Garden (Vashon Island, WA)

Standard

A few weeks back I promised pictures of DIG Floral & Garden out on Vashon Island and I have failed to provide those up until now. I am sorry for the cursory visit, but my ongoing hand injury recovery has really slowed me down.

Lobelia tupa.
Happiest dog I’ve seen all summer.
I have seen tons of blown glass balls and baubles galore at other places but this arrangement is just right.
If you’re going to put a large round object in your garden make sure it’s big and heavy.
A few years ago these gabions inspired my husband to make his own at the family vineyard in California. His is much smaller but he loved that he could use rocks he’d been digging up in the vineyard to fill it up. (Note too the metal “picture” frames. They are actually recycled metal grates.)
I think this is safely described as a bit surreal. The dissimilar objects remind me much of Lautreamont’s famous quote concerning the beauty of a chance encounter between very different objects. Sometimes the odd couple pairings really do work!
If my mother-in-law enjoyed gardening, I would have to buy her one of these little handsome devils.
I have seen simple tiered planters before but admittedly I’ve never really liked them. This one is completely different though because the pottery appears to have morphed its shape. It seems more alive somehow.
I have a sedum filled birdbath too so I am a bit partial to this one.
Chuckle.
Smile.
Possibly a Tweedia.
Fuchsia ‘Chang’.
More glass balls and this color pathway is maybe a bit less jarring.
Surprising combination.
These are aluminum banded planters that can be used many different ways.
Their take on the Mediterranean theme meshes far better with my relaxed and not-so-technical side. It isn’t Anglophilic or part of the Tuscanization of America. It find that refreshing.
Now I want a totally new garden and it will have a special name inspired by this scene: Glaucous. I would even get my husband a well-trained Glaucous Macaw and train it to act like Kermit the Frog. The silliness of the idea makes it seem plausible.
De nada!
Just in case anyone cares, that’s a Beschorneria ‘Ding Dong’ blooming in the terracotta pot. (If you’re reading this, I got that name just for you.)
This white chicken should stand beside my red wheelbarrow. I need some white concrete chickens right? That’s not a want, but a need. Clearly.
The white glass baubles were also a nice touch. I still can’t decide which colors I liked most though so that’s why you get to see them all.
Nothing makes me happier than an Asparagus fern in a serene formal planter. It floods me with memories of the Alcazar in Seville.
This is meant to remind myself and others that if you have a Staghorn fern living unhappily in a small plastic planter, set it free!
Begonia maculata var. wightii.

The DIG tour had to be quick because we had a ferry to catch. Two of our regular foster respite kids were waiting back in Portland for us so we had to dash off the island. That morning, the ferry had looked so mysterious and moody in the fog, but by the time we’d packed up, and arrived at the nursery, things were looking much better.

As we waited for the ferry, I sat and watched the Madrone trees.

Madrone, Arbutus menziesii.

From Seeds to Seeds: Seed Harvesting and Happiness

Standard
Happiness is not something I usually discuss publicly but today I am brimming with it. Sure, the world is currently a bit crazy—and I acknowledge and care about that—but right here at my house, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. I joke not, seriously, and I mean this both figuratively and literally.
For me, seed collecting currently feels like opening tiny gifts wrapped in crinkly sun-dried seed pod papers. Funny that after that is done, I wrap them up in cute little origami envelopes and store them until they are sold in my online store! As many of you know, Christmas shopping often begins early and as usual, I am seeing sales from early shoppers. When I hear that folks are buying seeds for someone for Christmas though it makes me so happy. These are gifts that will give back in return if properly cared for by a gardener—sometimes for years!
Milton’s Garden Menagerie (located on Etsy.com) has been a wonderful experience for a chronically ill woman who was terribly confused about how to take that next step in her life. At first I wasn’t really sure what I was doing with it and I doubted myself a great deal, but now that it has been almost 2 years and as it nears a viable business status, I think I can say I did it mostly—for the love of seeds! Saying that loud and proud makes me happy today too.
Each time I collect seeds it’s exciting no matter where I am. When I collect seeds from plants I’ve grown from seed it is even more exciting. This year, for the first time, my gardening friend down the street is letting me harvest from her garden too. Since she is 100% natural in her garden I have no problem collecting her seeds—especially when they are from plants I have sold to her at some point.
Here are plants I’ve grown from seed that I am collecting seeds from this year for my Milton’s Garden Menagerie harvest:
Tube Clematis, Clematis heracleifolia.
Variegated Honesty, Lunaria annua ‘Variegata’.
Heirloom White Single Hollyhock, Alcea rosea. 
Cardinalflower, Lobelia cardinalis.
Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica.
White Rose Campion, Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’ or Silene coronaria ‘Alba’. 
Maximilian’s Sunflower, Helianthus maximilianii.
Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus cardinalis.
Bottlebrush Grass, Elymus hystrix.
Then there are the plants I did not grow, but from which I am able to harvest seeds from this year.
Sticky Phacelia, Phacelia viscida.
Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria.
Blue Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena.
Tall Alumroot, Heuchera chlorantha.
Lewis Flax, Linum lewisii.
Pale Corydalis, Corydalis sempervirens.
Adding to all the hectic seed collecting there are the other things too. On my most recent trip to the Seattle area I came home with this gem. It, along with many others, will be planted in the coming weeks.
Blechnum chilense.

