Blimey! My seeds arrived today  and I am dead chuffed!

I mean, just look at them all. I’m picturing all the bloom and things that buzz.



These are all native wildflower and grass seeds so they’ll go straight onto the soil.

There’s Roemer’s Fescue, Tidy Tips, and Baby-Blue Eyes.

Blue Gilia, and California Poppy  (orange, red, and white).

And…two new books courtesy of Amazon Christmas gift card.
img_4003 2

Who’s a happy girl?

Giddy with excitement here!  (can you tell?)


2019 Bloom Where You’re Planted

Remember the whimsical art of Mary Englebreit with captions such as “Bloom Where You Are Planted?” The image (which I don’t have permission to use here, but you can Google it) came to my mind as I was thinking about gardens I’ve seen and then about my own, which is far from you see in the magazines. It’s a “work in progress” I keep telling myself. Anyway, the notion of ‘blooming where planted’ resonates with me. So often we start off with the ideas of what we have to have, work like mad to get it, only to find later that we don’t need it as much as we thought we did.

When I was in college I lived on the 3-acre remains of an old farm in Walnut Creek CA. with college room-mates. We had goats, chickens, and a very large vegetable garden. I was 19 years old and thought for sure that one day I’d have 20 acres and be one of those organic gardeners living the dream in my Birkenstocks and long skirts. The goats were mine and to this day I have a special fondness for goats.  But you know what they say about life getting in the way of plans.  I ended up moving to London for a year to live with my grandmother. Living there introduced me to the “English perennial border.”

We lived near Kew Gardens so I was able to wander there quite a lot. I went to the Chelsea Flower show although back then it was not the event that it is today.  And then I returned home, finished college, got a job, got married, and gardened where ever we rented. For a few years I was able to take night classes in horticulture at Merritt College in Oakland which only whetted my appetite for plants.


Lilium regale in my garden


After our son was born we made the choice to leave family, friends, and jobs behind and move up to WA state. We rented a dreary little house on a bramble filled field of sorts and lived off our savings while my husband looked for a job. It was a challenging time. The economy was not the best and I remember eking out a few dollars for daffodil bulbs, I was so desperate to have something cheerful to grow. It was tough to put dreams on hold, and tough to learn how to bend with events.

Thirty years and two houses later I’ve figured out a few things.  Not only will life events throw a curve ball in those garden dreams but so will terrible soil, invasive Himalayan blackberry bramble, that creepy invader ivy, difficult slopes, and crazy neighbors who spray Round-up on your plants (yep, happened to us). And of course, lack of funds!  It is what it is for most of us but with some resourcefulness we can work around those challenges. I think we’re all called as stewards to take the tumbledown, derelict, and neglected and bring it all back to life.

I hope for all of you that 2019 will be a year of making garden sanctuaries no matter how humble or grand.


Rhodie augustinii
Springtime down our back slope


A few weeks ago I wrote about posting a note in my neighborhood Next Door website to get local gardeners together for an informal meet up at Marcell’s Pie Shop.  We had several interested people turn up, and lots of conversation. One request that came out of the group was to start a Facebook Group page and so I have done just that.  It is called Gardening in the ‘Couv; Vancouver WA USA. The focus is on gardening in urban/suburban Vancouver. All in “the “Couv” are welcome from novice to experienced gardeners, and especially those who are thinking they might like to garden but don’t know where to start. We’ve all been there, yes?

Our next garden meet-up is Sunday, January 6 at 3 PM. Location is again Marcell’s Pie Shop, 3100 Columbia in the Carter Park neighborhood. We have an area reserved for us so bring your catalogs, books, seeds, and what ever you may want to share.


Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ on a terrace

Winter Garden Fun

It’s December and the chill is upon us. I’ve been doing some editing in my garden and planting at my daughter’s house but not much else outside.

What I have been doing is binging on garden shows. Britain’s latest garden guru Monty Don has a few out on Netflix.

