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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Instead of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

I missed Garden Bloggers Bloom Day because for most of the week leading up to it I was on the East Coast, in Providence, R.I., for my son Iain's wedding. So instead of trying to play catch-up and post for GBBD, I'm just going to share my happy, albeit hectic, week. There's not much flowering in my garden right now anyway, other than very wet and wind-blown Echinacea purpurea and Sedum Autumn Joy. I came home at the end of Happy Wedding Week to gale-force winds and rain, strange weather more suited to later in the season.

I found some flowers in Providence, I'll show you those. But I'll also start with plants.

This was my airplane carry-on -- a tote bag full of potted starts for my son and new DIL's garden

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and met with Iain and Diana for dinner, and then on Wednesday afternoon they took us to Newport, R.I. to wander around the shops on the waterfront. We were still having a hard time getting acclimated to the new time zone, and in fact, never really did, we were still falling asleep around 2 a.m. the night before we came home. I also didn't take a lot of photos of the wedding, I just wanted to enjoy being with the two of them, plus Nigel and I had to meet all of Diana's family, which, as you can imagine, was pretty stressful for two old introverts who rarely talk about anything other than gardens (me) and computers (Nigel). Therefore, there are photos in this post that will be attributed to others.

A small park and old church next door to our hotel in Providence

At our afternoon meal (I wasn't sure whether it was lunch or dinner, since my time sense was all off), my son Iain made us all laugh with his version of Mr. Napkin Head from the movie The Holiday

On Thursday morning, rather than continuing to eat at the somewhat disappointing hotel restaurant, Nigel and I ventured down the street for breakfast at a little cafe called Ellie's, for lattes and breakfast sandwiches.

The interior of Ellie's


On Thursday was the actual "paperwork" wedding of Iain and Diana, at the North Providence Town Hall, officiated by a justice of the peace. The celebratory wedding, which was scheduled for Saturday, was going to be officiated by a friend of Diana's, who was not actually licensed in Rhode Island. So to get the paperwork correctly filed, they decided to have essentially two weddings. The one on Thursday in front of the J.P. was attended only by Nigel and I, Diana's parents, and Diana's sister Julia.

As you can see from the expression on Diana's face, she's a weeper, but she's also very much a keeper

On Friday evening, after the wedding rehearsal for the bigger celebration set to take place on Saturday, Nigel and I hosted a get-to-know-you party for all the people who had arrived from out of town for the big formal reception (Diana's family are all from Long Island).

Nigel and Brad, one of Iain's "groomsfolk," a good friend from Iain's high school days, at the Friday rehearsal party (photo by 2 1/2-year old Arzu, one of the flower girls)

On Saturday morning Nigel and I went for a walk around Providence.

I like this mural of a young girl opening a magical door

And this one, of a young man tossing a ring in the air, seemed appropriate

This art deco building in downtown Providence is called the Superman building because of its resemblance to the Daily Planet building in the original Superman comic books

We walked along the river that runs through the city, where preparations were underway for a city-wide celebration called WaterFire, set to take place that evening.

Those braziers full of wood would be set ablaze, but we wouldn't be there to see them as we would be at the wedding

Another Providence mural

Barges full of wood and a gondola

Along the riverfront, art with the city as a backdrop

Of course I managed to find a little pocket garden near the river.

There were large swaths of Rudbeckia

As well as lots of tall sunflowers

This building captured my imagination

Plant City was apparently a vegetarian market - we didn't bother to go closer for a better look

Providence recently built and opened a new bow-shaped pedestrian walkway across the river, that makes use of old bridge pylons. Read about it here.

Providence's new pedestrian bridge

View of the city from the bridge

On one side are tiered planters full of grasses that were blowing in the wind

I spotted Miscanthus, Panicum, Calamagrostis, and I think the short, pinkish tufted grass is Eragrostis

At the other end of the bridge was a large concrete walkway with island beds

I'm pretty sure they were intended as rain gardens, as they all dipped in the center, and although the plants on the edges were not especially moisture-loving, the ones in the depression in the center, such as Lobelia cardinalis, were

In the evening we headed out in our rental car to the reception hall at the Meehan Overlook in North Providence.

