coastal Oregon garden report 4/13/22

We returned to Oregon March 18 and have since finished up removing the remaining sod in the backyard, an additional area approximately 8×20 feet, bounded again in landscape timbers. There is a small area of turf left on the east side of the house for Billie and picnics with Hannah. With the surge of spring grass growth, and being lawn neophytes, we were caught flat-footed and had to methodically ruminate on possible solutions (get it? ruminant, ruminate…hahaha — this is literally a cow town, after all). And it’s true, watching the neighbors tackle their lawns spurred us into action — keeping up with the Mooks, as the residents of Tillamooks call themselves. Ultimately we went with a battery-powered weed-whacker hybrid thingy on a wheeled chassis that works fine on the small amount of turf in the back and the handkerchief-sized portions in the front. Not a jot of work has been done yet to the front of the house, other than whacking the lawn back, and that may be true for some time…

The little video saves us a lot of words and vague descriptions about what is in reality a very small area. Nothing naturalistic about this layout — it mimics the pasture land surrounding the houses

It’s all very flat and vegetable gardenish. I won’t be planting much large woody stuff, trees and big shrubs. All growing surfaces have been mulched with local crushed bark, cheap and plentiful, and the back garden drains freely and is now mudproof. The weather is volatile, changeable, mercurial — one steps outside after a downpour into blinding shafts of sunlight. Planting has tentatively begun in the ground, though a couple of the stock tanks were planted in October. The rubber mulch used by former owners under playground equipment in one-fourth of the yard was ultimately bagged up and sent to the dump. Bags and bags of it. Marty handled this chore. My preference was to keep mostly everything on site, but a clean sweep seemed the best approach for materials made from used tires.

Andy Salter’s garden, Kent, England, photo by Claire Takacs

This image by Claire Takacs of Andy Salter’s garden in Kent, England, gave me some much-needed courage. This is all I want, to be surrounded by a surge of growth in spring and summer. No need for year-round interest because we most likely won’t be here for much of the winter. But I’ll definitely be making a bigger bulb order this July/August.

I could go seriously mad for potted tulips here — in these cool temps they last forever in bloom. Potted plants are tucked under the eaves of the overhang which saved them from hail damge. So much hail!
Possibly Tulipa ‘Gavota,’ a Triumph tulip
Photo taken in my neighborhood; bulbs grow like crazy here — daffs, muscari, bluebells, to the point of weediness
I brought just a few of the hardier agaves from Long Beach, CA, A. weberi ‘Arizona Star,’ A. lophantha ‘Quadricolor,’ and A. bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost,’ and tucked them under the eaves, just a few inches out of the rain but still braving the cold, and so far they’ve been fine.
Slightly dodgier odds with Echeveria agavoides — I have tons in Long Beach so was willing to sacrifice a few in a hardiness experiment. They’re also tucked under the eaves of the pergola, coloring up in the cold temps into the 30s but not mushing out, so far.
All the eucomis were brought north from the SoCall garden — the bulbs grow well and thicken down south, but I’m guessing flowers will be much better in the north
This stock tank was planted with the Stachyurus salicifolius from Dancing Oaks in autumn, and the rest of the plants came from the Long Beach garden and nurseries a few months later. Carexes ‘Everillo’ and ‘Feather Falls,’ Corydalis flexuosa ‘Porcelain Blue,’ Dreamland series of armeria, and a runner of Anisodontea ‘Strybing Beauty’ which despite being zoned warmer has had no problem with the snow and hail so far
This stock tank was also planted in autumn, with golden cottonwood, Cassinia fulvida, which I think might be adding extra protection for Euphorbia stygiana. The diascias were found local and planted in the last week, and it was touch-and-go as to whether they’d survive the recent snow event.. The historically anomalous April snow event was not accompanied by low temperatures, which I suspect saved many of the plants
Aloe boylei was brought up from Long Beach and has the “widest leaves of the grass aloes,” hardy to zone 7b
The third stock tank was planted when we returned in March. Brought from the Long Beach garden was this Libertia chilensis, an abutilon, Salvia ‘Amante,’ Verbena bonariensis seedlings, and Metapanax delavayi. Golden deschampsia came via mail order from High Country Gardens

Lots of plants came up from the Long Beach garden, but there are a few mail orders still awaiting delivery and a bit of local shopping. I managed a trip to Hortlandia in early April and had so much fun debating what plants to buy that the camera never left its pouch.

