Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, August 29, 2016

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Click here to see her Monday creation and find links to those of other participating bloggers.

Walking out to the garden center at our local everything store (Freddie's) yesterday, I was shocked to see nothing.  Many of the plant tables were folded and pushed away while others remained standing bereft of plants.  It was like some sort of ghost town out there.  While there were still seasonal plants by another entrance, the garden center had never looked so abandoned.  A worker said something about getting ready for the "C" word.  Oh please, say that my ears deceived me.  This just can't be! Summer needs to linger for at least a few more months.  Much as I love autumn and every few years get sentimental and decorate for Christmas, I still want to be a carefree cricket playing in the summer sun instead of an industrious ant working day after day.   Going back inside and glancing at the Seattle newspaper, the front page article said something about a demolition a day.  As in many hot real estate markets, sweet older bungalows with gardens are purchased, demolished, and replaced with "expensive boxes" built to the property line.  Time and the changes that happen are interesting.  Seems we're always trying to speed it up or slow it down to no avail.

Today's offering started with these three things from various times of my life:

From the 60's comes a white onyx carved bookend, one of a set that lived in my parents' home.  I believe that the set, purchased on my eldest sister's honeymoon, was a gift to my parents.  (She'll correct me if that's wrong.)  From the 70's comes the ceramic weed pot on the left, created by my pottery guru.  Finally, from the 80's comes the glass vase on the right, the gift of a friend. (Yes, the newest object in the group is 30 years old.)

Today, one last hurrah before the beginning, in earnest, of the school year, I strolled in the morning sun kissed garden to search for flowers.  Not a lot of vase worthy offerings this week.

 It's interesting how time changes things.  Even the rocks have been broken, scraped, shattered, worn by years of tumbling in water.  How fleeting is the life of a flower or a person in comparison.

Angelica stricta 'Purpurea' and Japanese anemones.

What about those other flowers? More Anemones, columbine seed heads, and Lonicera nitida foliage in an antique bottle.

Everything else (lots of Phygelius) got stuffed in a blue glass tumbler.  There you have it, arrangements ready to go inside and brighten the week.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Aeonium Prize from Cistus

It's the last Friday of the month when Danger posts images of plants that have tickled her fancy during the month.  I'm featuring the Aeoniums that were waiting for me at Cistus when Danger and I recently paid a visit.

Notice the box decorated by Mr. Hogan himself!  He'd kindly watered the plants to prepare them for a long warm car ride. You may be thinking something like, "so excited he wet his plants" but I would never be so crass(ulaceae) as to write something like that.

Beauties in the box included Aeonium domesticum 'Variegatum'

Aeonium 'Blackbeard'

Aeonium 'Cornish Tribute'

Aeonium 'Jolly Green'

I forgot to photograph the label and it's dark outside now so we'll just call this one Fred.

Aren't they swell?  Many thanks to Sean at Cistus for supplying this prize and to Danger for hosting her series of challenges.  I wonder what her next challenge will be?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Issaquah Garden of Art Converse

A warm Saturday in mid July was perfect for touring the garden of Art Converse, whose impressive resume includes a career in the Navy, being a firefighter, and building houses including his own.

"My garden is located apprximately six miles south ot Issauquah on one acre in an enchanting  area called May Valley."

"the garden has many 'themes' to enjoy, including a rose garden which contains 60 roses, a large vegetable garden, many palm trees and tropical plants, nine ponds, a spawning creek and various guest cottages."

The big brugmansias in the front garden caught my eye right away. 

In past years, art would plant them directly in the ground and dig them every fall.  This year, he's keeping them in the pots which he's partially buried.  The black pot is full of potatoes which Art had recently harvested from his vegetable garden. 

Huge dahlias cavort with hardy banana leaves in this wonderful garden.

Part of the rose garden. 

This pond is right next to the house. 

Having been a builder and remodeled many homes, Art would often reuse materials that would have otherwise been discarded.  The inspiration for many of the outbuildings has been these found materials.

Art says that this is the favorite guest cottage of his children when they visit as it is heated and has two stories.

Here's the entry and porch around back.

This outbuilding contained workout equipment, a private gym.

"The house, outbuildings and gardens are a culmination of 28 years of collecting and propagating over 1500 various trees, shrubs and plants.  The grounds are very walkable and full of 'inhabitants', including thousands of frogs, koi fish, mason bees, and even an occasional owl."

The grounds are made for entertaining!

Sunken fire pit with built in benches. 

This gives a bit of perspective.  The large dining area is on the right; the fire pit on the left. 

At the back of that area, we enter the secret garden. 

This guest cottage is the favorite of Art's in-laws from Sweden who don't mind that it's not heated.

One could imagine several families residing in the guest cottages for the summer and getting together for outdoor meals and conversations lasting into the night.  More than just a garden full of interesting plants, this place feels like a wonderful retreat center in the country.

