Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – July 2017

I’ve not done a very good job of revving up my blogging productivity this summer. I’ll chalk it up to hard labor in the garden, erratic work schedule and a busy visitor schedule. We’ll see how things go from here on out.

I tried my darnedest to stay true to what’s blooming TODAY but the morning light just didn’t want to cooperate so I cheated a bit and had to use a couple from this past week.

Short on commentary and long on pictures, hopefully the story will tell itself…there’s a lot going on at Mardi Gras Gardens right now!


Dierama pulcherrimum ‘Slieve Donard’


Dierama ‘Xera’s Darkest Purple on it’s last leg 


In happier days a few weeks ago


Hemerocallis ‘Strutter’s Ball’




Echinacea ‘Double Scoop Bubble Gum’






Bericheya Purpurea


Echinacea ‘Ruby Star’


Persicaria ‘Golden Arrow’


Tulbaghia violacea – a favorite


Nothochelone nemorosa 


Penstemon ‘Cha Cha Lavender’


Asclepius tuberosa  FINALLY blooming 




Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’


Shasta daisy


Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’


Romneya Coulteri


Inula magnifica (currently being used as an “AirBeeNBee”) groan


Lilium ‘Conca d’Or’




Eryngium Yuccafolium




Coreopsis ‘Sweet Marmalade’


Kniphofia ‘Toffee Nosed’


Penstemon pinifolius ‘Melon’




Coreopsis ‘Crusin’ Broad Street’


Monarda macrantha


Zauchneria ‘Bowman” is my best guess but I bought a bunch at the same time! 


Lobelia laxiflora




Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’ Sorry, could wait to snap a photo I love this so much


Tigridia form early this week


Tigridia this morning


Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’ ALMOST – thought I lost it and came back roaring form the ground! 

Thank you to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting Bloom Day and be sure to check out the links to all the bloggers posting their bloom day photos from their gardens today!

And thank you for taking a moment out of your day to visit my blog!



Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 15, 2017

What a weird month we have had. Looking back same time last year, there are so many things that have yet to start blooming.

Fear not, there is still a lot to see! Well, maybe too much so I apologize in advance. But that’s what happens when you’re a “collector”, right?

Here’s a bit of what is happening throughout my garden right now…


Lilium x martagon ‘Claude Shride’

I am falling in love with lilies of all forms…






Lily asiatic ‘Black Charm’



Callistemon Viridiflorus


I love how open and airy it feels now without the magnolia behind it


Callistemon sieberi


Eryngium Agavifolium


Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’


Cistus NoID


Cistus x obtusifolius


Halimium ocymoides


Halimium lasianthum ssp. ‘Formosum’

IMG_2275 (1)

Cistus x crispus ‘Warley Rose’


Kniphofia ‘Lightning Bug’


Kniphofia NoID

One of my favorite plants in the garden….I know, I’m  weird…it’s a euphorbia, right? Swoon


Euphorbia ‘Dean’s Hybrid’




Oenothera fruticosa ‘Fireworks’



I was lucky enough to win this at the fall swap and I lovingly call it Anchusa ‘Amy Campion’ since I’m not sure which Anchusa it is and she was kind enough to share!


Fabiana Imbricata ‘Violacea’


Digitalis obscura


Phygelius ‘Peach Trombone’


Geum magellanicum ‘Wild Form’


Penstemon pinifolius


Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’

IMG_2381 (1)

Tanecetum densum ssp. ‘Amani’


Cotula ‘Tiffendell Gold’


Sidalcea NoID


Campanula NoID


Hebe ‘Blue Mist’


Parahebe catarractae ‘Delight’


Parahebe cattaractae ‘Miss Wimott’


Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’

Full disclosure, I’m cheating a little on the white Bletilla and using an earlier picture ..I prefer to remember them this way…


Bletilla striata ‘Kuchibeni’


Bletilla yokohama x ‘Kate’ ?                                                                                                                 (could use help on the name here but my best guess)


Spiraea NoID


Knautia macedonia ‘Thunder and Lightning’



Sisyrinchium ‘E.K. Balls’


Dianthus Dainty Dame




Clematis NoID

I really need to stop adding pictures and just publish this because otherwise it’s not going to be Bloom Day anymore!

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day and be sure to check out the links to all the bloggers posting bloom photos from their gardens today.

And thank you for visiting my blog! Until next time!









Wednesday Vignette – Foxtail Fantasy


I was out taking pictures for June Bloom Day and got distracted by the Eremurus…God bless the borrowed scenery for providing an awesome backdrop! (You’d never know it wasn’t mine except for my cleverly placed mailbox!)

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by the wonderfully generous Anna at Flutter & Hum. (Anna if you’re reading, look in the back ground you will see the Sidalcea you gifted me rising so beautifully above the garden!)

The Painted Harlot of Hillsdale

“An amateur gardener figuring it out along the way” reads my blog’s tag line. It seems every new season provides me at least one new major lesson. This spring brought about a personal revelation: the Mardi Gardener has a saucy side!

I feel lucky having a garden that allows expression of multiple facets of my personality. Structurally, the space is set up in five distinct “zones” with each having their own look and feel. Since four of the five zones are either full or part sun, I could have easily created continuity but I’m a “collector” at this stage of my gardening journey and there’s just too much to chose from to narrow my focus!

The front right “triangle” garden is my most challenging. Over the last four years, the “look and feel” I’ve been working towards is “edgy perennial border” meets “cottage garden” that plays off borrowed scenery surrounding the property. Basically, if I was at a nursery and I found a colorful sun perennial, I immediately thought of this part of my garden.

I learn experientially. I can read a tag at a nursery and THINK how a plant will manifest itself but it’s not until I can watch it come to life over a season or two (or three) that I “get it”.

Last year I finally “got” the peony. Now, many of you know the BF or The Lents Farmer. For the BF, peonies are foundational in his garden. In fact, one of our first dates was a trip to Adelman’s Peony Gardens for their opening weekend. Since then, we make our annual pilgrimage where he collects 7 or 8 peonies and I buy 3 or 4. Over the years, I’ve planted the peonies throughout my garden simply where I had room. But, as I’ve begun to define each area’s “personality”, I realized that they all really belong in one place – the triangle garden.


The longest side of the “triangle”. Yes, that is the street. No side walk. Fun times. 


The tip of the “triangle”. 

Peonies, especially herbaceous, lend themselves perfectly to “cramscaping” which is a revelation I had last year about personal gardening style.  As I was trying to figure out how to achieve that look in the triangle, I realized that the full, beautiful foliage of the peonies would be a perfect solve for some challenging areas.

So, last fall, I relocated several of the herbaceous peonies from other parts of my garden.  I was worried because the digging out wasn’t pretty as I moved my oldest and most established peonies. I am happy to report that everyone survived the transplant despite our treacherous winter.


Paeonia ‘Minnie Shaylor’ relocated

I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. I still have a lot of work to do (and a lot of empty space to fill) but it feels good to see come to life what I planned versus what happened by luck. And these saucy girls are having a lot of fun together!


Paeonia “Minne Shaylor”

The relocated peonies, like this semi-double herbaceous ‘Coral Charm, were interspersed among the existing ones. In it’s first year in full bloom, ‘Coral Charm’ puts on a spectacular display rising above the garden with my first year foxtail lilies.


Coral Charm and Minnie Shaylor 


Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’.                                                                                                                                               I was pleasantly surprised how long it took for this one to “explode”. 


Blaze, Coral Charm, Coral Sands and Minnie Shaylor make a beautiful vignette peeking through all the existing foliage.


Finally, the color and texture I’ve been trying to attain.


Thank you neighbor across the street for providing a cute “cottage” backdrop. Now, if I could just get rid of this pesky cars, street signs, telephone poles and wires! 


Paeonia ‘Green Lotus’ is a personal favorite. Paeonia ‘Coral Sands’ just behind.  

Green Lotus was part of the relocation and was not a prolific as in previous years. I expect a full recovery once it gets used to it’s new home.


Paeonia ‘Green Lotus’ is weird and almost waxy. Not your grandmother’s peony, for sure. 


Paeonia ‘Coral Sands’ 


I feel like a successful cramscaper from his angle 


Again, thank you neighbors across the street for the borrowed scenery


Paeonia ‘Martha W’ 

After this horrific winter, there was no way I expected my hardy hibiscus ‘Midnight Marvel’ to make it through. ITOH peony ‘Cora Louise’ to the rescue and she is a wonderful long term solution for this space. I have lusted over this particular peony for years.


Intersectional Paeonia ‘Cora Louise’ 


Paeonia ‘Cora Louise’


Catching the setting sun


Paeonia ‘Fernleaf Hybrid’. Always my first to bloom and a favorite. This one was relocated to the front of the border once I realized it was getting dwarfed by it’s surroundings. 


Paeonia ‘Blaze’ with a stunning backdrop. A senecio, I believe, but I’m not sure which one. 


The brilliant red of ‘Blaze’ can be enjoyed from so many sides. I have many points of views like this in my triangle garden due to the variation in height and depth. This is eye level from my driveway. 


‘Blaze’ and ‘Martha W’ in the background of these asphodeline lutea

Not all of my peonies were relocated. The ONE peony I really wanted to move is my paeonia ‘Paladin’ because it looks so out of place next to an acanthus. Unfortunately,  it was out of sight out of mind and will need to wait until the fall for it’s new home.



Paeonia ‘Paladin’

In the same bed is one of my very favorites, ITOH Julie Rose. Again, not quite the aesthetic I’m going for with the callistemon, hesperaloe, archtostaphylus, eryngium vibe I’ve got going on on the left side of the garden.



Paeonia ‘Julia Rose’ first bloom

That being said, it does sit on the west slope of the bed and it sure seems to lend itself nicely to some pretty vignettes with it’s neighbors. The west slope has a bit more of a ‘romantic’ feel with my edgworthia, siberian Iris ‘Velvet Night’ and Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ so I’m thinking it’s going to stay put and I’ll work on defining or transitioning  the two area better.


Paeonia ‘Julie Rose’ in second and third color fade!


My miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ was moved to replace the magnolia lost this winter and makes for a lovely backdrop. Archtostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ did not survive a required transplant due to damage sustained by a traffic accident. 


Playing nicely together

A quick trip to the back yard wraps up the peony experience where all peonies were consolidated to one bed last year. Things should get interesting as a pending basement remodel could mean a forced relocation for everyone in order to accommodate an egress window!


Paeonia ‘Mahogany’ I apologize for the blurry pic. Apparently this was my only one. 

I love the leaf structure and growing habits of the ITOH’s.


Paeonia ‘Border Charm’

Deciding on a yellow peony was difficult but I’m very happy with my decision.


Paeonia ‘Border Charm’ first bloom  – on a rainy day



‘Border Charm’ first day opened

As I write this, the majority of the peony petals are probably hitting the ground and things are definitely feeling a lot less “saucy” out there.

Now it’s time for “sexy”. Well, it is for me because nothing gets me going like a good callistemon, eryngium, kniphofia, cistus, grevillea or acanthus! ME-YOW!

Bring on the heat because we need it hot in here!


oh yeah! 

Until next time!

These are a few of my favorite things. Foliage Follow Up – May 2017.

Ever been at a party or a meeting and you don’t know anyone but you decide to say “screw it” and just start introducing yourself to people. Well, that’s kind of how this week has been for me in the blogger world. For almost a year I’ve read weekly and monthly posts sponsored by people I’ve never met and felt super awkward about joining in on the fun. But, this is the week that I said “screw it” and here I am again, jumping on the Foliage Follow Up bandwagon hosted by another person I don’t know…Pam at Digging. Thank you for hosting!

I have just a few very favorites today because if I didn’t edit then there would be hundreds- no, seriously, hundreds!

Funny story about the picture below. I was watering a couple of weeks ago during a VERY brief dry spell and I discovered what I thought was bird poop or disease was actually variegation! I bought this a couple of years ago from Cistus Nursery and had forgotten about this feature when the vine matures!


Actinidia pilosula


I need to go scrap metal hunting with Patricia again!

Eventually I will have to do an entire blog on my obsession with variegation. I literally swooned over this jasmine at Xera three years ago and the romance is still going strong! I’m hoping this will be the year it bloom but, honestly, I could care less! Watching the evolution of the leaves from pink to cream and green is enough for me!


Jasminum officinale ‘Argenteovariegatum’


I found this beauty as a replacement for the magnolia I lost over the winter and I couldn’t be happier! Yeah, there are going to be some beautiful flowers, but look at the colors of those leaves! I found this Japanese Snowbell at Farmington Gardens.


Styrax japonica ‘Evening Light’

I can’t decide whether it’s the detail of leaves or the shades of pink I like better on this false spirea.


Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’

This shrub is a trooper! Winter took it’s toll on all three of mine and they have all three recovered beautifully. This is the only one, however, that have kept it’s variegation after three years. Anyone else experienced this?


Cistus ‘Mickie’

Okay, thanks to those of you who have endured me two days in a row!

Hopefully I’ll be too busy in the garden to get any writing done soon!



Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May – Inaugural Entry

I’m finally getting on the bandwagon. It’s time for a Bloom Day post. What a great way to “catalogue” the history of my garden and simultaneously help me commit to memory/document the botanical names of my plants. While I’ve never met you, thank you to Carol from May Dream Gardens for bring this monthly event to life! I hope my contribution does it justice.

In the spirit of The Mardi Gras Gardener, I present a taste of my purple, green and gold world currently on display. Full disclosure, due to this season’s ridiculous weather, a significant relocation program from last fall and the addition of early spring interest plants and shrubs, things aren’t quite as Mardi Grasish as they have been in previous years.

Interestingly enough, upon first glance, my garden does not look or feel particularly “floriferous”. In fact, I kind of love this time of year because one can really appreciate shape, color and texture without distraction.

The full sun “mixed border” suffered the least amount of damage from the harshness of the winter and seems to have benefited from all the rain!


view from the street a week ago


same side looking down…yesterday

Is it weird that I want to push the pause button so I can savor this for a little while longer? Soon the flowers of the peonies, lupine, checkermallow, iris, yarrow and sanguisorba will provide a beautiful distraction to the foliage.


Driveway side and view from the hell strip. Here the foliage really gets to stand out with pops of fabulous electric pink coming from the lorepetulum ‘Zhuzhou Fuchia’ and the Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’ Lavender Twist. 

But, after all, this is a “Bloom Day” post so without further ado….

I’ve always believed that sense of discovery is important and I guess it’s what best describes where my garden is this time of year for blooms. Most of  the flowers featured here are small and tucked here, there, around a corner or under somewhere so you’re not necessarily going to be hit in the face with them – I’m going to make you work for it a bit!

I am absolutely crazy for columbines and I have been since day one. I don’t have the tags for the majority of them because it wasn’t a “thing” for me back then. I did find the tag for this show stopper buried in my garage last year.


Aguilegia Origami ‘Red and White

One more time for good measure!


Auqilegia ‘Long Spurred’

My first year with trying iris… several more are JUST about to bloom!Not sure why I waited so long!


Iris ‘hand me down’ from the bf last year

From my very first Hortlandia!



For a while I thought this was dead…boy, was I wrong!


Loropetalum c. ‘Zhuzhou Fuschia’

I want these everywhere!


Antennanaria dioica ‘Rotes Wunder’ or Red Wonder “Pussy Toes”


Grevillea ‘Mongolo’


Polemonium cameum


Polemonium caeruleum ‘Brise d’Anjou’


Geranium cinerium ”Lawrence Flatman’


Geum ‘Herterton Primrose’


Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’


Tradescentia – first bloom about a month late!


Centaurea montana ‘Black Sprite’


Solomon’s Seal

Not quite ready for prime time this month…film at eleven…




Anchusa from a plant swap


Baptisia ‘Cherries Jubilee’


There sure seems to be a lot of pictures considering it looks on the surface as if I’ve got nothing in bloom right now! June should be a DOOZY!

Till next time!

I Never Promised You a Shade Garden…Part Deux

With the “bones” of my shade garden in place, the past several weeks have been about bringing it to life. I have been accumulating and collecting specimens for this project since the snow and ice melted.  Here are some of the shopping highlights leading up to grunt work of getting everything into the ground!

A blogger trip to Joy Creek Nursery  hosted by Tamara of Chickadee Gardens kicked off the buying season this year. In February, when it seemed most of the plant nerds I knew were in Seattle, I attended the Portland Spring Home and Garden Show at the Expo Center and found some of my favorite new additions. Of course, we can’t forget the opening weekend of Xera! While the selection was limited, I was still able to find some treasures to add to my collection! Next, there was the surprisingly fruitful visit to Gardenpalooza. And last, but definitely to least, Hortlandia!


In addition to new purchases, I’ve relocated others as an experiment for perhaps better performance. Persicaria “Golden Arrow”, which lived two summers in full sun but was toast by late July, is hopefully going to enjoy it’s new home in a less intense location.

The remainder of the shade garden residents are a combination of late season bargains from last year, transplants from my own garden or divisions of hostas from the BF as he did his spring clean up this year.

While my ideal selections for this area would be for dry shade, there are just too many pretty and shiny things out there so I know I’m rolling the dice with a few choices and I’ll need to water intermittently.


Clematis ‘Early Sensation’ makes beautiful entrance to the garden fronted by Luzula sylvatica ‘Marginata’. This one I bought late season and purchased another on “opening day of Xera” and will probably be back for more.

When I shared my challenge with Paul at Xera and asked for advice, he suggested ferns! And lots of them! So, I bought several and have been collecting and adding them along the way.


polystichum polyblepharum in the foreground and polystichum x dicyl in the background

Other ferns I’ve added:

  • Onychium japonicum (Carrot Fern)
  • Cyromium fortunei var. Clivicola (Spreading Japanese Holly fern)
  • Pyllitis solopendrium ‘Cristata (Crested Hart’s tongue Fern)
  • Dryopteris lepidopoda (Sunset Fern)
  • Altherium otophorum (Eared Lady Fern)
  • Pyrrosia hastata

This is unfamiliar territory for me so I’m not getting too attached to any of them!


Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold” was my original idea for his space until I ran across  Sebright Garden’s striped “Aureola” at Gardenpalooza. I’ve developed a “fancy” for any sort of variegation so I thought I’d have a little fun here and mix it up!

I have a general lack of patience waiting for things to grow in over time. For those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning may remember my affinity for gallon pots but I’ve learned that starting small can pay off in several ways – you can buy more stuff AND if that stuff dies, then it doesn’t hurt so badly.

The creation of my shade garden has been 50% perspiration and 50% experiment.  I have a LOT of space to fill and that means I need to be frugal. I am learning that buying small,  buying early and attending plant events are a great way to get great deals. This year I decided to try my hand at bare root as a way to buy in bulk and save on the budget.

The BF and I were at Portland Nursery early in the season and he convinced me to try my hand at some hostas. I’m happy to report that all of them have emerged and I’m hopeful for their continued success over the years!


 Simple but elegant Hosta “Halcyon” – apparently slug resistant

This past weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to Adleman’s for peonies. After meeting the wonderful folks from Sebright Gardens and seeing their gorgeous plants at Gardenpalooza and Hortlandia, we decided to visit them after we gorged ourselves on peonies. I don’t think there was an a nook or cranny that wasn’t stuffed with a hosta when we left that place! I can’t wait to return with an empty SUV!


Hostas ‘Snow White’, ‘June Fever’, ‘Praying Hands’, ‘Raspberry Sundae’, ‘Lakeside Babyface’, ‘Prairie Moon’ all will add some gorgeous color and interest to the shad garden.

All three of the bare root astilbes from the Home and Garden Show are doing well.  I have tags for “Vision in Pink” and “Purple Lance”. The third will be a nice surprise! These are from Mak Lilies and Perennials

Spotted amongst the hostas, along the walkways, and under the larger plants, you will find color and interest from a wide variety of plants that reflect my “collector” sensibility when in comes to gardening.

Here are a few of my favorites…

And rounding out the shade garden will be the larger “footprint” specimens.

It would be fun I could press the fast forward button and see how all of this will have grown in and filled out. However, I think the real pleasure of gardening is in the journey. Adding to the little world you’ve created bit by bit and seeing things as they evolve over time. Thank you for taking a moment to walk with me through my shade garden.

Until next time….

I Never Promised You a Shade Garden…

Everyone has that side of their home that they just hate to look at. The side with the A/C, the vents, the basement windows, the path to your backyard and, of course, your neighbor’s property line. This is where you will find the shade (well, what there is) at my house.

For those of you who know my property, know that I already have my hands full with two VERY large front beds, a backyard and a massive sloping hellstrip!  All four areas have something in common – sun, and lots of it.

That being said, the next time I get some bright idea to completely “reimagine” an area around my house, someone please slap some sense into me!


Not much to look at, for sure!

Until November of last year, I was completely content with this area being utilitarian. It’s my only real access to the backyard for anything so the lawnmower, wheelbarrow and bins had to go this way. In addition, as the backyard transformed and various trees and shrubs either were discarded or relocated, this is how they were taken out.

But, one day in November of last year, when I thought I had made my last purchase of the season and was at a loss as to where to place it, suddenly it dawned on me that I may have run out room (gasp!) and it was now time to start another project!

I’d been mulling over the idea of a shade garden for quite awhile. The space is not perfect- far from it. The area faces southeast with all deciduous trees but one so I’ll get dappled light once the trees leaf out and the far right corner gets some afternoon sun. Adding insult to injury, the soil is soaked during the winter and dry as a chip in the summer and the trees, which belong to the neighboring property, are not in the best condition.

But, if I had to be honest, my motivation for this project was simple – it’s just not fun to go to a nursery and have an entire area not accessible to you. And then, of course, there are the open gardens! I’m pretty sure it was at Laura and Charlie Heldreth’s when I snapped. I blame them. Talk about inspiration and aspiration! Check out the extraordinary world they have created!

I have this vision in my head of what the end result will be in several years. So, out came the rake and I started sketching out the “bones” of the garden. The space is long and narrow so I decided that a serpentine path would be more conducive to the “woodland” setting I was hoping to create. My goal is to create focal points with larger specimens that will move your eyes throughout the space and smaller ones that will cover and spill over the edging so it is not so noticeable. And, of course, color and lots of texture. I really have no idea what I’m doing, but I’ve learned a lot over the past 4 year, so we’ll see how things go!


Besides the four trees on the slope, a large portion of the shade comes from the trees (all deciduous) across the parking lot for the townhouses. Things really do transform once spring kicks into gear.

Part one of this blog focuses on the “journey” of the garden. In Part 2, the plants will be the stars but here are a few of my test subjects!


The best part of making a bad decision late in the season – stumbling onto Pomeris’ 60% off sale! These were my first additions to my shade garden (well, okay, I might have purchased a few other things, too!)


My first purchases of the season from the Portland Home and Garden Show. Trying bare root for the first time with some astilbe and hostas. Of course, I couldn’t help myself to some wonderful color for my sunny areas!


And, of course, my first trip of the season to Xera!

The hardest part of the project was getting the border in the ground. The good news was that the ground was soaked and easy to dig. The bad news was the edging, which came highly coiled, had a mind of it’s own! In hindsight, I should of asked for help but the crazy weather didn’t allow for planning, especially on a retail schedule. While I didn’t quite achieve the perfect curves I envisioned in my head, over time I’m hoping the “slightly imperfect” border won’t be as noticeable once everything grows in.


This was really a two part project due to severe procrastination. I put in the first two sections (right and left) last fall to see if I would like it. It was such a pain the butt that I put off the project as long as could but if I didn’t get it done, I couldn’t plant!


Several plants have been relocated after being fried in the sun last year. I’m hoping the persicaria will be happier here. Although the tag said it could handle full sun, I’m not quite sure it was ready for mine!


The “entrance” to the shade garden. Quite a few plants have been relocated here. My pittosporum Irene Patterson, looking rough from this winter, will hopefully be happy here with more room to grow.

To the right of the entrance are a few originals to the house.

I decided on bark mulch for a simple, natural look for the path.


Bark mulch makes everything better!


The neighbor’s property line is at the end of the fence


You may remember this area had it’s fair share of weeds! Not only did I have to deal with the weeds on my property, but, of course, my neighbor’s! And the weeds HAD to be on an incline!

A little backgound…I live kitty-corner to a fourplex townhouse. The manager lives on site and she is wonderful. She takes fantastic care of the property and is always looking out for my home and calls me in any type of emergency, etc. Other than the horrible butchering of the beautiful huge rhododendrons and wanting to cut down the not so healthy trees (I’ve talked her out of it) I could not ask for a better neighbor. So, it really didn’t take but a second for me to decide that I would not just weed her area, but “annex” the hillside into my shade garden. To be honest, who wants to put all that work into making their garden look good only to look across the property line and see a hot mess!

Several hours later, I had excavated the massive amount of weeds and debris from the area and was able to do a little planting.


Gardenpalooza to the rescue! 

Here’s where I’m rolling the dice. With a little advice from some experts at a favorite nursery, I’m going to see what I can do with ferns for the majority of the area. With most of my garden in full sun, I’ve had little to no experience with any shade so it’s a crap shoot. As you can see, at this point in the season, before the trees leaf out, the area gets late afternoon sun. Japanese Forest grass will take up a big portion and some large hostas will be featured right as it begins to slope. Most of the plants I’ve purchased are for dry shade but I know I’ll have to water more than I originally planned.


I found this ADORABLE shade peony this past weekend at Gardenpalooza along with several ferns!


Erosion, an issue in the entire area, is particularly problematic in this section


Most of this incline is not my property but the eye doesn’t differentiate

Below is my “vision” for this space and my overall look and feel for the area with some a little more variety and pops of color scattered throughout.


My current tiny shade garden! As you can see, I’m used to an incline! 

I think this blog entry has taken me as long to write as it did to create my shade garden! I’m hoping the warmer weather and sunshine will help shake off the cloud of procrastination that has been hanging over me for the last month.

Next up…I Never Promised You a Shade Garden Part 2 – the test subjects!




Hope springs eternal?

Maybe it’s because I’ve always considered myself the eternal optimist. Maybe it’s because no matter all the times in my life where I have crashed and burned I’ve always managed to once again rise from the ashes (my email is phoenix42 for chrissakes!) or maybe is because I just saw Rouge One (wait for it..)…but if there’s anything I have for my garden right now …it’s hope!

As I’m writing this blog, my first in a few months, the snow is melting/washing away and I’m beginning to see bits and pieces of my garden again. As you can see from the picture above, there wasn’t a lot left to see after this last snow storm!

Once all this melts and spring rolls around, it’s going to be a nail biter to see what survives. The snow and ice from this winter has already taken it’s first victim and it was a pretty big one. Each storm this winter has sheared off at least one or two branches of my Southern Magnolia that I planted when I first moved into the house about 4 years ago. Well, looks like I will looking for another focal point for the garden on the left side of my house….

This has always been one of my favorite spots in my garden…but, full disclosure, as I started to create the landscape with the new and wonderful things I was discovering as a new gardener, I actually regretted planting the magnolia. Well, mother nature has intervened and now I have an existential crisis on my hands for it’s replacement.


Everyone likes a before and after, right? Well, how about some after’s and before’s to help lift our spirits as we wait for the survivors of this winter!

I’m so glad I left this agapanthus alone and didn’t cut it back because it provide one of the few bright spots in my garden after the snowfall from hell!

It took a foot of snow to bring this miscanthus down! This guy is tough and never wilted in the toughest rain!

I just can’t much newness planted and moved last year and most of my marginal plants live back here….

My biggest fear during these storms is people crashing into my garden. As you can see, there is no separation between the street and and the edges of my garden. You can’t even tell where one begins and ends!

As I wrap up my “hope” post, I dug into my photo library to find my first pics of my garden from last year…this is from Feb 5th and it’s the day I planted my Valentine’s Day present from the BF! Hopefully we are just a couple of weeks away from seeing some real signs of spring!

But the best part its….Looks like history is going to repeat itself and I’m going to get another tree for Valentines Day!


Here’s wishing the very best to all you fellow gardeners out there….Let’s hope for the best and if not, see you in our favorite nurseries!

Something Wicked This Way Comes….

Pointy, needly, spiny, prickly, barbed…..

“If it looks like it could hurt me, it’s probably coming home with me…” A quote from my first blog as one of the things I learned about myself as a new gardener.

That being said, there’s a DISTINCT difference between “looking” and “knowing” something can hurt me and I guess that’s theme of this blog post.

So, I’m that guy you hear saying “OW!” in the nursery on a regular basis because, for some reason, I’m not just drawn to wicked things, but, I’m obsessed with the need to TOUCH them – just ask the BF.

Now, I may be a fool, but I’m not an idiot (no comments from the peanut gallery!). My curiosity ends when I KNOW that there is real and definite pain involved. It is for that reason that this “Collector’s Garden” has been void of entire “category” of plants – until now!

You might have guessed by now, given my feature photo, that I’m referring to the AGAVE. (Don’t even get me started on Cacti!) I have hemmed and hawed over this decision for some time and it’s been a process getting to this moment.

Let me take you on my journey to the dark side….

While sharp and pointy would have to wait a few years, spiky, seriated, thorny, needly and the like would all do quite nicely as a build up to the main event in the Fall of ’16.

To say that I dipped my toes into the pool slowly would be a bit of an understatement. As shown by these cordeline here from three of the four summers I’ve purchased plants for my garden, I do love a spiky purple plant! While not particularly scary, ironically, the damn one on the left almost poked my eye out and provided me my most painful plant experience to date!

Another early spikey addition to my garden was the yucca. I have one featured in three of the four main sections of my garden.. Cleary I need to expand my collection beyond the three different variegated varieties shown here ( I’m only sure of Yucca “Color Guard” on the far left since the two on the right were planted before I started keeping my tags.) I can tell you that running into the big guy on the far right while working in that bed is NOT fun! However, despite the danger, I love the texture, the color and the year round interest!

Up next are my babies…the eryngiums. I’m not entirely sure what it is that fascinates me so much or draws me to them, but my ultimate goal is get all “Pokemon Go” on them and “catch them, catch them all”!


eryngium agavefolium 

I mean, who could not LOVE this majestic beast? I think at max height, it reached almost 5 feet and beautiful serieted leaves reached over  3 feet across! This was a “pup” from the BF’s garden and my very first eryngium. I now have a few other agavefoliums but none of them have ever outperformed this one. This year, however, this particular one remained dormant. On a positive note, that meant the leaves are still beautiful now!

Looking at the serieted edges, one can clearly understand it’s appeal to me and it’s a feature on many other eryngiums that have lured me in…

These four eryngiums exemplify “they aren’t really that pointy, right?” and I have shed a drop of blood or two with these guys over the years. I’m particularly excited about the Eryngium aff. latifolium which I found at Cistus early this spring! One of the best aspects of Cistus is that you often get to so the “full size” version of your purchase in their display garden and I was mesmerized by the size and architecture of it! Plus, I’ve not run across it anywhere else so I love the “collectibility” of it!

Last but certainly not least, there is this little monster…Eryngium varifolum. Standing only about 18 inches tall, one would never guess that these gorgeous “wicked” spikes would emerge from it’s soft flat broad leaves.

Before I get to the main event, there are some singular favorites in my garden that I’ve collected over the years that should be included in this “wicked” blog….

I love this quote for Annie Annuals…

“Mean folks stealing your beautiful plants? Now you can have the last laugh!”

