Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – January 2020

There is not much happening in the garden at the moment. One thing for sure is I have a lot of work ahead of me once spring comes around! Here is a quick snapshot of the few blooms around Mardi Gras Gardens in mid January.

The grevilleas are definitely the stars of the show right now and are providing the hummers with winter sustenance. I don’t think there has been a time where I’ve walked by G. ‘Neil Bell’ and not seen one.


Grevillea miqueliana ‘Sunset’


Grevillea miqueliana ‘Sunset’


’Grevillea victoriae ‘Murray Valley Queen’


Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

I’m guessing the mild winter so far has kept the leaves from dropping off my witch hazel but I don’t mind the color contrast at the moment.


Hamamelis noid

This clematis is a favorite of mine and I’m looking forward to it maturing.


Clematis cirrhosa ‘Landsdowne Gem’

I have about a dozen hellebores throughout my garden but few of them have opened past the bud stage. I am in love with this H. ‘Silver Veil’ (those leaves!) and will be looking to add more to the garden this year.


Helleborus ‘Silver Veil’


Helleborus ‘Pippa’s Purple

What few hellebores that are opening are looking a little worse for wear like this one with all the rain we have had.


Hellebore noid

While today might feel a little bleak, there are signs of fabulous things to come!


Loropetalum c. ‘Zhuzhou Fuschia’


Edgwarthia crysantha ‘Akebono’

Thank you to Carol from May Dreams Gardens  for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!


Season of ‘19 – Top 25

Over the past few years, I’ve wrapped up the gardening year with a “Best of Season” list featuring some of my favorite performers.  With every spring comes expectation, hope and anticipation and in a blink of an eye it’s over with a few dreams realized but a few hopes dashed, as well!  My recap blog has become a great way for documenting this roller coaster ride and and a telling commentary on my ever-changing taste in “favorite” plants! Here’s who made the list this year (in no particular order).

  1. Feijoa sellowiana –

Why it’s on the list: Because it’s a survivor! I’d just about given up hope on this guy after each winter seemed like it would be the last. This year my patience was rewarded with several beautiful flowers and lots of new growth so I’m feeling confident it’s here to stay!

Feijoa sellowiana (Pineapple guava)

2. Kniphofia ‘Safronvogel’

Why it’s on the list: If I was ranking, this one would be a contender for #1! The almost luminescent apricot flowers burst forth in early summer and continue through the season. Kniphofia ‘Safronvogel’ is a prized member of my fairly large kniphofia collection.

Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’

3. Dierama drachomontanum

Why it’s on the list: I heart dieramas…BIG TIME! It took three years but this was the season I finally got to see this beauty in my garden. Not your mother’s dierama, this species has upright flowers rather that the more well-known pendulous “Angel Fishing Rods” and stopped me in my tracks in the display garden at Joy Creek Nursery

Dierama drachomontanum

4. Lupinus albifrons 

Why it’s on the list: This plant shares a central theme with several others on this list – planted it, killed it, planted again, killed, ahhh, third times a charm! I could care less about the flowers because I’m obsessed with the silvery foliage! Full transparency, I’ve only managed to keep this alive for 8 months but that is about 5 months longer than any of its predecessors! Bonus, it is still looking glorious in late December!


Lupinus albifrons 

5. Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

Why it’s on the list: My experience with planting martagon bulbs has been a crap shoot. It seems with every two varieties I THINK I’ve planted I get one that is correct and the other is a surprise. While I was disappointed not to have the Lilium martagon ‘Album’ I expected, this beauty made a fabulous consolation prize!

Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

6. Eryngium varifolium

Why it’s on the list: Eryngiums are another obsession of mine as documented in I’m the Mardi Gras Gardener and I have an eryngium problem. or one of my earliest posts Something Wicked This Way Comes…. where they were featured fairly prominently. E. varifolium has been a proven winner in my garden and this year reached almost two feet high with its magnificent barbed bracts! I love the contrast to the soft veiny leaves.

Eryngium varifolium


6. Eryngium aff. latifollum

Why it’s on the list: This eryngium was a clutch the pearls moment at Cistus Nursery several years ago. This majestic specimen maxes out at over six feet tall! This is a pollinator magnet and attracts the broadest array of anything else in my garden.


Eryngium aff. latifollum 

I think every gardener secretly likes to have their signature plant, you know, that one plant very few of their plant nerds friends grow and this is mine. I even squealed a bit when I googled it and found my blog on the first page!

eryngium aff. latifolium - Google Search

I made the Googles!


Eryngium aff. latifollum 

7. Loropetulem c. ‘Zhuzhou Fuschia’

Why it’s on the list: How could it NOT be on the list with this flower power! This is another plant that I’ve watched struggle wondering if each year would be the last. Planted in a very open location in my front garden, it makes for a stunning display in late winter and early spring but also a target for the brutal winds and cold. It took about four years for the leaves to finally become the beautifully rich burgundy color they were when first planted rather than the weird green you see below in the picture.


Loropetalum c. ‘Zhuzhou Fuschia’

8. Morina longfolia

Why it’s on the list: This wicked little beauty packs a bunch with its spiky leaves and dares you to get up close to see just how pretty it is! Bonus points for the unusual factor!

Morina longifolia

9. Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’

Why it’s on the list: Joe Bye Weed + variegated = LOVE! Every once in a while I get lucky and find a plant that does exactly what I hoped it would. As my romance with sanguisorbas faded and I hastily ripped out a large Sanguisorba ‘Pink Tanna’, I needed a replacement for the spot that would provide the breezy movent I loved about sanguisorba but without the horrible floppsies after it got too tall. Enter Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’ and its sturdy, tall stems and fabulous variegated foliage and lovely flowers.

Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’


Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’

11.Dahlia ‘Karma Fox Orange’ and Dahlia ‘Karma Lagoon’

Why they are on the list: This is the year I figured out how to grow dahlias – in a container! After years of rotted out tubers and floppy flowers, I had developed quite the distaste for dahlias and decided they were great as long as they were in someone else’s garden. This all changed when my twin sister moved in and she kept harassing me why I didn’t have her favorite flowers in my garden. During an early season visit to Garden Fever  I saw them roll out their first batch of dahlias and went crazy for the colors. I’d been waiting to find something for my sister’s patio and I knew these were the answer! She was thrilled and these babies lasted from April to November!

Dahlia ‘Karma Fox Orange’ and Dahlia ‘Karma Lagoon’

12. Salvia argenta

Why it’s on the list: I should write a blog called “To all the plants I’ve loved and lost” and this one would have a starring role. Like the Lupinus albifrons, it took several tries to finally get to see this stunner in my garden! Ironically, I think I dug it out and tossed it in the yard waste bin this fall because I’m not sure constantly babying those leaves is worth the short life of the flowers. At least I can say I did it once!

Salvia argenta

Salvia argenta and Kniphofia thompsonii var snowdenii

13. Kniphofia thompsonii var snowdenii

Why it’s on the list: I collect three plant species: Eryngium, Dierama and Kniphofia. I get teased for being slow at plant sales and nurseries because I’m usually making sure I don’t miss one of these that I don’t already have in my collection. Kniphofia thompsonii var snowdenii is the reigning favorite in my kniphofia collection and the one you will find all throughout my garden. I love the unique shape and its bright flowers in my favorite color!


Kniphofia thompsonii var snowdenii

14. Kniphofia pauciflora

Why it’s on the list: This is a second attempt at growing Kniphofia pauciflora after buying a mislabeled plant last year and I’m very happy I gave it another try!  The open and airy flower structure and solid yellow color making this unique kniphofia a new favorite in my collection!

Kniphofia pauciflora

15. Allium ‘Summer Drummer’

Why it’s on the list: You never know when garden inspiration will strike. I discovered these majestic alliums during a trip to Argyle Winery with some fellow bloggers and knew I had to have them in my garden! Even though it was late in the season, I lucked out and found some bulbs online and was able to get them in the ground in time. At about six feet tall, it’s amazing how sturdy they are and how perfect they remained throughout the year!

Allium ‘Summer Drummer’

While only six of the ten bulbs produced for me, they were magnificent. I could not believe how sturdy and strong they were and have already multiplied nicely in just a year!


Allium ‘Summer Drummer’ – close up


Argyle Winery 

16. Sanguisorba minor ‘Little Angel’

Why it’s on the list: I’ve had a brief and torrid love affair with sanguisorbas. However, I quickly realized I have little tolerance for the floppy and messy ways of the taller varieties and narrowed my collection to just a couple ones of smaller stature. Smaller doesn’t necessarily mean lesser because this Sanguisorba minor ‘Little Angel’ has won my heart in big way.  This sanguisorba has incredible staying power and its dark burgundy flowers make a wonderful contrast to the fabulous variegated foliage.

Sanguisorba minor ‘Little Angel’

17. Khiphofia ‘Shining Scepter’

Why it’s on the list: This was my first kniphofia and is one of the first plants I  purchased in 2014 at Xera Plants as fully immersed myself into gardening. The Kniphofia ‘Shining Scepter’ below is the second one I’ve added to my garden. I needed an early summer bloomer as a backdrop until the Inula magnifica becomes the star of the show in this part of the garden and it did not disappoint!

Kniphofia ‘Shining Scepter’

In 2014, my backyard was a blank slate but it took just two years for it to start taking shape as shown below in the side by side pictures.

18. Pennisetum macrourum

Why it’s on the list: This is another example of a plant that performed exactly the way I had hoped.  After months of searching for ideas for a focal plant for the raised bed in my front garden, I decided to try this Pennisetum macrourum. I’d seen it in full maturity at my friend and fellow blogger, Patricia’s (Plant Lust) garden and she talked me into trying it during one of our blogger plant swaps.  I’d developed a love for grasses over the years (see Smokin’ Grass! ) and thought its showy, tall, sturdy yet billowy seed heads might be the prefect solution!


Pennisetum macrourum

While it took a decent part of the summer to fully realize, my patience was rewarded with exactly what I was hoping for! Much is said about the seediness of this plant so it may not last long but its brief time in the garden was just what I needed!


Pennisetum macrourum

19. Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’

Why it’s on the list: This is a plant lust spanning 5 years. I’ve coveted this plant in my partner’s garden from the moment I saw it in 2014 and quickly realized it was impossible to find in a nursery! But after four years, thanks to the generosity of fellow blogger, Scott Rhone Street Gardens and Matthew The Lents Farmer, I was gifted divisions from their own gardens! While I was only rewarded with one flower from each due to poor siting, I am confident that future years will be more fruitful.


Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’

Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’ in the garden of Matthew Hubbard.


Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’


Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’

20. Parahebe perfoliata

Why it’s on the list: I gave this plant a job to do in my hell strip and it did not disappoint! I needed something that was going to give me year round structure, unique foliage and pops of blue flowers in the spring and I was so happy I peppered these throughout my entire hellstrip. I was surprised how quickly the new growth regenerated and that the flowers kept going and going all summer if I dead headed them! The maintenance was little tedious but I feel it was worth it!


Parahebe perfoliata


Parahebe perfoliata

21. Fabiana imbricata ‘Violocea’

Why it’s on the list: This was my first year participating in the Hardy Plant Society’s Open Garden Program. This Fabiana imbricata ‘Violocea’ was by far the most asked about plant in my collector’s garden. As I mentioned earlier, its fun to grow things not often seen in other garden and I love that the HPSO Open Garden program provides a way for us gardeners to share our little treasures with each other.


Fabiana imbricata ‘Violocea’


Fabiana imbricata ‘Violocea’

22. Lillum martagon ‘Orange Marmalade’

Why its on the list: It’s an ORANGE MARTAGON! Come on?!?! In all seriousness, it took a couple of tries to get this one after what I thought were bulbs for this ended up being another Lillium martagon ‘Claude Shride’. I’m excited to see it take off in the coming years!


Lillum martagon ‘Orange Marmalade’

23. Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’

Why it’s on the list: I’ve added many crocosmia over the past couple of years but this Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ has been with me since the beginning. While it’s not the showiest or most unique, I do love the shorter grassy-like leaves and solid golden flowers with their staying power and reliability. Every garden needs its work horses and this is one of mine.


Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’

24. Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold’

Why it’s on the list:  I am definitely a flower floozy but I have an equal love for foliage  and the texture and interest they bring to the garden so when I espied this Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold’ during a tour of a fellow blogger’s garden, I knew I had to have it! Bonus points for the variegation!

IMG_1214 2

Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold”

Although not the star of the show, I do thing the flowers are pretty cute!


Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold”

25. Mathiasella bupleuroides

Why it’s on the list: This plant is a fighter. Even after I dug it up, this Mathiasella bupleuroides came back the next year bigger and better but still took several years to produce its first flowers! This summer I was finally rewarded with these fabulous, alien-looking flowers that kept coming and coming all season!


Mathiasella bupleuroides


Mathiasella bupleuroides

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! Just a few more months until we get to do this all over again!








I’m the Mardi Gras Gardener and I have an eryngium problem.

If you know me as a gardener, you know I have an obsession with eryngiums. Some of you even have witnessed a “clutch the pearls” moment where I’ve seen one in a garden or I’ve discovered another treasure to add to my collection! Once I graduated out of the Home Depot years of plant shopping, this genus became one of my favorites (it was part of my Holy Trinity) and my love for them has increased exponentially. You can always find me digging around in the “e” section of the perennials at any nursery hoping to find one I’ve never seen before!

I’ve been wanting to feature my collection on my blog for some time and I’ve been waiting for just the right time of the season.


Eryngium agavifolium

This Eryngium agavifolium was my first eryngium. It was gifted to me by The Lents Farmer about 5 years ago. Since then it was provided multiple offspring throughout my garden but it seems happiest in its original spot.


Eryngium agavifolium

This Eryngium lattifolium is my pride and joy. It checks off every box of weird, wacky and dangerous which are my favorite elements of a plant. At its peak it will hit about 7 feet tall! SWOON! A special thanks to Cistus Nursery for this bizarre and beautiful eryngium!


Eryngium aff. latifolium 

This Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’ is a scene stealer!


Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’


Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’

Can’t wait for this to put on some size. So pretty!


Eryngium tripartitum


Eryngium tripartitum

There’s always room for an eryngium!


Eryngium NoID but I think it may be Eryngium x zabelii ‘Jos Eijking’

Praise be! I thought I lost this one but as a wise man once said “Plant’s want to live”. This Eryngium maritimum is one of the most unique in my collection and I’m on the hunt for more! Oh those blue/green leaves!


Eryngium maritimum

If you are looking for an architectural plant, this Eryngium varifolium is for you! But watch out! It’s a feisty one!


Eryngium varifolium #1


Eryngium varifolium #2


Eryngium varifolium

This Eryngium p. lesseauxii’s home has turned into a shade garden so I’m happy for it’s single flower stalk this year. Eryngium’s don’t seem to like being moved so I bought another one for a more sunny location!


Eryngium p. lesseauxii


Eryngium p. lesseauxii

I have killed more Eryngium bourgatii’s than I care to remember. I finally splurged this spring and bought one in a gallon container and it looks like I may finally have one survive!


Eryngium bourgatii

I bought these two Eryngium “Big Blue” at the same time as the Eryngium bourgatii. Oddly enough they don’t seem very big or very blue but we will see how they mature.


Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ #1


Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ #2

Remember the “clutch the pearls” comment I made earlier? Well, at our semi-annual blogger swap this spring the wonderful Bonnie Lassie had brought a couple of Eryngium “Neptune’s Gold” – in gallon pots! I’ve killed more Eryngium ‘Neptune’s Gold” than I have Eryngium bourgatii so I was over the moon to see such large, healthy specimens! Thank you again, Allison! It is very happy!


Eryngium ‘Neptune’s Gold’

I have yet to have the pleasure of seeing this Eryngium proteiflorum flower. It’s in a bad spot but I’m hoping for the best. It’s beautiful anyway, right?


Eryngium proteiflorum 


Eryngium proteiflorum 

This little guy packs a big punch! If you plant Eryngium venustum, make sure you give it some space because it’s leaves are vicious.


Eryngium venustum


Eryngium venustum


Eryngium venustum

What a difference placement in your garden can make. I have had this Eryngium yuccifolium in my backyard in clay soil and partial sun for 4 years and it has always formed this perfectly well-behaved and today clump with 2-3 foot stalks.


Eryngium yuccafolium #1

Fast forward to last year and this one was planted in full sun with crappy soil and it skyrocketed into a gangly tower of goodness!

IMG_0571 2

Eryngium agavifolium #2


Eryngium yuccafolium

My Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’ is a victim of my cramscaping days and has to stretch for the light that it craves. After several years, it’s leaves have finally all reverted and lost all variegation. I’m not sure I’m ready to replace it.


Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’

A special thank you to Tamara at Chickadee Gardens for the seedling of Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’. Fingers crossed for its survival! I’m very excited to see Eryngium amethystinum mature but I think I’ll try to move it before it’s too late because it’s not getting enough sun.

Next up….Kniphofia madness!


April Bloom Day 2019

The stars must be aligned! Not only did I remember bloom day but I had the time to do something about it! I took a quick trip around the garden to show you a few of my favorite things!

I freaking love this plant and now is its time to shine! Careful, this baby is pretty but dangerous!

Barbera replicata

I had to dig for the tag for this beauty I found a few years ago at Hortlandia and discovered it is somehow connected to the now defunct Berry B. Garden. I’d never heard of it before so I’m looking forward to doing little digging!

Epimedium x perralchicum

FINALLY! I’ve managed to keep a few of these alive! I love Euphorbia rigida but it seems to hate my garden.

Euphorabia rigida

Thankfully the slugs haven’t ravaged the leaves on this yet!

Erythronium hybrid

It’s taken a few years for my epimediums to get established in my shade garden and they are inspiring me to add more! They are perfect for dry shade!

Epimedium ‘Domino”

I feel like I’m cheating a bit adding this clematis I bought at Joy Creek this year but it’s so darn pretty!

Clematis ‘Blue Dancer’

The wind and rain has taken a toll on my poor magnolia but luckily it is a pretty prolific bloomer and I can always find a good flower!

Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’

The flowers of this pieris are lovely but the real star is the emerging foliage! Wowza!

Pieris ‘Flaming Silver’

My beautiful pulsatillas really don’t like this weather and they are struggling to pick themselves out of the dirt!

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Pulsatilla vulgaris (red flowered)

Saxifraga unknown

I’m so in love with this sweet little guy. Going to be picking up a few more this weekend!

Anemone nemorosa “Bracteata Pleniflora’

I need ALL of these ALL over my garden!

Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry Eyes’

Omphalodes cappadocica

I got a little cracked out over pulminaria a year or so ago and this spring they burst into the most beautiful bunches of color!

Pulminaria ‘Silver Bouquet’

Pulminaria unknown

Every year winter does a number on my loropetalum and by spring I think this it’s dead. Clearly it is not and holy cow the flowers this year are insane.

Loropetalum unknown

And we end with my very favorites. My Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ and Grevillea miqueliana have been blooming like gangbusters all winter and are still going strong!

Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

My Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’ is becoming a monster. At some point it’s going to need a major haircut but I’ll wait until the explosion of flowers subsides!

Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’

So perfect.

Grevillea miqueliana

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed but thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for sponsoring Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day!


Smokin’ Grass!

I’ve developed a late in life love for grasses. Where I once imagined a mixed border cramscaped with a vast array of flowering perennials, this fall I found myself purging and simplifying so I could focus more on texture, form and movement and less on flowers.  In my opinion, grasses are the epitome of all of those things and with every one I’ve added to my garden over the years, I’m inspired to add more! Is it crazy that I’m reinventing my garden after only 4 years?


Leveled view of  ‘Triangle Garden’

My front triangle garden sits on an unobstructed incline that gets some serious east wind.  While it can sound quite scary at times, with its full sun location it does make for some pretty magical moments for anything tall and billowy in my garden!


Gardening on a sunny and windy incline!

Here are a just a few of my favorites….

This Andropogon ‘Red October’ (?) has been in my garden from the beginning. I  accidentally purged a group of plant tags so I’m giving its identification a best guess here. As you can see here, it’s suffering a bit from my original cramscaping plan but it should enjoy some extra space come this spring! The Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’ stayed ( I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not a good idea to transplant eryngiums) and the andropogon provides nice support as it reaches its peak height.


Andropogon ‘Red October’

Last year I added several Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ to my garden all with varying degrees of success.  The two in my front Triangle garden were the most successful. I’m hard pressed to decide if my favorite feature is their gracefulness, delicate seed heads or colorful transformation throughout the season!


Schyizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’



I don’t see many molinias out and about and I can’t figure out why.  If you’re looking for a tidy, tall, sturdy grass that will not get the “flopsies,” this is the grass for you!

My favorite is Molinia caerulea ‘Strahleguelle’.


Molinia caerulea ‘Strahlequelle’



In the background below is Pennisetum macrourum (African Feather Grass). This was a Fall 2018 addition from our blogger’s semi-annual plant swap. With it’s focal placement, I’m hoping it does as well for me as it has for my fellow bloggers!


For blue color you cannot beat Agropyron magellanicum. This has been in my garden for years thanks to Xera Plants.


Agropyron magellanicum


I wish this Penstemon ‘Enor’ would be more prolific! I love the purple against the blue backdrop!


My Agropyron magellanicum does seed around but tends to plant itself among friends so separating can be challenging. I chose to leave this one in the libertia rather than try to move it.

Another senior member of my garden is this Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’. While I had an idea of it’s size, I had no idea that it would become a beast in only one season! This fall I moved it a third time.  Its new home is now in the back of the left garden where it can be a fabulous back drop rather than a blocking screen! I’m hoping it survived the transplant.


Miscanthus ‘Morning Light”

With it’s size, it can’t help but photo bomb almost every picture I take in this part of the garden. I think it makes a nice accompaniment!



Classic photo bomb with this Kniphofia ‘Shining Scepter’, Edgewarthia chrysanthia and unknown acanthus.

Every gardener plants at least one plant that haunts them. In spring of 2015 I planted mine – Stipa tenuissama or Mexican Feather grass. Despite the warnings of Matthew The Lents Farmer , I just HAD to add this to my garden. I’ve been pulling it out of everywhere ever since! Its memory will haunt me forever living amid the spiky fronds of the adjacent windmill palm.


2015 Triangle Garden with the original Stipa tenuissama

In the fall of 2017, when my grass craze was really getting going, I decided to make more bad choices. With its close downhill proximity, my hell strip was a perfect landing place for reseeding. I thought I would go with the flow and not just keep the seedlings, but transplant one so I could have three! While I loved the result, inevitably they had to go as more offspring quickly started popping up!


Stipa tenuissima

Next season the tip of the hell strip with feature more molinias and Anemanthole lessoniana or Pheasant Tail Grass. After espying and coveting Anemanthole lessoniana in a fellow blogger’s garden, I’ve added several throughout the front garden. From its long, slender and wispy “tails” to its four season color interest, there is so much to love about this grass! I particularly enjoy it’s companionship with the caryopteris in early fall.


Anemanthole lessoniana with Caryopteris ‘Dark Knight and Caryopteris ‘Longwood’


Fabulous “pheasant tails

How many Stipa gigantea is too many? I’m hoping three is the magic number because I’m running out of room! ! This grass is the centerpiece of my hell strip and it’s nothing short of majestic. Reaching almost 8 feet tall at times, this grass mesmerizes me with it’s shimmering seed heeds dancing in the sun for much of the year!


Stipa gigantea stealing the show!

Each year I’ve added another to the hell strip.


Stipa gigantea

Speaking of fabulous seed heads, just past the Stipa Gigantea are five Stipa barbata. They are victims on my previous cramscaping ideas which doesn’t allow their long, alien finger-like seed heads to enjoy the space they need. This spring they will be relocated up the street where they can get space and the attention they deserve.


Stipa barbata


You know you and your friends are obsessed gardeners when they show up at the fanciest cocktail bar in town with a giant chunk of grass for you from their garden. My friend and fellow blogger, Heather, Just a girl with a hammer divided this gorgeous Miscanthus malepartus last year and did just that! Now I have a perfect transitioning plant from the hell strip to the shade garden!


Miscanthus malepartus

I think it makes a beautiful backdrop to some colorful companions!


As I started gardening and learning about plants, I began to worry that people would think I was weird because I would constantly ask them about their plants when I visited their garden. I would file things away in my brain or put notes in my phone so I wouldn’t forget if there was something of particular interest. Well, I’m wondering when Heather is going to realize how many of my grass ideas I’ve stolen from her garden!

Pennisetum spatheolatum was the first of several grass ideas I stole from Heather. You can’t beat it for tall, graceful movement in the garden!


Pennisetum spatheolatum


I repositioned two of them last spring and I paid the price with minimal seed heads from both. I’m hoping they will have forgiven me by this summer! 

Perhaps the best lesson I’ve learned experimenting with grasses is that they breathe new life into my fading garden in the fall and reinvent the landscape as many of my perennials begin to fade. I’ve developed a new appreciation for the fall color of my peonies!





Last fall I edited quite a bit of my garden to more prominently feature grasses and added several alliums, multiple Kniphofia thomsonii var. snowdenii , Asclepius fascicularus and eutrochium to sway among them throughout the season.

As a new season approaches, I’m eager to see how the changes play out and what new and wonderful grasses I’ll discover!


Made in the Shade

I have a love/hate relationship with my shade garden. (I chronicled the beginning here in earlier blogs I Never Promised You a Shade Garden… and I Never Promised You a Shade Garden…Part Deux. )On one hand, I get to explore an entirely different array of plants than the rest of my sun loving garden, but on the other, gardening there is a pain in the butt! Rich, moisture retentive soil against the house on one side and a bone dry root laden slope on the other have made plant selection and siting challenging, especially for someone learning as they go!

The original blank canvas

Needless to say, this has been an adventure and trial and error has become the norm here. Two full seasons have passed and I’ve learned a lot about gardening in the shade.


The first plantings

Fast forward two years…

Daphne x transatlantica Eternal Fragrance will be the star here eventually but right now the moss steals the show! 

First lesson: It’s all about the Benjamins:

This is a BIG space and needs lots of plants! Also, about half of this space (the slope) has been “guerrilla gardened” as it is my neighbors property. I try to be as cost conscious as possible with plant selection here and shop end of season sales and discount corners of nurseries for deals. Matthew The Lents Farmer has been very helpful over the years with hosta and fern divisions along with fabulous finds from and so has our semi-annual swap with my very generous blogger friends! My neighbor even chips in a few bucks every now and then to show her appreciation!

Aspidistra elatior ‘Okame’,  Aspidistra hainanensis ‘Jade Ribbons’ and Hydrangea integrifolia

Second lesson: Read the damn tags! 

I know, I know. I’ve said this before and I do read them but sometimes I just want them to be wrong! I’ve had to move or lose multiple heucheras and astilbes (to name a couple) because I insisted I could make them work where I put them! If you look closely you might notice some unintentional before and after photos from this summer!

Pseudopanax “Sabre’, Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’,  Hemiboa subcapita

Third lesson: Treat yourself!

Buy what you love! Over the next few years I’ve accumulated a few plants that will become anchors in my garden therefore were worthy of spending a few extra dollars to get what I really wanted. My Psuedopanax ‘Sabre’ (I know I’m tempting fate), Fatsia ‘Camouflage’ and Fatsia ‘Murakuma Nishiki’, ‘Rhododendron makinoi and Dan Hinkley’s Hydrangea “Plum Passion’ and Schefflera delavayi were all must haves and hold special places in my heart.

Hydrangea “Plum Passion’ and multiple Hakonechloa ‘All Gold’ and ‘aureala’

Fourth lesson: Keep it simple

For those with more design prowess, you probably would have been more successful but I tried to do too much with too many types of plants on my slope. It felt chaotic. By the end of the summer I cleaned it up and simplified things by creating smaller zones each containing fewer types of plants. In the end, it felt better and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out next season.


Viburnum rhytidophyllum and Fatsia japonica ‘Murakuma Nishiki’ in the background

Fifth lesson: Be patient

I’m pretty sure this is another lesson I keep learning over and over. A full, lush, tall shade garden does not happen overnight or even in a few years. I takes time and is a journey.


Rhododendron makinoi and Schefflera delavayi is a favorite combination

You my have noticed my omission of fern identification. You’re correct. I’ve done a terrible job of record keeping on my ferns so I’m just going to leave it at that.

I’m a sucker for all forms of variegation. Luzula sylvatica “Marginata, Fatshedera ‘Angyo Star’

Fatsia japonica at the entrance

Each spring I look the shade garden with the most anticipation. I’m excited to see how it will evolve this year!




Summer of ‘18 – Top 30

photo credit Loree Bohl

It’s been a minute since my last blog post. 5 months of minutes almost to the day. Somehow I’ve missed the entire summer so I thought my “annual” summer recap might be an appropriate comeback.

This year I’ve upped the ante to a top 30 instead of 25. Also, my favorites are in no particular order. I’m getting lazy in my old age.

– Asclepias fascicularis

Why it’s on the list: I’ve always had a taste for weird and unusual plants and the tall, wiry and wispy nature of this particular asclepias resonated with me. My front garden will undergo a pretty dramatic facelift this year and I’m hoping for this guy to play a key role.

Asclepias fascicularis

– Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Euphorbia ‘Dean’s Hybrid”

Why they are on the list: Yes, I know I’m cheating a bit by sneaking three plants into one entry but this was one of my favorite moments of the summer. The gaura did what gaura does and just appeared out of nowhere lending itself to this vignette. You can’t beat eryngiums for long-lived summer interest, either. Long after the brilliant blue has faded, this eryngium still delivers.

Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’ and Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’


– Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’

– After years of repeatedly asking The Lents Farmer what this plant was, I finally remembered to buy one this spring and I could kick myself for not jumping on the nigella train sooner! That color, those scraggly leaves, those seed heads! Swoon!

Nigella demascena ‘Miss Jekyll’

– Gillenia trifoliata

– Why it’s on the list? I’m not sure why I don’t see this plant more often in gardens. It is such a lovely perrenial shrub for spring and early summer and the fall color is great, too! The flowers are a bit reminiscent of gaura but without the naughtiness. You’ll probably start to notice a trend of my fondness for plants with lots of movement as the list progresses.

Gillenia trifoliata

– Echinacea ‘Green Envy’

– Why it’s on the list? This plant stopped me in my tracks at Pomarius Nursery. Unfortunately, so did the price tag and I left it behind and regretted it the moment I got home. I spent the rest of the summer tracking it down and finally found one. My echinacea phase has run it’s course but the unique beauty and staying power of e.’Green Envy’ will ensure that this one always has a home in my garden.

Echinacea ‘Green Envy’

– Sisyrinchium ‘Lucerne’

– Why it’s on the list? How many sisyrinchiums are enough? Well, I’ll be sure to tell you when I figure that out! Several years ago I bought Sisyrinchium ‘E.K. Balls’ from Xera Plants and every year I’ve added one or two more low growing versions. This spring I decided that more is more and that they would become my little beacons of spring for the hellstrip. I particularly like the height of Sisyricnchium ‘Lucerne’ and their “blue eyes” lend themselves well to their surroundings.

Sisyrinchium ‘Lucerne’

– Rose Campion

– Why it’s on the list: This picture says it all. I’ve never had a swallowtail visit my garden. For a few weeks this year, they could not get enough of the several campions I had scattered throughout my garden. They were almost daily visitors flitting from one to another throughout my garden.

