Winter approaching...


The last of the leaves are falling and the days are getting noticeably colder. It is rainy again (hooray!) and I am so happy to see the grass green again. It saddens me to hear about the drought in Alabama. I know I would be a basket case if I were there. I do hope they can get some rain soon. The excessive moisture here is bringing back the moss on our driveway and mushrooms are popping up all over the lawn.

I have been working my butt off at Target (literally - I have lost over 5 pounds!) but I am loving the job. It is hellacous on my poor feet but a lot of fun and my co-workers are some of the nicest people I have ever met. In the meantime, when I do have time off, I have been trying to get all of my new plants in the ground.

I am finally getting the front border filled in. I know it doesn't look like there are many plants here but I am actually already running out of space. I have been concentrating on the area outside of the fence. I intend to use drought-tolerant and low-growing plants along the street. I attended a lecture at Joy Creek Nursery a few weeks ago on this very topic and it was very informative.


Juniper 'Daube's Frosted' is one of the plants I am using to anchor the sides of the fence.

A view of the side garden, next to the driveway.

The plantings along the front foundation are coming along nicely. I wanted a tall, narrow camellia to help cover a broad expanse of brick on the wall. I have been researching camellias for the past several months and of course, I finally ended up choosing one that was not even on my list. 'Nuccio's Bella Rossa' is a beautiful red-flowered variety. I had my heart set on red but how it will look against this brick remains to be seen. But exactly what colors look good next to this brick? I haven't a clue!

If color clashes become inevitable, my reasoning is I will do what I have already done with about half of the things I planted back in the spring - move them to another location.

I have long lusted after this spruce (Picea 'Skylands') for a long time. I planted it on the inside corner of the fence.

There is a Home Depot across from Target and I sometimes stop by there to check out their bargains. I got this Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' and finally got it in the ground. I think it so pretty covered in raindrops.

This is one of my favorite plants in the garden. I can see this outside our front window and it brings me immense pleasure. It also pains me that I do not have the name - all I know is that it is a dwarf pine. I got it from a nursery that did not have their plants labeled. :(

We have so enjoyed watching the hummingbirds on the back deck flitting around the cupheas. This is the only one I have in the ground and I am wondering if I need to dig it up and bring it inside during the winter. Any suggestions?

I am excited about all of my plants but particularly the California Lilac (Ceonothus). This is the one of the first plants that I saw when first visiting Portland a few years ago. They are so beautiful. This variety is 'Julia Phelps'.

Arbutus (Strawberry Tree)

And finally, the last of the roses. This is 'Tahitian Sunset'. It has several blooms right now and I cut a few and brought them in today. I actually transplanted this rose a few weeks ago (I know this is not the best time) and it seems to have not minded at all.
The first rose I planted this year in the new garden 'Lady of Shallot'.
And a note: I am highly po'd at Blogger which managed to loose my list of favorite blogs. I kept thinking the silly thing would reappear but it appears that it is gone forever. So, I will have to update it from memory. This might take a while because my memory is not the best. And no, this wasn't my fault. It happened to a lot of other bloggers and some of them had theirs to reappear. No luck here!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Hello, I'm new to reading your blog, and I am enjoying reading about how you meet the challenges and what you are planting.

    Yes, many, many bloggers have lost their lists and have not recovered them yet. There is a way to get the list, but not the links. If you go to, type (copy and paste) in your blog URL Next click on "Browse history". Your September 4 blog has your blog roll. That will give you a start even though you will have to add the links.

  2. Jane, thank you so much for this information!

  3. Great shot of the Ascot Rainbow, that's one of my favorite Euphorbias! Some ornamental Oregano, like 'Kent Beauty,' would look good in that bed along the street.

  4. I think your red camelia will look good in front of that brick. Look at the red grass in the photo. It doesn't hurt your eyes. You have so much pretty color in the garden. Love the header photo. The garden here is coming to a close. We have had frosts. I love the evergreens you have found there to plant. It makes me want to go out and purchase some new ones. I am glad you like working at the Target. It is good to be out and about. Haven't heard much from Michael. I hope he is happy too.

  5. Ooh. You have an Arbutus unedo? Are you planning to try the fruit (if you get any)? I've read about the plant and hope to see/eat the fruit someday.

    That California lilac is gorgeous. Totally agree

    You're very smart with the way you've planned the plantings around your fence. So many people here in Tennessee have a fence with grass on one or both sides. Then the have to weed whack right against the fence. So annoying (both to the weed-whacker and to me listening and watching). Your design is much more beautiful and sensible.

    Look forward to seeing the new camellia in bloom someday.

    Just curious, but overall, how do you like living in the Pacific Northwest vs. the South? With very little rain over the past three months and forest fires over the horizon, it's nice to dream about a garden with steady, reliable rain... But I do think I'd miss our long, hot summers. Have you tried growing any veggies in your new garden? Any plans to do so?

  6. Aaron, I did not know that the arbutus fruit was edible. I will have to look into that. I absolutely love it here. I do not miss the heat and humidity one bit! I hate that you are having a severe drought. I know how that is and yes, it is nice being in a wetter climate. Not just the weather but we also love the social aspects of living here. Things are very liberal and love that.

  7. Looks so lovely, especially the roses.

  8. Your unnamed conifer might be Pinus mugo 'Carsten's Wintergold'.

    1. Jennifer, thank you! I will look it up and compare.

  9. Like Alison I wanted to comment on how gorgeous your photo of Ascot Rainbow is. If not for the fact I already have several you'd have me running off to purchase one right now.

  10. Nice seeing how your garden is shaping up, and great photos, too.

    Arbutus unedo fruit doesn't have much flavor--at least the ones here don't. Supposedly "unedo" means something like "only one"--implying one is all you want to eat.

  11. Wow, you're really settling in to your new garden and it's looking great! Glad you're enjoying your new job!

  12. Retail can be a lot of fun, but it's tough on your body. Just be sure to wear high quality shoes! Everything is coming along so nicely in your garden. I had a Tahitian Sunset rose some years back, and it was one of my favorites till it succumbed to Rose Rosette Disease.

  13. Hi Philip,
    Belated Happy Thanksgiving! Your garden is really taking shape. I love your colorful euphorbia; I have planted a couple types of euphorbia in my own garden but they are not so colorful as 'Ascot Rainbow.' I am deeply envious of your rain and your mushrooms. Our last good rain was in August! Chances of rain are increasing, so hopefully the drought is headed toward its end. Best wishes on your new job! deb


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