late May 2023

Fresh clumps of healthy new leaves covering the ground, strong clear colors — I really like the direction the 2-year-old garden is taking in May.

New growth on Olearia x mollis ‘Zennorensis’
Foreground shrub is Corokia x virgata, possibly ‘Frosted Chocolate’ — takes to clipping well so will join the box balls in the clipping regimen. I’m on the hunt for an Eleagnus ‘Quicksilver’ to plant roughly in front of the green chairs
Pagoda spires of plush-leaved Marrubium supinum with blurry white flowers in foreground of Libertia ‘Nelson Dwarf’
Omphalodes linifolia obligingly reseeded into the rocks — wonderful grey-green leaves too
Stipa gigantea in its second year, such a strong early presence. Looking east, the biennial Hesperis matronalis was sowed last summer and transplanted all around the garden, and the effort has paid off — loves the wet soil, is sweetly scented, and covers the ground and blooms early in spring.
more hesperis, looking west
A few clumps of Eriophyllum lanatum ‘Oregon Sunshine’ started blooming this week. I’m thinking the dark-leaves are Lysimachia ciliata. Fence was painted black last weekend. The geums did not like recent temps into the 90sF but have recovered like it never happened — same for me!
I’m a fool for beschornerias. This one was plunged into the garden, pot and all, to be lifted next fall/winter
Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ is an early blooming, moisture-loving grass that I’d like to spread around. Lanky silvery leaves are of an overwintered Senecio candicans — maybe a spring cutback would have produced compact growth? I didn’t expect it to survive at all…
the lewisias are blooming fools
I’ve got a couple potted hostas and doubt I’ll be adding more, but they are fascinating as they unfurl their leaves from tight, pirouette-cookie shaped tubes into soft and beamy agave substitutes
Faced with so much bare ground last spring as stuff slowly filled in, several clumps of fast-growing golden oregano were deployed
tetrapanax making size. I like the leaves close to the ground and prefer that it doesn’t trunk

Have a relaxing long weekend (Memorial Day in the U.S.) and see you in June!

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covering the ground in early spring zone 8b

every morning Billie and I inspect the garden, each with a different agenda of course

Dead or alive? Since April I’ve circled the garden carefully every morning, spine at a right angle to the ground, and posed that question to the plants…or the empty space I remember growing plants. Looking for signs of life in Salvia uliginosa (no-show as yet/dead); Salvia nutans (growth from one clump out of two); Aloe cooperi (strong growth from one plant, new nubbins from a second plant.). I inspect the garden daily both for signs of survival and also for what makes an early presence in spring.

Aloe cooperi, a grass aloe, showing new growth, second winter, zone 8 hardy but iffy as far as all the rain. No blooms last summer and most likely none this year. Just had to have an aloe! Another hardy aloe. A. boylei, came thru in a stock tank. Plant on left with blue flowers is Wolfenia x schwarzii with evergreen leaves in winter
the dog fennel last summer. The shrub Rhamnus alaternus ‘Variegatus’ is looking a little peaked this spring and may not be a good fit for the excessive winter rain

There’s visible growth on veronicastrum, on eupatorium. But one of my favorite plants from last year, the dog fennel Eupatorium capillifolium ‘Elegant Feather,’ is so far a no-show. Too early or dead? Canna ‘Cleopatra’ is showing growth. I had no idea if planting this last fall was sane. I left the dahlias in the ground more out of neglect than planning, and surprisingly two are showing growth. All the Sideritis oroteneriffae in the ground perished, but one planted in a bottomless container slightly under the eaves is producing new growth at the base.

Dianthus barbatus ‘Oeschberg’

At least this year there is some growth to inspect. Last year, the first spring in this Oregon garden, was an agonizing time without much to look at in May. Since then I’ve focused on early growth from mostly herbaceous, sun-loving plants after a cold, wet (rain forest wet!) zone 8b winter. I’ve sown biennials like sweet william and hesperis for their early presence. It’s a vast subject, to get a wet 8b garden in sun up on its legs in early spring, so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears! I’ve been adding bulbs but avoiding peonies and early flowering shrubs for now.

