Saturday, March 26, 2016

Plant shopping

The local plant sales are beginning. It looks like all kinds of plant events are on the horizon. Today, my friend Rebecca and I stopped by the Native Plant Sale in St. Johns. I purchased a native bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa), a red columbine (Aquilegia Formosa) and Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) . Despite predictions of rain, it was a beautiful, sunny day with blue skies.

On the home front, Pan has risen! I have been concentrating on the little garden off the deck and it is coming along nicely...

Rhododendron 'Blue Baron' - I could not resist that color!

New rose foliage always looks great - but can it stay that way?

Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), one of my favorite bulbs. These were already here in the garden.

On the bargain bin at Home Depot -
Mountain Bluet (
Centaurea montana)

Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

Expanding the foundation border on the front of the house. I am going to add a pathway soon leading from the gate to the front door.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Adding plants

There is a plan here...
Thank goodness the neighbors cannot see this or they would be thinking that Alabama rednecks had arrived. This is in the back and as you can see, the cardboard from all those moving boxes are being put to good use. This is the view directly from the deck. I envision enclosing this area with tall plants to form a room. If you look closely, you will see my beloved Pan statue lying near the back. The base was cracked during the move but Michael and I patched it this week with epozy. Now to get him off the ground. I cannot do it alone and I don't want Michael to hurt his back, so I ponder what to do. Maybe we will have a "Pan Raising" party but we don't know who we would invite! I will figure something out...

I have been planting in earnest. The past 4 days brought us another nice stretch of sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. Hooray! I absolutely love the weather here. Even rainy days usually have periods of sun. Adjusting to temperatures and working outside requires some thought. I have learned that in the mornings, I put on a T-shirt or Henley underneath my outside shirt because it will be chilly up until 11-ish. Forget mowing grass in the morning - the dew (or rain) will not dry until late afternoon. Around 11, I shed the T-shirt and change into a light but long-sleeved shirt. Then, after lunch, the short sleeves go on. The highest temperatures do not occur until well into the afternoon.

Now, on to what I have been planting...

I am trying to get out of the habit, but I find myself purchasing the same plants that I grew in the old garden. Of course, there are many plants I want to grow out here that I am unfamiliar with. I go to the nursery, write down names of plants and come home and research them on the Internet. Occasionally, I will go back and actually buy something but it often takes me weeks to decide on something.

A must-have was the Rhododendron 'PJM' which seems to be the first to bloom. It is probably over-used but how can you resist that color? I want to add more rhododendrons and have been researching them diligently.

Lonicera "Lemon Beauty"

A plant I grew in Alabama that always got people's attention was Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruiticosa). This variety is called 'Quilted Leaf'. Here is how it looked in the previous garden.

A new plant for me -
Vaccinium glauco album (Himalayan Huckleberry).
On previous visits to Portland, a shrub that I feel in love with was California Lilac (Ceanothus). You always hear about blue flowers and then when you see them for yourself, you see that they are actually purple. Well, this is BLUE. This variety is 'Julia Phelps'. It should become a mounding shrub around 5 - 6 ft.
Camellia "Donation" - a plant I always admired in my guru Pam Harper's book. It doesn't look like much now but I had to have it.

Ann Lovejoy turned me on to Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo 'Compactus'). I am looking forward to seeing what it will do.

Take a look at this huge bud on this tiny rose plant. This is 'Home Run', my first time to grow it.
I have tried to select trees with care since we do not have a lot of room to grow them. In a mad moment, however, I purchased this one immediately after seeing it at the nursery. It is Persian Parrotia and I was a bit familiar with it from Ann Lovejoy's books.
A tree that a knew I wanted was Japanese Snowbell (Styrax). I planted one of these at the Unitarian Church in Florence and always wanted one for myself.

Pieris 'Passion Frost'

Blue Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo 'Glauca') - this could mean trouble as it is supposed to get huge over time. I think I was mentally exhausted from weeks of trying to decide on conifers and when Michael said he loved this on, I failed to listen to reason and bought it.
It is very nice though!

Chamacyparis ‘Gracillis’ (Hinoki Cypress)
Cupressus ‘Swane’s Golden’

Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma Goldcrest’
Laburnum ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Golden Chain) - another weak moment!

Now on to some plants that were already here in the garden. This little Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum  'Murasaki Kiyohime') is leafing out nicely.
Another Japanese Maple that was not labeled.

Another mystery shrub. Euonymous?
This Euphorbia is stunning. I do not have the name.

Not much progress on the raised beds. Notice that I am attempting some straw bale gardening.
Some signs of success!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy