Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

End of the Month View -- April 2014, The Bottle Tree Bed

The last time we took a look at the Bottle Tree Bed, in March's End of the Month View post here, I was in the middle of overhauling it, having just pulled everything out and amended the soil with compost. I had just started putting plants back.  Since then, I divided the Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' and Sheffield Pink mums and spread them out throughout the bed, in a more satisfying pattern than the haphazard way I had them placed originally. I returned the Verbascum phaeum and sword ferns to the bed as well, and finally planted some of the perennials that I bought last fall, such as Carex 'Banana Boat,' Anamanthele lessoniana, and Amsonia hubrichtii. I pulled out three peonies, and moved them to the sunny front bed, where it looks like they are going to flower despite the fact that I moved them so late in their spring growth.

So, at the beginning of April, it looked like this.

The sleeping angel kitty used to be nestled under the big rock. I like this spot better.

I harvested another major crop of rocks when digging holes for all the plants

For a few days I left these Centaurea dealbata here by the fence, and then had a brainstorm that they would be more at home in the front garden, so out they came

I dug up some tall Veronica 'Lilac Fantasy' and Sesleria autumnalis from another bed that was too crowded and planted them in the Bottle Tree Bed

View of the Bottle Tree Bed as you enter the back garden through the gate

At Hortlandia a couple of weeks ago I bought two Tulipa 'Love on Fire,' and planted them in the bed next to the Carex 'Banana Boat.' But I think it needs more spring bulbs, like windflowers and species tulips, to brighten it up even more early in the year. I'll try to remember to order some in the fall.

Later in the month, just a few days ago in fact, I planted three pots of strawberry foxglove in the bed, plants which I sowed two winters ago.

Some of the new plants in the bed are flowering.

Lamium orvala, although still short, has put out a cluster of flowers. I certainly hope it gets taller next year after it has a year to grow and settle its roots.

Isn't it a pretty flower?

Verbascum phaeum, grown from seed a few years ago, is going to flower despite being dug and replanted

My Ribes sanguineum are flowering profusely too, to the great delight of the hummingbirds and bees. I planted them here four years ago, bought from the Pierce Conservation District sale quite inexpensively, and they have turned from leafless sticks with roots into towering flower-laden (and later currant-laden) shrubs.

Flowering maybe two feet or so over my head

My tiny yellow tree peony, which returned two winters in a row while still in its little nursery pot. I hope it thrives here too.

The bottle tree bed is home to a couple of other pieces of garden art. This rusty old bird, bought a couple of years ago at The Best of the Northwest, a juried art sale in the early spring (I blogged about it here), peers out at visitors from behind the Sambucus 'Black Beauty.'

This little piece of beaded garden art came from Gardener's Supply a few years ago, and the beads, especially the amber ones, have faded in the weather and sunshine.

Now, at the end of April, after some tweaking and spring growth, the bed looks like this:

The End of the Month View is hosted by Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog. You can read Helen's current post here, and check out the comments where other bloggers leave links to their posts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Portland Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange

On Sunday this past weekend Nigel and I loaded some plants into our little blue Prius (Plant Mobile Jr.) and drove down to Portland for the Portland Garden Bloggers Spring Plant Exchange. Peter The Outlaw Gardener and I went down to this exchange at about this time last year (read his post here) and had a great time, so I decided to repeat the trick, but this time with Nigel. Because it was held on a Sunday, Peter couldn't go, because he works 3 jobs, and one of those is on Sunday. A few days before, he had delivered some plants that he potted up, which I brought down on his behalf.

The back of the car packed with plants

More in the footwells of the back seat

The drive down to Portland from where I live south of Seattle was a bit hairy, given it was a very stormy day, with us driving through big dark bands of torrential showers at intervals. At one point, I-5 was so drenched it looked like a river, and the rain and wind were so fierce the car handled like a garbage scow in a fast-moving current. We reached the home and garden of Jennifer, who writes the blog Rainy Day Gardener, our host for the event, just after a major thunderstorm had passed over. The weather for the rest of the day was quite nice, however, except for one very brief spatter of sprinkles, and a few much less violent showers that we drove through to get home. I did hear that at the time we were driving home, an EF-0 tornado touched down very briefly in Eatonville (read about it here), a town I have actually been through on the way to Mt. Rainier.

Blue sky and sunshine for most of the rest of the day

No sooner had everyone arrived and unloaded their cars than the pointing and exclaiming (and claiming for our own) began. "What's that?" "What conditions does it like?" "How big does it get?" Plants were set down in the middle of Jenni's driveway, and as we each chose what we wanted, we would move it to our own particular stash.