Italian buckthorn this spring. The grass behind it is Anemanthele lessoniana, which looks decent all winter but because it shouldn’t be cut to the ground looks a little shabby by spring. I’ve been thinning out the old growth. Carex testacea in foreground is flawlesss. The phormium came through the winter OK, and Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ has strong spring growth
Sanguisorbas are a strong early presence
Not afraid of orange, both in wallflowers and geum. Other early silver leaves come from several clumps of Lychnis coronaria, a sterile strain called ‘Gardener’s World’

The wallflowers, erysimum, thrive here and ignite the May garden. The large-leaved lamb’s ears is scruffy all winter but rights itself early for some gorgeous clumps. Foreground left is a miscanthus, late to bulk up, but behind the wallflower is a treasure, an Oregon native, cool season grass Deschampsia cespitosa in the very good form ‘Goldtau.’ I’m also growing quite a few clumps of the older variegated variety ‘Northern Lights’ which is easier to find.

Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ is an electric presence in April/May
Festuca arundinacea ‘Glow Sticks’ found local last year kept its leaves in winter. Didn’t bloom last spring — will I see glow sticks this year? The open space behind the grass is waiting to be filled by melianthus and an Aralia ‘Sun King’ — a good place for spring bulbs while waiting for these two to make size. The heat wave projected for this weekend should kick the melianthus into gear.
Out of three ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ lavenders, one pulled through, all planted in the gravel
Teucrium ‘Summer Sunshine,’ planted in fall 2021, made it through two winters but just now showing the chartreuse coloring
Salvia argentea after one winter — really had my doubts about this one surviving
One of several clumps of Oregon sunshine, Eriophyllum lanatum, nearly evergreen, bulking up to an artemisia-like lacy clump before bloom. With early-appearing dark-leaved lysimachia (bought unlabeled).
Asarina procumbens, the creeping snapdragon, thins out a bit in winter but still evergreen, thickening and flowering early. Filling in the graveled area under the tetrapanax and restio rhodocoma
Iris ‘Gerald Darby’ planted near a downspout. Everything else is kept in pots here because the ground is just sooo wet
Closest to the garage gets the least amount of sun. Aruncus aethusifolius is center, Eurybia divaricata upper left. Lots of early stuff here not pictured — Gillenia trifoliata, Angelica pupurea ‘Stricta,’ tricyrtis, Filipendula ‘Red Umbrellas,’ Anemone ‘Dainty Swan,’ Potentilla lineata, astrantia
Eurybia divaricata
Astrantia ‘Star of Fire’ planted last week
Peucedanum ostruthium ‘Daphnis’ aka Peuce Masterwort planted last week is a lookalike for dangerous bishop’s weed but is in fact a well-mannered umbel
Also planted this spring. Loved the leaf color of Arctostaphylos ‘Pajaro Hybrid,’ a standout among the arctos at the Wonder Garden’s spring manzanita sale — volunteers hard first choosing rights! Approx 200 plants sold out in a half hour.
view early this morning east of my neighbor’s flowering fruit trees. The double pink (a cherry?) is in bloom all over town. The single white is lovely.
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what’s up (April 2023)

Waiting, longing, wracked with anticipation for the garden to jump into growth is an entirely new experience for me, born and raised in the eternal sunshine of zone 10. When the slow emergence of spring in zone 8b begins — lord have mercy it’s exciting! It feels like there needs to be some sort of authoritative summation on the state of the garden, on life, on the disgraceful behavior of our species…but that feels too much like homework. So instead, here’s a brief roundup of what the camera found today, at the ass end of April, on the Oregon coast, after what I’m told was an exceptionally rough winter. (There was snow! A blanket of it swaddled the garden for a week!)

Phlomis monocephala

What looks good when the garden is just starting to stir in April? In my garden, in one word, phlomis. Unscathed, fully clothed, holding it together all winter. I didn’t expect phlomis could deal with this much rain, hail and snow, but see for yourself.

Phlomis monocephala is planted slightly under the eaves in the rocked area; P. anatolica and aurea are in the main garden borders
Phlomis anatolica ‘Lloyd’s Variety’ with that other great, unchangeable winter stalwart Carex testacea
Phlomis aurea

And for mainlining the life force, jumpstarting slumbering rods and cones, another easy answer: tulips in pots. In colors you’ll never find locally available. (You must rouse yourself in July and order then for the best selection.) They’re the perfect aperitif for opening the growing season, especially for me because I don’t plan for much strong color for summer.

‘Orange Princess’ — grit your teeth and order despite the name
‘Orange Princess,’ ‘Slawa,’ lower right, tall in the back ‘Amber Glow,’ purple is probably ‘Queen of the Night’
And you’ll need to look back at the garden in March 2022…
because gradually planting has encroached into the wide open rocked area by a couple feet — a barrel band, to be exact. In the above barrel band, lower right Hebe parviflora angustifolia, Sedum ‘Capo Blanco, upper left Kniphofia hirsuta, upper right Bulbine abyssinica. Dasylirion texanum is in the concrete tube. Sprawling behind the tube, Marrubium supinum looked presentable all winter. Spikes are Libertia ‘Amazing Grace’ and Libertia ‘Nelson Dwarf.’ I’ve gone libertia mad — not shown is L. chilensis. The empty band in the distant left is awaiting arrival of another phlomis. I need all the phlomis!
looking the other way, east
detail from the band plantings, Crambe maritima
Eryngium paniculatum is another of those plants much appreciated for looking impeccable all winter
Eryngium varifolium
in the center stock tank, zone 9er Anisodontea ‘Strybing Beauty’ won big in a cold zone 8b winter. If you don’t like pink, you’ll dismiss it outright, and I don’t seek out pink myself — but I know of no other plant that performs like this. Bees were visiting it all winter. Battered by winds, a main trunk split — but that didn’t stop it either. Another form I hear is equally good is ‘El Rayo’
Thalictrum ‘Elin’

Thalictrum — I’ve daydreamed about growing thalictrum for many years, in a good, moisture-retentive soil. Early emergence of delicate ferny leaves followed by a massive rush of growth to head height. ‘Elin’ was planted last year, two ‘Black Stockings’ were added in March. Yellow-flowered Thalictrum lucidum will arrive in May.

Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’

The euphorbias bring a strong early presence.

Euphorbia characias supsp. wulfenii with ‘Vulcan’ wallflowers
Euphorbia cyparissias is irresistible to me, bright and early — but it is incredibly invasive!
Euphorbia stygiana was struck flaccid from cold so many times I thought it couldn’t possibly recover, yet here it is
And geum is another that holds onto a robust rosette of leaves all winter in cold, wet soil then is quick off the mark in April
Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
Mukgenia ‘Nova Flame’

And always shopping for more. I bumped into this bigeneric cross of bergenia and mukdenia last week with the sempervivum-like flowers and couldn’t think of a reason not to buy it. There is no reason, right?

ethereal, starry Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘Petit Henri’ is said to bloom all summer, also brought home last week

Light snow again mid April. Yesterday spiked into the high 80s, at least 20 degrees over the norm, but we’ve climbed back down into the 60sF with the possibility of rain tomorrow…and some more in May but then drier days ahead…

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swamp lanterns at Rockaway Cedar Preserve Hike


In 2019 a mile-long raised boardwalk was built over a small remnant of old-growth coastal bog right off of Highway 101 about 20 minutes north of us. Typical of many beautiful places in Oregon, signage is not conspicuous, and if you didn’t know it was there you’d never find the Rockaway Cedar Preserve Hike.


Had I known it was there last year, I could have experienced the luminous skunk cabbage spring bloom leisurely, up close and on foot, instead of craning to see the blooms whizzing by through the car window while passing by boggy roadsides with no turnout.


Western skunk cabbage aka swamp lanterns aka Lysichiton americanus, whose roots were roasted by native people, the enormous leaves used as baskets and food wraps, along with every part including sap utilized for all manner of medicinal uses. It is a big, strappy, charismatic, lusty aroid, a swamp dweller, beetle-pollinated, stridently blaring the imminence of longer, drier days ahead to the disbelieving. A fluorescent yellow exclamation mark to herald the end of winter. Huzzah!


It’s just the fecund, primordial experience needed while spring slowly stirs itself and sleepily gets up on its elbows…

Posted in garden travel, Oregon garden | 5 Comments

Billie in the snow


February was not just about prettily frosted plants. Later in the month the garden was buried in almost a foot of snow. Unheard of amounts of snow, I’m told! Schools and city hall closed for a couple days, and the snow stayed on the ground about a week.