"I enjoy giving extensive tours and showing many of the rare plants I've accumulated through the years."  Thanks Art for opening your amazing garden for the first time to the Northwest Perennial Alliance!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Bad Hair Day?

Wednesday Vignette is hosted by Anna and Flutter and Hum.  Click here to join in the fun.

This building in Barcelona seems to be having a bad hair day. This is what happens if you don't take care of your slinky!

We all have a bad hair day every now and then.  Sometimes a hat, scarf, or turban is the only solution.

If you think that's odd, look at what's coming up next month:




Sky Nursery
18528 Aurora Avenue North
(206) 546-4851


September 10 & 11

  9-6 Saturday
 10-4 Sunday

Classes on Sunday September 11

10:00 am Growing Cacti and Succulents Indoors
11:30 am Growing Cacti and Succulents from Seed

Check out our website at www.cascadecss.org

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We Finally Made it to Cistus

Back on the plant play date with Danger, we left Lila and the Danger Garden to visit Cistus and pick up my aeonium collection prize from the Aeonium Challenge.  The collection is so wonderful and in a container decorated by noted plantsman, Sean Hogan, himself that it'll get it's own post later. Here are some impressions of this visit.  I began visiting Cistus many years ago after reading about it in Stephanie Feeney's The Northwest Gardener's Resource Directory, a fabulous book that listed every nursery from British Columbia to Northern California and shared Stephanie's impressions from her visits.  Unfortunately, MS Feeney was taken from us all too soon.  In the last edition of the book (1996, I think) internet resources were added.  Anyway, I've greatly admired this nursery for years and before I knew anything else about the Portland area, I'd drive down just to visit Cistus, fill the car (it wasn't yet named plant mobile) with plants and drive home.  See previous posts from recent years here

Beautiful Eucalyptus tree near the parking area. 

 Dudleya brittonii

Dyckia platyphylla

One of my favorites, Agave americana mediopicta alba. I would have taken one home but there are already two in the hoard.  You see, one was purchased as a back up plant because I didn't know if the first would survive.  


Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue,' a Cistus introduction. 

Oh, that giant cycad is a beautiful sight. 
 "No Plant Is Safe" from the wagon of a plant addicted shopper?   From the four seasons?  

Giant palm fronds.  

Is there any happier sight for a plant addict than a nursery packed with unusual plants on a warm summer day?

One of the Billbergia nutans 'Variegata' on the table wanted to come home with me.  Maybe it'll get to stay with me longer than it's non-variegated couisin that I gave away a couple of years back.

There are more Crepe Myrtles planted around Portland than there are further north.  I've seen some bloom beautifully in more exposed sunny areas here but in my mostly shady garden, I only get leaves.

Cistus is a place that invites discovery, pulls one down a path or around a corner to see what might be there, and then rewards the journey with visuals like this.

Protea cynaroides.  Oh so tempting. 

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'    

Agave americana 'Cornelius' 

Yucca rostratas (or is that Yuccas rostrata?)  Anyway, mine will look like this in about five more years.

More green goodness. 

Blue sky, golden bamboo foliage (not to be confused with golden bamboo  or heavenly bamboo which is Nandina and not a bamboo at all.)

 Visiting Cistus is always exciting but what made this visit even more special, besides the ever-present Danger, was that we got to go into the production area, a first for me, not for the dangerous one.

But the sign says....

Nice hips!

It's always a special treat to see the collections and propagation areas of plantsmen/plantswomen that one admires.  In the course of that week I'd visited Far Reaches Farm, Windcliff (posts to come)  and now Cistus and been allowed to peek "behind the curtain" at each of these operations run by world-renowned plantsmen.  If you're not a plant nerd, this is the equivalent of being able to go backstage to meet your favorite three rock stars and sit in on rehearsals of the same all in one week.

Do you want to pull that weed from between these prickly characters?

The multi colored flag coding, the sparse labeling because most plants here are known, the hot air of the hoop houses, the roar of the crowd.  Oh wait, that's something else.

Aeonium 'Starburst' is a lovely thing!

I really want one of these but  don't have the heart to make one myself . Isn't it interesting? 

Senecio cristobalensis, I presume?  I got one of these from Cistus years ago. 
 Manihot grahamii has such groovy foliage.  I need to find a better place for mine next year as it never made it out of it's winter storage spot in the greenhouse.

I have Dichroa febrifuga, some with blue blooms and one with blooms a little lighter but this vibrant pink was new to me.  The label reads Dichroa versicolor.  For further confusion and entertainment click here.

We finally arrive at the office at the back of the entire operation to visit with Sean and, of course, outside there were more faboo plants.

Fasticularia bicolor had been on my list for quite a while and just a few days before, I'd found one that had just been put out that morning at Far Reaches.  Seeing this specimen in Sean's collection made me even happier to have found one!
What a treat to see all of this!  Thank you Loree and Sean for this special opportunity!