(l-r) Tamara (Chickadee Gardens), Charlie (the infamous pirate of Gravy Lessons), me (talking with my hands or maybe casting a spell), Ann (Amateur Bot-Ann-ist), Jane (MulchMaid)

Amy  (What Blooms When) eyes an Acanthus spinosus

Linda  (Whatsitgarden) examines some plants

Matthew (The Lents Farmer)

Ann (Amateur Bot-Ann-ist)

(l-r) Laura (Gravy Lessons) and Tamara (Chickadee Gardens)

Ann, Matthew, and Amy, with Jenni's historical home which was recently re-sided, in the background

Ricki (Sprig to Twig) and Heather (Just a Girl With A Hammer)

Loree (Danger Garden) contemplates whether a plant is spiky enough, or fascinating enough, to warrant inclusion in her garden

Our host Jenni (Rainy Day Gardener), who provided not just the venue but also coffee, tea, cookies and fruit

So what plants did I come home with?

Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll Dark Blue' which is going in the front bed in front of Iris 'Gerald Darby' with Sedum Angelina in front of it

Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Gold Angel' which is going here with a red-leaved Cotinus next to it (and a surprisingly robust Clematis growing through it)

Two Lunaria annua (Honesty), which are going into the front bed by the street near Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Echinacea purpurea, where I hope it will self-sow

Four Campanula persicifolia, which are also going into the front bed by the street, near a swath of Centaurea dealbata and Echinacea 'White Swan'

A handful of Alchemilla alpina, a tiny form of ladies mantle, which are going into the front garden where the one I got at the fall swap is already thriving

Alchemilla alpina is adorable

Two Alchemilla mollis, which are probably going in the front foundation bed, which is undergoing a bit of an overhaul

An Acanthus spinosus, which is currently getting bottom-watered in the pot ghetto, but which will eventually be planted in the gravel garden

Two tiny seedlings of Amsonia hubrichtii, which I'm going to grow on for a while in their pots

A Clown Whore Sedum, which is slated for a spot in the gravel garden

Clown Whore isn't actually its true name. It's Sedum sieboldii  'Mediovariegatum.' Heather at Just a Girl With a Hammer christened it Clown Whore (here in this post). I have one already growing in a similar spot in the gravel garden, near a Yucca 'Bright Star,' both of which are looking rather sickly at the moment.

We stopped briefly at Xera in Portland, where I bought a couple of plants.

Lobelia tupa, which is going in the driveway bed, with an ornamental oregano growing in front of it

Ceanothus thyrsiflora 'Born Again' which will go into the front bed that runs along the edge of our property between me and my neighbor

I also scored a broken pot from Loree, a really cool, big, heavy one with lots of interesting shards, but still with a good shape for planting in. I've been using Pinterest to collect ideas for what to do with it.

I can still use this, right?

Ideas like this, and this. I wish I'd had it a few months ago, when the recycled concrete wall was being built, because it would have made an interesting feature of the wall, kind of like this or this. If I can't make those ideas work, I can always just bury it in the gravel garden, like this.

Thanks, Loree! It's going to look cool and still be useful, and you can visit it if you ever come up this way.

Nigel and I both had a wonderful time, talking plants with everyone and seeing how much Jenni's garden has grown since last year when I visited. I came home with fewer plants than I brought, which is a total win when you have a pot ghetto the size of mine. Thank you to Jenni for hosting, and to the other Portland Garden Bloggers for welcoming me, a Washington garden blogger, to their shindig.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Visit to Ravenna Gardens

I've mentioned the urban garden shop Ravenna Gardens before, but I don't think I've ever done an entire post about visiting the shop. I've been there several times, to this chic little urban nursery in the University District in Seattle, and it's always a treat. Ravenna usually does one of the Small Space Showcase gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and it's always striking, colorful, imaginative and lots of fun. At this year's show, I bought some Tillandsias from their booth in the vendor market. You can read my post about what I bought at this year's show here.

On Saturday I visited again, and this time I took some good pictures of the shop and its wonderful displays of goods. They are masters of the art of display, which I admire greatly since I myself have no talent for that kind of thing. The shop is in University Village, a large, sprawling, pedestrian-friendly open air mall, in a standalone building at the mall's north end.

Outside the shop are plants for sale, as well as large items for the garden such as metal trellises and arches, and various items of furniture.

Inside is colorful and crowded, an assault on the senses

Love this head planter

Everywhere you look in the shop, every time you turn around, a different display grabs your attention.
I had to get a closer look at those colorful little square pots

Next time!

I adore the fat meditating Buddha, and the pots that look like they're made of stacked circles.

I like the sentiment, and rationally I like the imperfection of the implementation. But my OCD tendencies balk as well. It would bug me, but also enervate me, to have this on the wall.

There was a great display of terrariums

I like the simplicity of the text on white paper, and the fact that the letters are straight. You can read the entire quote here.

These old fern prints were sandwiched between two pieces of glass in the frame

The artfulness of the displays of plants continues outside.

So lush!

The Heucheras or Heucherellas match the color of the big concrete orbs

I bought a couple of things -- An Oxalis 'Plum Crazy', an Echeveria nodulosa, a little froggie sculpture, and a few printed quotes on rough brown paper. I have plans for all of them. Um...except maybe the Oxalis.

Ravenna Gardens is a fun place to spend some weekend time!