January 2017: Amateur Bot-Ann-Ist is Back!!!

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img_1108It seems only fair to write a post after a week-long snow event. This will be short though—much like my patience after being snowed-in for so long. Last year I felt that I needed a break but I didn’t know why and now I feel better about a return to regular posts. So much has happened. It is sad to think that there were many things I didn’t post about but I will try to add them when I can in the future.

img_3249This fall we lost Maurice the Cat. He was an old guy who sadly passed away from cancer on his jaw. Luckily he’s been immortalized because the back garden was named after him so we will forever think of him. He spent many summers in Campiello Maurizio sunbathing on his favorite bench beneath the living willow arbor. He will be sorely missed. img_4266Last spring this little guy made his appearance. Felix has been quite a handful ever since he arrived here. He was abandoned by his mom the day he was born and sadly outlived his sister. With no mama cat and no siblings to play with I have had to do a lot of work. We received him when he was about 3 weeks old and I will forever be grateful to his foster mama.

He will certainly be showing up here a bit more now although both he and LuLu are primarily indoor cats since we lost Quincy just over a year ago to an urban coyote. They do get to go outside but both are doing well with supervised trips.

Felix is an alleycat of the highest degree and there is NEVER a dull moment when he’s around. Never have I owned a cat who enjoyed knocking over garbage cans and breaking glass so much. Lucky for him he’s a love bug. We look forward to those moments. He is a tiny terror, but he was also very sweet to Maurice in his final days. He’s not all bad. img_5674

At the end of 2016, thanks to my underground dinners, I was finally able to pay off the debt incurred by my back surgery several years ago. In 2017 the goal is to work on paying down the debt owed to my ex-husband from the divorce. If you’re in the Portland area and are interested in attending, please find the page somewhere here on my blog and add your name to the list. That’s the best way to find out what I’m up to and what menus will be coming up next. img_8126The other big news in 2016 was my first official job in the horticulture industry. It’s something I’ve longed to do for years and thanks to my friend and mentor Sean Hogan (of Cistus Design Nursery) it happened. I’m only a part-time employee, and this works well because of my health limitations, but the best part is that I’m a “Seedstress”. Only Sean could manufacture a name that great.

In 2017 it would be wonderful to be working more and more in the horticulture field but I’m not yet sure how much I can handle physically. Luckily, my health has been fairly stable since I started new treatments, and I guess that’s another reason I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been living my life and have been having a wonderful time getting up and around and developing and strengthening friendships. I was more active in 2016 than I’ve been in many years. It was great! img_9818Clearly I’m doing just fine! Obviously! So send me some new clothes. The ones I’ve been wearing are old (tight budget) but I DID get a new hat. (Roars with laugher.)

Ok folks, I hope someone is still out there reading this blog! See you again very soon. Can’t wait to update the world on all of the dead plants that we’ll be seeing in the next few months thanks to this weather we’ve been having. We only ended up with about a foot of snow here at our house.

Brrrrrrrrrr.

ANLD: Designers’ Garden Tour 2016

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Next weekend the annual  ANLD Designers’ Garden Tour will take place in the Portland area. If you’re available to attend on Saturday June 18th, you’re in for a pleasant day full of lovely gardens with lots of beautiful ideas. Since this was the first pre-tour I’d ever attended I had no idea what to expect. I left feeling inspired and fully enjoyed each and every one of the gardens I visited with fellow bloggers and other attendees. (To learn more about the tour and how it works click on the link above.)

Garden #1: Wagner Garden

Located in the Clackamas area, this garden is a suburban retreat full of lush plant combos and serene seating areas.

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Garden #2: Langeliers Garden

Garden art and incredible plants tie this lovely landscape together with its home and evoke personality that’s consistent throughout the design.

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Garden #3: Hannan Garden

This is a garden that’s all business in the front and party in the back.

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Garden #4: King Garden

A midcentury ranch with a twist of lush landscaping and bold choices of metal, color, and stone.

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Garden #5: Olson Garden

A natural beauty with a mix of bold plant combinations and fine craftsmanship.

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Garden #6: Beberned-Gawf Garden

A garden with incredible bones, and a history of having been a neglected clean slate, this garden has been landscaped with personal touches, a few recycled items, and lots of stained glass art.

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Garden #7: Mauch Garden

Quietly holding down a city lot with large patches of green, several pockets for seating, and serene, beautiful ceramic art throughout.

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The Hellstrip from Hell

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Go ahead and laugh. The H Strip at my house is aware of its inadequacy. Besides, you wouldn’t be the first to mock its Lilliputian size.

I’ve grown used to the giggles.

And I have intense Hellstrip envy.

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This area is not designed—clearly!

It’s a hodgepodge of plants that don’t need summer watering and for the last few years they’ve thrived—thrived like weeds.

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I collect seeds from here.

Visitors collect seeds too when they drive off with seed heads stuck in their shut car doors. One visiter even drove off with a plant. I saw the hole and felt badly. The roots were bound to have received a great deal of road rash.

Poor thing.

At least the driver may have found it funny.

I just didn’t want to fill in the area with rocks, but…

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The empty spot then ended up looking like this. (Note that the Nigella do very well here.)

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It would be nice to keep it as a mixed planting, but maybe that’s what makes it look so disorganized.

It would be fun to have something a bit different. Luckily not all areas rub up against cars and car doors so that IS possible.