Big Dreams, Small Spaces has Monty meet with homeowners who have big dreams and small lots (some only a patio size) and assist them in planning their garden. Over the course of three months he meets with them three times, coaching them along. The final time is the grand unveiling of the finished garden.

Monty Don’s Italian Gardens (2011) is four episodes touring Rome, Florence, Naples, and the Lakes. I really enjoyed these, even more than the French gardens.

Then there is Monty Don’s French Gardens (2013). Three episodes where Monty goes on the road touring several of the famous and grand gardens of France. I’ve never been enthralled with the formal garden but Monty has me re-thinking hedges. He loves them.

Love Your Garden (2011) with Alan Titchmarsh and team assisting families with special needs to create gardens.

And if you don’t have Netflix then there are loads of garden shows on You Tube.
What are you favorite garden shows? Please share!

Two days ago I posted a note on my neighborhood Next Door website inviting west side gardeners to have an informal meet-up. It’s today (Sat. Dec. 8) at 3 PM and the location is Marcel’s Pie Shop at 3100 Columbia Street.  I’ve reserved the back room. Street parking only.  In spite of the short notice there has been quite a response. This is meant to be very informal and inclusive; novice to experienced gardeners and those who think they would like to start gardening.  We’ll meet maybe once a month, go for garden walks downtown, and maybe some nursery field trips too. It’s about sharing information and encouraging gardening in Vancouver.

Let’s get Vancouver growing!





Bay Area Plant Quest

I just returned from a short but fun three-day visit to the East Bay Area.  The previous week I’d been searching the Portland area for a few specific plants; Stipa barbata, Agave bracteosa and Yucca linearifolia. Sadly no one I called had any so I packed my carry-on bag lightly in hopes I just might find these plants down there while on a family visit.

First stop was the nursery at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek. I’ve visited the garden a number of times in the past when their sale area consisted of a couple of tables with plants on them.  This year they have a full fledge nursery with staff and volunteers. Below are some photos of the nursery area.

Entrance to the garden from nursery





I had to hunt and peck but I did find two small Agave bracteosa and one Yucca linearfolia there. I also picked up a Romneyi coulteri, and something new to try, a Thryptomene saxicola from West Australia. There were lots of other tempting plants but most were too large for me to bring home.  The pricing is very reasonable. Most one gallons plants were 12.95 and the 4-inch pots ranged $6 – 8 each.




The next day my sister and I decided to do a nursery blast in Berkeley and see what we could manage in four hours.

Westbrae Nursery was our first stop. This nursery is located in the north Berkeley neighborhood and has been around since the 1930s. We didn’t buy anything but we had fun looking.  I came across this Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark’ (After Dark Peppermint Tree) from West Australia which I would love to have but it grows in zones 9-11 and I doubt it would survive our winters.



Berkeley Horticulture was our second stop. This was my stomping ground when I lived there. The nursery has expanded  and has an excellent native/xeric section. They did have some of what I was looking for but in large containers only.  I was so busy looking around I forgot to take photos.

Next stop was Flowerland, established in 1947. I must have driven by all the time when I lived there but I don’t recall ever seeing it.  Interesting gift shop, coffee trailer, and lots of xeric plants.






From there we made our way to East Bay Nursery on San Pablo Ave. It is quite a large space both indoors and outdoors once you enter. Lots of cacti, succulents, and xeric plants! Really helpful staff too.  One of the fellas I chatted with said I really had to try an Aloe x ‘Green Pagoda Spiral.’  I haven’t been able to find much information online about this plant. I believe it may need to come indoors during the winter.








Final stop was The Dry Garden on Shattuck Avenue. This was suggested as a place to visit by the folks at Xera Plants.  Driving there I realized it is just two blocks down from The Starry Plough pub where I used to go for Irish ceili dancing and music. In fact, I met my husband there. 1979 doesn’t seem that long ago driving down these streets again.