Don’t let the beautiful purple flowers fool you, this Berkheya Purpurea  (nicknamed Ursula) is by far my most “wicked” specimen in my garden! Every square inch of this plant hurts and will pierce even the toughest gardening glove! So…of course, I had to by a second one for the hell strip this year! And yes, that is me being an idiot snapping a picture bare handed of it’s first ever bloom on my way to work one day…it was worth it!

Have you ever been shopping and come across something and have one of those “clutch the pearls” moments? Well, for me it usually involves shoes, furniture or decorative accessories but early this past spring on one of my first trips to Xera, it was love at first sight when I saw a solanum pyrocanthum…I mean, it looked dangerous AND there was ORANGE? How could I resist? I didn’t and I found a perfect spot for it in a large blue ceramic pot. For the first time, I’m going to try my hand at over wintering a few things this year and I’m adding this one to the list.


Solanum pyrocanthum

Another deceptively pokey and painful bugger, barbera replicata….purple AND painful, how could I resist? One of my very first plants from Xera in 2014. It was very tiny when I got it. I may or may not have planted it too close to the house…UGH.



        Barbera replicata (against the house)                                                                                                      

I must be a glutton for punishment because the BF’s hakea has poked and stabbed me for the last 2.5 years but as soon as I saw that Xera has one in stock, I scooped it up! That’ll teach that damn cat from pooping in my garden! Staking this guy was not fun!


hakea microcarpa 

If I’m going to have an osmanthus, of course it’s going to be this one!


Osmanthus heterphyllus “Sasaba”                                                                                                                    

This was as about as “agave” as I was able to get back in the day…lol


hesperaloe parviflora                                                                                                                                         

Full disclosure, as many stories go, my journey ends where it begins….I did, in fact, have one agave from the beginning of my collector’s garden days. This little guys was a “pup” off of one of my BF’s agave’s and he brought it over when he brought over three flats of sedum for me (also from his garden). I wasn’t able to get an exact ID on it but this is his best guess. Anyway, as you can see, it was in pretty rough shape for a while but it seems to be recovering nicely. I often forget that it is even there as it is not in an ideal location. I have some moving to do in the spring so I’ll figure that out then.



Agave Neomexicana (best guess?)

I’m not sure what finally made me flip the agave switch, but early in the summer months I picked up these two at Xera…They were added to the backyard. We will see how they do this winter.


Agave Bracteosa


Agave (ugh…I can’t find the tag!) could it be another Flagstaff? 

I swear the BF’s car goes on auto pilot whenever it is within a 5 miles radius of Portland Nursery! We always seem to “somehow” end up there on the way home from an afternoon out and about. Have I once complained? What do you think?

This last set of pics (with the exception of agave ‘Flagstaff’ (from Xera) are all from the “scratch and dent” section of Portland nursery a few weeks ago! They have definitely seen better days, but who could resist 50% off and I think it was the push I needed to finally go “all in”!


Agave Mateo


Agave lophantha ‘Spendida’


Agave parryi Huachucensis


Agave parryi ‘Flagstaff’

The two agave’s below seemed to be to least hardy according to the tags (see, I’m learning!) so they will be the beginning of a new chapter of my garden inspired by a visit to one of my first open gardens…

Some of you may recognize the work of Danger Garden who has been a huge inspiration for me ever since I saw her space. Her garden both fascinated and terrified me at the same time and I knew it would take baby steps to work my way up to anything like this!


The Danger Garden Summer 2014 with the BF

As I wrap things up, who doesn’t love a good before and after? This is the where the majority of the new agaves were planted. Full southern sun and a “hillside” with lots of drainage so I am feeling hopeful for them to overwinter this year.


my house via Google maps in 2012 – now THAT is a hell strip! 

If it said full sun on the tag, this is where it goes and there are very few things I’ve lost in this areas despite it’s harsh conditions. Dare me to cramscape a 15X60 hell strip? Give me another couple years!


agave, cistus, arctostaphylus, grevillia, callistemon, stipa gigantea, knifophia, crocosmia, tetrapanix, lagerstroemia, salvia, penstemon and more make great bed follows in the hell strip

The agaves all found a spot towards the bottom of the hillside where there is the least amount of saturation of any rainfall or drainage from the driveway. I think they will like the heat from the street, too and they won’t be privy to much shade even as things grow in

As I finish up this Halloween morning, it is absolutely POURING and the wind is HOWLING ….you want to talk about WICKED? Not nice, nature, not nice!

Up next….

“I Never Promised You a Shade Garden…..”


As if I didn’t have enough to deal with…..