Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, June 29, 2012

At Long Last Love

Nearly 20 years ago, I found a sad looking little vine in a four inch pot at Fred Meyer.  It was grown by Log House Plants in Oregon and the tag said tropaeolum speciosum.  Having no idea what it was, I plopped it in the ground where it did nothing the first year and sent up a few leaves the second.  We moved the next year but in the meantime I looked up (in a book - imagine) this plant and decided it was pretty cool. 

Of course, after we moved, a replacement plant was nowhere to be found.

 It wasn't until a couple of years later that I discovered the wonder that was Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, WA.  Here the arborvitae hedge was bejeweled with these amazing flowers.  I bought a couple of plants put them in the best spots I could find and one even survived, bloomed, set seed, and in a day turned entirely brown and died...


Heronswood was sold, the new Heronswood lists it but it's never available.

However, Kelly and Sue at Far Reaches Farm often have it.  I bought a couple of plants there last year and following Heidi's advice, I planted them in an area where the drainage was great and lots of other greedy roots would compete for the generous supply of winter rain. 

As luck would have it, just before an amazing garden blogger came to photograph my garden I noticed that one of the plants was in full and glorious bloom - YEA!

Later, as the blooms continue on the growing ends of the vine, the older flowers fade, their calyxes turn
a lovely shade of purple and the flower is replaced with stunning blue seeds.  This nasturtium creates quite a kaleidoscope of color.  I don't have any pictures of the seed phase of the plant but you can see some great ones here.  Native to Central and South America, the plant can be "sometimes difficult to establish.  Once established, however, plants spread by underground stems and form large deep rooting tubers."  The foliage resembles a diminutive and fragile akebia quinata.

The other evening, while I was up on a ladder trimming my one and only topiary, I glanced over to a different part of the garden and saw, shimmering through the branches of a bush that had just finished blooming, some screaming orange flowers.  You guessed it, a forgotten (thought it had perished) tropaeolum speciosum had decided to live and bloom!  We all love good garden surprises and I adore this plant. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Visit to Hoshi Koi

I have a small koi pond in my garden.  When I need fish food, pond supplies (including water plants) or expert advice,  I always find them at Hoshi Koi.  Even if you don't keep fish yourself, this is a great place to spend some time admiring their beauty!  I wanted to get more tadpoles, the weather was lovely, so off I went.  Check out their website here http://hoshikoi.com/ .

Drive slowly as you enter, as there are slow-moving, friendly dogs on hand to greet you.  If you are lucky, the owner's adorable grandchildren (4ish and 6ish I'm guessing) will walk you through the place pointing out their special fish and telling you stories about each one.

There are wonderfully landscaped  fish ponds all around the property .

These fish are really huge!

 A glimpse of part of the private garden.  Notice those cool, huge petasides leaves.  Much better behaved than my own, I'm guessing that they're probably in a pot buried in the ground.

 It's a shame that there aren't more fish pictures, but the weather was extremely nice (not that I'm complaining) and the sun's glare on the water made it difficult for me to get many good shots.

 A really big pond - practically a lake!  And look at that beautiful setting!

 The shop

More fish for sale! 

Each year, they host a Koi Show, much like a dog show but without the agility portion (kind of hard with fish, I'm guessing.)  The fish are judged on standards and awards are given.  This is not an area of expertise for me, I think they're all gorgeous!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From My Back Porch

I spend a lot of time on my back porch. It's where I talk on the phone.
I contemplate what next to do in my garden. It offers shelter in  sudden downpours.
 It's fitting, then, that my blog begins with a few  views from this spot.

I don't spend much time sitting in my garden as there always seems to be something that needs to be done out there.  For me, the doing is the fun.  It's the process, not the product that brings me joy.
Is there a spot in your garden where you find yourself spending more time than in others?

In the wonderful tradition of my favorite blogs I hope to share with you more of my garden,
those of others, and take you along with me on nursery expeditions. Perhaps even an occasional
rant about the weather, pests, and the trials of gardening in the city.