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back on the home front

It’s finally happening.

Miraculously, after a couple close calls resulting in an almost fatal wilt, Musschia wollastonii has survived and begun to hoist up that much-anticipated chartreuse candelabra of blooms. The Madeira Giant Bellflower must be an unforgettable sight in bloom on its native cliffs of Madeira. As with Aeonium […]

contain your enthusiasm

Creating a small, plant-rich garden in zone 8 can be a brutal business. Faced with so many tempting choices in such an agreeable climate, a small garden runs the danger of sinking into visual chaos. Wielding the power of refusal, the ability to say no more often than yes, is probably the […]

Saturday clippings 7/26/14

Melocactus matanzanus

The Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society sale is this weekend, where the buzz and gossip amongst the sales tables might very likely entice you into bringing home your first melocactus. It’s possible that the recent visit to the Huntington’s Desert Conservatory is behind this atypical impulse buy. (I also […]

garden chairs

“A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Continuing my monomaniacal, object-specific tour of Portland gardens, which brings us around to chairs. Because I’ve always coveted chairs, all shapes, all sizes. Just ask my family. Found at flea markets, […]

Portland Pots It Up

There’s so many reasons for plants to spend some or even all of their lives in containers. Aside from the practical reasons — fine-tuning sunlight, better drainage, more moisture, less moisture, special soil mixes, protection from chewing and digging creatures, the ability to shuttle plants indoors where a cold winter will be inhospitable and/or deadly […]

impressions of Portland gardens (in the zone of filtered sunshine)

Since returning from touring gardens and nurseries in Portland last week, I’ve been haphazardly researching what makes the Pacific Northwest so full of great gardens and nurseries. Not expecting any definitive answer, just scrounging around for clues. Portland’s enviably soft light at 45 degrees latitude that famously attracts painters and glass artists is […]

Bloom Day July 2014

It fell from midnight skies. It drummed on the galvanized – Joni Mitchell, Paprika Plains

Marty’s been reciting those song lyrics ever since the rain came and fell in exactly that manner Monday night. We all raced out the kitchen door when the first drops began to dance on the corrugated roof over […]

how Alison got her stripes back

So very glad to find a moderate-sized phormium, a true 4-footer, I was willing to overlook the fact that many of this New Zealand Flax’s leaves age into a dull olive green, losing the pale bands that are the inspiration for the alternate name ‘Golden Alison.’ Locally, this phormium goes by ‘Alison Blackman.’

‘Blue […]

the French Laundry’s Culinary Garden

“One score and seven minutes ago our partners brought forth on this town, a new restaurant, conceived in finesse, and dedicated to the proposition that all food is served soigné.” — Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry celebrating its 20th anniversary July 6, 2014. When my oldest son Mitch traveled to the Isle of Skye off […]

sunday clippings 7/6/14

I think the conversation left off with brillantaisia, the salvia look-alike I stumbled upon at the local city college. Except it’s not really a salvia but a member of the acanthaceae family. I did go back for photos and also had an odd encounter with a woman on a bike, who pedaled up to me […]