For most of February the Oregon garden continued to be pummeled by frosts and feet of snow.  This amount of snow, I’m told, is unusual.  The garden and gardener may be on winter hiatus, but the energy normally poured into plants and garden inevitably spills over onto the wider surroundings, which to me are a novel and fascinating ecosystem. 


I haven’t said much here, but  after growing up in Los Angeles, living among small towns in a temperate rain forest is an extraordinary change.  Traveling along the coast, I compulsively check the population numbers of every town we pass through — Marty is used to this tic now.  Renowned PNW writer Ken Kesey described them as “Towns dependent on what they are able to wrest from the sea in front of them and from the mountains behind, trapped between both.”


The geographic isolation works to both attract and repel. I’ve met families who’ve been here several generations that can’t conceive of living anywhere else. But word occasionally gets around that so-and-so is leaving, moving away because they can’t take the small-town isolation anymore.

All the fiercely independent small towns have a lot in common: “There will be a small scatter of boxlike dwellings somewhere near a mill, usually on a river, and a cannery on the docks, needing a new floor. The main street is a stripe of wet asphalt smeared with barroom neon.” — Ken Kesey

Our own small town of approx 5,000 functions as a “15-minute city” (I can get anything I need on foot in 15 minutes). It will never see sprawl — not through proactive design but because there’s not much buildable land in a small town surrounded by farms, rivers and floodplains.  Big enough for reliable buses, trash pickup, utilities, supercharger stations a block away. Veterinarians, dentists, hospital, groceries, seasonal farmer markets, schools, haircuts, hardware store, microbeer, boat launch, library, all within walkable distance.  Most of the other coastal town populations come in under a thousand. The majority of towns appear to have a seasonal population — tourism replaces industry. 

crab yields are still strong on the coast, and we had to put oyster stuffing on the Thanksgiving menu

How many people does it take to keep a town functional?  What industries have come and gone, and why?  Forest fires ravaged the timber industry in the fairly recent past (see Tillamook Burn), and my town is down to one lumber mill.  Every morning I am greeted by its plume of smoke to the east when sitting under the overhang having the first coffee in the garden with Billie.   The replanted burn areas have grown in surprisingly fast, but the mills are gone for good.  Lumber will no longer be the powerhouse employer it once was.  A coastal railway operating from the coast to Portland was so severely damaged in winter storms that in 2007 is was decided the cost was too great to fix, and repairs would also likely damage spawning grounds, so the railway line was abandoned. Overfishing ended most commercial fishing, with sport fishing taking up the slack now.  Oysters, clams and crabs still multiply lustily in this unique five-river estuary, the second largest in Oregon.  


Indigenous people became “complex” hunter-gatherers here in this narrow coastal strip bounded by the Coast Range, able to build permanent houses and complex social structures without a written language.  This defies the old anthropologic saw that agriculture and its surpluses are first acquired and then permanent dwellings and complex societies follow.  Here the abundance of food, and especially the predictability of the salmon runs, allowed for permanent villages of cedar plank houses.  Cedar also made water-proof clothing, baskets, canoes — it was put to protean uses. 

“Graveyard of the Pacific” — many came for the otter furs and other goods, but the ferocity of storms on the coast claimed hundreds of ships

The geographic isolation of the coast worked to the advantage of the native people for thousands of years, until European fur traders sailed in.  Very soon after, the native people succumbed to European diseases and settler disputes, with the rapidly dwindling number of tribal members eventually pushed to reservations. Just driving along the coast brings all this readily to mind.  The rivers, the ocean, the mountains, the geographic isolation even now with just a couple roads, the winter-long rain — all tell vivid stories of the limits and possibilities here.   

local boat ramp after rain and high tide — a 15-minute walk away

The dairy farmers seem to be thriving despite new rules protecting wetlands, spawning grounds, and the watershed.  There is grumbling but respectful cooperation.  Small farms are gaining a toehold, growing seasonal produce for restaurants, farmer markets, and CSA boxes. 

blueberries picked last fall from bush in the front yard

Unlike Los Angeles, everything is tangible, visible on the surface, the systems easy to read.  Geography rules! Los Angeles is a subtle ecosystem easily overrun by ambition, at least in the short term until water supplies capsize. Here geography and climate have the final say. Cause and effects happen in real time.   Housing is scarce and locals cannot afford to buy a house on local wages — some things are constant.  Child care is not just scarce but impossible to find — another constant.

