Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Staying put pays off...

I remember the day I planted Clifford, our Magnolia macrophylla. As I started digging Andrew kept asking questions about the location, after all (he kept reminding me), it’s a tree.

That was back in July of 2005, one month after we'd moved into our home and days after we’d made our inaugural visit to Cistus Nursery. I’d spent part of my birthday gift certificate (something that's become a welcome annual tradition) on that Magnolia. I’ll admit at the time I was unable to imagine watching that little stick with its big leaves turn into a tree. I think having just left my garden of only 2 years behind when we moved had me convinced I might never stay anywhere long term.

Here is a picture from September of 2005…
And last weekend...

Look at Clifford now, he’s a real tree! (of course a lot has changed around him as well) This year I’ve counted over a dozen buds…so we’re going to see quite a few flowers too!

Another one I’ve enjoyed watching grow is the Fatsia japonica. I bought this plant as a tiny little 1 gallon, it seemed exotic to me at the time, but now I know most people here in Portland (most gardeners at least) look down on this plant…common, the “apartment plant” some call it. But I still love it. Here it is September of 2005…
And now…

It’s as tall as me! Of course the fact that it’s flush of new leaves are still shooting upward is adding to its height.

Back in 2009 I bought my first Callistemon (Woodlanders Hardy Red). Here it is then…

After it survived its first arctic blast that same winter (how embarrassing...look at that house, paint it already!).
In July of 2010…
And now…

On its left is Hibiscus syriacus 'Red Heart' which I thought of as being a very slow grower and a bit of a disappointment. But looking at these pictures I see it has grown right along with the Callistemon.

Those are just a few examples, I could share more but I think I’ve made my point. Gardening in every capacity is wonderful, but being able to watch a plant you’ve planted grow and mature…that is magic.

32 comments:

  1. things have surely changed!! that is amazing. The "now" picture of Clifford looks like it belongs in a magazine!!!! watch out, Sunset will be knocking on your door for a feature spread! You guys have done such incredible work.

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    1. Oh they came by already and I said "no thanks"...ha! Just kidding.

      I know pulling out that old photo of Clifford his first year shocked me. I knew things were pretty hideous back then but wow...

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  2. How did you get your fatsia to be so big? Mine is limping along, despite being five to ten years old. Clifford is beautiful!

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    1. I think the issue with my Fatsia is that it gets more sun than it should. In my early gardening naivety I thought it was a sun plant. This results in slightly yellowish leaves rather than the deep green so many of them have...however on the flip side it seems more robust than the others in the neighborhood. One bad winter most of them were defoliated, not mine.

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    2. I had a Fatsia in my previous garden and it received only a couple hours of sun and it was nice and green. From what I have read they don't like lots of strong sun (they could stay out in the sun all day here :lol:)

      I also saw a post on a forum I visit recently giving evidence that one grown in a less sheltered spot will develop much thicker, but slightly smaller leaves.

      They do seem to be quite resilient plants.

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    3. You make a good point that "full sun" means something different here in Portland vs. say Austin, TX. This one definitely has bigger leaves than the one I've planed in a sheltered spot that receives less sun and less winter cold and wind.

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  3. Wow! Clifford is all grown up and looking good. Your long-standing plants must make you proud.
    I like how big the difference is in the before and after pictures (plants and walls, ;-P ) . It's nice that digital photography allows us to document our plants through time. I doubt that would have been possible when everyone still used film. I mean it would be possible but who would spend on film instead of plants, right? Do you have wider angle before and after views of your garden you can share? I'd be interested in seeing the difference.

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    1. You bring up a great idea Bom! I've posted before and after pictures before but I don't think I've gone back and shown the pictures I took the day we made an offer on the house...before it was even ours. I should use those and do a post with "now" images from the same vantage points, I'll do it! Soon...sometime...soon...

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  4. Clifford is growing in a beautifully designed little spot in your garden. Can't wait to see his blooms!