Flower Girl RaeLynn and Bridesfolk, Diana's sister Abby

Second Flower Girl Arzu, holding up a mask of Diana, created by one of Arzu's moms, one of the Groomsfolk and friend of Iain, Rosalie (who also took the photo)

Here's adorable Arzu in her dress (photo by Rosalie)

Arzu playing with bubbles (photo by Rosalie)

Arzu's favorite greeting -- "I have a dress!" (photo by Rosalie)

Nigel and Arzu, who took a liking to each other (photo by Rosalie) -- the bandaids are adornment

Iain looking quite dapper

Arzu calls him "Uncle Iain"

Diana and her mini-me Arzu -- Diana's simple bouquet was made of flowers from her garden

Arzu's second mom, Elnara, is from Azerbaijan. Arzu's name in Azerbaijani means "wish" or "dream."

My sister and her husband holding up bride and groom masks

After the wedding came Bridesfolk and Groomsfolk speeches. To Nigel's relief he wasn't called upon to speak. Iain's good friends who have all known him since high school shared funny and at times heart-warming stories of life with Iain. The last ten years have had their ups and downs and I'm so glad he has had such good friends for support back east.

Brad's speech included a funny story about Halloween, always one of Iain's favorite holidays

Scott told a story about being part of an underground newspaper in high school that was Iain's brainchild

For some reason I didn't get a photo of Rosalie's speechifying, but I did take a photo of her from Friday night's party

Diana (center) and her sisters/Bridesfolk, Abby (left) and Julia (right) (photo by Diana)

There are (fortunately) no photos of me, I'm not much of a selfie-taker. But for the wedding I did make a fun little fascinator. I bought a witch hat from Michael's last year at Halloween, which I altered by adding some colorful feathers and a flower with a battery-powered fiber-optic center that lit up.

Brave soul Nigel models my fascinator

After a brief visit to Iain and Diana's house on Sunday morning to say good-bye, we headed to Boston's Logan Airport Hilton for one last overnight stay before boarding our plane for home.

View from the Hilton

The shore of Lake Ontario from our plane

The opposite shore of Lake Ontario

Finally, the welcome sight of Mt. Rainier as it rises above the clouds

Lake Washington as our plane descends into SeaTac airport

Of course, now I am still jet-lagged despite never acclimating to East Coast time. It was a stressful, exhilarating week full of meeting new people, eating at odd times, etc. Nigel was back at work the very next day and we still haven't caught up on our sleep. Maybe by the weekend we'll get that chance.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wednesday Vignette

From the garden of Barb Purdey. I love gardens that are full of wonderful little views like this, especially of faces peeking out from greenery.

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday Vignette

My WV photo today is from a summer visit to the garden of George Shriver and Omar Watson, an NPA Open Garden. I have no clue what this seedpod is from, but the toothed edges remind me of Cardiocrinum. I doubt that's it, though, since it was so short. I've been poring over many of my summer photos from all the fantastic gardens I visited this year, and thinking about the fact that Labor Day is past, summer is nearly over, full-blown autumn rains will be here soon, and many of my flowers such as Echinacea will be nothing but seedheads soon, left to provide the proverbial winter interest and to feed the birds.

Time just keeps passing.

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette, you can check out her post here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A July Visit to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

At the end of July, I paid a visit to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden (RSBG) in Federal Way, during what I remember as a particularly hot series of days. Despite the fact that I have only one rhodie growing in my garden, and the fact that rhodies are not my favorite kind of shrub, the RSBG is one of my favorite public gardens in the Seattle/Tacoma area. It's a very woodsy garden, and on a hot day, it's a pleasantly shady place to spend some time. They have a wonderful collection of great companion plants for shade, as well as a fabulous, ferny Victorian-style stumpery and a cavernous conservatory full of tender plants. Most years I visit the RSBG in the spring during plant sale season. If you attend their spring plant sale you get in free, instead of having to pay $8.00. Plus, during the spring you get to see Cardiocrinum and Meconopsis blooming, as well as the rhodies of course. Not a lot was flowering when I was there in July, so if you're a foliage junkie, you're in for a treat.

A word of warning -- there are a lot of photos in this post. More is more, right?

The wide path from the parking lot to the garden entrance is through a lushly wooded area

Interesting rhodies line the path, but also plenty of other great shade plants

Along the path, as well as strewn throughout the garden itself, you'll find fern and moss-covered limbs and snags

A swath of Petasites frigidus var. palmatum, a northwest native

New growth on a rhodie

Near the entrance, another large nurse log covered in moss and shade plants

Near the gift shop, where you pay to enter, a Schefflera

The huge leaves on this rhodie with their powdery undercoating were striking, I couldn't help wondering what it looks like when it's flowering

Another Schefflera on the other side of the gift shop

I don't know much about much, but I think this might be Wollemia nobilis?

