Friday, May 11, 2018

Bugs, booze, and brisket

I recently returned from the Austin Garden Bloggers' Fling, which was so fun I feel like I could sleep for a week. I ate my weight in brisket, I got bitten by both chiggers and fire ants, and I drank gallons of margaritas. I even saw the Alamo, so I'm feeling pretty complete.

Just another perfect, humongous Agave ovatafolia

In the garden of Pam Penick

A lot of times touring other gardens can make me feel pretty down on my own but this trip felt like a good, inspiring shot in the arm. Austin gardens have something for everyone, from super modern corten steel to quirky nichos.

Veg plots at the Mirador garden

Nicho in the garden of Lucinda Hutson

Austin has so many more trees than I expected, even in areas of new construction. I suspect the need for shade is so great that they work around existing trees instead of leveling everything like they do in Portland. As we're both trying to keep our cities weird, it was hard not to compare the two.

Construction in my Portland neighborhood. They removed six old redwoods to build these.

When they say "everything is bigger in Texas" they are referring to their agaves, their margaritas, and their highway on-ramps, which are terrifyingly tall. Every time we drove over one, seemingly 1000 feet in the air, I felt like a country bumpkin. They must have gotten a huge amount of infrastructure money because all of the freeways and highways are seemingly under construction, all at once.

I found myself in love all over again with salvias of the greggii and microphylla variety. Gardeners tuck them in everywhere all over Austin and they seem to look great, no matter the color.

I also fell in love with Aspidistra elatior, which falls under the "useful but unexciting plant that comes with your yard when you buy a house in Austin" category. I have plenty of friends that grow this plant but it took me flying to Texas to notice it. I've said it before: everything is more magical when you go through life not really paying attention. Surprises are everywhere!

I was also impressed by the lack of litter in Texas. That "Don't Mess with Texas" slogan is working. Washington employs "Litter and It Will Hurt" which is somehow more menacing and yet less effective. Oregon doesn't have a slogan (that I know of), it just sits and passively sighs and glares while you litter, wishing you wouldn't. It would say something but we're polite and we don't do that sort of thing.

Now that I have a dog I am even more aware of how filthy Portland's close-in neighborhoods are. Going on walks is such an adventure now. What will I pull out of Bee's mouth this time? A Q-tip? A cigarette butt? A rotting pineapple? ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.

I eat anything

I got to see gardens that I've loved online for years, including Jenny Stocker's (of Rockrose fame), which was so genuinely thrilling I considered taking a xanax that morning so I wouldn't embarrass myself. Her garden was a revelation for me when I started gardening and it was even better in person.

I also got to see Pam Penick's garden, which was so fucking delightful and beautiful I want to live in her pump house.

Pam can create vignettes like no one else.

Mostly I realized how much I like gardens that really go for it. I spend a lot of mental bandwidth worrying that people are judging my garden choices behind my back. I police my style because I don't want to make mistakes. I'm not a designer and I don't make a living in the horticulture industry. I'm a librarian, for Pete's sake, I'm expected to be boring and unstylish. If someone doesn't like my mismatched pots they can drink a Mexican martini in the garden of someone more talented.

Because I experienced my first Mexican martini and I am HERE FOR IT.

(It's just a double margarita with an olive, served in a martini glass and a shaker on the side "because it's classy.")

Life is short, why not make your margarita twice the size and embrace your inner mermaid? More is more.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day April 2018

It's one of my favorite months of the year! In spite of a pretty mild winter, we've had a pretty cold spring and everything is just a little behind schedule for me.

Tulipa 'Flair'

Tulipa 'Black Parrot'

Tulipa 'El Nino'

Camassia leichtlinii 'Blue Danube'

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Red Queen'

Geranium macrorrhizum

Epimedium 'Red Sea'

Mahonia nervosa

Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink'

Freesia alba

Eriogonum oreganum

Magnolia laevifolia

Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum'

Prosartes hookeri Hooker's Fairy Bells

Epimedium pinnatum v. 'Colchicum'

Oxalis oregana

Othonna cheirifolia

Viola glabella

This motherfucker

A happiest of bloom days to you! Thanks, as always, to our host Carol.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Vines, all the vines!

I've been installing trellising material on every surface available so I can garden vertically this year.


I actually have a lot of vines planted in my garden, but they all look terrible because they clearly state on the tag, "NEEDS SOMETHING TO CLIMB" and I said, "Is that really important? Eh, they'll evolve or something without support. I'll just let them figure it out."

This doesn't work. They all lay about on the ground getting eaten by slugs and looking terrible. So I'm supporting my goddamn vines for once. And I'm planting a LOT more of them.

What I already have:

Akebia longeracemosa 'Victor's Secret'
This poor vine has been hacked back twice, once after we removed the franken-fence from the side entrance from the garden, and again when I installed the trellising. The vine had created such a complicated french braid with about a thousand tendrils that I had to cut it way back and try to salvage a couple of strands with buds on them. It's a pretty vigorous vine but not as bad as, say, Clematis armandii.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream'
This is a super tough evergreen vine that blooms in winter. I think I want to plant another one to scramble up the front of the former franken-fence so I can see it from the kitchen window.

Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler'

Trachelospermum jasminoides
I planted this in 2011 (to hide our trashcans) and it only took about four years to completely cover this trellis, maybe less. The flowers smell amazing and when I get my shit together to give it some summer water, it reblooms.

Lonicera periclymenum 'Serotina'
Scott and I were walking through Cistus Nursery when we got hit by the most amazing fragrance. We ran around trying to figure out who it was and I came home with this vine. Have the flowers ever been fragrant at my house? I don't think so. Do I care? No. Look at the flowers! That's good shit.

x Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke'
I saw this vine on Loree's blog and fell in love. She responsibly texted me from Garden Fever and said, "They have it, get down here now, missy." This vine is perfection and grows in complete shade. Thank you, Loree.

Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight'
I bought this vine so many years ago but never gave it anything to climb so it has largely looked like a mangled piece of rope, trailing through a pile of Doug Fir dander. It should look like this.

Photo source: Broken Arrow Nursery

Parthenocissus quinquefolia 'Troki'
"Haven't I seen that growing on a freeway embankment?" you might be thinking to yourself. Yes, you have. I love it anyway.

Clematis jackmanii
Another one I haven't given a trellis to. I also don't water it when I should. I'm going to be better this year, I swear.

I've bought and killed a LOT of other vines but I won't bore you with that. Things that I have planned for purchase include:

Mandevilla laxa, Chilean Jasmine

Photo source: Annie's Annuals

Passiflora edulis 'Frederick' (I killed this once when I planted it in the wrong place and neglected to water it)

Photo source: Annie's Annuals

Passiflora x 'Star of Surbiton' (I killed this one when I left it unprotected in its nursery pot during a particularly bad winter)

Photo source: Xera Plants

Passiflora actinia (I'm treating this one as an annual)

Photo source: Annie's Annuals

Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)! I've never grown them before and I currently have 'April in Paris' and 'Navy' in the ground.

Photo source: Australian Seed

Jasminum officiale 'Devon Cream'

Photo source: Xera Plants

Holboellia aff. chapaensis

Photo source: Far Reaches Farm

Hedera algeriensis "Gloire de Marengo.' I took some cuttings from Megan and I'm hoping they take root.

Photo source: Promesse de Fleurs

Clematis 'The Countess of Wessex'

Photo source: Brushwood Nursery

Do you have any vines you can't be without? I've got trellises for days and my ears are open.