Going on Now: Labor Day Sale at Cistus Nursery

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Gorgeous Hedychium met us in the parking lot.
This summer has been lean and mean for me financially. So when Cistus Nursery posted that they were having a 30% off Labor Day Sale I knew I was in luck. What a great opportunity for me to save some pennies and head on out to Sauvie Island with my friend Billye.
Admittedly, I hadn’t been to Cistus since June so that made this visit a bit more special to me. It looked lovely as usual and I was so happy to be back.
While walking around with all the prickly things I thought about my friend Loree over at Danger Garden. I can still hear myself thinking, “Wow, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t take a picture of one of these things for my blog. I can talk about these things.” Then, just as I leaned in with my camera to get a closer look at the gorgeous Agave americana ‘Yellow Ribbons’ on the top shelf, the Agave aff. macroculmis T73-99 just beneath it on the bench poked me in the leg. Oops! When will I ever learn? (Both are great plants. Don’t let me give any of these plants a bad name.)
I admire those of you out there who can live with these plants and not hurt yourselves. Maybe I would do better with the Nolina macrocarpa sitting beside ‘Yellow Ribbons’? Hmmm, I think not. No. Let’s be positive. Maybe now is just not my time.

It really was a beautiful day and I loved looking up above the nursery to see all of the textures from the plantings. I’m so in love with green texture these days.

I was a little bit disappointed that Sean Hogan (the nursery’s owner) wasn’t around that day, but I hope to catch up with him this winter. He is a good plant friend and very much understands and encourages my seed habit. I like talking to him a lot about seed collecting adventures.

Canary Islands Juniper, Juniperus cedrus.

During this visit I looked at things differently. Sure, I don’t have room for this tree, but I liked it so I took a picture. I’m branching out a bit again, learning a few new things, paying attention.

My friend Billye with her new Italian greyhound Tango.

When you visit Cistus Nursery it’s often quite relaxing. This is the kind of retail environment you like to sit around in while you enjoy the sights.

Than again, if you’re like me, you can park people in the shade while you shop. Billye went for the plants but we all know that we’re not always so lucky and sometimes we end up dragging people with us to nurseries. Cistus is friendly for those folks.

While we were there, birds swirled overhead.

Chilean lantern tree, Crinodendron hookerianum.

As we walked back to pay for our plants I saw this Chilean lantern tree blooming. Mine is still happily growing along but it’s not blooming right now. I think I might have pruned it when it didn’t want to be pruned. I can wait.

Ashe magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla ssp. ashei.

My friend and I ventured back into the corner we’d missed. It was fun seeing a big leaf magnolia. These trees really make me smile with their big huge leaves.

Giant Cape Restio, Rhodocoma capensis.

There were other treats.

Lysionotus pauciflorus.

Up at the register I found temptation after temptation.

Lysionotus pauciflorus.
This one was really difficult to say “No” to but I did. Maybe next time…

Salvia buchananii ‘Velvet Slipper’.

I liked this one too.

Looking around it felt great to be back. I wish I could have purchased more but planting all of these plants takes time. I don’t have a lot of extra time nowadays. It’s good though because I’m staying busy with my garden coaching client.
Sometime soon I’ll be back. I highly recommend you go too if you can do so before now and Monday. The sale was really quite a treat. It’s worth the trip.

In the end I walked away with a few things I’d lost in the garden: Sedum divergens, a pine-scented rosemary, and a Melicytus crassifolius. I also added a few new friends: Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’, Mahonia gracilipes, and my first Dahlia. (It’s a Dahlia ‘Fascination’ and I’m so excited to finally have one.)

Who knows what I’ll end up doing this weekend, oh wait, I know: Annual Dahlia Festival. Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

San Francisco: Wine Deliveries, Lunch, and Flora Grubb Gardens (Again)

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 Crimson Passionflower, Passiflora vitifolia, at Flora Grubb Gardens.

