Thursday, July 2, 2015

End of Month View -- June 2015

It's June 32nd, and you know what that means, right? It's time for the End of Month View.

This year I've been using the EoMV meme to document changes to my Gravel Garden. Despite our extreme June heat and drought, I've been making progress. Fortunately, the Gravel Garden is a dry garden, and the plants don't mind the conditions, although to get established, they do still need some water.

I haven't made as much progress as I'd have liked. The plants might not mind the heat, but I do. All the work I've done on it this month has been during those few morning hours when it's still a bit cool.

I've made a really good start on planting my Sempervivum quilt. I decided to buy some Semps, rather than taking them from various other spots in my garden where they're growing. I knew I didn't have enough, and I knew that I could buy lots for a good price at Woodland Park Greenhouse in Sumner. Officially, the sign says they cost $1.84 apiece, but I got three flats of 12 in four-inch pots (and each pot contained lots of offsets) for $50. For those who are math-challenged, they should have cost me $66 and change. They're very flexible on pricing there, especially if you're buying a lot.

Olive green and bronze Semps in 4-inch pots from Woodland Park, for less than $1.84 each

None are named varieties and there aren't many different ones to choose from, but I didn't care about that. I did find some named cultivars at Windmill Gardens, for more money, and to give me more variety.

The ones on the left with tags came from Windmill, the ones on the right from Woodland Park

Small Semps in 6-packs from Windmill.

I started my Semp quilt by (carefully) cutting back the enormous Euphorbia that was growing there. I really wanted to avoid brushing against it while working in the area, because it can cause a poison ivy-like reaction on bare skin. Then I scraped as much gravel off the top of the soil as I could. I planted each Semp approximately 8 inches apart, to give them room to fill in with offsets. Twelve inches apart was too far, and 6 seemed too close. I settled on 8 inches.

Here you can see the beginnings of the quilt, against the wall

Pile o' gravel
After planting, I had to sift the soil out of the gravel and replace it, a back-breaking chore.

I briefly (for about a nanosecond) contemplated giving the Semp quilt an actual design, like a real quilt, but gave that up very quickly as enormously impractical. I ended up just alternating colors/varieties.

It doesn't look much like a quilt yet, but give it a few years to fill in

I had to work the design around the desert perennials that are already growing in the bed

A little further to the right, under the Ceanothus 'Dark Star.'

I'm planning to edge the quilt with Sedums, to give it the look of having a fringe

Still left to plant: a couple of handfuls of Semps, some Sedums and a few pots of Mexican feather grass

The larger Semps have already started spreading out

In last month's post I showed the clumps of orange Carex testacea that I had transplanted to the right of the Ceanothus, and lamented that they looked like they might be dying.

Well, they were.  I pulled them out without so much as a tug. I probably could have nudged them out of the ground with my foot, they came away so easily. I bought four new ones, but haven't planted them yet. I'll probably wait till the fall rains are imminent.

Most years I arrange pots of tender desert plants in front of the gabions and culvert planters in the Gravel Garden, but this year I've been so intent on redoing it that I've left them a jumbly mess, after hauling them out of the greenhouse. I don't think the neighbors mind that look, but I do.

Messy pots

That's as much as I've accomplished, not even close to my goals, as delineated in last month's post.

Goals for June:

1. Plant Sempervivums -- mostly done.
2. Plant Senecio -- nope.
3. Maybe spread Libertia around a bit -- forgot that one completely.
4. Order fall bulbs -- where did I put those catalogs?
5. Repot 'Blue Glow' -- not a chance
6. Water. Cause at this point I'm afraid the rain is mostly done till fall -- Hey, I did that!

New goals for July:

1. Plant Senecio
2. Order fall bulbs
3. Repot Agave 'Blue Glow'
4. Water

I'm going to leave you with some closeups of flowers and other pretties from the Gravel Garden.

Dyckia flower


Ornamental Oregano

New Opuntia pads make me laugh!

They start out cute and turn into Pinhead from Hellraiser

Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog hosts the End of Month View. You can read her EoMV post here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday Vignette

For Wednesday Vignette I'm sharing some photos of garden art from the Hardy Plant Study Weekend.

Not sure if a birdbath counts as art, but the honey bees seemed to like it!

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. You can see her current post here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Imitating Cheryl Strayed

"How often have you peed today?"

In the book Wild: From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail, which chronicles Cheryl Strayed's months-long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon/Washington border, Cheryl is asked this question by another hiker during a particularly brutally hot day. It surprises her to realize that every molecule of water which has exited her body in the last 24 hours was through sweat.

I know how she felt.

I wasn't on a mountain hike, and I wasn't carrying a monstrously huge backpack, but I just returned from a hellishly hot weekend in Portland (coincidentally, where Chery Strayed lives), where I attended the Hardy Plant Study Weekend, listened to lectures and toured some pretty fabulous gardens. And sweated. A lot. Peed too, but just a little.

I thought I'd share some images from a handful of those gardens.

The Garden of Bob Hyland (owner of Hyland Garden Design and the shop Contained Exuberance in Portland) and Andrew Beckman

I liked this garden, way more than I thought I would.

From the booklet description: "Planted containers cover the front deck, spill out of the greenhouse, and punctuate the gardens."

I thought this Hover Dish container, perfectly color-matched, was just brilliant

"Beds and borders reflect our naturalistic, exuberant, and patterned wild garden style."

"We use ornamental grasses, sedges, and rushes with great abandon to knit together plantings."

It was a hot but breezy day, making the Mexican feather grasses dance and sway

The Garden of Lance and Julie Wright

This is another garden I've only recently become aware of, and I just loved many things about it, but especially the hellstrip.

From the garden description: "My fascination with foliage textures helps determine a constantly evolving planet palette. 'Edgy' and tough performers play together. If they last, it's because they behave, are beautiful, and fit into the overall design."

I've only seen Agaves this big in California, they must be perfectly sited to make it through winter and grow so big

The Garden of Barbara Blossom Ashmun

You all know how partial I am to daylilies, right?

From the booklet description: "On an acre of island beds and mixed borders I do my best to create beautiful vignettes out of the impossible array of plants that I keep falling for."

From Floramagoria, the Garden of Craig Quirk and Larry Neill

From the booklet: "The back garden is where the crazy begins."

"We have a collection of interesting garden art that is on the more playful side and hidden throughout the garden."

Blog followers may remember I attended the Hardy Plant Study Weekend last summer as well, which took place here in Washington, hosted by the Northwest Perennial Alliance, was based in Bellevue and showcased many fabulous local gardens. I blogged about it here.

This year, it took place in Portland, and gave me the chance to see some of the gardens I missed by having to bow out of the Garden Bloggers Fling last summer. The weekend kicked off on Friday morning with various workshops (I didn't sign up for any), followed by garden tours. On Saturday and Sunday, the mornings were taken up by a lineup of speakers, followed by more garden tours. On Saturday, there was a soiree at a local plant wholesaler called Blooming Junction, which I signed up for, but attended for less than an hour. I was hot, tired, hungry and cranky, also hot (did I mention I was hot? It was hot). As a pessimistic introvert, I didn't relish making small talk in the punishing heat with people I didn't know. I was reminded of Nigel's Dad's definition of a party: "Standing when you would rather be sitting, drinking something you don't want, talking to someone you don't know on a subject about which you don't care." Reminded also of one of Nigel's Dad's favorite quotes, from General Montgomery: "Any damn fool can be uncomfortable," I left in my air-conditioned car and headed back to my air-conditioned hotel room, where Nigel was waiting to treat me to dinner in an air-conditioned restaurant.

Summer has barely begun. There is more hot weather ahead.

Keep on peeing.