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

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Now that I'm back inside and can feel my fingers again, I thought I'd post some photos I just took of my frost-decorated garden.

Melianthus major -- Will it survive? We'll see

Melianthus major

Melianthus major

Euphorbia -- Maybe now is a good time to cut this plant back, the irritating sap is probably frozen solid





Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Rudbeckia seedhead

Lily seedhead

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hydrangea quercifolia on a Frosty Morning

I planted Oakleaf Hydrangea about 4 years ago, one of the very first shrubs ever planted here. It flowered for the first time this year, and also for the first time is finally showing the wonderful fall coloration that I've seen so often elsewhere in nurseries and other blogs.

I thought of maybe making it my favorite plant in the garden this week, but I just don't have the mindfulness to spare right now to put a complete post together (My mind is taken up at the moment with a sick kitty). Some day soon maybe I will write a post. There's probably not much I can tell you about this shrub anyway that you don't already know.

What's really amazing about these photos is that those leaves were above my head. These shots were a quick and dirty point-and-shoot miracle.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Favorite Plant in the Garden Right Now...

Is x Fatshedera lizei 'Gold Heart.' I was wandering around the garden yesterday taking note of plants that I might want to include in an upcoming Garden Bloggers Bloom Day or Foliage Followup post, and couldn't help noticing the wonderfully colorful leaves on this strange intergeneric hybrid of Hedera helix and Fatsia japonica.

It's only been in the ground since the spring, ever since my early spring trip to Portland with Peter The Outlaw Gardener for the Portland Bloggers Plant Swap, which also entailed a visit to Cistus Nursery, where I bought the Fatshedera, along with plenty of other great plants. You can read about that day trip on this post here.

It's a little bigger than it was when I bought and planted it, but not much.

Unlike Hedera helix (English ivy), an invasive, pernicious weed with absolutely uncontrolled spreading and strangling tendencies that should never ever be planted in the ground, Fatshedera is a restrained, sterile grower with the upright, shrubby habit of its other parent Fatsia.

Here's what the tag from Cistus has to say about it: "This cultivar is a particularly nice example of this interesting and non-invasive hybrid between Fatsia and Hedera. Shared with us by East Coast plantsman Don Jacobs, it has evergreen foliage with a reliable large and golden maple leaf pattern in the leaf center, foliage that burnishes red when temperatures fall to the 20s F or below. Plants have all the vigorous characteristics of x Fatshederal lizei 'Aureovariegata,' scrambling and leaning to about 5 ft tall and 3 ft wide. Needs summer water in dry places and shade to part sun. Frost hardy well into USDA zone 7. Wonderful as a container plant."

I couldn't find much on the web about 'Gold Heart,' but you can read about Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke' aka 'Aureovariegata' aka 'Aureomaculata' (this plant has a lot of aliases) on the excellent informational website Plant Lust here.

Great fall color
We haven't had temps near 20 yet, we've only had one night of light frost, but the older leaves are showing that burnished red color mentioned on the tag. It's planted next to a past favorite, Jeweled Chain Fern/Woodwardia unigemmata, which you can read about here.

x Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke' is also on the list of Great Plant Picks, and you can read their info about it here. Do you know about Great Plant Picks? From their website: "Great Plant Picks is an educational program committed to building a comprehensive palette of outstanding plants for maritime Pacific Northwest gardens. Great Plant Picks is one of the educational outreach programs for the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, providing a forum for sharing horticultural information with the wider gardening community." Read more about the Great Plant Picks program here.

Debbie Teashon who writes Rainy Side Gardeners also grows this plant, and has some excellent info about it here.

The newer leaves are just as beautiful

It looks wonderful next to ferny foliage

I have it planted in a mostly shade bed (shade for most of the season from the pin oak foliage that towers over the bed, but dappled shade/sun in the early spring). It got watered about once a week in the summer. With that promise of it growing as high as 5 feet and as wide as 3 feet, I have high hopes for this plant in future years, although it is reputedly slow-growing and I might eventually have to stake it. We'll see.

Here are some stats:

Height: 5 Feet
Width: 3 Feet
Hardiness: Zone 7a-10b
Light Requirements: Deep Shade/Part Shade
Soil Requirements: Moist, but well-drained, can take some dryness

You can buy x Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke' aka 'Aureovariegata' aka 'Aureomaculata' at these online nurseries:

Plant Delights
Avant Gardens
Almost Eden
Secret Garden Growers

The Favorite Plant in the Garden meme is hosted by Loree at the blog danger garden, and you can read about her current favorite here. Don't forget to check out the comments, where other bloggers will leave links to posts about their current favorites as well. Interestingly, Fatshedera lizei was Loree's favorite a couple of months ago, and you can read her post about the plant here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"As the Bishop Said to the Actress..."