On my first full day with my husband in Lake County, CA we had to get up early and head to San Francisco. Another long day in the car wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was worth it. He was going to attend a day-long industry-only wine tasting and I’d planned to take in some sights.

From the time he woke up he started feeling unwell so we adjusted our plan a bit. During harvest and crush, he really gets worn down so a rest day was in order and we were both kind of excited about visiting SF together.

Ficus microcarpa ‘Nitida’.
Other than an early dinner date with a new garden writer friend up in Marin, the city was very briefly our oyster that day. Our only serious task was to deliver some cases of wine, and while waiting in the car at one of those stops, I shot this picture of a typical street somewhere in SF.

Sorry for the dirty windshield but note that a weekday drive into San Francisco from Marin can be pretty painless during October just so long as you wait until after all the morning traffic.

During the drive, I discovered something funny about harvest. Once all the grapes are in their tanks fermenting, the whole valley in Sonoma actually smells of fermenting grapes. (Mr. B said Napa is even worse.) Coming from beer central, I should have realized this was possible but I just had never really thought about it. What an experience for the nose!

Entering the city you get to pay your $6 toll. I never get to take pictures of the tollbooths,  so I was happy this time with Mr B driving. They are designed to match the bridge and I think they’re the prettiest tollbooths I’ve ever had to go through.

After we paid our toll we had no plans and for me that was unusual—but welcome. Usually when I drive into SF I have some idea of where I am going since otherwise I’d still get lost very easily. In this case, I just sat back and enjoyed the view.

Alcatraz as seen from Hwy 101 just past the tollbooths.

The first thing I saw, of course, was Alcatraz in the distance. It’s now such a large part of my Ikebana project it made me smile. Finding my own metaphorical escape from the imprisonment of chronic illness has become such a game for me and gardening and plants are such an integral part of my strategy. I think for some of us, making the battle less personal is key to our survival. We need that distance to feel more comfort and less fearful. We need that space to heal. In a way, I’ve tried to leave a lot of my troubles on that island and I think it’s been working.

For lunch Mr. B decided to take me to the Ferry Building Marketplace. What a great little shopping area they have there! (I now know what Portland wants to have in its plan to create our James Beard Public Market. Shopping before your ride home is a such a great idea!)

So the first business that truly caught my eye because of its regionally accurate “shop locally” distinction was McEvoy Ranch. Could you have a store dedicated to olive oil and its many products anywhere else? I think not! That’s what they do. They’re olive ranchers.

To say that I felt envious is an understatement. I want to be an olive rancher too. (When he met me he was shocked that I cooked everything in olive oil. That still includes things like fried eggs and pancakes.)

I think I may have been an olive oil life-stylist long before we discussed and marketed things called “lifestyles” to consumers. My dad used to crack up when I was a girl because I’d use our jugs of olive oil to concoct rosemary and olive oil leave-in conditioners for my thick dry hair. (I still use olive oil soap but it’s usually the kind made in the Middle East.)

But oh how I now want to be an olive rancher…

Speaking of lifestyles, the gardening lifestyle is not an uncommon one to find in San Francisco either. Kingdom of Herbs was actually kind of nice to visit because it had upscale fun stuff mixed in with other odds and ends that all related to a love of all things plant material.

As someone who’s known for picking seeds wherever I go my husband and I giggled quite a bit about how I’d fit a few of these into my pockets. Not likely.

They had a lot of nice hats too.

And then there were plants…

and preserved plants and wood products. (Next year I really hope to preserve my boxwood cuttings. I really love these wreaths but they’re a bit pricey.)

After we grabbed some take-out from a deli, we wandered outside to watch the foot ferries while we ate. (This ferry takes commuters back and forth across the bay to Marin County.)

On our way out we stopped by The Gardener. It is a small local chain in the Bay Area and I was a bit less enthused by what it had to offer since it had far less to do with gardening.

I liked their display though of Japanese gardening tools. Reminded me a bit of a little piece of art I could hang on my own wall.

Mexican Flame Vine, Senecio confusus. This is a plant I’ve tried to grow from seed once or twice with little success.