Just some quick thoughts on small towns where, for good or ill, the machinery that makes towns run, or not, is in full view.  In LA it was always inscrutable to me, starting with that crazy concrete-bottomed river, which I hear is near to overflowing lately…

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really gets me frosted (February in zone 8b)

Rubus calycinoides early this morning– I bet it has a different name now, because everything seems to. But it’s evergreen, a virtue much appreciated in a frosty garden when so much else hunkers down and waits out the nights in the 20sF.
frost melting in bright sun around 10 am with temps climbing into the 40s

Changeable, volatile, sunny, rainy, hail for 5 minutes, sunny again, pouring buckets an hour later — this slice of temperate rain forest is all the weather I never got in LA…in one day! I used to perceive LA’s skies as being in stasis, chronically blue and bright. Now my garden is the thing seemingly in stasis the past couple months, which brings fresh insights into so much of the classic garden literature. For example, I get the tribe of galanthophiles now — hungry for any signs of green piercing the brown plane as early in the season as possible.


I haven’t gone the snowdrop route yet, but I do compulsively count evidence of emerging bulbs. These are narcissus, but really who cares what they are? Twelve green nubbins is what they are! Allium are up too, and countable.

Now counting tulips in pots
Beschorneria ‘Flamingo Glow’

Something else I’ll be counting will no doubt be plant losses. Iffy plants, like this beschorneria, should ideally be planted early to have all summer to make size. Even though it is rated to 10-15F, I wish I had planted it in spring, not fall. Established plants have much better odds of making it through their first winter, just as established plants handle drought better in zone 10.

I wanted geums in the Oregon garden for the long-necked tangerine flowers. Now I’m finding their reputation as good plants also derives from their enduring robust clumps of evergreen leaves.
Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ (evergreen)
Largish restio Rhodocoma capensis is always touched and brushed by 16 m/o Hannah as she stomps through the gravel in her winter boots. Evergreen!

And I will grow a euphorbia, some euphorbia, in whatever garden I make, that’s nothing new. Seeing them stirring into bloom in frosty February brings a whole new level of appreciation. Like seeing new attributes in a dear friend.

Hesperis matronalis — as a first-year biennial will it bloom this spring or next?

And now biennials make sense too. They made no sense in LA. I mean why go through the bother of sowing them in August, growing them on for a year, etc, when there’s so many other choices? Well, I’ll tell you why. They’re hardy, for one thing, and Sweet Rocket keeps its leaves all winter and will be in bloom early in spring when a lot of the garden is just waking up. I know because I saw it in bloom in a local garden last year. Will I like the way it looks in the garden? Not sure, but I know I will appreciate the effort when it happens.

Phlomis monocephala

I wasn’t sure my enthusiasm for phlomis would jive with all this rain, but so far they’re looking fine. Also growing Phlomis aurea and Phlomis anatolica ‘Lloyd’s Variety’ and always on the hunt for more…No new phlomis coming in a couple plant orders pending, but we’ll see how eremurus finds life here at the Oregon coast.

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Oregon garden in late December

Billie is very nearly weatherproof, or thinks she is anyway, and we did go out for a quick stretch yesterday while it was a dry but very brisk 20F…especially factoring in the wind chill, which approached the single digits…

Yesterday, Dec 22, temps hovered at 20F all day, the first time that’s happened this winter, possibly not the last time though. The night-time numbers usually ease back up during the daytime into the high 30s/40s. The concrete walkway to the garage iced over, windows iced over. Billie’s copper water bowl froze solid, rim to rim, bottom to top. Highway 101 was closed last night just south of us to deal with a 20-car icy pileup. Just to be on the safe side, we let faucets drip the last two nights — the majority of insurance claims are exploded pipes, each claim averaging 20k!

still frozen solid today too but all ice on paving has melted

There’s been lots of frosty mornings, a little snow, but what’s been amazing me are the incidents of resilience, how some plants spring back after appearing to be full-on wilted and shriveled by frost. Euphorbia stygiana makes a robust rebound every day. And up until yesterday’s 20F all day, the melianthus and the big-leaved Lepechina hastata were looking fabulous. I’ll probably leave up the tattered mess they are today as a tent to protect from any future low temps.