The Dry Garden was packed full of cacti and spiky plants. And yes, they had the plants I searched for but only in very large containers. So, I took a pass and wandered around. If you are an aficionado of cacti, succulents, and spiky plants this is a go-to plant destination. Parking is a challenge as it is street parking only in a busy area.













So, after taking my treasures back to my sister’s house in Martinez I gave them a dose of water and on the day of the flight I removed the plastic pots and put each plant into a plastic bag and then double bagged them. Most fit into my carry-on bag that was checked at the gate. The others I was able to put into a tote bag.  I did check online about bringing plants back into Oregon and Washington. Not much other than they should  be in a soilless mix or bare root (no dirt). I made sure to keep the nursery tags with each plant. Of course the Oakland TSA ladies pulled the bags right away to inspect them. I explained what I was doing and they became very friendly.

In the past I never found cacti or even most succulents very appealing but after my first visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden I was  smitten. It’s a fascinating garden and the addition of the nursery will make it a busy place. I hope you get a chance to visit.

September Garden Events

Pollinators with Charlie Heuvel, Beekeeper
Tuesday, September 4, 7 PM
CASEE Center, 11104 NE 149 Street, Brush Prairie WA

Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world’s flowering plants. Without them, humans and wildlife wouldn’t have much to eat or look at! Animals that assist plants in their reproduction as pollinators include species of ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, wasps and other unusual animals. Not all are equal nor do any or all pollinate the same plants. The fascination of a few of these will be explored.

Charlie Vanden Heuvel spends his days mentoring beekeepers throughout the Columbia Gorge. Teaching classes through the Community College and other venues. Simplistically, he strives to bring new beekeepers to a successful plane. Currently in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program in the Master Level.


Tomato Tasting Festival
Saturday, September 8, 11 – 4
Shorty’s Nursery, Mill Plain Blvd. Vancouver WA


Seed Saving, Preserving the Bounty. and Winterizing the Garden

Saturday, September 15, 11 AM – Noon
Vancouver Community Library, 901 C Street, Vancouver WA 98660

Second offering:

Saturday, September 29, 11 – Noon
Washougal Community Library, 1661 C Street, Washougal WA 98671

Master Gardeners Vione Graham and Jessica Burnett for a talk on putting the garden to bed. This is a hands-on workshop for folks that like to see and do! Learn why seed saving – from harvesting to storing – is so vital but easy to do at home. Learn best practices for preserving to enjoy the fruits of your labor, including information about harvesting, the process of fermenting and finalizing to store fruit in a safe manner. Learning how to clean and prepare tools, beds, and soils for the Spring will wrap up the whole adventure in the garden. No registration required. For more information: (360) 397-6060 x5738 See a listing of all of our workshops at /.


Hardy Plant Society Fall Fest Lecture & Plant Sale
Saturday, September 15
Lecture 10-11 followed by plant sale
Registration required for lecture program
Location: PCC Rock Creek Campus, 17705 NW Springville Rd, Portland, OR


Introduction to Backyard Bird Song
Presented by: Brandon Burger, Backyard Bird Shop
Saturday, September 15, 10-12
CASEE Center, 11104 NE 149 Street, Brush Prairie WA

Registration required. Free for members, $15 non-members,

What bird is that I hear? Most birds have distinctive songs or calls which can be helpful when trying to identify them. Many birds have specific, colorful, or contrasting markings that make them easy to recognize. Many more however look very similar, or may not like to show themselves in the open very often. As a result, these species can be difficult to distinguish; using their sounds can help.

We will cover some of the more common backyard birds and how to begin learning who they are by ear. Once you determine two or three, learning becomes easier. Discover how to listen for patterns and unique mnemonics. You can even have fun creating some of your own sound associations!