Rose Campion

– Dierama trichorhizum (dwarf)

– Why it’s on the list: I’m a bit cracked out on dieramas. I just couldn’t resist when I saw this dwarf version from the ladies at Secret Garden Growers . I am impressed with how much it has grown in just a year and hope to share it this spring with my blogger friends.

Dierama trichorhizum (dwarf)

– Jasminum officinale ‘Argenteovariegatum’

– Why it’s on the list: There is so much to love about this plant. The new growth in spring is a stunning rose/pink eventually becoming this fabulous variegation. This is the first year it’s bloomed enough for me to really enjoy it’s incredible fragrance, too!

Jasminum officinale ‘Argenteovariegatum’

– Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

– Why it’s on the list: If I was ranking my favorites, this clematis would be a strong contender for number one. I found it on the clearance rack at Garden Fever at the very end of the season last year and snatched it up after seeing it on Danger Garden’s blog. I wasn’t prepared for the fabulousness of this plant. On it’s journey to full bloom, every incarnation revealed something unique and beautiful. Even when it was done, it left behind a fabulous purple central tuft! Unfortunately, it quickly succumbed to clematis wilt and I cut it back to the ground. I’m happy to report it’s made a full recovery and is currently flowering!

Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’


Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

– Lilium formosanum var. coccineum

– Why it’s on the list: I’m working through a lily phase and the more unusual the better. Of course, I could rely on the ladies at Secret Garden Growers for a unique contribution to my collection with this fabulous “dwarf”. The only thing dwarf about this lily is the height because the flowers are full size and fabulous! It does make for some tricky picture taking!

Lilium formosanum var. coccineum

– Kniphofia ‘Timothy’

– Why it’s on the list: Kniphofias were part of my “Holy Trinity” of a favorite genus of plants when I first started my garden and thanks to cultivars like Kniphofia ‘Timothy’ my love is just getting stronger. I am crazy about the contrast of the coral flowers and cinnamon stems and the constant reblooming over the summer is an added bonus!

Kniphofia ‘Timothy’

 – Penstemon ‘Enor’ and Agropyron magellanicum

– Why they are on the list: There really isn’t anything else I’ve found that can duplicate this almost luminescent blue in the garden. It’s probably the only reason the Penstemon ‘Enor’ is still there with its lackluster performance over the past two years. They sure are pretty together!

Penstemon ‘Enor’ and Agropyron magellanicum


Agropyron magellanicum

– Eryngium agavifolium, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violett’, Acanthus unknown

Why they are on the list: Here is another of my favorite moments of the summer. I love how everyone is lining up like little soldiers! Thanks to some generous blogger friends, I’ve added several more liatris to this area of the garden.

Eryngium agavifolium, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violett’

– Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’

– Why it’s on the list: OMG this color! Coral where have you been all my life? Well, you’ve been here all along  (see Kniphofia ‘Timothy’) but you just needed the right spot! K. Safranvogel did not disappoint when given a prime location in the triangle garden this year. It’s combination with Artemesia ‘Silver Foam’ and Brachyglottis monroi has inspired a front garden overhaul!

Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’

– Coreopsis ‘Sweet Marmelade’

– Why it’s on the list: Before there was coral there was apricot! The unique color of this coreopsis always makes it a topic of discussion during garden visits.  This was my first coreopsis and it may end up being the last as I’ve grown weary of their flopsy ways.

Coreopsis ‘Sweet Marmelade’

– Pennisetum spatheolatum

– Why it’s on the list: I blame Heather Just a Girl with a Hammer  . I hold her accountable for my obsession with grasses. Upon seeing this grass in her garden, it was love at first sight. There is nothing quite like the graceful movement of Pennisetum spatheolatum and last summer the hell strip was reimagined with grasses galore!

Pennisetum spatheolatum

– Eryngium variifolium

– Why it’s on the list: 1.See Something Wicked This Way Comes….2. It’s an eryngium.

Eryngium variifolium

– Trachelium caeruleum 

– Why they are on the list: I’ve loved these from the moment I saw them at Xera several years ago and I’ve collected almost every different variety they’ve offered over the years. From dark purple, dark blue to this beautiful lilac color, these umbels make perfect companions to the crocosmia, manzanita, and grasses in the hellstrip and throughout my garden.

Trachelium caeruleum – species I believe

– Eryngium leavenworthii ‘Purple Sheen’

– Why it’s on the list: A PURPLE eryngium? Are you kidding me? I snatched three of these up when I discovered them at Portland Nursery in early spring.  I was giddy with excitement of what might come in late summer. Wow, was it worth the wait. The jury is out on their hardiness so I’m hoping for some self-sowing!

Eryngium leavenworthii ‘Purple Sheen’

Leave it my blogger friend Loree to snap the best picture of this plant during a quick stop at my garden…Can you believe the color? No editing here folks.

photo credit Loree Bohl

Photo courtesy of Loree Bohl

– Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

Why it’s on the list: Over the years, grevillea has replaced cistus in my plant genus ‘Holy Trinity’ and Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ was my shining star this year! What a show it put on this summer again the Tetrapanax.

Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

– Lilium ‘African Queen’

– Why it’s on the list: Another stop in my tracks moment courtesy of Heather! I had never seen (or at least taken notice) of trumpet lilies until I saw them in her garden. These bulbs were the first plant purchase of the season this year at the Portland Home and Garden Show. The height and drama ensure there will be more to come!

Lilium ‘African Queen’


– Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

– Why it’s on the list: I couldn’t remember why I bought four of these late last season until this guy started to come to life. Every day for months I noticed something new and different and the way it moves in the wind is hypnotic. It’s still beautiful today.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

– Eryngium aff. lattifolium

– Why it’s on the list: If I was doing a countdown, this would be number one. It checks off every box: weird, wild, wacky and will hurt me. I discovered this in the display garden at Cistus Nursery a couple of years ago and brought one home in a tiny 4″ pot. A couple of years went by and I had forgotten what it had looked like. I couldn’t even find pictures online. Then things started to get crazy this spring!  I’ll let the pictures tell the story as this eryngium rocketed to almost 7 feet tall! It was magical watching it grow. This plant created a pollinator frenzy like I’ve never seen before. The “towers” are still standing strong today!

Eryngium aff. lattifolium

Eryngium aff. lattifolium

Eryngium aff. lattifolium

– Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

– Why it’s on the list: If only I could have all the martagons! This martagon was my best performer this year. They are such perfect companions to the hostas.

Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

Enter a captionLilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

– Grevillea ‘Molongolo’

– Why it’s on the list:  My Grevillea ‘Molongolo’ had the best year yet as it has reached almost 8×8 feet as I’ve given it more room. Check out those freaky, fabulous apricot flowers!


Grevillea ‘Molongolo’


Grevillea ‘Molongolo’

– Disporopsis perdeyi

– Why it’s on the list: There is something luxurious and sexy about this plant. At the same time I have this picture of in my head of Carol Burnett standing at the top of a staircase saying “I saw in a window and just couldn’t resist!”

Disporopsis perdeyi

– Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’

– Why it’s on the list: You know it is spring in Portland when the camassia starts to bloom. I’ve not been impressed with some shorter versions, however, Camassia leichtlini ‘Blue Danube’ was an absolute showstopper in the hellstrip and I have plans for adding more in the spring!

Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’

– Gordlinia grandiflora

– Why it’s on the list: Cistus is known for walking the hardiness tightrope. I try not getting too attached to what I bring home from Sauvie Island.  So, two years ago when I bought home this foot tall tree, I kept my expectations low. I have high hopes for this beauty as it reaches almost 10 feet tall. I’m crazy about the open branch structure, glossy leaves that turn bright red in the fall and its sweet flowers in late summer and early fall.

Gordlinia grandiflora

– Paeonia ‘Nike’

– Why it’s on the list: There had to be at least one peony on the list! This is my first and only tree peony. I love the big, dramatic flowers and how the color changes with the light and throughout its life cycle.

Paeonia ‘Nike’

– Grevillea rivularis

– Why it’s on the list: Stay tuned for next year’s edition when this is my #1! I started out this season with a list of about 20 must have plants and took it to Hortlandia. Thanks to The Desert Northwest, I was able to cross this hard to find grevillea off my list.


Grevillea rivularis

It feels good reflecting on my garden again after such a long break. This season was different for me. With so many competing priorities and life changes, I feel there was barely time to keep up my garden’s maintenance so writing about it just didn’t sound like much fun. And then there was loss. Scrolling through pictures of flowers and plants for my blog also meant reliving memories and moments that, at times, would bring me to tears.

But, life goes on and over the past month I’ve focused on what’s next and what could be for my garden and I feel like it’s having a personal effect on me, as well. Funny how digging in the dirt can do that to you.

This blog is dedicated to our sweet girl, Yvette. Our Nay Nay. My little Monkey.

Your Uncle Alan loves and misses you. We all do.


Yvette in one of her favorite spots – Uncle Alan’s lap






Backyard Beauties

For the past six months, my backyard has been the black sheep of my garden. I have been renovating my basement into an apartment for my sister and sister in-law and dreading the thought that at some point there would be an egress window dug out in one of the beds. Without going into any detail, I’ll let pictures below do the talking…


A nightmare in real life

Before construction of the egress window began, I did my best to dig out adjacent plants and get them out of the way. I was not prepared for my garden to be left in this state of disarray for six weeks! Eventually the original company was fired and a new company came and completed the work in a day! Then my awesome contractor swooped in for the final cleanup. I came home to the following picture one day. Overall, there was minor plant damage, but the grass was toast and left me seriously considering if I should finally just give in and gravel the whole damn backyard!


Looking better!

Bless my contractor. Imagine what he had to endure from this crazy garden man endlessly fretting about his garden for months! He and his crew brought in some grass seed and peat moss and in another five weeks or so it looked like this…


Beautiful new grass!

They even did the rest of the backyard, but I probably should have killed ALL the grass and started over since the new stuff looks so damn perfect and doesn’t have any weeds or clover!

I dream of one day reimagining the entire backyard with fabulous hardscape, a shade structure and fancy seating. For now I’ll have to settle with shifting outdoor furniture around and dressing things up a bit! I’m going to marinate (with a glass of wine, of course) on the idea adding some temporary pavers to this area. For now, the grass is definitely staying!


It was time to retire the wooden adirondack chairs and fire pit for a more modern vibe

Inspiration is everywhere and I’m so fortunate to know some talented and gracious gardeners who have shared their gardens with me. This little potted plant grouping is my humble “homage” to Danger Garden. I was lucky enough to score one of her agaves at our latest plant swap. All this spiky goodness seemed like a prefect match for these fabulous containers I got last summer at the closeout sale from Contained Exuberance!


Agave salmiara ferox (thanks Loree!), Agave victorie-reginae (thanks Matthew!), Agave ‘fromlanceatheswapii’ (thanks Lance!), and two plants that miraculously survived outside this winter…Anigozanthos flavidus and Cuphea ignea ‘David Verity’

The inspiration for this blog came from a particularly crappy morning, so I started taking pictures of pretty things to make me happy. So, without further ado, here are my current “Backyard Beauties”.

IMG_1207 2

Anigozanthos flavidos flower bud! Neglect has it’s rewards!

Solanum crispum ‘Glasvin’

Paeonia ‘White Sands’

Paeonia ‘Coral Sands’

Tradencentia (perhaps ‘Osprey’)


Astrantia major ‘Star of Fire’

Iris sinenisii

Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’

Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Ball’

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

Tanacetum densum ssp. amani

Clematis florida ‘Seiboldii’

Ozothamnus romarinifolis ‘Silver Jubilee’

Erica terminalis


Sisyrinchium striatum



Paeonia ‘Border Charm’

Paeonia ‘Border Charm’

A Spring Update…A Foliage Focus

Things are about to get a little crazy at The Mardi Gras Gardens in the next couple of weeks. The whole “April showers bring May flowers” thing will ensure that the garden explodes with color and flower power!

I’ve got a reputation for being a bit of a flower floozy. Truth be told, I like to get freaky with some sexy foliage, too! I thought this would be a good time to take a stroll through my garden where texture and foliage are the stars and before I start inundating you guys with close ups of the hundreds of flowers that will eventually overtake my garden!

So let’s take a quick stroll through the front gardens…

My front gardens are three separate spaces with three unique personalities. The left garden I call Wild and Wacky since it’s where I started putting a lot of my weird and unusual plants. The right garden has turned into a “cottagesque” mixed border. The hell strip from hell I now lovingly refer to as The Grasslands – you’ll see why in a minute.

From the beginning, I’ve always considered myself a bit of a collector of plants and I’ve taken advantage of the physical divisions of my garden and try to at at least group likeminded ones together.  I don’t always succeed so I’m sure I’m breaking all sorts of garden design rules but it’s truly a reflection of me and what I love about gardening.


