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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Playing 20 (really 22) Questions

Earlier this month Satu from My Life challenged me to answer eleven questions.  At about the same time Kevin from Nitty Gritty Dirt Man nominated my blog for a Liebster Blog Award which also requires answering 11 questions.    To know more about me than this, you'd probably need a DNA sample. 

First, Satu's Questions:

Do you garden?  If you don't, what's your hobby?  Yes, I garden.  I also like playing with glass, choral music, and throwing together a couple of blogs.

Your favorite plant?  I love 'em all but have thought succulents were pretty swell since my frist sempervivum sighting in my my misspent youth. 

What do you dream of?  More space to grow plants and the means to be able to do that.

Where have you travelled?  I've not travelled a lot.  When I was younger, we regularly travelled from Alaska to the east coast of the U.S. to visit family we had left in Vermont and Connecticut.  I've seen some of Eastern and Western Canada as well but not the middle.  When I was in a college choral group, we toured Engliand, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales for a month.

Which one has been your best trip?  I've enjoyed them all but I think seeing New York City for the first time a few years ago and singing in Carnegie Hall was a special experience.  The Carnegie Deli was also quite an experience.

Your horoscope?  I'm a Virgo.

Your favorite artist?  That's as difficult as choosing a favorite flower.  The list of what I don't like would be much smaller.

What kind of music do you like?  Choral music, classical music,  world music, just about anything that isn't rap or rock music played so loud in passing cars that it vibrates my windows.

Your favourite food?  Indian food, Tai, Mexican,  I most frequently make Italian pasta sorts of things.

Do you have any pets?  We have four Pomeranians ranging in age from 1 1/2 to 12 years old.

Your dream which has come true?  So many... As a child growing up in a remote town of 750 people, I dreamed of living in a city like the ones we saw on television where food could actually be delivered to one's home.  I also always wanted to live in an old house.  Careful of what you wish for! Now I think that living in a nice small place without urban noise  in a modern home without drafty windows and not having to wait for several minutes for the hot water tap to get warm sounds pretty sweet. Having a special someone to share my life with is my favorite dream come true.

And Now Kevin's questions:

What is your favorite time of day and why?  Any time that allows for a nap because sleeping is what I do best.

How and when did you first discover your passion, whatever that passion is?   It's difficult to remember when and how I first discovered sleeping.

Hopefully, yor're familliar with The Breakfast Club for this question.  When you were in high school, in which social group did you best fit?  (princess, athelete, brain, criminal, basket case)  I was more of a loner weirdo much like I am today.

Where do you write your posts and why did you choose that place?  I write my posts in our office area because it's where the computer is.  Although I've tried doing things with an IPad or laptop, I don't like it as much as the keyboard that makes noise when I type.  When one learns on a manual typewriter, it's hard to get used to typing with just his thumbs.

What always makes you laugh and why?  Looking in a mirror because it's either laugh or cry.

If you could appear on a televised talent show, what would your talent be?  There's just no beginning to my talent.  I'm extremely good at picking my nose though.

Which flower reminds you of happiness?  I seem to remember something called happiness. A flower?  Can't choose as I love them all.  Maybe sweet peas because my grandmother called me her sweet pea, they grew so well in Alaska, and they smell so innocently sweet.

What is your favorite book and why?  Oh books are so decorative, don't you think?

It's important to eat your vegetables, but which vegetable do you always resist/avoid eating?  I never met a vegetable I didn't like.

What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?  Complain about the weather.

Who is the one celebrity, past or present, you would like to meet - and what would you ask that person?  Queen Elizabeth.  Are you really wearing that tiara with those shoes?

Now, I'm supposed to send this challenge on to other bloggers.  Like a favorite artist or book, I cannot simply chose a few of my favorite bloggers to challenge because I love you all! If any of you want to answer questions and post them on your blog, please do!  Don't like these questions?  Make up some of your own.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Resurrectionem mortuorum

You may have heard many gardeners in the Pacific Northwest discussing the phormium killing winters of 2009 - 2010 and 2010 -2011.  These winters packed quite a punch and what phormiums that weren't killed in the first PKW were killed in the second.   For many years, there were five huge
specimens in raised beds outside of a nearby parking structure.  The elevation of the beds further enhanced the great size of these monsters.  I watched with sadness as these and the other phormiums around town bit the dust. Unfortunately, I've not a picture of the former grandeur of these plants. Some made a valliant effort to come back from the roots after the first winter only to be cut down again by the second. The last couple of winters have been relatively mild in comparison.   Driving by recently, I thought that the plants had been replaced.

