Friday, August 30, 2013

Going on Now: Labor Day Sale at Cistus Nursery

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!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: I giardini delle due donne

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. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Houseplant Order from Glasshouse Works: Fluffy Ferns!!!

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Suzi Wong'.
Many moons ago I had a large, fluffy, and lovely 'Suzi Wong' fern—but then I neglected it. Take my advice, this is NOT a houseplant that likes to be ignored or forgotten.

Before you know it, the thing will look entirely toasted if you're not paying attention, and you will regret it. High humidity and lovingly caring for its every need are what work best for this fine-looking specimen houseplant.

This time around my little princess is going to make it because she's a beauty and I'm going to give her what she deserves.
The three ferns I recently purchased from Glasshouse Works. 
For years I've regularly ogled the lists of plants offered by Glasshouse Works. Then a few years ago I ordered plants from them, but I hadn't done so since that time.

This past month I started to think about Suzi again, so I looked her up. Of course! Glasshouse Works sold them, and they had the impossible-to-find 'Verona Lace' fern too. Yes!
Nephrolepis exaltata 'Suzi Wong'.
As you can see, the delicate 'Suzi Wong' fern has already been a bit neglected by me. Since I plan to finally pot her up this week—and am dedicated to giving her whatever will keep her happy—I think this time I'll succeed. Hopefully in a few more years I'll be divining this plant.

We will see.
Protoasparagus plumosus aka Asparagus setaceus.
Admittedly, they sent me an extra (free) plant and I never checked back with them to see if it was some kind of mistake. (I swear they did NOT know I was a blogger.)

Was I pleased? Of course!!!

An Asparagus fern for me? Why yes! Thank you!
Protoasparagus plumosus aka Asparagus setaceus.
I had one of these plants before too but let's add this to the litany of confessions today: I neglected it. That's sad since the last one I had was grown from seed. 

Sometimes I am a horrible plant mommy.
Nephrolepis exaltata 'Verona Lace'.
The other jewel in my order was the 'Verona Lace' fern. Ok, I may have killed one of these in the past but it was before I had indoor lights for my plants. Anyway, it's an absolutely graceful and serene fern. I have only seen one mature plant at my old employer's home and it was the most enchanting thing. It drapes. It sways. It chops the air. It's legend. (It's also famous for growing very slowly, hence, it's rarity.)

Overall, I give Glasshouse Works a huge double thumbs up! I'm a huge lover of houseplants and they offer so many that are really difficult to find. Check them out if you haven't already.

(PS: Where do you like to shop for houseplants and tropicals online? They also specialize in a lot of terrarium plants but I'm looking for some Begonias. Thoughts?)

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Fruits of my Garden: Figs, Apples, Pomegranates, Asparagus and Berries

The second fig crop is still ripening on my Ficus  'Petite Negra'.
Days are shortening and nighttime temperatures are cooling down. Yesterday was our first dreary and wet reminder that our days are numbered. It misted and rained. Clouds hung in the air all day—as did the smell of PNW dampness. The city of Portland felt autumn as the season sauntered just a little bit nearer. 
Columnar Northpole apple (Malus) produced more fruit than ever! It tasted sweet, tart and crisp. 
This was not much of a harvest year for me in terms of edible crops. I like to grow ornamental plants for their seeds so that I can harvest them for my online garden shop. I do harvest something, but it's not what most people think of when they think of harvests. I'm a seed farmer, but I grow a few things to eat too.
Dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum 'Nana'.
My dwarf pomegranate was grown from seed and I collect seeds from it each year. Since the shrubs are young, each year they produce more and more fruit. This year is by far their best so far and I expect to have more ripe fruit than ever.
Flower on the dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum 'Nana'.
Ripening fruit on the dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum 'Nana'.
There has also been a growing herb collection around the house. I've been cooking more recently and it's something John and I very much enjoy doing together. This winter I intend to plan the garden better for these activities since we find ourselves buying so many herbs all of the time. Limiting salt in my diet due to my swelling disease has really made me appreciate the taste of herbs so much more. We barely use any salt now. If you cook your food right, paying close attention to flavors, it's amazing how far herbs can go to replace sodium.
The overgrown asparagus bed. These were grown from seed.
When I originally planted edibles in the garden I wanted to plant things that were either difficult to find or else ornamental and unusual. The asparagus was neither. It reminded me of the fresh asparagus grown by Italian-American farmers in the PNW. Even though I can still buy it at the store, I really enjoy my own plants more. What's nice is that even though they've been neglected, they're still very productive.
Evergreen huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum.
My native evergreen huckleberries are also wonders to behold this time of year. Usually they are packed full of fruit but I guess mine aren't going to be this time around. Since last year I had an amazing crop I don't mind at all. These are amazing ornamentals for shady corners so it's simply a bonus if they produce for me too.
The image of edible gardening shame—an unused and overgrown raised bed. 
This year I was hoping to use the raised bed for a large basil planting. I never quite made it but next year I'll make it happen. Now that there's a pesto- and polenta-loving Northern Italian in the family I can get past my Southern Italian culinary preferences. I always loved basil (and polenta) too. Next year will be the summer of basilico around here. (I can already smell it on the horizon.)
The first 2013 crop of figs. 
I recently took an online poll of my fig-loving friends for recipe ideas. Since I was raised to just eat them fresh I thought it was time to do something different. (Besides, I can only eat so many with goat cheese and pistachios before I begin feeling a bit piglet-ish so I wanted to find something healthier.) A Parisian friend recommended Honey Roasted Figs and Rosemary (Figues rĂ´ties au miel au romarin) and I am so glad that he did. The figs tasted fantastic!

Honey Roasted Figs with Rosemary
• about 1 dozen fresh figs
• 1/3 cup honey (fresh and local if possible)
• 1 large sprig of rosemary broken into 4 pieces
• freshly cracked pepper

Heat oven to 375F. Wash and dry figs. Cut in half. Arrange open side up in a baking dish. Drizzle figs with honey. Arrange the pieces of rosemary between the figs. (If you want the rosemary taste to be stronger, I suggest adding more.) Crack pepper over the figs. Place in oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the honey begins to caramelize. Let cool. Can be served with a nice mild—yet tangy—goat cheese. 

C'est magnifigue!

(The Grow Write Guild is a creative writing club for people who garden. It's a series of bi-weekly writing prompts created by garden author and blogger Gayla Trail. I'm starting out late with the series but hope to catch up soon. It's just what this blogger needed for some summer fun.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Working In and Around the Willow Arbor

Begonia grandis and Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea'. 
Neglected Festuca californica with a columnar apple tree and black cat. 
Tagetes erecta 'French Vanilla'. 
Cyclamen hederifolium
More apples from the tree. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Sunny Times in the Back Garden

Impatiens tinctoria with Fuchsia 'Autumnale'.
Mona the Cat under her hammock shade canopy. 
Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea'. Yes, we can grow it in the ground. 
Adiantum peruvianum. 
Some of my pole apples (Malus). 
Begonia boliviensis.
Clematis heracleifolia. 
Acquired as Graptopetalum paraguayense
Coleus and Begonia in planters. I grew the Begonia plants from seed I bought last fall on sale. 



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