Friday, April 30, 2010

Night Bloomer


I am tapping away on the keys but my body is still fast asleep at home in bed or at least it should be. This sleepy gardener stayed awake another night to watch and marvel at the beauty and fragrance of the Night Blooming Cereus or Epiphylum oxypetalum. Since the addition of the greenhouse at Menagerie Manor this jewel blooms several times a year. The day before it blooms I carefully bring it into the Manors garden room so the flowers can be enjoyed by everyone who braves the night to bare witness of the opening. Truth be told I bring it in because the last time our neighbor "The Crazy Cat Lady" just about destroyed the greenhouse tripping over everything as she clumsily tried to photograph. She definitely is not feline in her movements.
The upper picture is the bud at about three weeks, it starts out the size of a pin head. And the last, although sideways is the bloom which is about the size of a softball and a fragrance that is intoxicating. And of course by morning it is closed and starting to wither. 




Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Addition in the Garden Room

Back in the late 80's I bought my Father-in-law a small aquarium and a few fish to go with it. It turned out to be a great gift as he enjoyed sitting and watching them swim about. When we recently moved him into a care center he could not take the aquarium with him. And being a complete softy when it comes to animals I brought the fish home but decided they needed a larger home......sooooo. Many hours and dollars later we now have a fifty-five gallon aquarium, but I added the special gravel for plants and the very special lighting system to keep those plants growing. When I was a kid, all we had was a bowl and a goldfish ....at least that is what my mum told me when she saw the setup for the first time. It really has turned out to be quite enjoyable and a great addition to the Garden Room.

Brought this Barrel Cacti in from the Greenhouse, this is the first time it has bloomed. It was a birthday gift from my oldest son Nathan and his wife Grace.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Spent Sunday transplanting 100+ tomato plants from two inch pots into 4 inch pots. I have learned my lesson about how many plants one envelope of seeds will get me. I will be giving away plants at our local plant exchange meeting.


Rhododendron 'Catabiense album', In 1975 I made a cutting from the parent plant on one of Portland's old estates. It is very hardy and a heavy bloomer. Pretty impressive when I remember it as an eight inch cutting.



A Pixie in my Garden

Every Thursday we have the privilege of baby sitting our Granddaughter Taeya.
She loves to help her "Poppi" in the gardens and the greenhouse.

Friday, April 23, 2010

From The Garden History Book


Pink Flowering Dogwood, this was one of three plantings on the property when we purchased our 1916 home. It has witnessed many changes in the garden over the last 35 years.

Mema's Ladies or Garden Art Critics?


















Memas Ladies giving the "evil eye" glare at the collection of ceramic chickens I added to the wall. In retaliation we received no eggs today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

From the Garden History Book - 2002 "A Lot of Hammering a Lot of Confusion and a Little Vine".

    Top Picture= Wisteria "Cooks Special" In all it's glory, first blooms of 2010.
Second Pic.= Completed Arbor on planting day May 2002

Not having been born one of those natural carpenters I have always relied on the expertise of my father when it came to carpentry projects, especially plans for a project that I was too cheap to hire a professional. I did however draft quite a professional drawing of the project at hand without the kiss of approval from the local contractors union. The summer previously I had purchased from a local Nursery a very nice quality specimen of Chinese Wisteria. This is were the whole cart before the horse thing comes in, but I was also not a natural born planner either. After presenting the plans to the Board of Directors at Menagerie Manor (Mema) and a cost sheet I was very surprised by a nod of approval, so not being one to waste any time with such endeavors I got on the phone and ordered all the materials to be delivered.


What I thought was going to be a quiet weekend of building my new wisteria arbor turned into the usual confused squalor of events. Friday night we received a panicked call from Nathan our oldest son, the drummer, living in Eugene and working at a bakery for minimum wage and playing drums in a band at night and any other spare time that came their way. Often the discovery that life is not all it should be and the memories of the home you left to strike out and make it big in the music world come flooding back in one big wave that rolls you over and over until you can't come up for air. Fortunately there is always a phone at hand, two sleeping parents that will jump into their car at the very moment you hang up, they will speed down the freeway at an ungodly hour only to discover that they are still in their pajamas and both forgot to answer the early morning bladder call before they set out on their quest to rescue their son. That’s right, red BMW doing 85+ mph, two very frazzled occupants dressed in pajamas, now there is a pretty picture that every sleepy State Police is looking for at that time of morning hmmmm! We hit the first available rest area and were back on the road in record time but traveling at a cop friendly speed.


Needless to say the rest of that Friday was pretty well shot, getting Nathan and all his belongings home was the easy part. I steered him to a bed that he plunged into and was immediately unconscious and dropping the two bags of cloths into the wash. We spent the rest of the day wondering how this all came about and staring at each other in silence thinking about what was going to happen next.


That afternoon “next” happened in the form of the delivery truck with lumber for the Arbor. Saturday morning came with a flurry. Nathan was still sleeping but the rest of the house took on a less casual movement. It was a beautiful day outside, perfect weather for the construction job. We were into a second cup of coffee when it was discovered that the kitchen sink was no longer draining no matter how much plunging was done to it. Now if I had a resume for life’s skills there are two that would not be on it, electrical and plumbing, and not necessarily in that order. I called the local plumber and set up an appointment for him to come in the afternoon, meanwhile my father and I went out to start the construction of the arbor. I had previously cemented the three four by four support posts into the ground so we were able to immediately start hammering away on all the top rails. We live in a wonderfully close knit neighborhood and all the hammering brought out onlookers with all the ready and mostly unhelpful suggestions. We had amassed about four of these unofficial inspectors on the patio when the plumber came to the door, our three dogs and Ian’s dog Ninja just about took the door off at the hinges. I welcomed him into the chaos and pointed him towards the kitchen He was there for just a short time when he told us that it was going to be a major job and that it would cost just under eight hundred to fix and that he would have to remove a section of wall from our recently remodeled laundry room.


It’s amazing how quickly a well planned project as this goes up. And even more amazing that a fellow as myself can pull it off. But pull it off I did. Careful planning and some basic skills are what it’s all about, and a very good natured and patient father. The arbor was finished and I ran to the back and brought out my wisteria, after planting it and watering it in I stood back and surveyed the whole project, my father who was sitting in the shade and sipping a cool drink said “that is a little vine” “don’t you think this big arbor needs something bigger? Or maybe a few more on the other corners? I looked shocked and surprised to which he continued, “well I just think that’s a little vine".

Friday, April 16, 2010

Buzz Box

Many years ago I was given some heavy wire panels that are framed in metal as well, I think they used to be part of a security fence system at a construction site so thieves would not be able to walk off with tools and equipment. The equipment was stolen anyway so the panels were discarded, their loss my gain. I used them in various sites in the garden as rose trellis and had two left over that I installed on the opposite side of the path that runs along my greenhouse. I planted Kiwi on it and then hung a bunch of bird houses that a local High school shop class made. At one end there is a rather large bad example of the type of craftsmanship the professor would have given a failing mark. I felt sorry for the student and grabbed it up telling him what a great job he did on it and added it to my collection. That was about ten years ago and it has never been inhabited, until yesterday.....I had just finished watering in the greenhouse and stepped out onto the path when I heard loud rhythmic buzzing coming from the birdhouse. I walked up and gave it a twitch and out swarmed half dozen peeved reddish fuzzy Bumble Bee's. Last Fall I attended a class on Bee Keeping at a local Nursery and the speaker said that these fairly gentle giants of the Bee world although not as industrious a species as honey bees will pollinate flowers. I am thrilled they have taken up residence in the "Buzz Box", and am sure the craftsman would be thrilled that his less then passing shop project was appreciated by a larger audience than myself.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Poop, rain has returned to Portland. It was such a great weekend, and I managed to spend most of it in the garden and greenhouse. I kind of over did it on the tomato seeds, but being a first time tomato seed harvester I was not sure on the outcome. From the two Sungold tomatoes that I saved the seeds from I have well over fifty plants....time to be brutal and "off" the weaker ones.
Just picked my Dahlia order up from last fall, don't recall what I ordered but there are four new one's that I hope do better than last year's. The surprise freeze did most of my tubers in, but I did get a few to come back by cleaning off the the mushed tubers, dusting the remaining tubers with sulfur and potting them up in the greenhouse. Out of those rescued I have five strong healthy plants, a far cry from what I started with. This fall I will lay a heavy layer of mulch over the dahlia bed and then tack down the lot with a roll of chicken wire to keep it together.
Yesterday I fertilized the roses, am getting some nice growth out of them and it looks like they will be ready for this years Rose Festival Show. Last year I trophied with my 1949 Pollyantha "Mothers Day" rose, moving me into professional status. Drat it, just means it will be harder to trophy.