Upon getting out of my car to take a closer look, it seems that the original plants were left in place and have been resurrected from the dead!  I'm naming this one Lazarus!

While these are only about a quarter of their previous size, they will soon regain their former stature if winters aren't too harsh.   The lesson:  One should not be too hasty to give up hope.

Resilient buggers aren't they?  Do you suppose that the additional drainage was helpful to their survival?  Can you think of a reason that these  would return while so many others didn't? 
I'm so looking forward to welcoming phormiums back into my garden this year!  Will you be taking the plunge?  The nurseries are certainly stocking them again in a way that they haven't since the PKW's!  Is there a plant of marginal hardiness in your area that you'll be trying or trying again this season?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Totally Random Garden Stuff that Made Me Happy This Week.

Yes, it's supposed to be random Friday but why wait to share the joy.  I have the same philosophy when it comes to egg nog, fruit cake, and cookies; why wait until Christmas, they put this stuff on the shelves in October for a reason and who are we to postpone the enjoyment of it all.  Life's getting shorter every day.  This also explains why the only clothes I feel comfortable in of late  are sweats,  but I digress.  Here, without further ado are some shots of things in my garden that made me smile when I saw them.
The golden winter sun shining on the buds and branches of Paulownia tomentosa with real live blue sky in the background.

Dried seed heads of lunaria annua.  Yes it's a weed but I always allow a couple to grow because they are kind of sweet!

I got this fern in a pot this summer, was told that it's evergreen and is called fan fern.  This doesn't look anything like any of the fan ferns I've seen online.  It's certainly evergreen and very pretty.  The saying ignorance is bilss  must true as I'm a very happy person.  Anyway, if you know what the real name of this fern is, please let me know.  (I promise to still be happy.)

The gold culms of Phyllostachys bambusoides 'Allgold'  always make me happy to be alive and they're this color year round!
 Ignore the tilted pot please.  Schefflera delavayi started several years ago as a little slip of a thing in a small pot.  It's growing wider than tall but I guess that's o.k. The leaves look like they are lacking iron.  I know it's not a nitrogen deficiency.  Oh well, easy enough to remedy but what makes me so happy is that the plant lived through the two phormium killing winters we had three and two years ago and just keeps growing .  Hooray!
Late fall through spring are the only times of the year that buddha and the gunnera leaf are visible behind my pond. The rest of the year, the magnolia leaves mostly obscure this view.  I leave it because the magnolia blooms with the blue leaf and buddha make quite a lovely combination.

Yup, it's an Alberta Spruce in a gallon pot.  This Christmas, I decided not to decorate because I'm basically a grinch and a sloth.  My sister who lives in Alaska and, like our mother, decorates everything that doesn't move decided that I simply couldn't let a Christmas pass without some sort of decoration.  Came a box to my door this advent from Jackson and Perkins containing this sweet little tree tarted up to look like one of those ladies of a certain age that wear purple hats, red boas and the like.  I put it on our coffee table and plugged it in.  Voila, instant Christmas along with a reminder that I'm also of a certain age.  After enjoying the tree for a respectable period of time, I rescued it from it's festive garb and placed it outside. 

Here's a picture from the Jackson and Perkins website.  See why it makes me smile?

My ilex verticulata finally produced berries this year.  It's been a 15 year wait but the berries look amazing in front of the oh so blue Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Van Pelt's Blue.' 

I hope you  notice many things in your garden this week that make you smile for one reason or another!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in Reality

In Friday's post, we drove to the tropics. (The tropical area of Flower world.)  What a fun diversion from what was happening outside.  Truly though, what was happening outside was awfully miraculous as well.  I garden in area at roughly parallel 46 which is about the same as northern Maine but we are in hardiness zone 8!  Crazy man!  I'm thankful that there's always something happening in our gardens!    Anyway, here is some of what was happening on the grounds of Flower world and in some of the unheated areas.

 Abies korieana (guessing)
 Acer palmatum 'Sangokaku'
 NOID plant looking quite lovely!
  Euonymus 'Gold Spot'  and other similar evergreen Euonymus are widely used in municipal plantings for good reason!  They are handsome throughout the year and add welcome bright color to the winter garden.  They especially shine in the spring when new growth makes the whole bush glow as if it were in bloom. 

Ornamental grass seed heads.  Scott could tell you the name, I just call 'em purty.

 Cotoneaster berries and grey bark looking quite nice.

Cornus sanguinea 'Winter Flame'  Yup, that's snow on the surface of the soil.  Love this plant! 