The fern is native to China and can grow up to 6′ tall in some places. It is evergreen in my climate so I am very curious to see what it will do. It spreads by underground runners and I’ve read that it can be invasive but no word on this yet in my area. I guess I will have to see what happens and in the meantime I’ll enjoy it as much as I can while it is still docile and not a screeching teen.

And during my copious amounts of free time I will begin working with my many Douglas fir cones. I need to make some new wreaths and holiday decorations because if I continue only using wine corks, someone is seriously going to think we have a drinking problem in our home.

More happy news to come in the following week so stay tuned!

It’s the Unplanned, a Thing Called Life, in the Garden

Standard
“One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect 
the whole world looks like home for a time.” Hermann Hesse

A great deal has recently grown in this garden—both intended and otherwise. Many of my new plants, sown this year from seeds sent to me in the mail only last winter, have borne great and rich floral beauties. I never know what to expect, so much so, that when things finally grow and bloom, they are always certain to cause me great surprise and excitement. That’s seriously how I garden!

The False Freesia below was a bit of a shock when I returned from Seattle. I had no idea what it was, but after checking my charts, I figured it out. I ordered these seeds from the American Horticultural Society last winter. Another member donated them to their annual seed sale and I am so glad! I’d never seen them before and I hope I can overwinter them outside. They are bulbs grown from seed, and I am thrilled they bloomed during their first season. I am seriously impressed.

False Freesia, Anomatheca laxa.

This Lobelia cardinalis had been sitting in its planter for two years. This past spring I finally planted it in the ground. It too is blessing me with its blooms right now, but this plant story is different than the last one.

My mother loves Fan Scarlet Lobelia and wanted tons of them so a few years ago I figured out what I needed to grow more for her. Since the plant is a F1 hybrid I had to purchase pelleted Fan Scarlet seeds from a reputable grower. After doing so, that year, the seeds all grew perfectly.

The effort was not quite enough though to soothe my mom’s curiosity. She still didn’t understand after that season why I couldn’t just collect the seeds from her new plants to make more of the Fan Scarlets. Instead of reexplaining hand pollination to her, I just told her I’d collect the seeds and then show her what would happen later.

As you’ve already guessed, this is what happened. A few of the seeds reverted back to the Lobelia cardinalis, while many of them stayed sterile. What was Mom’s response? She complained at first because several of the ones I gave her failed to thrive, but late last summer she told me that the handful that did might actually be prettier to her than the Fan Scarlet. Go figure!

Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis.

My dependable old-timer has bloomed again and this loyal garden companion is going to have its seeds harvested this year finally. Life without it would be difficult for me and I must have more in the future.

A few years ago I visited the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles where I purchased hollyhock seeds in their Gift Shop. The package said it was a mix, and I grew them all, but most were sold at the Frank Lloyd Wright house museum where I used to work. (The funds were used to purchase additional plants for the Gordon House.) This was the last plant though, and I chose to plant it at our home. I am so happy it turned out so beautiful and that its parents were once hollyhocks at the Hollyhock House.

Heirloom Hollyhock, Alcea rosea.
After many months, I finally got the garden menagerie together for the foster kids. Last winter we assembled this motley crew up in Seattle at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. The weather has been so bad though this past spring and summer I only just recently let the gang out. I think they make quite a nice team, don’t you?

With much work to come, I am finally cleaning up the garden. Last week, an x-ray showed that last month I broke two bones on my right hand, and although they’ve both healed, they still are not well. I am trying not to think about all the lost time, but this summer has been rough. It’s the unplanned things that really determine what happens sometimes, and in my life, I must always expect the unexpected.

My little old lady cat Macavity has helped me through some rough spots recently. She is 15 years old now and is one of most intelligent cats I’ve ever known. Not long after I was diagnosed with primary immune issues, she developed health problems too. Just recently, she’s begged me to ignore all of her skin rashes, and to forget her hip problems because she just wants to be a cat during these last few weeks of summer. She’s now allowed to be outside whenever she wants to and she is very happy. I guess she’s earned it by being so nice to all the children, even when she shouldn’t be, yet she’s always willing to give them a chance.

Last Friday my cats enjoyed sitting beneath me as I crashed in our hammock for the first time this summer. It was great just to rest. So many things have been making me really tired and I just never have the time to sleep. At least in my hammock it looked and felt like summer if only to my eyes. It was enough, just what I needed, and it filled me with great joy for several hours.