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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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Van Lierop Garden Market Bedecked with Rustic Elegance

Van Lierop Garden Market in Sumner is a small, family owned gift shop/florist/nursery where one can find "Perfectly Imperfect" found objects, rustic and refined garden art, healthy live plants and arrangements that are delightfully unusual. Now they're doing up the holiday theme in style!



I love walking around this shop which is full of great ideas and beautiful displays.

Like my favorite nurseries that are set up like gardens in pots from which you can simply purchase some or all, Van Lierop displays feel like parts of someone's home only here, the hosts don't so much mind if you take a few of their things home with you.


The birds are all outside of the cages which are occupied by strings of beads.  What a fun idea!

 Uber cute!  

The warmth of gold speaks to me at Christmas.


To go to the outside and greenhouse areas, one walks through the outdoor nursery area which I've shown in previous posts.

Out in the greenhouse, the brilliance continues.



Amaryllis with coral bark maple branches supporting a bird nest was another great idea!  I've got some amaryllis in my greenhouse and a coral bark maple with a branch growing far to close to a power line...hmm.

For more information about this magical place, visit their website here.

The person who makes these birdhouses bedecked with found objects continues to produce them and each one seems better than the last!


Back inside to pat the two friendly dogs and see more great stuff.

I hope you enjoyed visiting as much as I always do!  I know I'll be going back this weekend to pick up at least one thing.

Can you guess what that might be?  Something truly beautiful and stylish?

Hello?!  Have we met?  Of course not, I'll be going back for some of these:


Ah, now I'm getting into the Christmas Spirit!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holly (Ilex) for Foliage Follow Up


Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly;
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!  This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp  As friend remember'd not.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly:
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!  This life is most jolly.

 William Shakespeare


O reader! hast thou ever stood to see
The Holly-tree?
The eye that contemplates it well perceives
Its glossy leaves
Ordered by an Intelligence so wise
As might confound the Atheist's sophistries.

Below, a circling fence, its leaves are seen,
Wrinkled and keen;

No grazing cattle, through their prickly round,
Can reach to wound;
But, as they grow where nothing is to fear,
Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear.

I love to view these things with curious eyes,
And moralize;
And in this wisdom of the Holly-tree
Can emblem see
Wherewith, perchance, to make a pleasant rhyme, -
One which may profit in the after-time.

Thus, though abroad, perchance, I might appear
Harsh and austere;
To those who on my leisure would intrude,
Reserved and rude;
Gentle at home amid my friends I'd be,
Like the high leaves upon the Holly-tree.

And should my youth - as youth is apt, I know, -
Some harshness show,
All vain asperities I, day by day,
Would wear away,
Till the smooth temper of my age should be
Like the high leaves upon the Holly-tree.

And as, when all the summer trees are seen
So bright and green,
The Holly-leaves their fadeless hues display
Less bright than they;
But when the bare and wintry woods we see,
What then so cheerful as the Holly-tree? -

So, serious should my youth appear among
The thoughtless throng;
So would I seem, amid the young and gay,
More grave than they;
That in my age as cheerful I might be
As the green winter of the Holly-tree. 

Robert Southey


The holly and the Ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown. 



In ancient times, holly was considered 
magical and sacred because of its shiny leaves 
and ability to bear fruit in winter. 

The Druids believed that holly, 
with its shiny leaves and red berries 
stayed green to keep the earth beautiful 
when the sacred oak lost it leaves. 
    
It was believed that if you hung holly 
over your bed, you would have good dreams. 
 
At one time, holly was connected to the 
mythical Holly King - patron king of the winter 
solstice.  As the Winter Solstice Festivals 
evolved, holly remained a part of the 
holiday celebrations. 
 

Holly was the sacred plant of  Saturn 
and was used at the Roman Saturnalia festival to 
honor him. 
 Romans gave one another holly wreaths and carried 
them about decorating images of Saturn with it. 
 

Centuries later, in December, 
 while other Romans continued their pagan worship, 
Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus. 
 To avoid persecution, they decked their homes with 
Saturnalia holly. 
 

As Christian numbers increased and their customs 
prevailed, holly lost its pagan association 
and became a symbol of Christmas. 

It's pretty weedy here but it makes a great hedge and has those beautiful red berries in the winter.


I'm joining with Pam at Digging who hosts Foliage Follow Up every month on the day after bloom day to remind us of the importance of foliage in our gardens.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day December 2014

In a week, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere will come.  I love the winter solstice because it means that the daylight will be increasing.  Of course it means that winter has begun.  Fortunately, spring comes early in this climate and there are some wonderful winter bloomers that keep us going through those months.  One of my favorites is Lonicera fragrantissima or winter honeysuckle which has has started blooming a bit early this year.  Oh that fragrance!