We used to call the Mother's Day rose, Lucy's Rose, it was planted in the back garden when we purchased the home. Lucy Warner was the original owner of our 1916 home. Actually, her father built the house as his retirement home. He built the big front porch so he could sit and watch life go by,but his competitor purchased the lot next door and built his home just far enough out that Lucy's father could not see up the street when sitting on his porch. So the house was left to Lucy and she lived there until 1976 when her family forced her to sell and move into a care center. She passed away that same year, we believe she has not totally left the house as we have had many mysterious happenings and goings on that make us believe we have her spirit haunting the halls of Menagerie Manor, but those are another story.

Friday, April 9, 2010

From The Garden History Book


Rambler "Apple Blossom", (Burbank 1932)


Laurelhurst, is one of the old historic neighborhoods in Portland with very large beautiful old homes. Each year the neighborhood association organises a neighborhood wide garage sale, and a portion of the proceeds from each home that participates goes to the upkeep on several historic features in the area. While attending the sale I noticed this rose growing on a fence at one of the sale houses. I talked to the young woman that owned the home and she told me that it was her mothers favorite flower, and when passed away a couple years ago after a long battle with cancer her father made cuttings for her and each of her sisters so they would think of their mother every time it bloomed.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tulips in Bloom April 8, 2010

This is the only time of year that I like Grape Hyacinth
I liked the color of this Tulip "Daydream" so much that I planted 50 bulbs in the front beds - 2006

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meanwhile back in the Greenhouse


Some friends with good intentions brought this one back from Hawaii for me. It was a little stick wrapped in dried moss and stuffed in a plastic bag marked Bamboo Orchid. This is the first time it has bloomed.

From The Garden History Book



Easter was non eventful at Menagerie Manor, Mema baked a spiral Ham and all the dishes that go with it just in case one of the kids stopped by looking for a meal. As it turned out we had a lovely meal to ourselves so there are lots of leftovers and I can just smell the homemade Split Pea Soup with that big ham bone.
I did a walk through the garden this morning and found these pretty violets in bloom. I transplanted them 36 years ago from the Lelain Gardeniers estate in Clatskanie, the small town that Mema grew up in. By the time I was on the scene the house was a burnt out shell and the gardens overgrown but any gardener could still see the beauty that once was. Lelain would still stop by to pick a handful of flowers to take to her daughter whom she was living with, a small pixie of a women her cheeks bright with rouge and boundless energy for being in her eighties. Mr Gardenier was lost in the fire. He had been taking a nap in the upstairs bedroom when the fire broke out and quickly spread throughout the old house Mema and her parents yelled for him to get out, he came to the window but being a true old gentlemen proceeded to get dressed first as it would not be proper to be seen in ones undergarments, he died from smoke inhalation. Lelain on one of her visits to the house gave me permission to take any plants that I wanted as she was putting the house and land up for sale. The house was still filled with the most beautiful antiques, lots of crystal that was left undamaged by the fire, in fact at our wedding she gave us a lead crystal basket that Mema cherishes these many years later. It's good to have memories in the garden......