Monday, May 23, 2011

A new discovery for me in Ptown

I love having out of town guests visit because it gives me an opportunity to explore my home town with new eyes.

I typically take visitors up to the International Rose test garden in spring to check out the rhododendrons.

But, they were pretty closed up the weekend before, so I didn't want to risk disappointment.

A friend suggested that we check out the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in SE Portland which I had driven by for years without knowing that it was there - what a pleasant surprise!

My Aunt Joanie and I packed a picnic lunch and headed over to check it out. We were amazed by the variety of rhododendrons and azaleas to be sure, but the way that the other plants created interplay and contrast with them was a sight to see.

Lighter and darker primroses planted at the base of a rhododendron mirrored the color combination of the shrub's blossoms.

Wild, native yellow violets danced in the dappled shade (sadly, not pictured).

I love how the bright colors of these azaleas contrasted with the maple behind them.

With almost 9.5 acres, there is sure to be something interesting to gaze at through out the year. And, I think that it may be my new, in-town hot weather escape for kicking back with a good book in the shade.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Field Trip to Seattle

Last weekend Mark and I journeyed up to Seattle to visit with the cousins.

It was a wonderful trip and I had the fortune to hang out with Barbara most of Saturday doing "garden stuff." Here are some highlights...

Barb and I kicked off Saturday morning by checking out her garden. She and her husband Ted had planted their front garden beds about five years ago and the now well-established plants needed some pruning to reshape them.

Pictured here is a Nandina (common name heavenly bamboo) that has gotten leggy and heavy at the top. Barb wanted to shorten the height of the plant so that she could more easily walk the path that winds around the front garden beds.

Fortunately, Nandina like many other shrubs give us visual cues as to how and where to prune them. In spring to early summer Nandina send out new shoots of growth - the new growth on this one is burgundy-purple.

To prune, simply use sharp loppers and cut the stem back to just above the new growth.

Some general rules of thumb that I keep tucked in my head when pruning are:

If possible, prune when the plant is in a stage of heavy growth as this will allow it to rebound from the trim quickly.

Cut no more than about a third of the plant away during one year.

Plants are resilient, so if you cut too much they will oftentimes come back if given time and proper care.

Barb and I also talked about using some of plants from their front garden beds to fill in their back yard.

For example, the patch of Hakonechloa (common name Japanese forest grass) is encroaching on its neighbor shrub's space. By dividing the existing clump, Barb will help shape the front garden bed and gain planting material for the back garden area.

From there, we traveled up the street to the Seattle Tilth's edible plant sale at Meridian Park.

The sale was organized so that there were a variety of the same type of plant to choose from - e.g. mints with all sorts of scents like chocolate, peppermint, and orange. It was also a parade of flavors from the anise-like flavor of tarragon to the biting lemony taste of sorrel.

Barb picked up a few plants to add to her garden and I picked up some used jute bags that coffee roasters use to transport coffee in - I think that I will use these to grow potatoes in this summer (more on this in a later post!).

Pictured left is a mini green house at the Seattle Tilth demonstration garden...hummm ideas for how to use our old windows.

Before dinner on Saturday evening I took a few moments to stroll around the neighborhood and look at gardens. Here are a few snapshots.

Lady's mantle - love how the foliage holds water.

Now that Mark is a partner with Tails & Trotters it seems like I see pigs everywhere - this sculpture was on someone's porch.

Oregano mixed in with Berberis. Beautiful!

Golden hops with Berberis.

Inventive ways to utilize parking strips.

We stopped by the Maximus Minimus food cart for lunch before heading back to Portland. Delish!

On the way to the car Claire (pictured right) told me about the garden that she is growing with her family - so far squash and cucumber seeds have been sown.

Can't wait to hear more about your garden Claire!