NOID Arctostaphylos

Speaking of fragrance, Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’ smells divine and has been blooming since November.


Yes, even through our freezes, Abutilon megapotamicum has continued blooming albeit a bit slower. 

Mahonia × media ‘Charity’

 Grevillea victoriae 'Murray Valley Queen'

In the house, the schlumbergeras (Christmas Cactus) continue to be covered with color and the new orchids are blooming while in the greenhouse there are more blooms:


Many echiverias are blooming.


I haven't killed the new gardenia yet and here are the paperwhites that picked themselves up from being a bit floppy.  Go figure.

Lemon blooms.  Does anyone know if these need to be pollinated with a paintbrush if they're growing inside?

Cyclamen persicum

Still going from summer are Impatiens 'Congo cockatoo,'

Brugmansias


And pelargonium.   


On the fifteenth of each month, Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day to remind us that we can have flowers nearly every month of the year.  To see what's blooming in gardens around the world this December, click over to Carol's blog.   Thanks, Carol for once again hosting the blooming party and for being our favorite petal pusher. 



Friday, December 12, 2014

Random Friday

Here are a few pictures from this week all thrown together to make a post.  One might call it a week in review but it's really just random Friday.


I love visiting Tacoma Boys, a year round open 24/7 produce stand with three locations.  They carry frost proof pots, a variety of plants, and, of course, Christmas trees.  I got my first Christmas tree in Washington at Tacoma boys in 1982 when they were located in a tent across the street and down a bit from where they are now.  Currently they not only carry produce but also have all sorts of food items and  the largest wine selection in the area,  This outdoor structure is cool.

Cones are such interesting and long-lasting seed carriers.  A little dab of paint and voila, holiday magic.


Meanwhile, out in the greenhouse, a fragrant gardenia which followed me home from the grocery store.


The Meyer's Improved Lemon is blooming like nobody's business!


The paperwhites planted on a bit of gravel and water burst into bloom yesterday.

While the ones in soil in a pot are a bit behind. 


 Last night at Fred Meyer, I saw two new to me varieties of poinsettia.  The first, a deep red, almost black in some places(cell phone didn't do a great job of capturing the true color) is called 'Cortez Burgundy'

The other is really stunning and the pictures don't do it justice.  I watched the display for a while just for fun and saw person after person gravitate to this new gold and salmon bloomer called 'Autumn Leaves.'

It's autumnal colors are a bit different from what one usually uses at Christmas but  it's pretty interesting.

Both of these new varieties are grown by Smith Brothers which supplies a lot of big box stores in our area as well.  What do you think of this dose of fall foliage in the winter?
Hope you have a grand weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vassey Nursery in December

Vassey is a wonderful local, family-owned and run nursery that is on my way home from my Sunday job.  See previous posts here.  The staff here is extremely knowledgeable and friendly and are glad to tell you everything you could want to know about plants and where to get the least expensive greenhouse materials.  (Thank you Steve!)  Their plants are healthy and I've never had a problem with anything I've bought here.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air-
But his mother only
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved 
With a kiss.

   -Christina Rosetti


I always feel sorry for nekkid statues when it's cold outside and feel a little envious of them  when it's hot.


This is what Vassey does with their huge annual hanging baskets when they're done for the season. The soil and roots are left in place, some holes are drilled in the sides and bottoms of the pots and evergreens are arranged & decorations added.  Festive, fragrant, and long lasting, especially outside.

I can't stop photographing Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine.  It's so vibrant during the cold months. 

There are some holiday items and all of them along with a lot of gift ware are on sale at 50%  off so if you're in the area, it may just be worth a visit.

I always admire this wide variety of gazing balls!


Urban chickens?

In case you're not lucky and clever enough to grow tomatoes in your greenhouse in the winter like Jean, you can always buy these imitation plants and fake it.

All kinds of fun stuff!

The shiny finials are pretty groovy but I'm not sure where I'd put them. On the other hand, at 50% off,  a place could be found once they made it home.

Some hardy plants have been brought into the unheated greenhouse to protect them from the rain and wind.

 The foliage of Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' is nice year round and especially shines in the winter garden!



Activity in the pond has slowed down as it does in the winter.  In addition to the lone fish center right, you can see some orange & gold color through the spruce tree on the left.

Helleborus niger, the Christmas Rose, is beginning to bloom right on cue.   Spring can't be far away now!

I heard a bird sing 
In the dark of December,
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to spring
than we were in September"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

-Oliver Herford