susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Summer Surprise

I found this post in my “Drafts” folder dated August 30, 2015.  It was meant to be published then.  The flower is still in the garden over a month later.  Even though the fields are brown and dry, deer have not eaten it.
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It is exciting to me, as a gardener, when a plant I was sure died over the winter, shows up in bloom later in summer.
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I am sure glad I did not mistake this emerging plant for an unwanted weed.
The teeny-tiny, one inch (2.5 cm) flower of verbena bonariensis, might be easy to miss, even though its stem is almost 3 feet (one meter) tall.
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When this plant was purchased, I was sure it was a perennial.  Not exactly.
It can return, but my winters are too cold (unless global warming keeps the mild winters around) for the plant to stay put.
It comes back by reseeding.  Wind and birds determine just where it will show up.  In fact, it can be invasive (that is a very nasty word for gardeners).
In my little corner of land, I am not concerned about it taking over, as it is barely surviving.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a small patch of these cute purple blossoms in my flower bed.


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Alluring Artichokes

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After our share of thistle hearts (in case you didn’t already know, artichokes are in the thistle family), I let the last few buds go to flower.
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This was not the only bee allowed a last fling before I cut the flowers.
If you get a chance to feel them, fresh artichoke flower tops are very soft.
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Copy of DSCN3475A dried artichoke flower from last year is on the left and a fresh cut flower on the right.  Not only the color of the new flower base (it is green), but its shape reveal the difference in age of the two.  As water evaporates, the bud will shrink and lose weight quite a bit.

These flowers are standing in a Goddess Vase that I made.
I love to play/work in the mud – clay and flowers both live in dirt.

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One of the coolest things about artichokes, is that the mother plant that yielded delicious eating chokes and pretty flowers for drying, makes baby plants before it dies.
There are two artichoke plants coming from the ground, in the photo above.  On the left side is new growth with the mother plant’s leaves turning  yellow on the right side.


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First Sign of Autumn – A Little Early to Me

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This morning, I noticed the first red leaf on Eonymus ‘Chicago Fire’.
It’s leaves change color way early in the summer, but now I am actually documenting just how early.

Out of curiosity, I googled this plant, and found no information on how early the leaves turn colors.  But I did learn that it is supposed to be deer-resistant.  Therefore, this winter it will be moved outside the fenced-in area.
Now I would like to find a flowering vine to climb the fence.  It is a particularly sunny area, that has honeysuckle farther down the same fence.
Any suggestions?


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Green Flowers?!

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From what I can determine this specimen is in the papyrus family.
It does re-seed itself, but not on an invasive level.  This medium-small plant can take lots of sun, looks unusual in the garden and I like it!
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On the other hand, this plant has shown itself to be invasive.
My plan this year, is to prune off all the ‘flowers’ so it cannot reseed itself.
I believe it is a sea holly, but, to me, it resembles a thistle.
On a positive note, the deer are not remotely interested in this greenery.


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Hellebore – Pink & White

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These two hellebores are neighbors near the edge of an east-facing deck. Pink flower is a bit north of east, and the white one is a touch south of due east.

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My white hellebore had a baby!  Over to the left, a seed germinated and a new plant was born.  The baby is a minimum of 2 years old, because I noticed it growing there at least that long ago.  Behind the white blossoms, the ferns under the edge of the deck, are naturalized.

At a friend’s house recently, I saw a multi-flowered pink hellebore in a pot.  It was beautiful.  She lives and gardens in the shadow of some very tall evergreen trees.
I had ‘plant envy’.  How did she get her hellebore to bloom so prolifically?


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Christmas Cactus

I picked up starts for Christmas Cactus a number of years ago from a friend.  A start is merely a ‘leaf’ from a plant.  Not knowing anything about these, but that I coveted such a pretty flowering plant, I acquired ‘leaves’ from 4 separate and different colored flowering specimens.  Needless to say, not all survived.  But the ones that did take root have given me great joy, as they flower in the early winter when everything outdoors has ‘given up the ghost’ for the season here in the Pacific Northwest.

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This sturdy plant hangs in a southwest facing room at the back of the house.  Yes, I forget to water it sometimes, specially when I get busy outdoors in the warm season.  Then I remember that this is a succulent and doesn’t mind drying out between waterings – as long as I don’t let it dry out too much!  It does not want to be forgotten, just like the rest of us.

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A teeny-tiny bathroom is the home of this beauty.  It was a challenge to photograph because there was so little room to move, and the incoming daylight was difficult to adjust for.  I lowered the shade, but there is still strange colored light.  This plant has definitely found its home.  Its funny (to me) how similar plants fare so differently in various exposures, like in windowsills around the house.


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Late Season Autumn Joy Sedum

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When I first typed up Autumn Joy Sedum for a blog page, I cut one flower stem and put it into the vase above.  The surprise for me, is that the flower is still the same light pink two weeks later.  I did put a small amount of water in the vase, and because of the small opening at the top of the vase, evaporation is a minimum.

While tidying up a flower bed over the weekend, I found a stem of Sea Lavender, on a transplanted baby plant, that had escaped my previous notice.  The two flowers do complement each other, I think.

This morning, after I photographed the flowers in the above vase, I went outside to see what the Autumn Joy looked like within the garden fence.  The maroon-rust of the flowers shows them maturing towards their final color. Some of the flowers appear paler, but do not be fooled, it is only the bright sunlight.  The long-blooming time, and very gradual color change are two of this sedum’s assets.


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Russian Sage

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This is one of the newest additions to my garden, a Russian Sage.  I have seen examples of these plants living in high-desert areas, and admired their growth and beauty in very low-moisture climates.   For as wet a reputation that Southern Oregon has, the summers tend to be quite dry.  Plants survive in my gardens on irrigation alone, so I always notice those that appear to thrive in what would normally be considered less-than-optimal conditions.

It was planted in the middle of summer, a death knell to many plants is to be moved in the hottest time of the year.  But this specimen showed its strength and grew just fine.  The piece of fence around protected the Sage from rabbits and deer as it gets established.  I think it is in a good, permanent location, and could grow to be even three feet in all directions.

The flowers appear to stay on the plant for quite awhile, another feature I like in a plant.  I will need to remember to prune this shrub severely in the spring, I believe that will keep it from looking straggled.


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Autumn Joy – Sedum – Turtle Vase

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These snapshots show the progressive change of color of this outstanding landscape plant.  (I see the photos are posted in reverse order.)  While many sedums are groundcovers, Autumn Joy easily grows to 18 inches tall.  The above pictures cover the gradual darkening of this plant’s flowers.  They were taken over the course of a month, and the flowers will keep on getting darker for another few weeks.

I recently saw a line of about 20 barrels of these flowers decorating the entry to Maryhill Winery in Washington State on the Columbia Gorge.  They were still in the early stage of color development, and would look handsome for another month or so.

The bud in the Turtle Vase is still in the early stages of color change, as the stem was nipped by deer, earlier in its development.  (If you look close, you can see the darkening of the stem cut near the top flower.)  My plant is next to a fence, and the natives keep it pruned.

This porcelain vase is made by me in my ‘other life’.  A turtle is carved into the opening, and the piece was fired in my wood and gas fueled kiln.  The orange-peel texture seen on the vase shoulders is from soda introduced into the kiln near the end of the firing.


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Bluebeard – Caryopteris x clandonesis

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This plant was a real surprise to find in the flower bed.  A few years ago, I planted a caryopteris and it never really did anything.  Earlier this year, I found the plastic tag that comes when you buy a small plant, but found no plant to go with it.  Now I see this strange, but pretty flower and I didn’t know where it came from.

I want to give credit to Jane Lee, who read my blog and offered her assistance finding the name of plants I could not.  Jane is a professional landscaper and has her own blog myfoodandflowers.wordpress.com   Jane, I hope you don’t mind my naming you as my reference.

As I learn more about this plant, I get to look forward to watching it grow and prosper.  It can get a big larger, so I will need to make sure it has plenty of room.