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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A September Stroll around Old Goat Farm

For more about Old Goat Farm , not a retirement community, see previous posts here.   Alison and I visited a few weekends ago and I'd forgotten my camera so the phone had to be used.  Here are some random pictures. 

I'd seen this gabion pillar before but only this time was there water trickling through and over the stones; it's also a fountain.

Someone is collecting primulas!

Big flowered hardy hibiscus are one of the treats of late summer here.  They don't love our wet winters but can take the cold in stride.  My uncle grows them beautifully in his zone 3/4 garden in Vermont.

Perhaps someday my Cryptocereus anthonyanus or Selenicereus anthonyanus will look as grand as this one.

Interesting and functional potting bench.

Gorgeous huge cordylines that are hauled to the barn for winter protection.

Beautiful foliage contrasts in this shady bed illustrating how fabulous gardening in the shade can be!

Peony seed head splitting open to reveal seeds as colorful and interesting as the flower.

Colchicum popping up to remind us that it's autumn!

Possibly the largest syneilesis leaf I've ever seen.  

Altar to the goddess flora?

Moss covered (even in dry September) logs remind us that we're in the beautiful pacific northwest.

Abutilon 'Red Tiger' is one I've always admired and even grown a couple of times.  It's not hardy here but now that I'll have space to store it for the winter, perhaps I'll look for one.

This handsome fellow was our tour guide through his part of the garden.  

If you're ever in the area when they're open, do stop by and don't miss the Chase Garden just up the road a piece. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

And So It Begins

On Friday as I was just about ready to head out the door for work when
out on the street there arose such a clatter I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters (which we don't have but bear with me.) and threw up the sash.  The sun through the clouds Pacific Northwest didn't make anything look quite its best.  When what to my wondering eyes came in view but big trucks from solid waste and a small city crew.

O.k. enough of that.   The delivery of this fifteen yard metal box (Thanks to Rob Bair, a stellar member of the great team at Tacoma's solid waste utility!) was the first step in making a long-time dream a reality.  My birthday gift this year and probably for the rest of my life is the transformation of our garage (shed really as it's had cars in it once in the seventeen years we've lived in our house) into a greenhouse.  Not a true greenhouse as only the roof and one wall will be covered with polycarbonate; the other three walls will remain solid.

Actually the first steps were taken in July when I began the herculean task of clearing the garage of 17 years of things being thrown in willy nilly.  but I digress. 

I didn't want to mention this too soon for fear that something would go wrong and it wouldn't happen but on Saturday, just as planned, David VanDer Weele and his crew where here bight and early to begin.  Managing a project like this is much like preparing and performing a large work of choral music with an instrumental ensemble.  Finding materials, enlisting players, rehearsing the choir; finally at performance when the baton drops and beautiful music begins, it seems a bit unreal.

Tools are unloaded, the first ladder goes up and they're off!

Here's a view of the garage from the neighbor's yard in July just after she allowed me to cut the Hedera helix (dreaded and destructive English Ivy) that had taken over the roof.  (It's 16 feet from peak to eave so that's a lot of ivy!)

Here it is after the tear down. 

Here's  my side.  There is a path between the plants and the garage though it doesn't look like it here.

My side after half of the roof was off. 

We worked at picking up all of the debris and hauling it to the box which wouldn't fit in the alley so had to be placed about 50 feet away. We had fun filling that dumpster!
That's the progress so far.  Next weekend the polycarbonate will go on, fans, shutters, and thermostat will be installed and it will be complete except for the wiring of the various elements which should happen on October 10.  I'll keep you posted!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Stopping by Willow Tree Gardens and Interiors

I just happened to be in a certain neighborhood last Saturday and decided to stop by Willow Tree Gardens and Interiors (previous visits here) This sign had nothing to do with the decision!

It's always fun to see what's happening with  the produce truck.

And it's really producing!

Look at all those black tomatoes.  Have you grown/tasted them?  Do you like the flavor?

Hedychium 'Tahitian Flame" was sure tempting but is only hardy to zone 9. 

Their Acer palmatum 'Bloodgoods' were far ahead of mine in coloring up for fall.  Mine  still has the reddish green, pre scarlet color.

