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

Friday, June 28, 2013

Some Pictures from Today's Fling Outings

I'm in San Francisco today for the Garden Bloggers Fling, which is a big garden bloggers party that happens once a year in a different city each year. Two years ago it took place in Seattle, and I attended and loved it!

This year it's in San Francisco, and next year it's Portland, OR. After that, I believe it's slated to go international and take place in Toronto, Canada.

We visited a couple of different gardens today, as well as paid a visit to Annie's Annuals. There are a lot of plants growing here in the ground that we take in and overwinter in pots. It's a different plant palette, and there are lots I'm not familiar with. I thought I'd share pictures of some of the interesting plants.

Agave 'Blue Glow'

Agave 'Blue Glow'

Agave 'Blue Glow'


Dyckia in the garden at Annie's Annuals


Cool Succulent

Not sure what this plant was, but it had really interesting stalks

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday June 2013 -- Indian Pipe

On a recent garden tour I had the singular joy of seeing two patches of the curious native plant Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) growing in one of the gardens, the garden of Millie and Craig Russell in Gig Harbor, WA. This fascinating parasitic plant survives without a speck of chlorophyll by getting its nutrients from a mycorrhizal fungus that is itself living off the roots of a tree. Indian pipe is found in the darkest recesses of the forest. Because it has no chlorophyll, it is completely white, and instead of actual leaves on each stem it has something that more closely resembles scales. If the flower is picked it almost immediately wilts and turns black. The flowers provide nectar for small bumblebees, which pollinate it. The flowers then produce seeds. Any attempt to transplant results in the Indian pipe's death, so it is even more finicky than lady's slipper orchids. According to Millie, it arose in the garden with no help from her.

That patch of ghostly white to the right of the sprinkler head is Indian pipe, also called Ghost flower, or Corpse plant.

It was a real treat getting to see this plant. I'd heard of it, and seen photos in books.

A second, smaller patch is a little further along, but smaller.

Wildflower Wednesday is the brainchild of Gail Eichelberger of the blog clay and limestone, and its purpose is to celebrate wildflowers from around the world on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Check out Gail's post here, where you'll find links to other blog posts about wildflowers.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

One of These Things...... not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Side Trip to Dig Nursery

Smack in the middle of our Vashon Island garden tour, Peter The Outlaw Gardener, Tom and I stopped at Dig Nursery, a marvelously funky place that I have posted about in the past. I visited two years ago. (Click here to read about my visit.)

The nursery is still encircled by enormous gabions connected by wire fence, and with a gravel "floor," but now has a much more established air to it, as well as some marvelous new, large features such as a greenhouse and a wire pavilion. The gravel now has plants growing in it too.

This adorable little cat statue was situated right in front of a Nigella seedpod, which was growing in the gravel, looking rather like he was sniffing it. Since I love cats, and my husband's name is Nigel, I had to get a picture of it. In fact, it's now my profile picture on Facebook.

A murder of crows

Mexican feather grass and a variety of sedums have been allowed to grow in the gravel.

I love the carpet of sedum at the feet of this bench

The new wire pavilion

I took a photo of these stacked file drawers two years ago! Not long after, I bought some metal file drawers to make my own little succulent "Digette.' I really should get on that.

The nursery is divided into rooms with fun names!

These terra cotta planters are the best!

An enormous pot on its side was filled with water and water plants

These concrete culvert pools connected by a girder river were there two years ago too. Some day I've got to try some Sarracenias.

Orange poppy, so bright and cheerful!

Peony blossoms floating in a birdbath

This rose has such sunny colors!

The owner's dog seems to spend most of her time napping and lounging in the nursery on her own bench.

Forget terrariums under glass, how about a water garden under glass?

I love these stripey containers, they just scream the Southwest to me.

So....what did I buy there? Well, most of them have already been planted, so I can't do my usual trick of lining the suspects up on my patio like a bunch of would-be criminals. (Also, I can't remember all of them, they're out there in the garden somewhere.)

This amazing Arisaema was in glorious flower when I bought it. Now, well, I don't think I'll say what that flower reminds me of.

I bought two of this cute little Pelargonium sidoides there. It hasn't started flowering yet, but when it does, the flower should be burgundy, a great contrast with that leaf.

I also bought two of this cool Nasturtium 'Flamethrower Orange' there, which ended up being planted in cheapo bird cages and hung on my front porch (I posted about that here.)

My favorite purchase at Dig wasn't a plant, it was this stand-out gardening hat! This thing caught my eye the second I entered the little register hut at Dig. I've worn it a few times already. That brim is enormous, and shades the back of my neck perfectly.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Dig! Peter also posted about this nursery, you can read his post and see the pictures he took here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Favorite Plant in the Garden Right Now... my cardoon. From across the garden, it almost looks like a Christmas tree. I planted it last year, and this year it has really taken off.

I love the way its felty gray foliage and upright form contrasts with both the Alaska cedars to the left, and with the other foliage plants surrounding it. In case you're wondering, that's the cardoon on the far left.

With chocolate Eupatorium

I love the arch of the leaves

The other day while out in the garden, it struck me how primordial this view is, and the cardoon contributes greatly to that.

It's going to flower soon too. Its flowers resemble a small artichoke, which of course is in the same family.

A native of the Mediterranean, it's also deer-resistant. The unopened flowers can be eaten like an artichoke, and the stalks are edible as well. I recall seeing Mario Batali cooking it on the Food Network many years ago. In case you're curious, here's a link to some recipes. The stalk reportedly dies back after flowering, but then it regrows from the base. And it self-sows according to what I've read online, so I'll have to be careful about those flowers going to seed. Perhaps I'll try saving seed from it.
I actually planted two of them last year, close together, as a kind of insurance plan. But when I realized they were both thriving, I moved one of them this spring to another area of the bed, to anchor the other end. It sulked for a little while, and needed watering back in May when we had that three-week stretch of dry days. Now it's pumping out a lot of stalks, and seems happier.

Here's some cultivation info.

Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon)

Zone: 7a-9b

Light requirements: Full Sun (although mine gets a bit of morning shade from the overhead Douglas firs as the sun moves across the sky, then full afternoon sun)

Soil: Dry, well-drained, but fertile

Bloom time: Early to Mid-summer

Height: 6-8 ft.

Width: 1-3 ft.

You can find more info about it here at Plant Lust.

Loree at the blog danger garden has been posting regularly for quite a while now about her favorite plant in her garden, and has invited others to participate in it as a blogging meme.  You can read her current post here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Phallic Splendor of Hens and Dicks...I Mean Chicks

I sincerely hope I'm not the only gardener with an adolescent sense of humor, who goes around the garden at this time of year smirking and chuckling at my Sempervivums. Cause if I was the only one, that would make me, like, a total dork.

I also find myself really annoyed at them, because when they start doing this, it means they're going to die soon, and leave a hole in the landscape. Not a very big hole, but still, a hole. Heaven knows what I'd do if I ever grew an Agave that flowered. I think I'd be really pissed. (They die too, and they're a lot bigger.)

Sempervivums are monocarpic, which means they die after they flower.  Before they flower, the whole plant, which until now has been a pretty rosette that itself resembles a flower, starts to elongate, and gets flower buds on the tip, that make it look kind of like a little monster with many eyes.

Each of those is a bud that will open up into a tiny flower.

With my Whale's Tongue Agave -- it's just a little prick, but I hope one day it'll be a big one

Geez, it's a good thing men don't die after "rising to the occasion." On the other hand, that would make the world an interestingly different place.