On the Road Tour – Wine, Chestnuts and Coffee; the Taste & Sights of Fall 

Tuesday, September 18, 9 AM – 5 PM
Van Transportation from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 9319 NE Hwy 99, Hazel Dell, WA
Cost: $35 registration

We start at Allen Creek Farm, a family owned 20-acre chestnut farm with 800+ trees. You’ll see the harvesting and processing that goes into creating roasted chestnuts. Across the country, there are very few chestnut growers who also process and mill chestnut flour on-site. Learn about delightful recipes using chestnut flour in time for the holidays! Down the road we’ll stop in at Stavalaura Winery. This is a small-batch, family owned and operated vineyard and winery. Owners Joe and Beverly Leadingham have produced quality wines with unique character, not widely produced in Washington and Oregon. Wine tasting for a cost is available! Lastly, the passion at Paper Tiger Coffee is for coffee, and the rich story that surrounds it. Care and dedication at every phase of the coffee’s journey from seed to cup produces superior results. Taste and see for yourself! LUNCH: Please bring a brown bag lunch for enjoyment while at the winery. Online registration required by Sept. 10 at For more information: 360-397-6060 x5738 or

Raised Bed Veggie Gardening
Saturday, September 15, 1 pm
Portland Nursery, 9000 SE Division, Portland OR
For other Portland Nursery September classes click here.


Tool Talk Workshop

Saturday, September 22, 10 AM – 12:30 PM
Pacific Park Natural Demonstration Area,
NE 18th St. & NE 172nd Ave. Vancouver WA 98684

FREE with 45 minutes of service at the demo garden.

Confused about the vast array of garden tools out there? Using the right tool for the job will reduce your workload, get the job done right and, most importantly, minimize the possibility of injury. At this 90-minute workshop aimed at saving time, effort and money on your gardening adventure, our “Tool Guy,” Master Gardener, Jack Berhardsen will solve the mystery of important questions like, “what’s the difference between a spade and a shovel” and “why should I care?“ We’ll also discuss how to cut down your workload, prevent the spread of disease, and how to care for your gardening arsenal. So whether you’re just beginning your gardening journey or if you need to expand an already robust tool collection, join us; everyone is welcome.

Bring a lawn chair and your work clothes. We’ll do some maintenance in the demo garden after the workshop. This workshop is put on in conjunction with Clark County Public Health – Solid Waste Outreach. For more information: 360-397-6060 x5738 or
Visit us online at


Get to know the Protea family with Paul Bonine
Tuesday, September 25,  7 pm
Mulnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR

Genus genius Paul Bonine, co-owner of Xera Plants, will speak about “Getting to Know the Protea Family”.

Admission is just $5 for members or non-members.
Doors open at 6:30pm; program begins at 7pm and ends approximately at 8:15pm
Free parking.

Launching the chick into homeowner flight

Our daughter just closed on her first home this week. The house was constructed in 1930 on a corner lot here on the west side of Vancouver. It’s a bit of an unkempt duckling in need of TLC but has the potential to turn into a swan.


Rebecca's house front


While she works on the interior of the house she’s asked me (with some help of my Master Gardener pals) for ideas for the garden. I’m excited at the prospect but it is in need of major clean up first.  So this week my husband and I plus my Master Gardener pal Toni spent one cool morning putting a dent in it.

Toni tackled the overgrown ivy on the fence. My husband took down three pesky Tree-of-Heaven, while I worked on the blackberry bramble.  We completely filled up Toni’s pick-up with debris.



Overgrown ivy on fence before


Ivy removal in progress


Tree of Heaven by the fence


Blackberry bramble before




Later that day I met with Vancouver’s Urban Forester to discuss which trees needed to come out. There is Black Locust growing in the alley way, a sad-looking flowering cherry by the garage, and an even sadder looking purple flowering plum  starting to grow into the overhead wires.  His suggestion was to remove them all and start over with better behaved trees, appropriate for the size of the lot.  He measured and marked the area on the hot west side of the lot where two street trees may eventually go.


Black Locust trees in foreground 


We went back Saturday and did more work, digging up masses of iris tubers, separating them and putting them out in two free boxes. Took out some very old roses, so old they had reverted back to the rootstock. Going, going, gone. Time to start over.  Cleaned up the dead stuff around the banana trees. Took all the debris and filled up our yard debris bin at home.