Take for instance this euphorbia, probably ‘Silver Swan.’ It bounces back after everything the skies throw at it, much more resilient than the straight E. characias, which does limp along but in a cowed, beaten manner.


Eryngium pandanifolium is such a good foliage plant here in zone 8b. It doesn’t get as large circumference-wise as it does in zone 10, which is a good thing, and doesn’t throw out such a congested mat of leaves either, just a nicely shaped, arching rosette that looks pristine every morning. Surrounded by Yucca linearifolia and Hebe ‘Karo Golden Esk.’

Eryngium pandanifolium showing how it’s done after a day/night of 20F temps
Howard’s Field at RHS Wisley in the UK

There’s a lot of seasonal potential for the winter-strong heaths and heathers, and I’m glad I’ve been including them in both the front and back garden. The RHS Wisley has made a newly designed landscape with their extensive heather collection called Howard’s Field, moving them from the corners of the garden to mass them and join forces with strong architectural plants like Yucca rostrata.

Bronzy, thready foliage in the center is Thuja orientalis ‘Franky Boy’

The various carex are likewise some of the best-looking plants now in the garden. (In the tank are Carex ‘Feather Falls’ and Carex ‘Everillo.’). Carex testacea in the garden is a tumble of russet, and the pheasant’s tail grass, Anemanthele lessonia is similar in effect but on a larger scale.

Sideritis with Teucrium azureum and pheasant’s tail grass

One of the most gratifying surprises is the continued survival of all the sideritis seedlings I brought from the zone 10 garden. I’m pretty sure this large-leaved sideritis is S. oroteneriffae. The one above growing in a container is the largest, but the sideritis in the ground are not only surviving but look to be making size, even in December! With all the hallmarks for extreme drought tolerance — fuzzy, silvery leaves — and earmarked for zone 9, this sideritis is somehow holding its own in the cold and wet…for now…

Senecio monroi with adorably crimped leaves

Enjoy your holiday, stay safe and as warm as you can manage! The pellet stove here is a godsend…

Posted in climate, journal, Oregon garden | 10 Comments

scenes from November

Marty, Billie & I at Cannon Beach. Photos by MB Maher

How are we all holding up? Mid-term elections over, one major holiday in the can, another looming, but as usual I’m determined to go full contrarian and resist its gravity pull until the typical last-minute panic. (If Christmas involved nothing more than cookies, it’d be the perfect holiday.) Lots of family visits in November, including Mitch with his camera — these are all his images.

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Mitch arrives in Portland, Oregon.
on the coast, Barview Jetty
with Billie at Cape Meares Lighthouse
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Hannah observing the inscrutable game of pickle ball
Macaroon shopping in Astoria
Admiring woodcuts at the Columbia River Maritime Museum
up the Hitchcockian spiral staircase at the Astor Column, Astoria, Oregon
view from Astor’s Column
maple strutting fall color, Astoria, Oregon
lots of fine old houses in Astoria

On the garden front, bulbs are planted (allium, potted tulips and ranunculus, brodiaea, narcissus). Seeds from Special Plants in England have been sown after a rather circuitous delivery route via Miami, Florida. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is now involved with ordering seeds from England, but Derry’s instructions were unfalteringly accurate and encouraging, and the bureaucratic delay was maybe a couple weeks. And the permit from USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service allows us to take Billie on oversea vacations, if that issue ever comes up, as well as importing more seeds for the next few years. Overall, a surprisingly painless business, with the federal website working flawlessly.


Nights are dipping below 30F here, and I’ve got a little frost-tolerance experiment going with a planter of Echeveria agavoides which can reputedly take temps down to 20F. So far the echeveria are still pristine, but snow is forecast for the coming week. Into the shed they’ll go if that forecast holds. More soon — stay warm!

