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

Friday, February 14, 2014

An Unexpected Bounty and a New Friend

Some big critter has been digging in my new garden!


I've been collecting plants ever since last fall when I first knew the front garden was probably going to undergo a big transformation. I went to the Portland Garden Bloggers fall plant swap, where I picked up some great plants. I recently bought some interesting conifers to plant as a screen in the bed that runs along the street. And I always grow lots of plants from seed, sowing them in 4-inch pots over the winter and putting them in the small portable greenhouses that I've used for several years now. I still have quite a large number of seedlings that were actually sowed in the winter of 2012.

But the biggest and most unexpected bounty of plants for the new front garden came via a blog reader and new friend. Annette first discovered my blog last fall (I think), and started emailing me every so often about my posts. It turns out she lives nearby in Washington, was in the process of redoing some of her own garden beds, and in keeping with the wonderful generosity of many gardeners, she offered me some of the plants that she was going to dig up.

How cool is that? I jumped at the chance for free plants! A couple of weeks ago, she and her husband dropped by for a short visit with loads and loads of Sedum 'Angelina,' Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and a swath of pale yellow Crocosmia.

I spent about four hours yesterday planting, planting, planting. It was blissful.

A row of Sedum 'Autumn Joy' interspersed with Echinacea purpurea sown under the cloches.

The same in the other direction

My plan is to add various grasses such as Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch' as well as other flowering perennials and low-growing perennials to drape into the gravel path on the left. The Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Echinacea will tie things together and provide a sense of continuity, and other plants will make interesting repeating flower and leaf combinations. While I'm not a fan of regimented planting, some repetition makes for a satisfying composition.

Each clump of Sedum 'Angelina' will eventually drape over the wall, and have Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' sprouting up from within, as well as black mondo grass.

Still waiting to be planted in the bed along the street and along the driveway:
 'Sunlight Lace' Hinoki Cypress and Pinus sylvestris 'Nisbet's Gold'

The staging area contains (left to right): Rosa glauca, Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Steroidal Giant' (picked up at the Bloggers swap, but I don't remember who brought it), Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red,' Grevillea miqueliana, Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn' and 'St. Helena',  Annette's yellow Crocosmia, Crocosmia 'Orangeade' (courtesy of Scott Weber of Rhone Street Gardens at the swap), a Gerald Darby iris (also from Scott), and a couple of different Kniphofias (from the swap).

Yesterday Watson's Nursery in Puyallup delivered an Abies koreana 'Silberlocke,' which is waiting in the bed for Nigel's help this weekend.

I'm sure you sharp-eyed readers noticed the big orange ball in a couple of the pictures above. I've been adding a few decorative touches as well. The big orange ball is actually a thrift store bowling ball, bought for a few dollars. The ceramic mushrooms came from My Garden nursery at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (blogged about here), and are "planted" in one of the gaps in the recycled concrete wall.

It's a bright spot that hopefully will be one of the first things you see after coming through the gate from the back garden.

Beneath the mushrooms are a couple of tiny ceramic figures, as well as a clump of Sedum 'Angelina.'

Notice the extra piece of concrete leaning on the wall? It's meant to look like it just fell out and was left there, a little feature I first saw (and have now shamelessly copied) in the Dudan garden during last year's San Francisco Fling. (Check out Peter The Outlaw Gardener's excellent photos of that garden here.)

I'm sure there's a joke here. "A camel, a lion and an elephant went into a garden..."

An engraved heart-shaped rock spells "peace" between the kitty and the bird.
The inspiration for using the little ceramic figures came from the Ann Nichols garden seen at last year's Fling as well. You can read my post about it here, and Peter's even better post here. (Originality, what's that?)

The new water feature, purchased last year from Barbara Sanderson's Glass Gardens Northwest, is now running in one corner of Alison's Folly.

The splashing is a lovely sound as I cart plants too and fro and kneel and dig, dig, dig.


  1. It must have such a thrill to play in your garden! Congrats. I'm excited to see what's next!

  2. Looking great! You've found some really cool conifers!

  3. It's coming together beautifully Alison. Isn't it fun to dig in the dirt? Your water feature is gorgeous and you've got some awesome plants. I love that Hinoki. It looks like a fern. Have a great weekend and Valentine's Day.

  4. I love the Hinoki Alison. So cool. Everything looks great. Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. It's going to be so gorgeous when it all fills in! Love the playful touches. You're a woman after my own heart.

  6. Oh you are having fun now! It's going to look beautiful this summer. Love the water feature!

  7. I love your water feature! It looks like you have some great dirt! (Said enviously as my clay dirt is soggy, soggy, soggy from the snow and now loads of rain).

  8. I'm envious! You've accumulated a lot of wonderful plants. I'm anxious to get to planting my new bed too, but the lawn is still only about 1/2 dug out. (We who aren't doing the lawn removal can't complain about the speed of the process.) I'm planning to use repetition in my new bed too - and I need to give thought to how the new bed meshes with others nearby as well. Oh, the deliberations!

  9. Wow! So much progress since I saw it just a little over a week ago! How fun for you! Happy Gardening, pal!

  10. Blue water feature is awesome, and I love your conifers!

  11. This is exciting. I love being able to see your garden take shape.

  12. So glad you're now to the best stage: Planting! I think you're a candidate for several spring plant swaps, so better set one up!

  13. Boy do I love seeing this project develop over the past couple posts. I like seeing your vision take shape. And I like your inventiveness taking other people's ideas for paving bricks and color accents and giving them your own twist -- that's the key to great garden design: careful observation and creative interpretation!

  14. I love the bowling ball and wondered if it was a seedling from Peter's garden. Actually, I just love all of it! How incredible to be out gardening right now. It's snowing here. :o)

  15. I'll be interested to see how the Echinacea do... I have just sown some too, but bottled out of direct sowing. I'd not thought about putting them under cloches.

  16. I love the idea of the plantings but that water feature is a stunner that will take center stage.....the cute little trimmings work well too.

  17. Thanks so much for the lovely photos of your garden fountain! So glad you are enjoying the sound while you toil away! For those who may be interested here's my web storefront for my hand blown glass fountains:


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