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.

Those Last Minute Fall Plant Sales!!

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I am such a sucker for the Fall Plant Sale, and by that I mean the plant sales with deep discounts, the ones that often have the sad plants that look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Maybe it’s the foster parent in me, the girl who has always been on the side of the downtrodden, sad, and neglected in life, or maybe it’s the fact that I have an incredible amount of patience that is backed by this drive in me to study things over a long period of time. Who knows but at least I am not alone.
I already have a Monstera deliciosa thriving in my entry, so I knew I could resist this amazing Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Varietgata’ but I won’t lie, I wanted it! That frosted, glazed donut look gets me every time!

This year I limited myself to two sales and the first one I went to was at Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn. When I saw that they had Woolly Pockets at a deep discount, I had to go! I’d wanted one ever since I first saw them in an amazing glossy ad, but then I promised myself I would resist all the other stuff!

One more way to stuff African Violets into your home.
A frilly edged Asplenium nidus, or Bird’s Nest Fern.
Crocodile Fern, Microsorum musifolium.
Mounted Staghorn Ferns aka Platycerium.
I was so proud to have made it past all the ferns, but then it was this display of Bromeliads that ruined me. I saw all of them and thought, “Maybe I should keep working on this group. I bought one last winter and didn’t kill it so maybe I could expand on that success!” (For such a cynic, I truly can sound ridiculously positive.)
From left to right: Phlebodium aureum ‘Mandaianum’, Vriesea ‘Splenriet’, Dracaena ‘Green Stripe’, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’.

Lucky for me I was able to find a Bromeliad on the clearance rack. At that point, after crumbling, I couldn’t buy just one plant from the sale rack, so I bought the group shown here and brought them home with me.

Moving out to the perennial sales area I came across this tulip blend and the idea of a ‘Wine and Cheese’ tulip mix really cracked me up. Maybe this loosened me up too much though because I continued to select a few more items to purchase.

Delphinium ‘Sweethearts’.

At least I was able to convince my friend to purchase this amazing Delphinium. I am not fond of pink, but I do love dusty rose. From afar, this plant really stood out too.

Doll’s Eyes or White Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda.

As if by fate, while standing there trying to convince my friend to buy something, I saw these Doll’s Eyes staring at me. This North American native is one I’ve wanted for a really long time. I bought one of them too and, of course, I quickly harvested its seeds.

The second sale I was able to commit to this year was the annual Cistus Nursery parking lot sale. Due to my rather challenging foster child that weekend we were a bit late, and many plants had already been purchased by people who’d shown up with trailers, but we had a good time anyway and found plenty of plants.

Our cart filled up quickly with plants that were very different from the plants we’d found last year! You just never know what you’ll find at this sale. That’s what makes it so much fun.

This year there were a number of Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) so I picked one up.
My husband and I were never really sure about planting palms, but after seeing them in Japanese gardens in photographs shown during a lecture last winter up in Seattle, we felt more comfortable about adding one to our berm area.

I picked this one after the tag tugged at my heartstrings. It was grown from Portland seeds. Awhhhhhh!

Myrtus communis ‘Ann McDonald’.

There was also a Myrtle so I bought it even though I already have a small one in the backyard. Myrtles fascinate me and the blooms were so pretty I couldn’t resist.

Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ (Chlorophytum ‘Gold Nugget’).

I also bought two plants from the nursery that were not on sale. This Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ is one I’ve been wanting for awhile, and since it looked like it had some seeds, I was even more sold on the idea of it. I am curious to see how those grow. I know this must sound funny, but I really am curious.

Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’, (Chlorophytum ‘Gold Nugget’) seed heads.
Jasminum parkeri.

This cute little Dwarf Flowering Jasmine also caught my eye. The smell was nice too.

Has anyone else been to any great sales? What deals did you find this fall?

DIG Floral & Garden (Vashon Island, WA)

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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.

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part Five, The Bromeliad House

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This—the last room on this visit we’ve been having for about a week now—is the Bromeliad House.