So much to love about fall.

Kitty, who would only look directly at me while I was patting him, wouldn't stay still long enough for me to get a good picture.  This is definitely an autumn colored cat!
 Ornate wrought iron always catches my attention. I don't own any and it probably wouldn't go with  the wild jungle outside our door, but there's something special about it's old fashioned look.

In the native plant area, Mahonias were in full and beautiful berry. 

A castor bean in their garden is producing seed. 

Lots of great things to fill pots or annual beds with for winter.

There's always an agave!  At 50% off these would be a good buy but how many Agaves 'Jaws' does one person need?

The "Interiors" part of the store is all decked out for Halloween!  The amount of work that goes into all of these displays is incredible.  Very soon, the Halloween stuff makes a quick exit and the huge display of Christmas trees and decorations will take up one of the greenhouses and the interior of the store. 

As a magpie, I do love shiny objects!
Happy Friday and happy weekend all!  It's going to be an exciting one for me and hopefully on Monday I'll be able to show you why!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Physalis Alkekengi is My Favoirte Plant...This Week

Physalis alkekengi is also know as Chinese Lantern, Japanese Lantern, Winter Cherry, and Bladder Cherry.  It's small white blooms appear earlier in the season and each produces a single red berry covered  by a bright orange to red papery "lantern."  Very similar to tomatillos, another member of the Solanaceae family, but with a much smaller fruit inside the covering.

They dry beautifully and retain their bright orange color for years making them wonderful dried "flowers" for autumn.

 If left on the plant the lanterns become skeletonized and change to a light tan  color. These also last for years.
Courtesy Flickr/Photo by tanakawhohttp://www.flickr.com/photos/28481088@N00/

Best kept in pots because of their aggressive spreading nature the advice reads.  The tag says, "Should only be planted in the garden is areas where you may wish to naturalize."  I put one in the parking strip to fight with the bamboo.  We'll see who wins.
 Some info from Wikipedia -

An herbaceous perennial plant growing to 40–60 cm tall, with spirally arranged leaves  6–12 cm long and 4–9 cm broad. The flowers are white, with a five-lobed corolla 10–15 mm across, with an inflated basal calyx which matures into the papery orange fruit covering, 4–5 cm long and broad. 

For those of you living in the north, this plant is hardy to zone 2 and grows easily from inexpensive seeds. 

The problem with this one is that it's pretty uninteresting until September - November.  It grows well in pots so it could be hidden away somewhere until you haul it out near the front door during it's moment of glory.

Loree at Danger Garden Hosts the Favorite Plant...This Week meme.  Follow the link there to see other gardeners' favorites this week.  Better yet, join the fun and post your favorite plant this week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Walking 'Round Watson's

It's always fun to take a stroll through Watson's to see what's happening (See previous posts here.) but at this time of year, there's an extra incentive.
Tempting but might not make it through the winter.

Heucheras always look gorgeous at the nursery and for a year or two in my garden but then they demand to be divided or they peter out.

Miscanthus 'Gold Bar' is looking very handsome.

Carex 'Banana Boat'  does not like to dry out nor does it like too much sun.  Evenly moist soil or it starts turning brown and pouts for the rest of the season.  Fortunately it will come back looking pristine the next year. 

Every nursery needs a cat with his own cart.

Watson's is always impeccably clean, tidy, and full of beautiful plants. 

Got a chuckle from this fountain.  The water builds up behind the beaks and then they open individually, the water comes out and the beak audibly snaps shut.  It's like the crows are having a conversation with each other.
Gearing up of autumn.

Watson's has become more and more a 'ladies who lunch' nursery with their nice café, extensive giftware selection, decor, candles, soaps,  full line of greeting cards and now... handbags and accessories.  One stop shopping!   This isn't a criticism, just an observation and bless their hearts, they keep getting interesting outdoor plants all through the winter.

In case you don't want to make your own peace pole... Is there a bit of irony here?
 Orange and black just in time for Halloween!
What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  I even got some great plants at the sale, mostly grasses but also got a few pansies to throw in the one tiny space in my garden devoted to annuals.  They'll bloom through the winter providing some welcome color during the grey months.
Do you do much autumn plant shopping?