Friday, July 30, 2010

Monkey Puzzle Trees, and a few coastal observations

I am a little obsessed with these trees, which are also called Chilean Pines or properly, Araucaria araucana. My husband loves them too, so whenever we see one in the landscape it’s like we’ve spotted a movie star, complete with pointing and lots of oohing and ahhing. Last week we made a short get-away trek to Long Beach, Washington, where there was an amazing quantity of these trees growing. I spotted this one on our way into town. The next day we walked the mile or two back to check it out…okay really we were walking back to a nursery I had seen on the way into town (that’s a vacation with a gardener) but the plan was that then we could walk back via the beach, see I hadn’t lost sight of what we were there for! Anyway here are close ups of this amazing tree. Look how they built the building around the tree!
And how the scales on the branches grow (I should call them leaves right? But they really seem more like scales)
Here are a couple of dried scales that had fallen on the ground.
You can see a couple of the naked stick-like branches they leave behind in this picture.
Here’s another tree. What I found really interesting about the trees in Longbeach is their generally smaller size. So often the ones we see in Portland are true towering giants. Are these stunted by the cool temps and salt air? Or were they all planted around the same time?
This mature Phormium clump was across the street. It made me realize how much I miss seeing them in Portland, after back to back bad winters you just don’t see clumps like this anymore. I saw a few others that were blooming but didn’t get the camera out in time.
There were a several huge Cordylines in town that looked like this one. Cold enough to kill the Cordy’s but not the Flax, interesting.
And here is definite proof we were at the beach.
Oyster shell mulch.
Another at the beach image…A truly weathered fence. Almost furry!
Cool huh? Although it looked like the owners were at work replacing it with a shiny new version.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An afternoon in my garden

My in-laws visited back in June and as they were leaving my mother in-law asked that I take a few garden pictures and email them to her, so she could share with her friends. Not that the garden is “all that,” but it certainly is a different style than most of the gardens found in her home town of Truth or Consequences, NM (although what I wouldn’t give to have their agaves!).

I like the idea that I captured a specific moment in the garden (July 13th at around 4:30 to be exact), plus most of these show a much wider view than the pictures I normally take. Only the back garden is shown; the front garden is still growing into its design, but I do find that I like it better and better every day, so that’s good. These pictures are loosely arranged as though you were walking into and through the garden, I hope you are able to get that feeling. You start out entering and looking to the left...And straight ahead.The view to the right.
Painting will happen before another summer. I am so sick of the peeling white paint. I think I will use that excuse to rework this area. As it was one of the first areas I planted and one of my least favorite now.
The planting area in front of the neighbors garage.
Turning around and looking back towards the entrance (out of frame, on the left) and our garage, along with the huge and out of control hydrangea. Close-up of the hostas next to the hydrangea monster.
Behind the garage.
The stock-tank pond and very happy tree fern (not yet a tree, but it does have a 12" trunk!).
Standing down on the patio looking back at the pond.
Now straight on at the shade pavilion.
And to the right.
And back to the left (is all this turning about making you dizzy?).
Back up on the lawn in front of the hydrangea looking down on the patio.
Over a few steps and looking towards the shade pavilion.
And down at the planting area at my feet.
Same planting area on the right, looking at the north end of the patio.
And at the corner of the same planting area. It has really filled in since I planted it in March. See pictures from then right here.
Standing on the patio looking at the NE corner. Behind the big rhododendron.
Close up of the containers.
The NW corner.
And turning to look back toward the shade pavilion (south).
Under the shade pavilion looking back toward the patio and lawn.
And a final shot of the containers in the SE corner.
Now if I could just have you pull up a chair at the table while I pour you a cool beverage your visit would be complete!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WWTT Number 5

Yes it’s time for another WWTT post. As I commented yesterday, when you live in the city a good fence can really make your garden. Of course everyone has a different idea of what a good fence means. This person believes it involves skis. Notice they are mounted in pairs. Convenient should you ever find yourself in a ski emergency, no?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the gardens of friends, day 2 (2010 version)

The next day I spent shopping in downtown Seattle with my friend Erin (yes its true…I do sometimes do shop for things other than plants!). When lunchtime came around she suggested The Pink Door, which meant lunch outside on their garden deck overlooking Elliot Bay, perfect. I am going to try your patience with a quick trip down memory lane. I’ll keep it short; I know this is a garden blog after all. The Pink Door is a small Italian restaurant in the Pike Place Market. This is where I brought my surprised parents and grandparents (where is she taking us? There isn’t even a sign! Is this safe!?) for a drink one hot summer afternoon in my 20’s when they were in town visiting me. This is where I had a big going away dinner with all my friends the night before I moved away from Seattle and back to Spokane. This is where I brought my husband for lunch one trip through Seattle. We ended up spending an hour on a quiet weekday afternoon drinking with the bartender who had lived on the San Juan Islands for a few years, and we had just returned from vacationing there.

I love this place. Here is their entrance off Post Alley…if you ever find yourself wandering around the public market in Seattle and you see this pink door, go in.
Anyway…after a day of shopping we retired to Erin’s patio and more wine (I know…it’s a theme with me). As I mentioned in a previous post Erin’s gardening endeavors are slightly hampered by two adorable but rambunctious dogs. This is Lucy.
The petals so artfully strewn across the grass are from a rose bush above. Like Steve and his daisies (from yesterday’s post) Erin is no fan of roses, but she has let this one live on. Its stature (growing high above the Rhododendrons) and exuberant ways have earned its keep.
Because of the dogs she does a lot of container gardening. In fact I blame Erin for my current obsession with turquoise containers. When she was in Portland we happened on a sale and she scooped these up. I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind.
She is also among the few in the Pacific Northwest that are enjoying a Hesperaloe parviflora bloom this summer (I’m very jealous in case you can’t tell).
Her Tetrapanax rebounded nicely from a cold winter.
One of my favorite features of her patio is the plant almost completely covering the chain link fence and enclosing the patio, creating a sense of privacy (in the city fences really do make the garden don’t they?). I realize now I have always thought of it as a Cotoneaster but I think I am wrong.
And even though she has plans to replace the brick patio with sleek concrete slabs I personally enjoyed getting to spend another evening relaxing and catching up with my friend on the bricks, they have such character! (the bricks…and the friend)