Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Visiting Jenni

Last week I took a day to drive down to the Portland, OR area and visit Jenni, who writes the blog Rainy Day Gardener. I actually met Jenni and her son Rusty a couple of weeks ago, when Peter the Outlaw Gardener and I went to the Oregon Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange. I had such a good time socializing with everyone that I neglected to take any photos at all of the plant swap, which makes writing a post about it difficult. Suffice it to say, I had a great time meeting bloggers whose blogs I've been reading for quite a while, but it was a whirlwind of a day and I felt like many people I met that day got short shrift from me.

Other bloggers (including Jenni) have written great posts about the plant swap. You can read Jenni's post here, and Peter's here.

Anyway, I brought a few plants to the swap, but I've been doing a lot of propagating and dividing lately. I just can't seem to resist sticking broken off branches into pots of soil, and lately they have all taken and rooted. But I don't have any room left for most of them. So I decided to put a bunch of plants together that I thought Jenni could use and bring them down to her, and at the same time get to know her better, and get a good look at the garden which she is working hard on renovating.

Jenni and her husband and their two kids recently moved into a home that has been in her husband's family for at least three generations (now four, I think, counting her husband). His great-grandfather actually built the house, and at one time in its past, it had beautiful, flower-filled gardens. Jenni has been working on reviving and weeding and restoring the garden beds.

This Welcome banner greeted me when I got out of the car. While we were on the porch having lunch, a hummer must have read the words, because he came and hovered nearby, checking out the hummingbird feeder that was hanging on the porch. What a visual treat!

One of the first things Jenni planted was this pretty red Japanese maple. The black cat is one of Jenni's. He's very friendly and followed us around on our garden tour.

I love Japanese maples too, but for some reason I don't actually have any!

Also in the front, Jenni created a two-tiered set of terraced garden beds under the porch.

The front beds are mulched with hazelnut shells, in the hope that it will deter both slugs and cats.

Also strewn throughout the front beds are various interesting rocks, which Jenni and her husband, who is a soil scientist, have collected.

Like me, Jenni loves Hellebores.

There's a Rhododendron pressed up against the house in a narrow spot, that will probably eventually have to come out. But for right now, it's got some pretty flowers.

Admire me!

Such a pretty spotted coat!

Our delicious and healthy lunch (not pictured are the Mint Milano cookies) -- Jenni knows I'm watching my weight

Although I'm pretty sure these luscious strawberries came from the grocery store, Jenni is a dab hand at growing strawberries in her garden. She brought a bunch of strawberry runners to the swap, and I managed to snag about 8 of them.
Jenni's strawberry bed, which she filled with plants taken from her previous home.

Some day soon, this little white flower will transform into a yummy strawberry!
I didn't get a photo of her raspberry plants, which were inherited with the house. She has a neighbor who keeps bees, and the berry canes were just humming with activity!

Jenni and her husband built an array of raised beds for edibles, where she's growing peas, spinach, Swiss chard, potatoes, and onions.

Jenni's favorite tree is this Japanese maple in the back garden, which just glows when the sun hits it.

This ancient, enormous snowball Viburnum presides over a renewed shade bed full of Hostas, Heucheras, Hellebores and ferns.
Before I left we took a selfie with Jenni's camera phone. That's me on the left and Jenni on the right.

I so very much enjoyed talking to Jenni and hearing about her further ambitious plans for the garden, which involve more raised beds, garden beds all along the fence, as well as two patio areas, one with a fire pit and another for sitting and admiring the garden with glass of wine in hand. She has already made great progress, and I know she is more than up to the challenge of realizing her hopes and dreams.