Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From The Garden History Book

In the Spring of 1978 my twin brother and his partner were up from Houston Texas visiting and wanted to take in some sights while on Holiday. Mema and I suggested The Historical home known as Bishop's Close. It was built in 1914 designed by D.E. Lawrence to resemble a Scottish manor house. Owned by Mr. Peter Kerr who built its beautiful landscape known as Elk Rock. Upon his death in 1957 at the age of 95 the house and 16 acre gardens were given by his daughters to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon together with an endowment for the care and maintenance of the garden, with the stipulation that the garden be opened to visitors. My brother an avid photographer distracted everyone in our party with loud excitement every time he found another "Kodak moment", and during one of these distractions I found a lovely clump of Japanese Iris, Iris ensata "Hegira" that caught my eye. Mema called for me to join the group for another picture when a nice healthy stem and chunk of root appeared in my hand. I soon joined the group for the picture. As we drove on out of the grounds Mema discovered the Iris booty in her purse. There are times when the look on her face can really scare me. I assured her that I would have met bale for her had she been caught which met with a racious laughter from the two in the back seat. Today it is a large clump loaded with flowers, and the only Iris in the garden.

Happy Anniversary Love

Thirty eight years ago I was a kid applying for employment at a large Veterinary Hospital that specialised in bone surgery. I was just fresh here in the States after growing up in England and Europe, and was excited to have been hired almost straight away. One of the younger Doctors was taking me around and introducing me to all the staff. While we were standing in the minor surgery room the door to the next surgery was suddenly kicked open and a beautiful young nurse about my age came bursting through carying an unconscious and exceedingly fat Schnauzer. The good Doctor introduced the burdened beauty and as she gave forth the most amazing smile the dogs bladder emptied down the front of her light blue surgical smock. I stammered out "cccan I hhhhhelp" to which she answered "nope, you will get plenty of your own". And off she disappeared through another set of doors. I knew at that time this lovely women would some day be my wife. We are celebrating our thirty sixth Anniversary today. Life has been very good to us and we have our health and wonderful children and grandchildren. So love, the first thirty six were great, lets go another round?

Lets leave rockets for NASA

Of all the seasons and Holidays that we decorate for I have always enjoyed the fourth of July. Unfortunately along with all the banners and flags one must put up with .....yuk....fireworks! I despise them or should I say I despise the stupidity of the people who set them off. In our state the large rockets are illegal but Oregon resident just cross state lines into Washington State and purchase them. There arent enough Police to monitor those who choose to ignore the law and fire them off. At around eight in the evening Mema and I retire to the theater room which is in the bowels of the Manor and with us are our dogs, our younger sons two Chihuahua's and our eldest son's Boston Bull. We make an endless supply of popcorn and watch movie after movie with the volume turned up so loud that one would assume very deaf people lived here. Early in the afternoon we make sure all guests have had sufficient "walkies" and eliminated as much as possible as when the evening comes there will not be any intermissions, if you know what I mean. I found a lovely little spray bottle of "calming" elixir at our local Pet supply store. It is all natural and simply helps calm them without creating a room full of snoring canine. Every hour or so I alone venture out to the garden to pick up debris from the illegal rockets. I turn on the floodlights grab a dip net and scoop more debris from the fish pond. We have water pressure here at Menagerie Manor that the fire department would be envious of so I set hoses around various parts of the garden in case stupidity results in a structure or tree fire. During all the revelry the air is so thick with sulfur and smoke I should be sporting a face mask. After all is over we spend the first few early  hours of the next day filling one of my fifty gallon yard barrels with debris left strewn about the street. Regardless of the thoughtlessness of others my patriotism to the freedom this beautiful country affords us all drives me to show my love by dressing the old girl up in all the flags and banners.So its six days and counting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In The Garden

Phlomis russeliana, I brought home one four inch pot of this plant from a neighborhood plant trade. It has proved to be very hardy and Mema loves the dried flower heads for her fall and winter arrangements.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meanwhile back in the Greenhouse

My very favorite Orchid in my collection is #32 Phalaenopsis "Buddhas Treasure", I think the color is just stunning. This is one of several I brought back from Kauai

This little Vanda (#44) was posted earlier but I decided to post it again as it only had one or two inflorescence in the earlier post and is now just a bee hive of bloom. The color makes me think of fresh honey. I call this one "Murphy's Gold" after the previous owner a co-worker Siobhan Murphy. She said it was in her possession for five years and never bloomed. She gave it to me in 2007 and starting in 2008 it seems to be in bloom all the time....sorry Siobhan :o)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

With Sunshine Came Success

Although it is now raining again we had a nice respite of three days with sun and warmth that made the body feel good. With all that I decided to move the "Yuma Garden" out of the Greenhouse and onto its summer digs. The South side of the Manor is mostly concrete so is the ideal home for my collection Cacti and other sun worshipping plants that I have collected over the years. The burgundy plant in the pot on the left is "Eucomis comosa"and in the lower photo one can just see the flower it put forth this year. In the other pots are "Aeonium", "Echeveria"  and a Kumquat tree I rescued out of a dumpster in the nursery behind the Manor. My favorite is the large Golden Barrel Cacti which I purchased while visiting my parents in Yuma Arizona.