While I was hacking back anything and everything plus digging up irises my husband busied himself with cleaning up all the rubbish and sorting it into piles of recyclable material and garbage.  He found kid’s toys, bits of plastic everywhere, metal, sunflower shells, cigarette butts, and used Q-tips all off of the front porch area.

The place comes with a concrete pad behind the garage. The previous owner stored a camper and a boat on it. Once cleaned up this would make for a nice outdoor dining area. It could also be a good base for an outdoor mosaic tile ‘carpet.’


RV pad in the back


Found a border of lilies with some hardy geraniums and asters inside the fence and this sweet little Japanese Maple plonked in the center of the ‘lawn.’ My daughter would like to move it but we don’t know if it would survive a move.


Front area


These junipers will have to go. The front faces south and the shade is from evergreens across the road. It’s pretty narrow here and sloped so I’m considering ornamental grasses. Massed Mexican Feather Grass?  Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster?’

Juniper blobs on sentry duty


The previous owners had a vegetable garden on the west side of the house. My daughter would like to put raised beds in here for vegetables. There is no hose bib on this side and we’ll have to put one in eventually.  There is a basement so hopefully the water pipe running through is not far off. Weird that there is only one hose bib though.  I thought houses had to have at least two.




The west side outside the fence receives the most sun and is very dry.  Native plantings would go well here.




This front border is now cleaned out. Bye-bye irises, bye-bye lilac. For now the banana mini-forest will stay. We all think they’re kind of cool. So maybe a tropicalisimo garden ya think? There’s a lot of work ahead!





August Garden Events

Portland Nursery August List of Classes


Dennis 7 Dees Nursery List of Classes


Vancouver Farmer’s Marketongoing through October 28
6th and Esther Streets, Downtown Vancouver
Saturdays and Sundays, 10 AM – 3 PM

Franklin Street Market – through September 26
1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver
Wednesdays 10 AM – 2 PM

East Vancouver Market – through September 13
17701 SE Mill Plain Blvd. Vancouver
Thursdays, 10 AM – 2 PM

Shorty’s Nursery Ladies Night Crafting in the Garden
Thursday, August 2nd, 2018, 5 – 9 PM
10006 SE Mill Plain, Vancouver WA
Over 21 only please
$20 w/o Art Class
$45 with Art Class
Click on link for further details

On the Road Tour – Columbia River Gorge
Monday, August 6, 2018 8 AM – 5 PM

Van transportation from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 9319 NE Hwy 99, Hazel Dell, WA

TOUR STOPS: Mt Adams Orchard, White Salmon,
WA Vanguard Nursery, White Salmon,
WA Dickey Farm, Bingen, WA

COST: $35 registration.
LUNCH: On your own at Beneventi’s.


Come with us for a trip to the Columbia River Gorge. We will be visiting Mt Adams Orchard, one of the oldest and largest fruit-growing orchards in the Gorge near the base of the spectacular Mt Adams. See some pear trees that are 104 years old and still producing! Learn how they do it plus new ways of growing fruit

Then we will go to Bingen to Vanguard Nursery to see where the bedding plants and baskets that we buy from stores such as Costco, Fred Meyer, and Grocery Outlet are grown.

After lunch we will visit Dickey Farms, located right along the Columbia River in Bingen. Dickey Farms is the oldest operating farm in Washington State and popular for their delicious corn that they grow and sell.

Our last stop will be at the Dickey Farms Store where we can purchase local produce or products made or grown in the Gorge area. This is where we can get our corn to eat for dinner and huckleberry pie for dessert!!

WSU Research & Extension Invasive Bugs & BMSB Workshop – Aug. 10
Friday, August 10, 8:50 to 11:30 AM via remote video conference; 78th Street Heritage Farm, 1919 NE 78th Street, Vancouver, WA 98665.

• Class Introduction & Why Do We Care? – Joshua Milnes
• A Survey of the Native Stink Bugs of WA State- Dr. Peter Landolt, USDA-ARS Emeritus
• Urban Management of Invasive Bugs with a focus on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug- Dr. Michael Bush
Mechanical Pest Management & Monitoring the BMSB in Skagit Valley–Dr. Beverly Gerdeman
• Biological Control of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug by the Samurai Wasp and other Natural Enemies- Joshua Milnes
• Regulatory Strategies and Recognition of the Southern Green Stink Bug—Dr. Chris Looney, WSDA.

Register online at:

Joy Creek Nursery –  Twilight in the Garden
Saturday August 11, 2018 6 – 9 p.m.
20300 Watson Rd, Scappoose OR 97056

Join us for our annual summer event, Twilight in the Garden. Once a year we remain open from 6 until 9pm to celebrate with the community and say thank you for making Joy Creek a part of your gardening experience. Come join us for a home-grown evening of locally made treats and refreshments and live music in the garden by our friends and local musicians The Noted.
Celebrate the transformative powers of this magic time of day by observing the many qualities twilight brings to the garden such as fragrance, evening lighting and wildlife. You can experience the garden and nursery both because the retail area will remain open throughout the evening. This is a special event for us all and we look forward to seeing you here. Free and open to the public.

POMES AND STONES — Grow Your Own Tree Fruit
Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018  – 10:00 a.m
4000 NE 78th Street, Vancouver WA

.Apple on tree

Luke Jensen Sports Complex – Bud van Cleve Community Room
FREE! No registration necessary.

Do you like the idea of picking an apple or pear from a tree right in your yard? Does the idea of biting into a freshly picked ripe peach while you stand under the tree in your yard sound good?

Before you rush out to buy a fruit tree, attend this seminar to learn some basic facts about how to select a tree, plant it, and take care of it.

The importance of pruning, tree maintenance, fruit thinning, and disease and pest management will be covered. Emphasis will be on organic practices.

This workshop is put on in collaboration with Clark County Public Health – Solid Waste Outreach.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: (360) 397-6060 x5738 or


The Wide World of Seeds Workshop – Aug. 18

Why is it important to save seeds? Find answers to this and more. We will discuss how to save, clean and store seeds from suitable plants. 10 a.m. to noon, Sat. August 18, 2018 at CASEE Center, Bldg. B, Room 205, 11104 NE 149th St., Brush Prairie, WA. NatureScaping classes are free for members ($20 per year; $15 for seniors), or $15 per class for nonmembers. Register at or or call 360-737-1160.


Tsugawa Nursery Bonsai Class
Saturday, August 18, 2018 – 11:00 AM
410 Scott Avenue, Woodland WA

Join us and learn about this fun, relaxing and artistic hobby. All levels are invited. We look forward to seeing you! A fee for materials may be added once topic is determined. Call us for more information.


Gift Orchid Survival Workshop – Aug. 25

Orchids in bloom make such beautiful gifts, but most of them fail to survive for long. At this workshop Master Gardener Janis McBride will demonstrate the step-by-step methods that will help you easily turn those gifts into healthy, colorful, long-blooming orchids in your own home. Understanding how orchids naturally grow provides the basis for the crucial re-potting techniques that will be taught in a hands-on setting – bring your own gift orchid to be repotted. Pest management and nutrition will be covered briefly. Saturday, Aug. 25 from 10 AM to 12:30 PM at Pacific Park —Natural Demonstration Area; NE 18th St & NE 172nd Ave., Vancouver, WA 98684. FREE with 45 minutes of service at the demo garden.




Native plants in the neighborhoods

Recently I was perusing through some of the land use and planning codes for the City of Vancouver.  I was reading up on adding street trees and vegetation to the street side of one’s property and I saw that the inclusion of native plants was advocated in the body of the codes. (Section 20.925.010 paragraph B and Section 20.925.090 on Re-vegetation).  I have observed native plants in many of the new commercial developments here. I see lots of Mahonia and Vine Maples used, as well as a variety of grasses which I’m glad of as vine maples are my old friends and they seem to do so well where ever they grow. Native plantings are also beneficial for our native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

I wonder when this inclusion will trickle down to planting in the older neighborhoods, especially those with dry sunny exposures.  As property values go up in Vancouver the older neighborhoods will go through a renaissance. For example, I was driving around the west-side Rose Village neighborhood.  Much of the neighborhood was platted in the early 1900s. It is flat and the lots are typically in the 5,000 s.f. range, many with a south and west exposure, meaning lots of sun and dead lawns.

California poppies

In my mind’s eye I began to see weary parking strips and browned out ‘street’ side yards filled with plants that can take our July – September heat, not strictly native plants but xeric as well.  Recently I saw a manzanita planted in a wide Portland parking strip. It was healthy and quite lovely and I realized it could do well here.

In my garden the natives are swishing through this extended dry heat. The Golden Current (Ribes aurea), the elderberries, and Pacific Wax Myrtle are thriving as are the annual wildflowers.

Imagine manzanitas with poppies, salvias, and ornamental grasses or for a shady spot vine maples, ferns, wild ginger, and our native columbine, gracing urban gardens.

Contractors working on a large project can obtain these plants through a wholesale nursery but where is the average DIY home gardener to source these plants locally?  Portland Nursery has a limited native plant selection. Watershed Gardens in Longview carries a large selection of native plants as well. The conservation districts have an annual bare-root sale of native plants. I buy a lot from Xera, Cistus, Garden Fever, and Joy Creek, in Portland and Sauvie Island areas.

Canada Goldenrod

Here in Vancouver we have some fine nurseries but I do not see much in the way of native plants offered in their inventory.  I’d like to see that change.  I’d like to see our nurseries partner with the City,  the County, our Water Resources Center, PUD, our WSU Master Gardener extension, Backyard Habitat, and the neighborhood associations to make climate-friendly native plants available to those who want to water less, provide for our native pollinators, and have attractive curb appeal in the summer.

We have successful campaigns for tree planting and for community clean-ups, how about a combined effort for enhancing our neighborhoods with native plants?

If you agree consider asking the buyers at your local nursery and garden center to offer more native plant options. If the demand is there they will respond.

Further reading:
Gardening for Our Friends. 
Gardening with Native Plants poster
City of Vancouver Native Trees and Shrubs list
Clark County Green Neighbors
Habitat List for Residential Landscapes
Landscape Design for Wildlife



The Dog Days of Summer

Whew, well we’re in it well and good now. Technically the phrase ‘dog days of summer’ refers more to the rising of the Dog star but it also coincides with some of the hottest days of the year in July and August. A quick look at AccuWeather indicates it’s going to be hot and dry well into August.  Oh joy.

I spent this last weekend traversing open gardens in the heat. Saturday it was The Garden Conservency/HPSO Open Days in north and northeast Portland. Sunday was Clark County’s annual Green Neighbors Natural Gardens Tour. A friend and I worked as greeters the first half of the day at one garden then split up to take in what we could of other gardens.  Thankfully, the last garden I visited (the Heldreth Garden) was blissfully shady and even had a misting system going. It was late afternoon and the temperature was 96 degrees at least. The layers of green plantings spiked with white flowering plants was very soothing. Here are just a few photos.



Cool misty oasis on a hot summer day






As for my garden…this weather is the test to see how my new plantings from last year hold up. Last year I decided to forego the mostly foliage/Asian style garden and go with pollinators and more drought hardy plants.  I planted several Salvia ‘Caradonna’, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, Phlomas fruticosa, Mexican Feather Grass and other grasses.  I kept the Hydrangea ‘Limelight,’ I had also planted a couple of California Wax Myrtles to train up a fence and they are doing wonderfully so it all seems to be very successful. None of the plants have been lost, in fact I shall soon have to edit some plants out.

In early June, after returning from California, I planted some Globe Mallows from Xera which are doing extremely well. I also bought some horned poppies at Garden Fever (from Annie’s Annuals) and they are having a grand time in the heat. Their orange petals go beautifully with the ‘Electric Blue’ Penstemon. The lighting in the photos below do not show the vividness of the colors.

Horned Poppy


Electric Blue Penstemon

Earlier I had scattered seed of California poppy, Baby-Blue-Eyes (Nemophilia), and Blue Gilia. These have done well in boarders and on a slope adding a cheerful look. The Baby-Blue-Eyes finished off two weeks ago but the poppies and Gilia are still going strong.  Looking at them all one morning it occurred to me that I had my own Fiestaware theme going in the garden. Those who collect Fiestaware will know what I mean.

The poppies are always closed in the morning before I leave for work and are again closed when I return. This morning I witnessed some fuzzy bees trying to force their way into the closed poppy petals in search of pollen. They finally gave up and moved on to the hardy geraniums.


The Limelight hydrangea is just now beginning to blossom along with several Conca d’Or lilies and the Regale lilies are just finishing up.


Limelight Hydrangea hedge with Japanese Forest Grass ‘Aureola’


Limelight Hydrangea, Conca d’Or lily, and Nicotiana
Regale Lily 


Star jasmine


Oceanspray just finishing up after being in bloom all June

In spring I picked up a ‘Samantha’ Campanula to give it a try. I’m pleased it is doing so well and is a workhorse similar to Geranium ‘Rozanne.’


Campanula ‘Samantha’


Geranium ‘Rozanne’


Oak Leaf Hydrangea with Delta Sarah hardy fuchsia at bottom left

Here are some Goldenrod plants I put in my ‘experiment’ bed. They are doing very well and I’ll move them in the fall to the slope.



I inherited lots of these common day lilies from the previous owner. I used to chuck them out but now I quite like the salmon orange color and have decided to keep some.


Common  day lily

Finally,  here is a sweet ground cover: Modiolastrum lateritium (malvaceae family) is something I’ve grown for decades now. I first purchased it in Berkeley. I saw it just once for sale at Portland Nursery around 1995 then never again. The plant is originally from South America (Brazil, Argentina). It grows best in full sun, in gravel or well draining soil and spreads by trailing stems. The leaves are maple-like though you cannot see them in the photo. The leaves showing are from a Zauchneria that is mixed in with the Modiolastrum.


Modiolastrum lateritium 


That’s all for now. I hope you are all staying cool in the heat and not working too hard in your gardens.  Here is one last shot taken early this morning.


July 14 & 15 2018 Open Gardens

It’s a busy open garden weekend and here are some you won’t want to miss.
The weather forecast is hot, hot, hot, so bring your hats and water bottles.

Saturday, July 14th, 2018
10 AM – 4 PM
N and NE Portland OR

The Garden Conservancy and Hardy Plant Society OR have partnered together to bring a series of seven gardens in north and northeast Portland for viewing.

Admission fee is $7/garden which can be paid at each stop or a $30 all day pass for all of the gardens.  For details and locations of the gardens please click HERE. 

Be advised that ODOT is doing a lot of road construction around I-5 so do check the ODOT trip advisor for delays and detours.

Sunday, July 15th, 2018
10 AM – 4 PM
Admission: FREE
Clark County WA

The Clark County Green Neighbors Natural Gardens Tour is a self-guided tour of twelve gardens in Clark County WA maintained through natural gardening techniques.

There are three regions: the west side of Vancouver, central Clark County (Orchards, Brush Prairie, Battle Ground) and the east Clark County (Fern Prairie, Washougal). Click HERE for the website with descriptions and interactive map.

Visitors are asked to observe the following:
No smoking in gardens
No pets in gardens
No food/beverages (other than water)
No strollers; children must be closely supervised by an adult

I’ll be volunteering at the NW Lakeview garden Sunday morning so stop by and say hello!