The left garden today.

Oh, and who doesn’t love a before and after…


Left garden in 2013.

You may have noticed that I have no sidewalks. My garden flows directly into the street and presents some distinct challenges. For the most part, I love how unique it is and I’m working on some ways to “curb” people’s thoughts about choosing to park on my side of the street.


Callistemon viridiflorus,  Corokia x virgata ‘Mangatangi’, Ozmanathus ‘Sasaba’, Grevillea miqueliana and Hebe ‘Pink Elephant’ are some favorites here.

One of my favorite things over the years is watching my garden expand out over the hardscape. I’m fascinated by the indomitable nature of plants and their insistence of growing wherever they damn well pease! The Iberis sempervirens, Aquilegia ‘Leprechaun Gold’, Rose Campion, gaura and several sedum and carex have made themselves very comfortable in the gravel drive!


I feel fortunate to have this wonderful hardscape come with the house.

Next up is what I once called the Triangle garden but a fellow blogger was touring my garden one day and called it a mixed border so I’ve called it that ever since. It’s definitely mixed up, for sure, chockfull of a variety of plants and major late spring and summer color and flower power.  Right now,  with the exception of some early spring flowering trees and shrubs, the foliage takes center stage.


The right garden today marries strange bedfellows like grevillea, yucca, palm and ozothamnus with various lilies, pierus, roses and LOTS of peonies.  Weird, but it works for me and it sure makes for some fun foliage contrast in spring! 

Another shot from the beginning…


The right garden 2013.

My lot is some weird slanted rectangle. I’m sure there is a name for it but geometry was one of my worst subjects! I’ve always called this area between my driveway and street my “Hellstrip from Hell”. My entire front garden is full sun but this area takes the worst beating. I’ve learned a lot over the years from very smart and talented blogger friends and from gardens I’ve toured and with consistent trial and error (and some idea stealing), I have ended up turning this area into “The Grasslands”.


Tip of the “rectangle ” 2018 beginning to fill in. 

This is a picture from Gooogle maps! I couldn’t find a picture of mine probably because I was terrified of this space.


Tip of the triangle 2013

I got a wild hair late last summer and reimagined most of this area. It’s the first time I feel like I’ve been able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned over the past five years. I’m excited and nervous to see how this area comes to life this summer. I can always change it if I screwed it up!


Eventually groups of Nesella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass), Stipa gigantea, Stipa barbata, Anementhele lessiniana and Pennisetum spatheolatum will rise above the evergreen cistus, grevillea, archtostaphylos, and callistemon.

It’s a pretty picture is my mind…We’ll see how it plays out!


Archtostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn and my first try and pruning. I hope I didn’t butcher them too badly!


Callistemon seiberi


My oldest and largest Stipa Gigantea with Grevillea miqueliana, Cistus ‘Warley Rose’ and Lagerstreomia ‘Tuscarora’ in the background.

While it’s definitely all about the grasses, lots of parahebe perfoliata, sisyrinchiums, kniphofias, zauchnerias, caryopteris and crocosmias will bring color throughout the early and late summer after the camas finish their stunning display.


My little Tetrapanax papyrifer “forest’ and Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ in the background signal the end of The Grasslands and the beginning of the Shade/Fern Garden. 

I tend to get a bit of analysis paralysis when I’m writing my blog so it’s taken several days to pull this one together. In that time, it’s crazy how much has changed and how much is beginning to come into bloom! Looks like the May Bloom Day post is going to be a doozy!

I’ll put on my Flower Floozy hat and will see you then!

A trip to the Elk Rock Garden, the garden at the Bishop’s Close.

The best things in life really are free – especially in Portland. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover this hidden gem just a stone’s throw away from my house! Although we just missed the crocus in bloom, there were still many wonderful sites to behold in early March and many promises of beautiful things to come.


Matthew The Lent’s Farmer with Yvee at the entrance on a rare sunny afternoon! As you can tell by her smile, Yvee is as excited to explore as we are!

My family and friends who aren’t in the gardening community often give me a lot of grief because I’m constantly dragging them to places like this but what a wonderful way for a fairly new gardener to see fully realized and mature plants.

This could be a photograph from our trip to Ireland!


On to the garden and it’s wonders….


Rhododendron sinogrande (right?)

A lesson I’ve learned over the years is to take pictures of plant tags! I’m pretty sure this is the one I saw at the Portland Home and Garden show in February.

Although I don’t particularly like rhododendron flowers, I do have a thing for interesting foliage so they present a bit of a conundrum for me. Then there are the ones like in the picture below….wow! If only I had the setting for something like this..


If you are a magnolia lover, the garden will be a delight for you! Everywhere you turn around there is one waiting to be discovered!


Magnolia dawsoniana

One could get dizzy looking up and down so much! So many tall, mature trees providing shade to a plethora of goodness below! Take this oxalis for example. I’m always to tempted by oxalis and this incredible carpet really is making it hard to resist!


In my head, this is what the slope of my shade/fern garden looks like!


My harsh reality!


This will be my shade area’s second year so there is still a lot to do and a bit of a blank canvas! There are about 15 hostas still to pop up, though! 

Visiting gardens can be great for inspiration and this field of hellebores gave me a great idea for my shady slope!




What a great place to see fully realized attributes of your favorite plants! I’m going to be an old man by the time mine gets anywhere near this!


Stewartia pseudocamelia

One of the meandering paths. Caution: not completely “wagon accessible” throughout.

Remember what I said about their magnolia collection? This one was a “clutch the pearls” moment!


Magnolia delavayi

SWOOON! If only I had the space for this beauty!


One the other end of the spectrum, there were darling little woodland beauties lining the paths along the way!


Not sure what it is but it’s adorable

Look at the color! I must figure out what this is and find it!


I had to smile as I stumbled upon a familiar nursery tag!


My favorite nursery Xera Plants. 

The madrones (Arbutus menziesii) had the best view!

I’ve seen troughs before at open gardens and, if memory serves me right, McMenammin’s Edgefield, but this is the first time I’ve seen them in a more natural setting. I thought they were pretty cool and wondered how old they might be.



The lawn was beautiful, too, and reminded me that we were actually in what was once a residence.


Look at that green space!

A little perspective for scale.


Another magnificent magnolia! Matthew and Yvee were good sports putting up with my picture taking but decided to go on ahead.


I met up with them for some selfies before leaving.

One last look….incredible!


Looking forward to my next visit and seeing what new wonders will have appeared!

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