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I just don’t want the strip to end up like this, with the area paved over. It’s depressing to me. Too much sidewalk is just not a good thing.

[Sigh.]

What I would give for space for a street tree!

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There is a tiny and colorful Buxus that’s survived well. I like the Hedera ‘Needlepoint’ too.

IMG_0014What to do…

What to do?

All planting suggestions are welcome!

It’s time to reinvigorate the garden and I’ve decided that I’ll begin at the sidewalk. Why not?

Considerations to Make

  • The Hell Strip portion on the right side of the driveway (between our house and the neighbors’ area) rarely sees car doors. We could go a bit wild here.
  • I’m not against the idea of gravel.
  • Oh, and the area faces west.

Thanks in advance!

A Dozen Garden Moments from the Summer of 2014

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1) Two of my favorite pieces of concrete garden decor were stolen off of my front porch. Boo!

TakenFromPorch2) I watched Mona the Cat flourish after the fence went into the back garden.

MonaOnTheFence3) Yes, you heard me correctly, a fence went into the back garden.

IMG_69464) I learned on the 4th of July that the pink blossoms of the Feijoa sellowiana taste a lot like fruity marshmallows. Yum.

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5) Seeds I’d tossed out into the garden finally bloomed. I was elated to see this Meconopsis cambrica ‘Flore Pleno’. Well hello there gorgeous!IMG_73956) The Garden Bloggers Fling went down in Portland and it was great to spend time with old and new friends. Although I was still exhausted from back surgery, I had a wonderful time. (Seen here on the far left is Laura of Gravy Lessons and on the right is Jennifer of Rainy Day Gardener.

securedownload7) It was a blast to jump on my bike to attend the first annual Montavilla Gardens Tour in the next neighborhood over from mine.

IMG_76118) While attending a monthly meetup group for Italian language speakers my husband and I were pleased to discover this fantastic giardinetto.

IMG_75379) I also found a lot of peace and comfort is this slightly more formal edible garden designed by the garden designer and author Vanessa Gardner Nagel. (She blogs over at Garden Chirps.)

IMG_784310) Recently I’ve been acting as a caregiver to my eldest cat, Macavity. She’s had a rough time these past few weeks.

IMG_817011) Filming a brief segment on cooking cardoons for the local show Garden Time was a blast. I’d never dreamed of doing anything like that and there will be more on that experience here soon. (The piece is set to air on October 4th.)

IMG_814912) Best Espelette pepper harvest ever.

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Now bring on my Pacific Northwest rain! I’m ready for it to pour and my skin is dry, thirsty, and tired.

Hope you had a great summer too!

Happy Autumn!

Wordless Wednesday: A Rose Tattoo in my Honor

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Roses to represent Auntie Annie.
A succulent tattoo designed by the tattoo artist for another client.
I do love a studio, don’t you?
My eldest niece and Alice (the tattoo artist) at Anatomy Tattoo. (She specializes in floral tattoo work.)
The unfinished piece—I had to leave before it was done but I am sure you get the idea.

A Gardener Spends an Hour or Two at Powell’s Books

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Last Friday the sun was out in the City of Roses and I was running around getting ready for my nieces’s 21st birthday party.
Why not stop for a bit at Powell’s? Right?

I have been visiting the nationally-known and locally-loved store since I was a girl and to say that it’s part of my routine and my life is an understatement. Long before the Internet existed I was using this book lovers’ destination as a much needed resource—along with the local library system of course!

Walking the two blocks from where I’d parked my car I enjoyed the familiar sights.
There were the usual humorous things to see too—even if I was the only one laughing.
No folks, this is no longer a trash can once it’s painted and planted!
As for the Italian cypress, it reminded me a bit of the old drunk men I used to see in this area as a girl. They too leaned up against the walls of building just like this poor thing.
Portland looked much different during the 1970s. I suppose to outsiders, we still look different, but in a much more friendly way.

For instance, we have our urban windmills atop buildings. Everyone does that right?

Since I hadn’t been to the downtown location for several months I’d not yet noticed that the gardening section had been expanded a bit.

There was a great display of new books and I was happy to see they’ve included a cheap section again with older titles that don’t cost as much as the newbies.

Yes, it’s harder now to find great deals on books here but that’s happening everywhere.

My favorite section was still very much intact.

Beside it is my other favorite section in the store. As someone with a background in critical theory and philosophy relating to art history and visual analysis this section has been nice to transition into over the years. At least with gardens you can actually talk about something.

Upstairs in the arts area I was excited to see vintage typewriters on display with houseplants. This is a nice Ficus elastica.

Some of the other houseplants didn’t look as nice but this is a bookstore after all. I felt like turning this Sansevieria but then I decided that I might look like one of those obsessive characters in that popular tv show you’ve probably heard about that’s filmed here.

Before I left I was looking at hiking books because I plan to go on more plant and nature adventures this year. It was strange to me that an older edition of one of the used books seemed familiar. I looked on the back and suddenly remembered that my dad had resold the remainders he’d purchased from the original publisher when they’d gone out of business. I may have actually put this sticker on the back of this book because I used to do things like that when I was younger.  As the daughter of a publisher, I was lucky to grow up surrounded by books. I always could earn some extra money too.

When I was a young girl my Saturday mornings downtown at Powell’s with my dad were often the highlight of my week. We’d often spend several hours there together reading quietly and watching people.

It was really nice to remember those memories just before leaving and I also found some great books for my niece.