Success came at the Annual Rose Festival Spring Rose Show. I was quite sure with all the rain and cold weather that I would have no entry's this year, but my neighbor and Rose Mentor convinced me that we should enter anything that had petals on it just to help fill the large arena with color. So I dutifully covered any hopefuls with my ragtag collection of brollies. To my great surprise I ribboned on two roses and for the third year in a row I won another major trophy for a wee little entry that held up like a soldier in battle. The rose was a miniature called "Mother's Love" and the trophy was for Best Fully Open Miniature. The perfect petal count and the brightest yellow stamens.
Loyd Corporation generously gives over a whole wing of their Mall to the entry's as their work station so we can groom our entry's before handing them over to the show clerks for placement in categories. Here are a few shots of our work station, that is myself and my 95 year old neighbor Margarete MacKenzie. This will be her last year as she has decided to move into an retirement center. She will have a lovely balcony that faces the morning sun light which I am trying to convince her it would be a fantastic place to grow miniature potted roses?

After the show Mema and the "Little Terrorists" met Margarete and I for lunch. Can you say "CHEESE"

Then it was off to our eldest son and daughter-in-laws home for little Brooklyn's second birthday celebration, and what is guaranteed a fun but exhausting party as it is the Cuban side of the family and who really know how to party.

After the little Terrorists filled up on sweets Mema and Poppi took Brooklyn home to Menagerie Manor for a quiet night as "The Cubans" celebrated mama Graces graduation from a local University.

Bright and early the next morning the three of us boarded the train for a trip to the Zoo. Brooklyn loved the baby elephants

And the drums in the "Africa Exhibit"

And an exciting finish to the day was a surprise visit with a little native owl that I had rescued after it was hit and permanently disabled in an accident with a commuter train. It is now a permanent resident at the Zoo.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meanwhile back in the Greenhouse

Crown of Thorns Euphorbia milii

Dendrobium alba "Hula Girl"
 Vanda Orchid, one of several that was given to me because the previous owner got tired of it not blooming.

In my office I have a large collection of Phalaenopsis Orchids, this is Phal. "Yellow Beauty" which I picked up at an Orchid show on Kauai. I had heard sort of third handed that one could bring orchid plants back to the mainland without having them inspected by the agricultural department. So I purchased several of them at the orchid show against Mema's wishes as she was quite certain that we would be arrested or detained for trying to smuggle live plants through customs. She stood three people back from me in the inspection line with a smug look on her face , ready to say "I told you so". As it was my turn to put all personal belongings on the x ray belt I gently laid my shopping bag containing the obvious "contraband" asking the uniformed officer if it would be ok to send it through bottom first so as not to knock the flowers off the exposed stems, he was very obliging and even put his hand over the flowers as they disappeared through the opening of the machine. With broad smile on my face I stepped through and waited to collect my plants and other items on the safe side. After the next couple of passengers passed through it was Mema's turn, she sent her carry-on bag through the machine and then stepped through and promptly was stopped by the officer. She had forgotten to take off her watch which set the buzzer off and was made to step through the detector again, sigh of relief...no buzz....she was safe, or so she thought. The officer told her "mam, we are going to have to search your bag". She glanced in my direction with a horrified look on her face as they pulled her and the bag to the side. It turned out to be three tins of Kippers that I never go anywhere without. She was absolutely embarrassed when the officer held them up with a look that said something like "you eat this stuff"? The rest of the boarding was uneventful and very quiet. I ordered drinks almost immediately and by time we arrived at the Portland Airport she was even chuckling at the memory.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From The Garden History Book

When I was a child of six my family moved to Constantina Spain. We lived in town in a beautiful white washed two story townhouse. It was a very exciting time for myself and my siblings. There are so many wonderful big memories of that time and place but one memory that still surprises me to have imprinted was the smallest of memories. Out in the back courtyard there was a corner fountain were my mother and the housekeeper would fill mop buckets and the old ringer washer. At the top near the water outlet there was a cascade of a delicate plant with the tiniest violet colored flowers that grew out of the overhang. I can just picture it in my mind all these many years later. Such an insignificant little plant, and back then I was keen on wildlife and not gardening so I didn't know the name of it. But that little clump of beautiful and delicate flowering plant life just stuck in my memory. About fifteen years ago we were visiting my wife's parents and I stopped in a local garden shop. The first thing I saw was a shelf full of four inch pots of Kenilworth Ivy, I couldn't believe my eyes when I picked it up, it was like someone jabbed me, the memory of that fountain in Spain came slamming back to me. I let out a shout that scared everyone around me and who probably thought I was crazy. I bought two just in case one wouldn't make it, I know now that you can't really kill it as it is everywhere in the garden. I have such a fondness for this little jewel that when it comes up were it really shouldn't I just turn a blind eye and let it flourish.
There is a pathway under all that, good thing it never gets used much.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ya got to love em

