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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Grand Adventure Part II

Part II of mine and Peter's grand adventure a week ago, when we embarked on a day trip to Portland, entailed a visit to Joy Creek Nursery. (You can read Part I here, which covers our visit at Cistus Nursery). Be sure and check out Peter's post about Part I of our trip as well as his post today about the Portland Bloggers Plant Exchange that we attended.

What was the first thing I noticed as soon as I got out of the car? Was it all the fantastic plants?

No, it was the nursery mascot Yowler, whose adventures I have followed on Joy Creek's Facebook page. I recognized him immediately, as he sat on a table near the cashier's station.

Yowler is the adorable ginger kitty who resides at the nursery. And that's Peter, the Outlaw Gardener, my travel companion, in the background.
Unfortunately, by the time we got there, we only had 15 minutes to shop before they were going to close for the day. But one of the nursery owners, Mike, was there, and he offered to give us a tour of the nursery's display garden when we were done shopping.


One of these Eryngium pandanifolium came home with me. Cool leaves, and it can grow to 8 feet high (if it survives the winter)!

This Clematis Alpine Willy was so tempting. I should have bought one, but I don't really have a spot for another Clematis. I already had three waiting to be planted, and I had just gotten a free Clematis armandii from Loree at the Portland Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange.

Our tour of the display garden started at this wonderful sunny, west-facing bed. Isn't that golden Hypericum delicious?

This Magnolia was flowering profusely. I don't remember the variety, but it was so gorgeous!

It had lots of great moss and lichens growing on its sprawling boughs.

A red Primrose

Yowler decided to accompany us. He was so funny as he scampered and frolicked in the garden!

Using a tree as his personal scratching post

He kept hopping in and out of the center of this grass.

Such a bright true blue flower on this Pulmonaria

This intriguing plant is Muscari macrocarpum 'Golden Fragrance' -- we both poked our noses into it, and the scent was just delicious! As we wandered through the garden, it wafted after us.

Yowler sunning himself on the steps of the house, looking deceptively mellow

An Arum look-alike, Arisarum proboscideum, also called Mouse plant.

Doesn't the flower from it look like a wee mouse with a long tail?

A rare Fritillaria -- I don't remember the name, and neglected to take a photo of the tag.

"Does this tree make my butt look big?"


A spider Azalea -- love those frothy pink flowers!

This enormous Podophyllum clump made quite a statement at the top of the stairs

There were lots of flowers hiding under the leaves.

Lots of quite large Arisaemas are spread throughout the garden, all flowering.

A pair of Jacks

I forget the name of this Lamium too, but isn't that a lovely flower?

It was quite a large clump.

Gorgeous blooming Clematis, and Yowler

These Euphorbia flowers remind me of Mr. Magoo.

Yowler makes a good combo, the color of his coat matching the old Camellia blooms.

Sedum flowing over a rock edge

It was so nice of Mike to give us such a great tour, he took more than an hour out of the end of his day to show us around, time he could have spent relaxing. I've spent plenty of time poring over Joy Creek's online catalog. I really need to go back to do justice to the nursery. It's an excellent, well-stocked place.

But by now, we were both starving and tired and ready for some food. It had already been a long and very exciting day, and we still had an almost three-hour trip home to the Tacoma area ahead of us, not to mention having to empty the car and sort the plants out once we got back, in the dark.

I mentioned in Part I that Peter is a master at car/plant Tetris. Here is the back seat of the car stuffed with plants.

And from the other side.

Not to mention the trunk!

I was hard at work in the garden every day last week, planting. We had such great weather for it, temps in the 60s and 70s and sunny, cloudless skies. After a day in the garden I often come in barely able to put two words together (usually 'Water! Food!" I often forget to eat and drink while I'm in the gardening  zone.) I came in every evening so sore and tired, but I've gotten so much done! After some sprinkles of rain over the weekend, now this week is shaping up to be similar to last week.

If you're looking for me, I'll be out in the garden.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Grand Adventure Part I

I don't actually remember what this very Dr. Seussian plant was, but it had lots of bare branches like this that looked like they were madly waving around.

On Saturday, Peter of The Outlaw Gardener and I hopped into the car and headed to Portland for a wild and magical nursery tour, as well as a plant exchange with a group of garden bloggers from Oregon. Our day started at about 8 a.m. in Tacoma, where Peter lives. I was really excited to get a quick early morning peek at Peter's garden. (He visited mine last week and did a really wonderful blog post about it, which you can read here).

Peter's colorful garden is striking and whimsical and full of humorous touches, which makes it a marvelous reflection of the gardener himself.

This path near the front door made with reclaimed bricks parts a sea of Oxalis

On the left as you enter is this gorgeous variegated Rhododendron 'President Roosevelt'
Trillium popping up amidst a carpet of Oxalis

Columns with pots on top! Heads! Plants massed in pots covering a bench! It's hard to know where to look first

The garden is full of this calming blue splash of color, here paired with the golden leaves of a Hypericum

A dinosaur peaks out from the foliage

The blue garage makes a perfect backdrop for every kind of ornament imaginable

The brick-lined path leads down

The garden is full of these mottled Podophyllums

And that's all you get to see (at least today) of Peter's garden. But I'm hoping I'll be back later in the season for a more extensive look. Although if you really want to see more, you can always check out this post from danger garden's visit last year.

After this quick look at Peter's garden, we both took off in the car for a trip to Portland, OR and a visit to Cistus Nursery.

The first sight on getting out of the car was this bright blue bottle tree. Can you see the little feathered visitor on top?

Entering Cistus was rather like being transported to Borneo (as I imagine it, since I've never actually been to Borneo)

This pavilion leads you to a large open area with plant tables, where the plants have been divided up into parts of the world from whence they came (or perhaps areas that they evoke?)

From the land of zonal denial

A mannequin arm holds this sign askew. I was disappointed to see no chickens beyond the wire fence.

However, there was a giant metal duck

This Pacific Coast Iris sorely tested my ability to resist temptation. I already have several that I recently divided up, and I brought a bunch of starts to the plant exchange. None with this deep, rich color, though.

This playful vignette tickled me! The palm on the left has outgrown its enormous pot, and the roots have set the pot askew.

The largest staghorn fern I have ever seen

Magnolia flower preparing to open

These spiky plants wait near the till

Wine corks are an ingenious solution to the problem of those dangerous poky bits. I'm sure they don't want customers opening a vein while shopping.

This silhouette, which hangs over the till, captures the spirit of my Cistus shopping experience quite accurately!
After buying our plants and wrestling them into the car (Peter is a master at plant/car tetris), we took a walk through the display garden there, which runs between the parking area and the nursery (the bottle tree from earlier is part of the display garden). It reminded me of Peter's garden, and it's not just because both have a worn brick path. Figuring out how to combine foliage and place plants and ornaments to lead the visitor onward takes a good eye.

I love the mysterious nature of the curving path. What's beyond?

That's not another living Phormium in the middle, it's a rusty metal one.

The Epimedium wushanense was enormous!

The mottled leaves on this Epimedium remind me of stained glass.

By now, we knew we were going to be late getting to the Oregon Bloggers Plant swap! It was so hard to tear ourselves away, but I was looking forward to meeting in person some of the bloggers whose blogs I follow and comment on. It was kind of like a mini Garden Bloggers Fling, but not as crowded and noisy. You can read an account of the get-together here on Jenni's blog Rainy Day Gardener. Fortunately, I managed to elude her camera, but unfortunately, I also was too excited to take my own camera out and get photos! I had a wonderful time, gave away some plants from my garden and picked up a few choice specimens from others.

Well, this long day was about to get even longer. But still loads of fun! We still had two more nurseries to visit, and one of them -- Joy Creek Nursery -- involved a personal tour of the display garden from one of the owners.

You'll have to come back and read that next time in A Grand Adventure Part II!

Wait, what did you say? Well, of course you want to know what I bought at Cistus...So I just ran out in the rain to line them all up like beauty contestants in the swimsuit parade.

Starting with the big purple leaves on the left: Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler,' Musa sikkimensis 'Red Tiger,' Aspidistra elatior 'Variegata,' and Parahebe perfoliata

Canna leaf with Aspidistra

Parahebe's lovely blue flowers and perfoliate (surrounding the stem) leaves

Musa's tiger stripes

New leaf still unwhorling

But wait, that's not all!

Starting with the bright magenta flowers at the  back: Loropetalum chinense 'Carolina Midnight,' Acanthus syriacus, Solanum quitoense, Agave bracteosa 'Calamar,' Fatshedera 'Gold Heart,' Petasites frigidus var. palmatus 'Golden Palms,' and Hydrangea macrophylla 'New Wave'

Loropetalum's bright flowers and dark purple new foliage

Hydrangea's multi-colored leaves ('New Wave' is a Cistus introduction)

Solanum quitoense, a tomato relative that will produce fruit and very thorny foliage and stems as it matures

Don't forget to come back and see the rest of the adventure!