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    1. Thank you, I take that as high praise from you!

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  5. I hear Bobby Goldsboro...

    See the tree, how big it's grown
    But friend it hasn't been too long
    It wasn't big
    I laughed at her and she got mad
    The first day that she planted it, was just a twig

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    1. Who? Bobby Goldsboro? I had to look it up, oh my...

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7z_57SnYqo

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  6. That was fun and inspiring! Your magnolia is gorgeous and going on my wishlist. And thanks for the kind words about the poor fatsia japonica--it's common but it's still a super star. I don't know any other plant that will look that terrific in dry shade.

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    1. Shade, if only I had known. Yes...you (everyone!) needs this Magnolia it is a fabulous tree!

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  7. Looking back is such fun: a balm whenever we feel frustrated with the garden of today. You can't overdo these comparison posts as far as I'm concerned

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    1. Good to know because Bom (above) has me all excited to do one!

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  8. Clifford is magnificent! I was at the Rhododendron Species Garden about a week ago, and saw a couple there. What an impressive tree, but hard to get good pictures of theirs. And you didn't mention it, but Holy Moly! Look at your Echium with that bloom spike!

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    1. It's not easy to get pictures of Clifford either, his good side is towards the garage and I really have no desire to climb up there to take a pic!

      Yes...the Echium is a FREAK! I need to take a picture with 6ft2in husband for scale...

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  9. Staying put pays off?

    Aye! It certainly does when it comes to gardening :)

    A question about your 2005 photo, was that just after you moved? Do you have any more photos from differing angles, but over the years that you could share? I would love to see how your garden has developed.

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    1. I'm so "planted" (pun intended) here that I can't imagine having to leave.

      That photo was 2.5 months after we moved in. When we bought the place there was a wall of green Laurel where that scab of a fence is in the picture. Needless to say we were NOT happy when the Laurel was cut down and the fence put up (by the neighbor). I will definitely get working on a then and now post!

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  10. The best part about the magnolia is that it went from being a tiny stick with a couple of huge leaves to a giant stick with huge leaves.

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  11. I love before and afters. It's exciting to see how your plants have grown over time. It gives me hope that some of my little trees will be big trees one day.

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    1. Oh they will! How long have you lived in your current home?

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  12. AnonymousMay 22, 2012

    Clifford (why Clifford btw >?) is looking great . I grew Magnolia macrophylla many years ago from seed and planted them unprotected in my zone 4b garden. They survived and grew to 15+feet before I moved. I wonder have wondered if my own "Cliffords" live on to this day ~!

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    1. My husband named him. I guess there is a cartoon with Clifford the big red dog? His leaves reminded Andrew of the dogs ears.

      People who grow plants like this from seed are an entirely different class of gardener. I am amazed! Can you ever plan a trip back to check on your Cliffords? Of course I guess that trip could go badly too...

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  13. The first after photo of Clifford is awesome.

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  14. OMG...what a difference a few years can make! I love these kind of "progress" posts...so amazing to see what a determined gardener can accomplish :-)

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  15. It's lovely to see the results of just a few years of growth on Clifford and your other examples. As someone who also has a relatively young garden, I find it thrilling to see that kind of progress each year. I think it also helps that we tend to select some faster growing species - I need quick gratification, because hey, I'm not getting any younger!

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  16. Utterly amazing! I can't believe the change from the small 'Clifford' picture to the large 'Clifford' picture. It is gorgeous! I agree with the person that mentioned it could be in Sunset Mag. Please do share the blooms of 'Clifford.' I'm not familiar with this magnolia but I do have 'Elizabeth' in my garden. Just a couple of years old so maybe I should take some full length shots of it! Your garden has evolved beautifully and I couldn't agree more that staying put pays off in the garden especially!

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  17. AnonymousMay 29, 2012

    Absoulutely beautiful!

    Hey, whats that lime green thing in the front there?

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