Friday, August 27, 2010

Another New Kid

How about this very cool Manihot  esculenta 'Tropical Tapioca' ..? Are you jealous? Just a little, right ? What... you already have one ?? Damn.
Well, thanks anyway Portland Nursery. Wish you weren't a 10 hour drive .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Visit to Swoon Island...

 Oh, I mean Swan Island. So if you have to drive from Portland to Ashland, and it's August, and you see the Canby exit, and you don't really have a schedule because you (foolishly) aren't seeing a play when you get to Ashland ( you may want to turn off the interstate and pay a visit to this storied Dahlia grower. Theres nothing quite like motoring down a bucolic Oregon back road and coming across acres of Dahlias in full bloom- the high calorie dessert course on a vacation that has featured daily plant-related activites.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Here and There in Chicago

 My first visit to Chicago was in 1988, business related and when there was free time it was spent gawking at the stunning architecture and eating really outstanding steaks. For many years I went once or twice a year, and continued to gawk and consume beef. The Art Institute was a frequent destination, as was the cocktail lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building for a couple of 10 dollar drinks -well worth it for the spectacular views.    At some point , a plant related transformation took place in this already beautiful city , and now when I go the camera comes with me. This past Friday I put off  business for a spell and walked several blocks in the stifling heat and humidity (7:30am mind you ) to the Lurie Garden. Only steps from the cacophony of rush hour Michigan Avenue , the city noise mysteriously falls away and the sounds of bees, crickets , birds and insects that have probably never set a wing in California bring this wonderfully designed prairie and marsh inspired garden to life .

 The garden was designed by Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel , and completed in 2004.

Lots of stuff going on outside the walls at The Art Institute as well, the building is flanked on either side by wonderful leisure gardens for the public to enjoy, and the containers are way way cool.

And how about the median strip down Michigan Ave ? Stella d' Oro be gone !

A modest little planting at Grant Park- one of many.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ponder the Pelargonium

  The childhood, teenhood and macro-adulthood all took place in zone 10, and the lowly zonal geranium (Pelargonium hotorum ) was religiously snubbed throughout. They were every bit as ubiquitous as Stella de Oro and Agapanthus. Snails set up condos under the dense foliage, and since no one ever seemed to deadhead them , late summer found a cluster of canes sticking up with brown-ish red fading flowerheads and shiny mollusk trails criss-crossing across the leaves. I despised them.  At some point , I began to have an interest in the scented -leaved versions.A garden centers' thumbs-up rating could be determined in the scented geranium section- if there even was one. The collection has expanded and receded over the years;   I lose a couple every winter as I turn  my attention to the protection of succulents and cane begonias, sadly neglecting the Pelargoniums, whose needs are  easily forgotten when the gardener is distracted by the look-at-me drama of the Aloes, Crassulas, and Rexes.  A great excuse however, to buy more . They all live in pots, snails are strongly discouraged . The flowers are incidental- I love the downy leaves, the fragrance that stays on the hands, the understated presence in the garden.There is an annual purchase from Robin Parers booth at the San Francisco Garden Show, and a visit to her nursery is long overdue.

Peppermint favorite.

This one has been around a few years, the tag long gone .

P. Charity Rose

P, citronellum 'Mabel Grey' , Lemon Verbena scented, and they aren't kidding.

P. schitzopetalum, the flower is night scented..but this leaf !

P. asperum 'Grey Lady Plymouth'

P. fragrans 'Snowy Nutmeg'

This years Robin Parer selection, and I've already lost the tag. Bad me. I love the leaves !

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kalanchoe Mamorata

 Modest in size and trapped in a pot that can be easily moved to a coffee table for the winter with it's genus-mates , Kalanchoe mamorata  'Pen Wiper' is one of the favorites here, and the impetus to create   a winter-succulent hotel that will allow bigger pots, bigger plants. Always tempting in zone 9 to push your luck -some years just moving these dudes under the eaves for the winter will suffice. But 'Pen Wiper' is never allowed to participate in  risky behavior .This summer he hangs out with his brethren K. 'Flapjacks' and the pricey mail-order Coleus, 'Blairs Witch'. They all play nicely together.