Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sneak peek: HPSO and Garden Conservancy Open Day Tour

This weekend I was able to preview three of the gardens to be featured in this year's Hardy Plant Society of Oregon (HPSO) and Garden Conservancy Open Day Tour. The organizers did a great job of choosing a variety of styles of gardens. There's something for everyone.

If you'd like more information, check out the tour page on the HPSO website. Tickets are greatly discounted for HPSO members; if you haven't joined HPSO, what are you waiting for? It's cheap, it's fun, and you'll get access to tours, lectures, and classes with like-minded gardeners. Did I mention that a lot of our local nurseries offer discounts to HPSO members?

On with the tour!

The Prewitt Garden:
This 1/3 acre garden blew my mind in a really great way. In addition to the most impressive potager garden I've seen in a long time, they also have a great succulent selection, and some of the biggest salvias I've ever seen. I don't get excited about edibles but this garden really inspired me. And the owners are delightful.

This Salvia 'Amistad' was well over six feet tall.

Is this the most perfect grape-covered potting bench ever?

The Mitchell Garden:
Whew, I loved this garden. The owners have done all the work themselves and they use texture and layering expertly. Repeating plants and establishing a rhythm is something I struggle with and they do this really well. They've worked in a large number of conifers into their planting, meaning their gardens look great in the dead of winter, too.

Be sure to smell Hosta plantaginea, it smells like citrus!

The Winchester Place Garden:
My apologies to Zachary and Leon: my camera battery died upon entering their garden!. I love how these two roll, with separate terraces for cocktails and dining, plus expertly designed hardscaping, with attention to sight lines. Their garden is half formal restraint and half colorful exuberance, with bright annuals repeating throughout.

The tour runs next Saturday, August 29, 2015 from 10am to 4pm. Tickets can be purchased online at the HPSO website. Do yourself a favor and go! And big thanks to the owners for opening their gardens to us. We had a blast.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Random personal updates

Do you know what happens when you have a busy spring and summer and then your laptop dies? I don't know either, but you sure as hell don't blog. Many of you know this already from Facebook, but Greg and I got married in June on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Getting to have all of our closest friends and families with us for a week was fantastic. I had no idea how much love everyone would surround us with during that time. Getting married is super fun and I can't recommend it enough. Exactly a week after our wedding, the Supreme Court made marriage legal for everyone in the US and our marriage felt that much more special. We were giddy.

My family, spearheaded by my eldest brother Chris, spent the six months prior to our wedding making us tiki mugs. The first night in Hawaii we met up for dinner and one by one everyone brought us a wrapped mug that they had carved and glazed themselves, from my little nephews and nieces to my parents. It was overwhelming in the best way.

Zwucker is our portmanteau.

Can you even?

I learned a few things getting married, namely that I don't understand wedding photography at all. My nieces are beautiful and photogenic, so why not set them up so they look like they're watching TV while I get my picture taken?


Greg and I are not terribly comfortable in front of the camera, but I think we knew that.

How long do we have to stare at this green screen while she photographs my back fat?

Luckily we loosened up after a few maitais.

Me and my sister reenacting a childhood dance

I'm not changing my name and we're not having babies, so future big news around here will be limited to the gardening and pet variety (if I can convince Greg to get a dog and a cat).

In gardening news, I'm barely watering anything and seeing what survives! A roster of the departed will follow soon. Happy Monday! Yay marriage!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden bloggers' bloom day May 2015

Good lord, this is a bloomy month. Everything is blooming right on schedule, so I'll just show new plants or ones that I missed last year (or we'd be here all day).

Akebia longerracemosa 'Victor's Secret'

Papaver orientale 'Royal Wedding'

Camassia leichtlinii semiplena, Allium christophii, and Verbascum bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer'

Iris x pacifica 'Alison's pink lips'

Stipa barbata

Stipa gigantea

Parahebe perfoliata glows from across the yard

Verbascum bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer'

Disporum cantoniense 'Night Heron'

Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' with Camassia quamash

Cistus obtusifolius

A very happy bloom day to you! Thanks, as always, to our host Carol at May Dream Gardens.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

More gravel. More grasses. More sleeping.

