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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Portland Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange

On Sunday this past weekend Nigel and I loaded some plants into our little blue Prius (Plant Mobile Jr.) and drove down to Portland for the Portland Garden Bloggers Spring Plant Exchange. Peter The Outlaw Gardener and I went down to this exchange at about this time last year (read his post here) and had a great time, so I decided to repeat the trick, but this time with Nigel. Because it was held on a Sunday, Peter couldn't go, because he works 3 jobs, and one of those is on Sunday. A few days before, he had delivered some plants that he potted up, which I brought down on his behalf.

The back of the car packed with plants

More in the footwells of the back seat

The drive down to Portland from where I live south of Seattle was a bit hairy, given it was a very stormy day, with us driving through big dark bands of torrential showers at intervals. At one point, I-5 was so drenched it looked like a river, and the rain and wind were so fierce the car handled like a garbage scow in a fast-moving current. We reached the home and garden of Jennifer, who writes the blog Rainy Day Gardener, our host for the event, just after a major thunderstorm had passed over. The weather for the rest of the day was quite nice, however, except for one very brief spatter of sprinkles, and a few much less violent showers that we drove through to get home. I did hear that at the time we were driving home, an EF-0 tornado touched down very briefly in Eatonville (read about it here), a town I have actually been through on the way to Mt. Rainier.

Blue sky and sunshine for most of the rest of the day

No sooner had everyone arrived and unloaded their cars than the pointing and exclaiming (and claiming for our own) began. "What's that?" "What conditions does it like?" "How big does it get?" Plants were set down in the middle of Jenni's driveway, and as we each chose what we wanted, we would move it to our own particular stash.

(l-r) Tamara (Chickadee Gardens), Charlie (the infamous pirate of Gravy Lessons), me (talking with my hands or maybe casting a spell), Ann (Amateur Bot-Ann-ist), Jane (MulchMaid)

Amy  (What Blooms When) eyes an Acanthus spinosus

Linda  (Whatsitgarden) examines some plants

Matthew (The Lents Farmer)

Ann (Amateur Bot-Ann-ist)

(l-r) Laura (Gravy Lessons) and Tamara (Chickadee Gardens)

Ann, Matthew, and Amy, with Jenni's historical home which was recently re-sided, in the background

Ricki (Sprig to Twig) and Heather (Just a Girl With A Hammer)

Loree (Danger Garden) contemplates whether a plant is spiky enough, or fascinating enough, to warrant inclusion in her garden

Our host Jenni (Rainy Day Gardener), who provided not just the venue but also coffee, tea, cookies and fruit

So what plants did I come home with?

Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll Dark Blue' which is going in the front bed in front of Iris 'Gerald Darby' with Sedum Angelina in front of it

Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Gold Angel' which is going here with a red-leaved Cotinus next to it (and a surprisingly robust Clematis growing through it)

Two Lunaria annua (Honesty), which are going into the front bed by the street near Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Echinacea purpurea, where I hope it will self-sow

Four Campanula persicifolia, which are also going into the front bed by the street, near a swath of Centaurea dealbata and Echinacea 'White Swan'

A handful of Alchemilla alpina, a tiny form of ladies mantle, which are going into the front garden where the one I got at the fall swap is already thriving

Alchemilla alpina is adorable

Two Alchemilla mollis, which are probably going in the front foundation bed, which is undergoing a bit of an overhaul

An Acanthus spinosus, which is currently getting bottom-watered in the pot ghetto, but which will eventually be planted in the gravel garden

Two tiny seedlings of Amsonia hubrichtii, which I'm going to grow on for a while in their pots

A Clown Whore Sedum, which is slated for a spot in the gravel garden

Clown Whore isn't actually its true name. It's Sedum sieboldii  'Mediovariegatum.' Heather at Just a Girl With a Hammer christened it Clown Whore (here in this post). I have one already growing in a similar spot in the gravel garden, near a Yucca 'Bright Star,' both of which are looking rather sickly at the moment.

We stopped briefly at Xera in Portland, where I bought a couple of plants.

Lobelia tupa, which is going in the driveway bed, with an ornamental oregano growing in front of it

Ceanothus thyrsiflora 'Born Again' which will go into the front bed that runs along the edge of our property between me and my neighbor

I also scored a broken pot from Loree, a really cool, big, heavy one with lots of interesting shards, but still with a good shape for planting in. I've been using Pinterest to collect ideas for what to do with it.

I can still use this, right?

Ideas like this, and this. I wish I'd had it a few months ago, when the recycled concrete wall was being built, because it would have made an interesting feature of the wall, kind of like this or this. If I can't make those ideas work, I can always just bury it in the gravel garden, like this.

Thanks, Loree! It's going to look cool and still be useful, and you can visit it if you ever come up this way.

Nigel and I both had a wonderful time, talking plants with everyone and seeing how much Jenni's garden has grown since last year when I visited. I came home with fewer plants than I brought, which is a total win when you have a pot ghetto the size of mine. Thank you to Jenni for hosting, and to the other Portland Garden Bloggers for welcoming me, a Washington garden blogger, to their shindig.


  1. I think in that photo you're telling Tamara to talk to the hand. Your plant combinations are going to look so great--I can't wait to see how everything fills in this summer. I'm so glad you and Nigel made it down for the swap!

  2. So neat to see us all together! Thanks for reminding me that I have plants yet to remove from the back of my car. Lol.

  3. Hee hee...thanks for posting, Alison! You ARE giving me the bizness - talk to the plant hand! So great to see you both, thank you for the great plants! Thanks too for posting the names of everyone, it's very helpful! Hi Nigel!

  4. I couldn't make it either. Hopefully I can make it to the fall exchange! Looks like a fun time. Love that Alchemilla alpina.

  5. What a Grand Exchange, everybody came home winners, looks like. It is good to see faces to match imaginary friends.

  6. I'm so glad you can use that pot, it still breaks my heart that it got smashed to bits. Also...let me know and 'Id be happy to look at the camera next time...

    (thanks for all the seedlings!)

  7. How fun! I hope our blogger plant swap in Chattanooga grows into something like this :)

  8. I love all your loot, Alison, plus I learned about a few new plants. You are planning for a mild winter with Lobelia tupa and 'Born Again' Ceanothus, aren't you? Sounds great to me!

  9. I like all of the broken pot ideas!

  10. Wow, you made out like a bandit! I'm impressed that you've got such an impressive plant exchange going but then I think the PNW must have more gardeners per capita than SoCal - the best I've been able to manage is a few swaps or gift plants through friends. I've seen those broken pot creations on Pinterest too and hope to be able to try it myself (even if I have to smash a pot or 2 myself first).

  11. You'll have masses of Lunaria , I've just been relocating some small ones. They are sneaky things. you don't notice them till … one day a pyramid of mauve in the wrong spot. I'm on to them this year.
    Nice to see you and Nigel again !

  12. Gardeners are such a generous lot. It's so nice to be able to meet up with like minded individuals, be able to share and exchange plants!

  13. You assuaged my guilt a little bit by celebrating the fact that you came home with fewer plants than you brought. I guess we all come out of it with what we need, top of the list being camaradarie with the only group that can truly understand us.

  14. Awesome! that looks like so much fun! I love the clown whore sedum ;) ... that just made my day.

  15. What a fun time, well, except for that boating on I 5 thing. Sorry to have missed seeing you and all of the other groovy garden blogging characters but glad to have gotten rid of some plants! Thanks for taking them down for me!


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