Later, after the deliveries we went to Flora Grubb Gardens. I was embarrassed that I’d already been there four times this year, but since it was going to be my husband’s first visit, it somehow seemed necessary.

I was not disappointed. He was truly blown away by the displays and by the plants. As usual, I obsessively noted every change I could and thought about plants I may want in the future. (If only I could have that second garden in California.)

Queensland Silver Wattle or Pearl Acacia, Acacia podalyriifolia.
Kangaroo Paw, Anigozanthos ‘Bush Dawn’.
Hibiscus ‘Haight Ashbury’.
Valley Oak, Quercus lobata. It’s endemic to California and is the largest of the North American Oaks. Some mature specimens can be nearly 600 years old, and can reach almost 100 feet in height.
Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia leucantha ‘Midnight’.

I love all the colors and you may have noticed that incredible blue sky?

Groundsel, Senecio mandraliscae and Sedum ‘Ogon’ behind it.
 Aloe ‘Pink Blush’. What an incredible hybrid!

Then there are the exterior/interior design ideas that Flora Grubb is so famous for. I still haven’t made my Sedum masterpiece, but that’s probably because I am still stuck on that Jackson Pollock flowerbed idea. (More on that next season. I’ve made some progress with this idea this year.)

I am not sure if the wire baskets are oyster baskets, but they sure look like they could be. These little decorative wall items are kinds cute and I hope to make some this winter. I so love anything with gilding.

Last time I don’t think I added a picture of their suspended Woollypocket display.

This geometric bear head is great too. After all it is California and they do have that silly bear on their flag, so why not!

Begonia ‘Irene Nuss’.

Just before we left I discovered these two Begonias. Glad I did too because one of them I can grow from seed. It is really amazing how much leaf variation exists in this group. I truly am in love with all of them, but the Grape Leaf Begonia might just be my new favorite.

Grape Leaf Begonia, Begonia reniformis or Begonia vitifolia.
Grape Leaf Begonia, Begonia reniformis or Begonia vitifolia.

Our Pilgrimage to Annie’s Annuals in the Bay Area

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If you are a gardener, you already know about Annie’s Annuals, and like me, you regularly jump for joy whenever their catalog arrives in your mailbox. If you are new to gardening, you must order a catalog from them asap. Each edition is complete eye candy and the plant descriptions are really well written. It makes for amazing bedside reading, and it will fill you dreams with so many blooms you’ve not yet dreamt about, but you will…I promise.
If anything during this last trip made me want to move to California, it was this nursery, along with all of the other amazing gardens and native plants we met along the way. That day we drove in from camping along the Sonoma Coast and though we were dirty and tired, both my husband and I wandered around the nursery in some kind of a floral daze.
Many of the plants below are special native plants in California. Reading about them really blew me away and I hope that my husband can purchase some for the vineyard in the future.
Uncinia uncinata ‘Red’ or ‘Rubra with Sisyrinchium.
I don’t think I have ever seen Sweet Peas as sweet (Lathyrus odoratus).
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Senator’.
Grindelia hirsutula.
Mimulus aurantiacus ‘Point Molate’.
Lotus formossisimus ‘Western Trefoil’.
Lupinus succulentus ‘Rodeo Rose’.
Mimulus pictus ‘Calico Monkey Flower’.
Thistle Sage, Salvia carduacea.
Butterfly Mariposa Lily, Calochortus venustus.
Armeria.
Phacelia viscida.
Antirrhinum multiflorum ‘Rose Snapdragon’.
Lathyrus vestitus.
Tufted California Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa.
I love the blue of this Anchusa azurea ‘Alkanet’.

It is safe to say that shopping that day at Annie’s Annuals was like visiting plant nerd paradise. Oh how I love that I can’t take plants into California, but I sure can bring them out of The Golden State!

