Monday, November 2, 2015

The Final Frontier

I have slowly but steadily chipped away at my small urban lot over the last twelve years, tearing out lawn, blackberries, and overgrown English laurels bit by bit to carve out new garden spaces. I have finally reach the final frontier, however, and run out of new places to improve and colonize. This frontier is on the street on the southeast of front yard, a space which has long been neglected and overgrown.

A large privacy hedge of Bissett's bamboo, Phyllostachys bissettii, occupied the site for several years, helping to screen out an unsightly and poorly maintained apartment building slightly uphill and across the street. Originally the bamboo was planted and contained on a small berm, but it eventually escaped and I no longer had time to properly police it. Reworking the space will cut down on bamboo maintenance as well as providing one last new place to fill with interesting plants.

The bamboo before removal. Scale is hard to judge here, but the bamboo ranges from 8' (2.5m) on the left to over 20' (8m) on the right:

Here is the site after bamboo removal but before some shrubs were relocated, including a Lonicera nitida 'Baggensen's Gold,' Fatsia japonica, and a few potted plants. The broken concrete on the right will be recycled and used as a retaining wall to support and contain the new garden space:

Free fill dirt. It has a high clay content and so will need to be amended, but the price was right. It will also compress less than topsoil would, and has the lower fertility the new plantings will prefer. I will reshape it into a berm for the xeric shrub border:
The plan is to fill the space with evergreen, drought-tolerant shrubs which will eventually grown large enough to offer some of the privacy and screening provided by the bamboo. I put together an idea board with some of the main planned plants in roughly the relative positions they will have after planting in order to get an idea how the different foliate sizes, colors, and textures would work together. Plants include Grevillea victoriae 'Marshall Olbricht,' Olearia lineata 'Dartonii,' Pittosporum heterophyllum, Fremontodendron 'California Glory,' Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. debeuzevillei, Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata, Laurus nobilis 'Monem,' Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy,' Buddleja loricata, and Eriobotrya japonica:

Planting diagram with the street (south) at the top of the picture. (It has been rainy for several days and I didn't want to work the clay soil while it was waterlogged, so I have had some time to think about this - maybe too much time!)

Weather permitting, the next phase will involve building retaining walls around the berm, amending the soil, and ensuring proper drainage. After that comes planting and mulching. Something to look forward to despite it being the off season for most gardening activities.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Gathering of the Succulents

Each fall I gather up my many tender succulents from their scattered locations and bring them into the garden shed for winter protection. In my garden they need protection mostly from winter wet, and only to a lesser extent from frost. The shed roof is made out of polycarbonate panels and lets in a bit of light, which I supplement with some full spectrum shop lamps on a timer. Here the succulents are gathered prior to placement in the shed, which still needs a bit of cleaning out and organizing prior to hosting the succulent hordes. They include several aloes, sedums, echeverias, agaves, and cacti, plus a nolina and a bromeliad.

Hardier potted succulents will be tucked away elsewhere under eaves out of the worst of the winter rains. This year several agaves will also spend the winter in the ground, and I'll keep my fingers crossed they endure the winter wet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bloom Day: September, 2015

Spring-like fall weather has brought a few surprise flowers, including a few blossoms on Clematis montana 'Freda,' Callistemon, and an unidentified Rhododendron:


Several other things are blooming around the garden, some seemingly with a bit more vigor now that this summer's unusual heat has faded.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bloom Day: August, 2015

A belated roundup of a few things blooming in the garden:

Salvia patens cv. with Agave parryi var. truncata in the background:


Lobelia tupa has been enjoying the heat with nary a wilt or pause in blooming:


Geranium 'Rozanne' is a bit drought resistant but still needs some summer water to keep the profusion of blooms from stalling:


A red flowered yucca! Not really - just the flowers of Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen' peaking through the leaves of Yucca recurvifolia 'Margaritaville'.


 Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising' keeps on blooming and blooming:

A Dahlia cultivar the name of which I have lost track. This one has been getting by with surprisingly little summer water, although the dry weather has delayed and limited blooming a bit:


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Private Garden Visit in Historic Irvington, Portland

I recently had an opportunity to visit an excellent private garden in Portland's history Irvington neighborhood. There were a lot of interesting plants, including several different hardy gardenias, multiple hardy scheffleras, and at least four different kinds of evergreen magnolia. Plus tons of other great plants! What a treat.

Front yard:



A very happy pittosporum:
Leading to the side yard, the path passes a huge hardy oleander planted in the ground:
Path to the back yard:

Restios glowing in the afternoon sun greeted me:

They where next to a seating area with very modern pavers and gravel:

Hardy schefflera, the hallmark in the Pacific Northwest of a plant nerd. Think of it as an indicator species:

Lush plantings abounded:

Lovely fig leaves:

From these lovely fig trees:

Tree dahlias:

A rare and stunning magnolia with huge, bluish leaves:
And a last look back at the lovely lushness:

What a treat it is to visit a plant lover's garden!



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bloom Day: July 2015

The hot, dry, early summer in Seattle has changed the bloom times for several plants this year. Normally I would have dahlias aplenty by now, but the dry conditions have stunted them. Other plants which would still be blooming normally have finished early or failed to appear. Here's a sample of a few things which are in bloom despite the odd weather:

Crocosmia 'Lucifer':

Lantana camara 'Miss Huff':

Lilium 'Scheherezade':

Rogersia cv. (inexplicably still in bloom - this should have finished months ago):

 Agapanthus 'Peter Pan':

Cestrum 'Orange Peel':

Dichroa febrifuga:

Trachelospermum jasminoides:

Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen':