susansflowers

garden ponderings


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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.

Wild Himalayan Blackberry

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Wild Himalayan Blackberry

I like this picture as you can see the developing berries as well as the delicate flowers. Not only the stems, but the leaves, and even the backs of the leaves, have a multitude of thorns. Anyone who has gone berry-picking quickly learns how to pick these delicacies without getting too bloody in the process.

Some berry-picking hints, gleaned from experience (the best teacher):
1 – Go early in the morning, so you can wear long pants and long sleeves without cooking yourself in the summer heat.
2 – Bring clippers to be able to cut a path to a desirable clump of berries.
3 – Have plenty of clean buckets for the picked berries. If you are picking berries to be cooked into pie or jelly, for example, as big as a 5-gallon bucket is fine. If you want to freeze or eat individual berries, a smaller size bucket is preferable, so as not to crush the bottom layers.
4 – Avoid berries on a roadside where they have accumulated car exhaust. Along a stream is a much better location for picking.

Although locals love these tasty berries, the plant is an invasive in the state of Oregon. It was brought here in the mid-1800’s to help prevent stream erosion, after the local beaver population was decimated. (Oh, the tales that history can tell…)

Do know that you are competing with the local wildlife population, including birds, deer and bears, for your juicy berries?