Hamemelis x intermedia 'Rubin'  is as fragrant as it is beautiful.  I need to find space in my garden for one of these! 

Sarcococca confusa is a favorite plant. It will grow in the deepest shade, is drought tolerant for me (competes successfully with greedy bamboo roots in the grove) has handsome glossy evergreen foliage, and to top it off, has a heavy, heavenly, wafting fragrance when it blooms at this time of year.  The same could be said for the weedy Daphne laureola but Sarcocca isn't invasive.

This combination is far too garish and common for decorous and proper  gardeners.  I LOVED it!

Cornus plants in pots.
 Or Cornus branches in bunches.  You can enjoy the winter color even if the plant isn't hardy for you.
 In addition to this, many of the camellia images from this post were taken at Flower World on this visit.
 Jasminum nudiflorum blooms from late November through June in my garden.  I can always count on winter color from this even when everything else is frozen!  Plus it's fun to say it's Latin name and shock visitors by inviting them to view your nudies.

Ilex verticillata, a deciduous holly.  These at F.W. were in gallon pots and were producing berries.  Fourteen years ago, I ordered a male and female from a catalog, planted them and stood back to watch nothing happen berry-wise until this year.  Now that they're 5 feet tall and finally bearing fruit, I want to move them.  It's nice to know that these replacements are available when should I kill the ones I have.
 So much green goodness in this cold house.  All of this is hardy in the ground without protection here.

Autumn?  No, just beautiful winter coloration on a Nandina.

A Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) grove just for Ms. Bohl.

Pyracantha x 'Mohave'  Birds love these berries and also nest in the thorny branches of Pyracantha if it's allowed to grow tall enough.  Fragrant summer blooms are an added bonus.

Virbunum davidii is planted just about every gas station and boulevard median in this area.  The evergreen leaves are o.k. and most of the year the shrubs  create tidy, if boring, mounds of green.  Unfortunately, most of these plantings are viewed at 40 miles per hour and the stunning berries are missed.

Yucca 'Color Guard' seems to be following me this season.  Maybe Pam and Shirley are trying to tell me something.

On the list to buy on my next visit, without a passenger to take up valuable plant space, is one of these.
and a couple of these. to replace the ones I lost.  The dusky phormium looks delightful in front of the blue conifer behind it. 

How large are these phormiums?  Quite a bit taller than 5'10" !  Can you say instant gratification?
Hope you enjoyed  this winter trip to  Flower World.  I'm already  looking forward to my next visit!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A January Drive to the Tropics.

We've had a couple of weeks of sub zero temperatures (really only sub freezing but sub zero celsius- thanks for catching that Danger.) and about a week of morning fog which only moves a little and keeps the sky gray all day.  On such a dreary day, let's take a little winter journey.

We'll take some time to appreciate the view along the roadside.

 Where can we go to escape this oppressive and cold, albeit kind of lovely,  blanket of fog?

Still more of this frosty stuff along the way.

Here's a clue for you:  We have arrived at our destination.  If you've been here, you may recognize this scene.

Turn around, open the door and magically...

The camera lens fogs.

No, what I meant was, magically we're transported to the tropics. (Yes, I realize that these yuccas grow outside here but they sort of fit with the theme.)

The magic is that of Flower World, a great nursery in Maltby, WA where they grow their own stock. You may remember posts about our late summer visit.  If not, you can find them here.
 Flower world's three acres of covered plant area is more fun than a botanical garden because here, you can take home anything that grabs your attention.

The campus of this place is so large that the maps, posted at various locations are highly recommended.

Ctenanthe oppenheimiana 'Tricolor' likes low - medium light conditions.  The foliage looks good enough to eat!

The gorgeous flowers are an added bonus.

It feels like summer.  I feel the winter doldrums taking flight and begin walking with more of a spring in my step.

 There are even a few of these prickly things.

 This Staghorn fern looks even bigger from the other side. The Tom is included for scale.
 An added bonus to shopping here is that you can eat at the  nearby Maltby Cafe which was just voted western Washington's best place to eat breakfast.

A variegated hybiscus. 

 I always thought that crotons were the little toast cubes that one finds in caesar salad and floating on soup.

This almost came home with me again (did I mention that there's a 30% sale going on?) but it was so cold outside and I'd have to find an indoor place for it for the rest of the winter.
Now for some gratuitious screaming color..

There is a lot more to discover at Flower World!   I'm very much looking forward to visiting again in the spring! The remainder of the nursery's  15 acres  are devoted to hardy plants.  On Monday, we'll see some of what's going on in the rest of the nursery.