"It's Just a Little Prick."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Coming to Fruition

For today's enjoyment, a collection of images of fruiting bodies -- berries, seedheads, etc. -- from my garden.

Fuchsia magellanica

Maianthemum berries

Sarcococca berries

Not actually a berry, but seeds, from the Blackberry Lily

I still have my pick of artfully strewn Douglas fir cones

Rudbeckia seedheads and Panicum 'Rohtstrahlbusch'

I love the starry shapes of Aralia californica berries -- not only when they are still intact, but also when they fall

Clematis seedheads

Berberis berries

The shiny blackish-blue berries of black mondo grass

The return of fall rain always causes mushrooms to pop up all over.

Something has been chowing down on this slimy thing -- most likely, another slimy thing, a slug.

At this time of year you really have to look closely to find the beauty.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Still Not Doing Much Actual Gardening

Given the eclectic selection of topics I've been posting about -- foliage, houseplants, storms, etc. -- it may be obvious that I'm still not doing any real gardening. I tried, about a week ago, to do some weeding in the front bed. But I gave up after an hour, when my leg and my back both started hurting. When I stood up, my left leg was all tingly and my foot had a numb spot on it. I was actually afraid my leg would buckle under me.

These are not good signs of spinal health. I love my garden, and I love my plants, but the garden is not worth the risk of maybe having a permanent limp.

I'm going to take a long, long. Long. Rest from it. I'll still take pictures and post on my blog. But planting anything and re-arranging the bed I had plans for are pretty much out of the question for a few months. I'm going to take a zen approach to the many plants that are still not in the ground. Whatever lives, lives.

Maybe I'll do some crafts. Some constructive staring. Also, more walking and less sitting. My back feels best when I'm on my feet for long periods of time, so maybe I'll become one of those mall walkers, and get more exercise. I can stand to lose more weight.

Last time I injured my back, it got better on its own. I'm hoping this will get better on its own too. It should, it's not even as bad as that time. (Please don't tell me to go to the doctor.)

But you know... it is hard to resist doing just a little something. Pulling a weed here and there. Taking a short 15 minutes to just cut back something ugly.

So, here's a long good-bye to the garden. Its Last Hurrah for 2013.

I made a half-hearted attempt to push this fallen branch back into my neighbor's yard, but no success. I'm going to let Nigel deal with it.

Same with this enormous fir bough hanging suspended above our fence

I had to take a picture of the cute lichens on this twig before tossing it into the yard waste.

This mum, which I'm pretty sure is 'Sheffield Pink,' was planted in the wrong spot, behind the taller Hydrangea and clumps of 'Golden Jubilee' Agastache -- just another "What was I thinking?" moment. (I stepped into the bed to get this picture.)

Too pretty at this time of year to keep hidden.
Here are a few more plants that are still flowering too.

The hummingbirds still come every day to this Fuchsia magellanica

Like me, Penstemon doesn't want to say good-bye.

Salvia 'Hot Lips'

The Brug that I bought this summer at Means Nursery in Portland is still flowering.

This annual Calendula 'Solar Flashback' is still flowering too, and I'm saving seeds from it to sow in my new beds in the front garden.
I'm still planning to take out a lot of grass and put new beds and a greenhouse in the front, maybe over the winter. But fortunately, I can hire someone else to do that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Douglas Fir Detritus

The wind over the weekend left my garden covered with flotsam and jetsam -- not just leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs, but also needles, cones, branches and buds from the Douglas firs that are all around.

Bits and pieces of trees everywhere, even blown onto the covered back porch

All over the patio

Onto the chaise

A pile of branches -- more out in the beds

One big dead bough came down

Red Twig Dogwood leaves and fir needles collecting at the end of the stream

Plenty of dogwood leaves are still hanging on, but soon they'll all be gone, and it'll be time to give it a trim. They say you should prune any old branches that are no longer red, but it looks like they are all red. That's good actually, because I'd like to do something with the branches that I take off. Do you know any good twiggy crafts? I could weave them into some kind of wall hanging. Or make these twig coasters (thank you Martha Stewart).  Maybe I'll just stick them in a vase without water and let them decorate the house.
Still plenty of leaves

Geranium 'Rozanne' is not giving up without a fight