Olearia x mollis ‘Zennorensis’ from Cistus
Senecio munroi also from Cistus
Foreground Bupleurum fruticosum, the Shrubby Hare’s Ear, was brought from the Long Beach garden
Damp-loving Iris ‘Gerald Darby’ from Secret Garden Growers. I first heard of this purply-leaved iris through Nan Ondra at Hayefield. It’s planted under the pergola downspout — I hope it likes lots of water!
Scrophularia aquatica ‘Variegata’ from Secret Garden Growers, I think
Foreground Angelica stricta ‘Purpurea’ from the Long Beach garden, golden saxifrage from Cistus, Lomandra ‘Lucky Stripe’ from Long Beach garden, planted in October
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii and Phlomis anatolica ‘Lloyd’s Variety’ planted in October

I did visit a nearby independent nursery, Monkey Business 101, that centers its business around growing Monkey Puzzle Trees, Auricaria auracana. There is a large Monkey Puzzle Tree in my neighborhood, and I’ve since found out that Portland has more of these trees outside of its native Chile than anywhere else. Apparently, John Muir was a huge fan and traveled to Chile to see native stands of this relic of the ages, Chile’s national tree. The cool and rainy coastal conditions are apparently to its liking — makes me want to further explore Chilean plant lists!

Monkey Puzzle Tree loving life at Monkey Business 101
Unnamed hosta from Monkey Business 101, which had a fine general selection of plants at great prices. And I had to grow a hosta, right?
Rhododendrons are bursting into bloom around Tillamook

Bulbs and rhodies are coloring up the neighborhood, and the recent snow event hasn’t seemed to slow them down. We are very much strangers in a strange land, but working out how to make a garden seems to me to be a great way to get acquainted. More soon, AGO.

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6 Responses to coastal Oregon garden report 4/13/22

  1. You are gardening up a storm! I’m sorry I missed you at Hortlandia. I read years ago that many of Portland’s Auracania date to the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1906, when lots of seedling trees were given away (by the Chilean Pavilion?) I’m already seeing the difference between your truly NW coastal climate and my Columbia Gorge-influenced growing conditions in Astoria. That, and the deer; they evidently haven’t found your Bupleurum fruticosum as they have mine, poor thing. I’m loving your progress!

  2. Kris P says:

    You always enjoyed experimenting with your SoCal garden, so I imagine you’re having a grand time doing so in the entirely different climate presented by Tillamook. I’d be going bulb-crazy too in that environment. I’m glad to learn that you weren’t badly battered by the PNW’s unusual April snow event. I expect you’re happy to have missed last week’s SoCal heatwave.

    I look forward to future developments in your new garden!

  3. Denise says:

    @Jane, I was scanning for familiar faces at Hortlandia on Saturday! It was a last-minute decision but so glad I made it. I assumed the bloggers would be there Friday for the preview. Thanks for the encouraging words!
    @Kris, I do love messing around with new plants! The big snow had melted by noon and then it looked like it never happened. Helps to have a young garden with nothing to break or damage! I brought up one of your Renga lilies and so far it’s hanging on in one of the stock tanks. Hope you get a break from the heat — that was crazy!

  4. hb says:

    A whole new galaxy of plants to grow, and no worry about water(?). What fun!

    B&N barked back at Billie when I played your video.

  5. Denise says:

    @Hoov, it’s a different kind of worrying about water up here! Billie sends hugs to B&N. She’s played with some big dogs at the local dog park and really works on her cattle dog/evasive moves when they chase a little too hard!

  6. Elaine says:

    Spring in the PNW is unrivaled anywhere. So much fun exploring a different plant palette. Everything looks great so far. You have made good progress in a short period of time.

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