Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014: Cats in the Hood

 We love to go on walks, as evidenced by the posts dedicated to neighborhood gardens. Our dark secret is that we really go on walks to visit neighborhood cats, not just gardens. In fact, we know the names of many of our furry friends. So, in the spirit of something different and fun for Halloween we would like to show you around the hood and introduce some of them.

 First up is Little Blackie, a resident of the famous Eyebrow House. I think she has a few siblings, such as this one:

Don't know her name either, but we'll call her Rollie.

 Not technically on our walk around the hood, these cats live in Oaxaca, Mexico, at the home of the fabulous Linda Hanna, owner of Casa Linda and Folk Art Fantasy. She had to feed them on the roof so the dogs wouldn't eat their food. Yes, these are the Roof Cats.

Meet the one and only Connie Carter. She's a sweet girl who lives several blocks away and is often a destination in and of herself. She's ALWAYS good for a thorough rubbin'.

David says "white color-based" cats remind him of his first kitty, Miss Pickles.

Connie, on the go!

 Here are the Creamy Kitties; they live very close to Mt. Tabor. What a couple of love bugs!

Who farted?

 Here's Wally. Waaleeee...say it with me now...he's our neighborhood Badger Cat. Honestly, he hops down the steps to get some lovin' - like a rabbit-badger-cat. He is not 100% kitty, and we love him for it. Wally will lay his head on my lap indefinitely for some purrs, pets and love - I would still be there now if David hadn't dragged me away.

 Jumping down the steps to follow us home.

 This cutie is around the corner from us, her nickname is Noisy Cat. She runs at us meowing in delight. And she likes to rub on a hot, dry sidewalk, talking to us the whole time.

 This is our honorary kitty, Miss Lila the Pug of Danger Garden fame. We'll visit her garden next week.

This little odd stuffed kitty lives in our dining room. Last year we brought her home from the Pretty Kitty Holiday Bazaar that benefits the House of Dreams No-Kill Cat Shelter. No name, but she is a keeper. If you're in Portland, the holiday bazaar is coming up Saturday November 8th.

No, this was not Photoshopped. Meet Orca, the biggest, best cat ever. R.I.P., Orca - we discovered he passed away and his real name was Tux. You can see why we called him Orca. Some say he is larger than I am, and they might be right!

After the required 2.8 minutes of petting Orca, as we would begin to continue on our walk, we would often feel paws wrapping around our calves in protest. They guy liked people and didn't ever want us to leave. And yes, he was as heavy as he looked.

 His head is a big as mine. I don't know if that's an insult to me or to him.

Meet Wally's neighbor girl, Hazel. Her nickname is Shoulder Kitty, her other nickname is Droolie, can you see why?  She's a very petite four pounds despite looking huge here, and she's a super love bug. While I rub Wally, David finds Hazel for a good wet-shoulder treatment.


 Scary Halloween-ish stuff.

 This is Miss Fluffington. She lives either with Connie or next to Connie. Connie kind of has a whole posse, so Miss Fluffington could be a Connie Carter gang member.

 Again, not technically on our walk, this is our nephew cat who lives up in Mt. Vernon. What a love.

 And here's Bob. That's his real name. Check out the tail.

 I met Bob a few years ago around the corner from our home. He came running at me like a land seal on a mission to kill. It's the only time I have ever been afraid of a cat. He's actually very sweet, but he has a reputation in the hood for being a thug. He'll lure you in to rub his belly then CLAMP you in his paws in a death grip until you scream for mercy. I think he also bullies other kitties, but we think he may have had "the" operation recently resulting in a mellower thug.

We still love him.

 His tail wags like a dog's.


 Of course, here's our resident muffin-head, Mr. Hobbes.

 Miss Lucy, too!

 It's a Bengal Bonanza at our house.

The third cat of Casa de los Tres Gatos is Lolita, who once rode in the engine compartment of David's car to Jantzen Beach and back! She earned a ripple in her side fur from that adventure. She keeps watch on the driveway when not napping. Doin', Lo!

The kitty door knocker on our front door.

The best for last, Quincy, a.k.a. Wide Mouth Kitty. He might look mean but he was a lover.

Quincy was a love story. We would deliberately go by his house to greet him, hear his gravelly voice scratch out an ancient meow as sincere as any cat can be. His owners had to move and leave him behind. Fortunately, we were around to find this out and scoop him up and bring him home. He spent his final two or so years living in cat paradise with my mother. He passed away at the ripe old age of 15. To this day we call his street Quincy Avenue.
We miss you, Wide Mouth!