The RSBG nursery's shade pavilion

Should I have bought this Rhododendron sinogrande for $165.00? It's quite a good size. I bought a tiny one several years ago, which died almost immediately after I planted it.

Just a short walk away is the Rutherford Conservatory.

Despite the warm day I found those thrown-open doors quite inviting

All the double doors and every vent had been opened, and if I remember right, fans were also going inside. It was surprisingly comfortable.

A wide brick pathway makes a big circle inside

I see this Dendrobium orchid every time I visit, but I've never seen it flowering. It reminds me of a big insect.

Magnolia rostrata leaf that someone has carefully laid aside on the bridge railing

There's a water feature inside with a stream that the bridge crosses over

This looks a lot like a Podophyllum, which should be hardy, but it's inside the conservatory

This piece of burlwood with its three "eyes" seemed to be looking at me

Just outside the conservatory door is another piece of burlwood also covered in eye-like formations, with a gesneriad-like plant at its base.

I took off walking to see what I could see, like the bear that went over the mountain. In various areas they had sprinklers running, so some of the plants were water-spotted.


I was baffled by this rhodie with its very narrow leaves, which greatly resembled a conifer

It's Rhododendron roxieanum var. oreonastes

Here it is interspersed with a real conifer

An enormous patch of Podophyllum pleianthum

Occasionally I found myself turning my eyes, and my camera, onto the trees and limbs and upper canopy all around me.

Shadows on the path

Inevitably I was drawn back to the leaves.




I may have stared open-mouthed at the cutleaf edges of this magnificent Schefflera

More Polygonatum -- enormous patches of it

Another powder-covered rhodie


Bamboo detritus, and one bamboo culm lifting in and out of the soil like a sea creature rising out of the ocean


Arisaema foliage, I think

Fancy fern frond

Another large patch of Podophyllum

Ostrich ferns

Matteucia struthiopteris fertile fronds

So coppery!

I've seen quite a few rhodies this year, at both public and private NPA gardens, with rich powdery coating like this on their new growth, that have me wondering where I can fit something like this into my garden.

Unfurling fern frond, from Blechnum chilense, I think

Corylopsis gotoana

Peony and Podophyllum (I know they've been renamed Dysosma, and the RSBG's signage reflects that, but eh)

Magnolia cone

Astilboides tabularis

By July, a field full of Meconopsis seedpods is the only evidence of their previous beauty

The backlit hairs glow in the sun

Moss on a tree branch

The pond, with Hydrangeas flowering at its edge, and a covering of a tiny floating fern called Azolla which makes it look deceptively solid

Fern and peony seedpod

Across from the pond is the entrance to the Victorian stumpery, one of my favorite areas of the RSBG. I took lots of photos of stumps and twisted limbs covered in ferns and moss and various  shade plants, and although I did try to edit them down, it's hard to leave any out.

The entrance

The area contains a little clearing, with a moss-covered, sofa-like huge limb for sitting on.

A couple of different Saxifrages, Maianthemum racemosum, and ferns

A patch of Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla, next to some huge Darmera leaves

A closer look at the "sofa"

It's hard to know what fascinates me more about this place -- the twisted tangle of limbs or the wild abandon of the plants. Perhaps both -- it's such a perfect pairing. In the past when I've visited the RSBG, I've actually quickly bypassed everything just to get here to the Stumpery.

The fern in front, Dryopteris sieboldii, is not one I've grown, but I was intrigued enough seeing it here that I bought a couple of pots soon after my visit. We'll see how it does.

A rare flower at this time of year -- some kind of ground orchid/Dactylorhiza?

I hope you enjoyed this very long post with my photos from my visit to the RSBG.

The RSBG is also the home of the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, but I decided not to visit since I'm not much of a fan of bonsai. If you're interested in seeing some photos of the bonsai collection, my blogger friend Linda posted about the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection a year ago, which you'll find here.

The RSBG also has quite an extensive nursery onsite from which you can buy or order rhodies and other plants or seeds. Check out this link to their current list.  Fall 2019 ordering is now open.

If you're on Instagram, you can follow their account here.