The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I thought I would give you a look at what is happening right now in the garden.  Then, as I was taking pictures (I have a new camera and I am learning to use it, but I think for that much money it should come with a person to follow me around giving me tips and nagging me about changing settings), I decided I didn’t want to just give you the edited version of the garden.  So, this is what is great right now, and what is not so great.

This is a reticulated honeysuckle which I grow for the foliage.  It has really been slammed by the last two hard winters, but came back beautifully this year.  I got it in a four inch pot years ago at the Seven Dees way out on the east side.  It was 50 cents on the bargain table (that Seven Dees had the best bargain tables).  I got a second, but I didn’t get it planted fast enough and a hard winter killed it.  It was only in a little pot.  It was careless of me to think it would be fine.  The honeysuckle is climbing in a huge arborvitae which I got in the bargain area at Portland Nursery, not quite as far out on the east side.  It was $7, and was incredibly pot bound.  I move a lot of plants, but I have never moved that one!  The Japanese anemone was gift from a friend who decided that pink didn’t belong in her autumn garden.  This combo makes me weak in the knees every time I pass it.

Here is a mass of the same anemones.  I am going to strip this bed of them because they are taking over, but they prefer to be moved in the spring.  I lost all the anemone plants I had potted up last fall in the Great Freeze, so I am enjoying one last hurrah with these, and they will be moved next spring to areas where I don’t water so that they are a little less assertive.  I just love these despite their expansionist inclinations, and my friend who just had knee replacement surgery will get a big bouquet of them this week.

I brought this particular hardy fuchsia with me from my old house.  I had never seen one before we moved there and I was absolutely enthralled. It was very mistreated for years while we moved around, including one year when it sat out with an exposed root ball over the winter.  This past year it froze to the ground, but it came back four feet high and loaded with flowers.  I lost many other fuchsias last winter, but this one survived.  Needless to say, at this time of year the hummingbirds think this should be an all-fuchsia garden so I will take cuttings this year and winter them over in the dining room.  I kept a couple of ‘Aurea’ alive that way all winter last year, so this year I am planning on expanding the operation.

Here is a hydrangea from the same friend who gave me the anemones.  Same problem: autumn pink.  I have no problem with it, however, and love having it in the Dell.  My soil is so acidic that this will probably turn blue eventually, but I am enjoying it as pink.  I will also enjoy it blue.

The elderberry fruit is ripening.  The band-tailed pigeons are already gorging, and soon the robins and the flickers will be joining in.  The trees rustle with all the birds in them.

I sometimes think that all the new plant cultivars go a little too far.  This is one exception, however.  It is Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’, and it is truly superior to the species.  I love it, but it doesn’t really love me.  I keep trying, though, and I bought a big one this year, and gave it better drainage and protection from the wind.  We will see how it makes it through the winter.This is our native piggy-back plant, but it is the ‘Aurea’ version grown by Xera Plants.  I have gotten them at both Seven Dees and Cistus.  It lights up the floor of a shady area.Echinacea, the coneflower, is one of those plants that has been extensively tinkered with by plant breeders.  It comes in a rainbow of shades now, and even in double forms, but this is one of the old ones, and I think it is absolutely beautiful.  How can this be improved upon?

Notice how most of these are close-ups?  There is a reason for that.  The weeds have been incredible this year.  I think it was the very long and wet spring that has given them their unusual luxuriance.  I have pulled bushels and bushels and bushels of them, but they are still everywhere.

They will slow down when winter gets here, so I need to try and get on top of them then, before the ground freezes.  I also need to keep mulching more.  I use hemlock bark, and it really keeps down the weeds if I would always take the time to apply it consistently.  This is the weeding corollary to a stitch in time saves nine.

And then there are the acts of God in the garden.  I don’t have to deal with hurricanes, tornadoes, plagues of locusts, or grapefruit-sized hail.  Instead I have mammals.  These dirt mounds are the work of one night by somebody who is too chicken to come above ground and insult me to my face.

I don’t want to end on a sour note, though, so below are a couple of pictures of some Sempervivum arachnoideum, the cobweb sedum.  These are some I got for a dollar each at Cistus on Sauvie Island when they did a fall clean-out sale a couple of years ago.  I make sedum collections in shallow bowls with a mix of potting soil and 1/4-10 gravel.  I put them in full sun, on concrete, facing south,  and they are thriving.  They originally had about three buttons each when I got them.

I top-dress with pea gravel, so that will give you a sense of the scale here.  These are truly tiny plants.

And now I think I had better go weed.

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