No really you do, because you can't kill them....it's the law! I can't imagine anyone wanting to kill such a beautiful bird but they can be frustrating. Last Friday I had just returned home from the office and went out to the garden to feed my Koi fish when I was greeted with a rather frustrated sort of honk. Looking straight down from the garden room roof was this Great Blue Heron. I ran back into the house and grabbed up my camera but when I dashed back out it flew to the "Crazy Cat Ladies" roof next door, so was unable to get any closer. The character would fly from roof to roof when it thought I wasn't looking. After about two hours it gave one more disgusted honk and winged off into the sunset

Friday, June 4, 2010

A new resident in the garden

Viola banksii "Tasmanian Violet"
I'm always on the prowl for something different and this little gem caught my eye at a small family run nursery. I had no idea it was in the viola family as the leaf looks more like a large version of Cymbalaria muralis (Ivy-leaved toad-flax or Kenilworth Ivy) which I have growing everywhere at the Manor, and the flower is similar in color as well. Unfortunately the days of non-stop rain continue so I have stored it in a cool corner of the greenhouse.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A tomato on June 2nd ??

Growing my tomato's in a metal stock tank was a brilliant idea, and the proof is in this photo. With temperatures in the forties and fifty's and a deluge of rain daily for weeks on end. I'm certain that the combination of the little sun we have gotten warming the metal of the tank and the soil additives I mentioned in my previous tomato post have something to do with these results. I can almost taste the green tomato pie!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rain Continues

Our local Weatherman discribed this latest front as a "River of Rain", and that is just what it is. Non stop rain that is finaly doing a good job of keeping this hardend old gardener indoors by the fire reading his books. I am a rare book collector and my wife is a Librarian in the local High School and has a book fettish as well. So there is never a shortage of something to read at the Manor. I love Orchids and have about sixty + different orchids in my greenhouse and another twenty in my office at work. I usually read about three books at the same time, and one of them is always about orchid collecting. My latest was "Orchid Fever" by Eric Hansen, and in it he mentions several orchid hunters of the old days and several books written by those adventurers. One such book that I was able to purchase is "Wonderings In South America" By Charles Waterton, 1891. Mema just rolls her eyes when I'm quietly sitting and reading and suddenly dash upstairs to the library because she knows I'm once again in pursuit of another book.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From The Garden History Book

The Three Amigo's
In June of 2001 Mema and I were on Holiday with some good friends at their summer beach house in the lovely little coastal town of Neskowin. One afternoon we decided to walk into town as the house was just on the outskirts. As we approached a footbridge that crossed into the town square our friend Pam, whose father had built the house, told us that her father used to bring her here to this very spot by a large Pussy Willow (Salix discolor) next to the footbridge to fish. It brought tears of joy rememboring those wonderful times of her childhood. Her father is long gone but the footbridge and the tree still stand. As the others set off across the bridge I held back long enough to snip off three cuttings. On our return to Menagerie Manor I rooted the three cuttings and had every intention of giving them to Pam and her husband George to plant in their little garden but when offered they declined saying the reason they have little in their garden was because neither of them could grow anything. Pam asked if I could plant them in our garden but knowing that they could become quite invasive I decided to make them into a Bonsai Tree. We refer to it as The Three Amigo's in reference of the three couples that vacationed together in that sunny little town called Neskowin.

A Light came on

Last spring, about this very time of morning I was sitting as I am in this photo feeding these same fish and an idea came to me. I had just tossed a handful of pellets and was watching my beloved Koi swirl about trying to out maneuver each other as they gobbled their breakfast. Blue Herons are the devil to deal with for fish enthusiast because there is not a thing one can do to protect koi from them as they are a protected species, so one is destined to keep trying all the latest gadgets on the market that will frighten but not injure these lovely birds. And believe me I have purchased sooooo many of these over the years and continued to lose fish. I had recently been sitting in the garden room with the lovely Mema haveing our tea when a heron landed by the edge of the pond directly in front of the windows of the Garden room, but then squawked and flew away hurriedly. We were both surprised as we knew it could not have seen us because at that time of day there is a glare on the windows, so we knew it had to have seen its own reflection and frightened itself. So back to me sitting on the bench feeding fish when the idea sinks in. I ran upstairs to the Library and entered "gazing ball" into the computer and found a sight that offered lightweight metal gazing balls. I ordered the largest one for fifty U.S. dollars.

And since its instillation we have been Heron free and no fish loss. The ornate metal stand is an antique cigarette ashtray holder from a smoking lounge. The pond is four feet deep, but the channel under the bridge and extending for another two feet either side is only two feet , perfect for the long legged Herons to wait for their supper.