I've been an insomniac my whole life. Last fall everything got way worse and I basically stopped sleeping. Things are a lot better now, thanks to a light box, melatonin, and what they refer to as "sleep hygiene." At night I cut out blue light which means for the last two hours of my day I live in a world without the internet or TV. I have to read books or work on projects that don't require the Internet. This means I mostly read books because every project leads back to the Internet.

I was reading Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden the other night and I wanted to look up some plants she described . . . but I couldn't. I just had to jot down a note to research it later. It's probably for the best, since I'd just end up on Plant Lust, then I'd fall down the rabbit hole of Google Images and various garden blogs. How did people garden before the Internet? And how much more productive could I be without an iPad?

In our own gravel garden things are chugging along. We've figured out where we want the deck and now we just have to figure out how to build it. The original plan was to wait on the deck until next summer but as I had rock being delivered, Greg said, "Maybe we should just do it this summer," hence my mad scrambling and panic a few weeks back. All of the sudden that vague rectangle on the paper plan needed to be finalized.

We've marked out the spot for the new deck with yellow spikes that I WILL trip over at some point. We're still deciding whether we want to build the deck before or after the wedding in June.

The parabola-shaped rock wall was changed to an even curve. Greg thinks this is a downgrade but my brain likes it better.

I need to retool some of the planting because I totally planted on a grid and I didn't overlap my plants enough, so I have big blobs of the same plants that don't meld nicely into the other blobs. Anyway.

What did I plant?

The centerpiece of this bed is Arctostaphylos 'St. Helena.' I went to Xera and pumped Paul and Greg for their opinions on the very best manzanitas. I originally wanted A. viscida 'Sweet Adinah' but they warned me that it's prone to randomly losing branches and it's incredibly picky about soil, location, and drainage. St. Helena has those big beautiful leaves and will handle being in a northern aspect (though it's still getting 6-8 hours of sun a day) better than others. I also like how blue the leaves are.

Arctostaphylos manzanita 'St. Helena'

I wanted this bed to be low water and I wanted a lot of grasses. We've got a whole bunch of Schizachyrium 'The Blues', Pennisetum spatheolatum, Anemanthele lessoniana, and Festuca roemeri.

Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues' in the garden of Greg Shepherd
Pennisetum spatheolatum send up hundreds of little exclamation points
Anemanthele lessoniana in my side yard
Festuca roemeri Photo source: The Evergreen State College

I have a bunch of Achnatherum calamagrostis on order, which will also get squeezed in here.

I also shoehorned in smaller shrubs like Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' and Hypericum 'Albury Purple.' I also rescued a crapload of Salvia 'May Night' from the front garden so something in this bed wouldn't be tiny. Can you tell I love purple?

I also bought one of those stupid Digiplexis annuals on a whim, which I now regret. I do not like that pink.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

In other parts of the garden, I tore out the flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) that used to live in between the two clumps of bamboo. I hated the color of the blooms and it's a pretty boring shrub. I vacillated for years about ripping out this one. It's drought tolerant and low maintenance but it wasn't sparking joy, so out it went. I planted a new Ribes in the front garden and it blooms a nice hot pink that plays nicer with all of my orange flowers.

In its place I planted Tetrapanax papyifera 'Steroidal Giant' (which is hiding behind the clump of Acanthus spinosus), Miscanthus purpurescens, a cananna (Canna musafolia), and three Calamagrostis foliosa that I rescued from another part of the garden where they didn't get enough sun to color up like they should.

The back rain garden finally got edged too. It's always had a soil berm edging it, which just petered out into cedar chips.

We're not missing a stone, that's the overflow notch.

It looks pretty silly right now because I'm still futzing with the stone placement. Then all the cedar chips in the pathway will get scraped up and replaced with gravel. I still have so much work to do but I'm pleased with how everything is coming along.

We tested happy hour in the garden this weekend and it still worked! Whew.