Dischidia ‘Thailand Blush’.
I am sorry I don’t know as much about these plants as I’d like to, but in my home, they are simply too difficult to care for and that always complicates things. I’d love to take them on, but maybe I will have to let a few other plants die first. Yes, I said that.
Air plants are everywhere here, but there are other plants too.
There is a different kind of Staghorn Fern and…
more and more of the Tillandsia and other Bromeliads.
I found some lovely blooms though.
Aechmea warasii variegata.
This was a nice view but it reminded me of The Muppets for some reason. Maybe I’m tiring of calling everything Seussian?
There was a musical artwork made by an artist from Portland, Oregon installed overhead and it was really kind of nice in that it wasn’t really overdone or obtrusive. It complemented the whole atmosphere.

As the musical chimes played I admired blooms nearby and listened to the melodic tones.

Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’.
I like these plants more and more whenever I see them. They look like hand-painted China and are so stimulating to the eye.

Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’.

Before I left I walked around outside admiring the beds of annuals. It was such a nice way to relax and clear my mind before heading back home to Portland.
I don’t know much about this aspect of their work here at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, but when plants are confiscated from people trying to ship them in or out of the country illegally this is where they are sent. I was happy to know they didn’t necessarily just wind up in a garbage can somewhere. Not that I have thought about this a lot but…
Maybe the seeds I accidentally attempted to import legally that were on the DO NOT IMPORT list ended up here and are out back in their plant pokey? If so, I hope they’re doing well. I am just relieved that the only harm I caused myself was the worry about where my seeds had gone. I had no idea they were being held up because of my mistake. Note to self: Order more carefully next time.

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part Three, The Palm House

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Walking from the Cactus House, back through the Seasonal Display House, you arrive where I originally entered at the middle of the building. It is the Palm House and you can see it through the door below. You know, the lovely one framed by the pair of Ficus.
At the actual entrance to the building, you will find a variegated Ficus on one side of the front door, and surprise! surprise!—at the other side too.
The ferns that drape beneath the plants really act as such an amazing barrier but I have to admit that it is very difficult to achieve this kind of look in a home. The humidity necessary can be seen if you look closely at the windows. I struggle and toil with my poor ferns here at home and so often I really wonder why I bother. I think it has something to do with the fact I simply love plants.
I do not know a lot about the Strelitzia (commonly known as the Bird of Paradise flower) except to say that their leaves are really interesting to look at from down below. I know some folks like to grow them as houseplants, but it’s one of those plants that just never seems happy indoors.
This does not look like your average houseplant version though.
Oh, and did I mention the orchids? In true Victorian fashion, they have those too. What makes them even more wonderful is that they are displayed like art. Isn’t if funny how these odd plants fascinate us so much?
The Conservatory’s orchid collection was started in 1921when they were given to the garden by Ms. Anna H. Clise. Staff appear to keep the collection going in the greenhouses behind the conservatory. Only the best ones are put on display. (I am so jealous we don’t have something like this in Portland!)
These always remind me of ribbons on little gift boxes.
Mounted up high on the wall is the true trophy: a Staghorn or Elkhorn Fern. Although these are ferns, they are truly epiphytic. This is a magnificent example of how amazing their form is when they are cared for properly.
The whole Palm House is truly very palm filled and lush.
This last picture is of a really great groundcovering palm relative I’ve never heard of: Palm Grass aka Curculigo capitulata. It reminded me so much of my Panama Hat Palm but after close examination they are very different!

Two more stops to make before I wrap this up! I simply enjoy this place far too much to rush this visit.

Houseplants

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Houseplants have not always been my forté. Throughout my childhood, though, I always had one cactus in my room. No wait, scratch that, let me restate that, I had a very long procession of look-alike cacti much like Snowball the cat on the Simpsons. In reality, every cacti I ever owned was an Old Man Cactus, but I should say I always had Old MEN Cacti. After one died, I always replaced it with another. I think when I discovered boys and sports though, the cactus in my room just disappeared altogether.

When I was 25 or 26 I assembled a cactus for the dining table in my condo. Since the table was surrounded by windows on two sides, the plants did very well. Then I met the man I married, and we moved out into what is now our old rental house. The cacti grew, and moved out of their terra cotta planter into other planters. Some struggled and died, others were simply forgotten and neglected, and one, a large Opuntia, is still with me today.

That cactus is in the back of this large plant pile that I have assembled in our old sun room. With the folding plant stands, I purchased the light, and I have to say that the addition of artificial light has saved so many plants from seeing that final compost heap in the sky.

So the moral of this story? Just make sure that your houseplants always have the light that they need in order to succeed in life.