Posted in journal, MB Maher, Oregon garden | 5 Comments

a May 2017 look back at the zone 10b garden

On the northern Oregon coast, we’ve been in a sunny, dry spell for a week, with rain due to return next week. Frost has blackened the dahlias — I sound like an old hand writing that, but this was another first for me, watching frost move through the garden, taking some plants, leaving others somewhat battered if still mostly intact. Searching the blog for an old photo, I found this post that seemed to really capture the zone 10 garden’s spirit (frost-free about a mile from the ocean in Los Angeles County). Nice to see our old corgi Ein…and a vase of my mom’s sweet peas on the table! I’m moving this post up so I can take frequent sips of it this fall. Hope you’re staying warm!

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Photo taken last night, when I still hoped I could squeak this post in under the Bloom Day deadline, the 15th of every month, and be righteously on time, but it was not to be. Flash of red is from the ladybird poppies, P. commutatum, mostly over but left in situ for reseeding.

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Never loads of flowers but always plenty of rosettes.

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Still, if you look closely, the plants are procreating. Like the little echeverias that began to bloom while I was away.

Continue reading

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Bloom Day October 2022

Technically, it’s the day after Bloom Day, which lands on the 15th of every month. Director of the Bloom Day production for garden bloggers is May Dreams Gardens, and it’s a great repository of blog reports recording bloom times from gardens in zones around the world. I’ve consulted quite a few of these blogs in making this coastal Oregon garden, in jumping from zone 10b to 8b.

Japanese sunflower in October is taller in size, with smaller flowers

Early morning, 6-7ish, in the garden yesterday, the temperature gauge read 40F, slightly colder than recent October mornings but in the ballpark. Comfortable in a robe with a steaming cup of coffee, enjoying the “coolth” emanating from the plants, abruptly I had the distinct impression of walking into an undercurrent of very warm air, as though leaving a cold room and entering a warmer one. It was such a strong sensation that I checked the garage for any equipment or heaters left on. Marty felt it too, but in a different part of the garden. It was as though pockets of incoming warm air from the east hadn’t become fully incorporated yet, like streaky cake batter before it’s been thoroughly combined. An infrared view of the swirling air currents would have been fascinating. Checking the weather forecast, it was projected to be 80F, and by the end of the day it was corrected to 89F — a rare high for the coast. The warm dry air felt just like the Santa Ana winds back home in Los Angeles. Today we’re back in the mid 60sF.

I grew this way back in zone 10 when it was still an aster — Eurybia divaricata. Good presence all season, loves dry shade but growing in almost full sun here at the coast.
Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis ‘The Prince’ is a big fan of zone 8b, not zone 10b.
taller and less dense in flower, Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis ‘Lady in Black’ — note the spikes of Lysimachia atropurpurea ‘Beaujolais’ which surprised me by flowering late in September
This mix of asters, snaps, and lysimachia pretty much sums up all the other garden moments that happen once and never again. I doubt I could plan it again. The aster is predictable in bloom, not so much the lysimachia. And since I won’t be growing snaps from seed, it’s doubtful I’ll find plants again next July, or that I’d be likely to purchase them again as the garden fills up. A first-year garden moment.
Lobelia tupa off schedule, throwing its first bloom in late September, which opened yesterday
Another first-year anomaly, Stipa gigantea blooming in late September rather than early summer.
Salvia uliginosa’s wands of flowers are so much fatter here than zone 10 — the individual florets aren’t shattered by the heat but hold on, building into big blue brushes of bloom — very alliteration worthy!
Rudbeckia triloba works well with the bog sage, similar height and breezy growth habit
schisostylis/hesperantha — with buds still closed in the morning
Various miscanthus were very late to put on growth and are just now gaining height and flowering. This is ‘Flamingo.’
Salvia ‘Amante’ and Verbena bonariensis have been rock stars in a stock tank all summer. This salvia, however, is the first and possibly only plant to wilt when temps get relatively high, like yesterday.

It’s not looking likely that Lepechinia hastata will flower this year, or possibly any year here in zone 8b. Ditto for Salvia pulchella x involucrata. But if they make it through winter, I’ll keep them if only for their leaves. It’s been a lovely autumn, I hope for you as well.

Posted in Bloom Day, climate, Oregon garden | 5 Comments