A Gardener Visits the Oregon Zoo

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As I write this an East Wind is blowing out of the Columbia River Gorge and I can hear the Doug fir tree as it gently brushes the roof. This winter, those branches will finally be removed. It is late, and the emergency respite child is asleep in bed and I can now openly feel afraid of the dried vines scratching at my window. I wish I could be upset at the person who planted them, but I cannot do that to myself. I meant no harm at the time. The scratching noises they make though are really a bit terrifying. I must remember to trim them back.
Ah yes, this is really about the zoo. This past Saturday we were at the Oregon Zoo and before we’d left the house with our last foster respite guest, I’d already decided to see the zoo through the fresh eyes of a gardener, and not necessarily just the animal lover that I am.
This meant—of course—that the first photo was of a bear. I am horrible at these assignments but I was simply too excited since I have not seen the black bears in some time now.

Back on track, I noticed this along the pathway as we continued. These are what we call sheds or shed antlers and they are just sitting around to make the place look more natural in the Pacific Northwest Exhibit. This kind of thrilled me and brought back memories of a mostly horrible camping trip to British Columbia with my father for one month after I’d graduated from high school. I would have preferred a week in NYC to that month of misery, but at least I really did get to know the desolate feeling of true wilderness.

While I was there, I found all kinds of odd animal bones by wandering a bit into the woods but I stopped doing that the day I heard a grizzly for the first time. Back home in Oregon, even after all of these years, I still love to toss out artifacts into my garden for that surreal juxtaposition. This winter I hope to go to the coast to get some more great stuff—another bone or two would be kind of fun—but my mainstay are large oyster shells.

My husband was briefly home this past weekend. He brought home books and clothing from his seasonal wine sojourn in California, and is now wrapping up what loose ends he can before returning home for the next 5 months. The arranged respite for the weekend was very excited to see him again and I think that’s something he is beginning to enjoy more and more even if it is confusing or rough at times. He was happy to be back in what we lovingly call the Pacific Wonderland.

The lifecycle of the salmon is represented by art at the zoo. (You cannot really keep salmon in tanks so they have trout instead.) There is an amazing mosaic in the walkway near this sculpture that is a favorite of mine. Salmon fertilizer is one of our favorite fertilizers here at home, so adding salmon again to my blog I do with pride.

This is an owl I caught napping but I cannot imagine it sleeps much with all the kids around it all day.

Owls can be useful for rodent control, even in the city, so of course it gets a gardeners seal of approval. Living at the base of the extinct volcano that is now a forested park, we have some owls living amongst us. There are some bats too, but they don’t visit me down here at the base much. (We have them at the zoo too, but by the time we made it to the bat cave, I was too tired to take another picture.)

The native rose hips were really glistening and glowing. I didn’t get a full picture of this shrub rose, but it was lit up like a Christmas tree with all of its red hips. It made me crave my favorite black tea with rose petals for some strange reason.

Near the farm area, where they have the main petting zoo, this salvia was afire. I found it hard to believe that they were blooming away, but nearby there was a native Mimulus in bloom too. I mourned the fact that I was too late to harvest some of its seeds, but maybe next year.

I am not sure if this is the North American native Beauty Berry or not. It is planted between a viewing deck and either the hippo or giraffe and zebra area. This was a welcome sight since the colors are always so beautiful.

Temporarily the penguins have been moved into part of the polar bear exhibit. If you know any penguins, it should come as no great shock that their filter needs to be replaced at their house. This might take some time so they have made themselves at home.

They were sun worshipping while we were there and a few were swimming up to us as we looked through the glass. It was a great last stop and I am glad I pushed to see them and not the ice cream machine the foster respite was by that time obsessed with.

As we left on Saturday, this was the amazingly romantic weather we saw from the parking lot. Fog was settling in on the West hills, and down below, in the city, it was drizzly. Some folks feel that this kind of climate is heavy, or even depressing or sad, but I adore it. I might even want to add that it can inspire you to get some writing done that you’ve been meaning to get around to doing.

Today was mostly clear and sunny so we do have some good days around from time to time. I now have over 4,000 words written for this novel of mine, it was a great day, and a great weekend leading up to today as well.