Orange pumpkin shapes - kind of like Quincy!

Not pictured on this tour, but could be included in a future post: Inside-Out Kitty, Oreo, Halloween the Kitty, The Twins, Billie, Admiral, Pirate and many, many others. On a side note, we love the dogs too, we just don't see many hanging out like we do the kitties. What do you think, a dog post for the future?

Next week we'll get back to some real gardening, for now: Happy Halloween, everybody!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Garden Blogger's Fling, Portland: JJ De Sousa's Garden

The garden of JJ De Sousa is something special. JJ is not only a fab gardener but also the owner of Portland's Digs Inside and Out, a boutique for garden and home. As her home garden was a stop on this year's Garden Blogger's Fling, we should definitely take a look around. 

As when I also cheated a bit with my Joy Creek Nursery post in relation to the Fling, I was not actually at JJ's garden for the tour. The day the Fling descended upon her garden, they were also descending on Chickadee Gardens. Luckily, JJ opens her gardens from time to time for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's open gardens, so I took advantage of that opportunity and visited on a hot summer's day with only a few other people around. 

The front garden is shady and hides surprises beyond in the sunny garden.
The front gate at the curb gives a hint of what's to come, a vibrant garden with orange accents everywhere. It's no surprise she chose orange. After all JJ is Dutch and well, they are the Orange People in that orange is their national color. We have a strong affection for the Dutch. Go Netherlands!!

Shady hostas, ferns, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' grass and begonias all make for a lush shade garden. The front of the house faces west, but is blocked by very large evergreen trees, so it likely doesn't see a lot of sun.

This is when I fell in love with a rhododendron, right here. I ended up purchasing a Rhododendron pachysanthum from Gossler Farms. I am not sure what this species is so feel free to chime in - I bought what I thought was a close match and I'm very happy with my R. pachysanthum.

JJ has seating everywhere, which is intentional. She told me that her garden can comfortably seat 66 people, that's a great party garden on a slightly larger than normal Portland lot at 77 x 127 feet (most are 50 x 100, as is ours at Chickadee Gardens).

The steps to the front door are flanked on either side with colorful orange accents, begonias, ferns and fuchsias.

The path on the south side leads to sunshine in the back.

Like an explosion of fireworks, bursts of color in plant material, pots, cushions and garden art dominate in this hot setting. Orange may be the predominant color, but there are hints of reds, greens and blues.

  Deluxe seating area. The material on these sofas is made for the outdoors so is durable and I'm sure expensive, but if you entertain a lot it's worth it. JJ encourages others buy the best quality as you get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor furnishings. It lasts longer so doesn't end up getting thrown out, one less thing tossed into the landfill pile.

Looking up from the seating area (pictured above) is this upper level deck with a table, seating for many and these two red illuminated pots. Yes, that's right, what I wouldn't give to see them at night. In fact, garden writer Janet Loughrey has an article in this quarter's Garden Design magazine with her photos of JJ's garden illuminated at night, see the article here

The hardscaping is contemporary and horizontally oriented, so there is a feeling of cohesiveness to the space. Along the gravel path are a series of olive trees and hydrangeas, not what I would think to put together but they work. In my next garden I will have olive trees, JJ has inspired.

Agaves, sedums and nasturtiums, an eclectic mix.

The corrugated metal fence continues around to the east side of the garden with more olive trees to line the perimeter.

More horizontal accents and corrugated metal siding. The garden room has not been forgotten when it comes to design and details carried across to every aspect of the garden.

Here you can see the blue accents on her home. This is a very European-style home in its brick construction and color accents for the windows. In fact, JJ told me she was drawn to this home in part because of its European feel. The blue window frames play off of the orange of the bricks - complimentary colors that subtly activate the space. This is true of terra cotta colors mixed with turquoise - two complimentary colors in tints and shades.

These chicken nesting boxes are now filled with hens and chicks. Clever.

With a multitude of influences it feels fun, exuberant and welcoming.

Now facing north, the metal fencing continues. Agaves and orange repeated throughout also helps to tie it all together. Behind the wooden fence to the right is a lovely greenhouse. 

She has a mix of garden art from all over the world, no one single theme and that allows her a broad range of possibilities to personalize her garden. 

Repeat patterns add rhythm, a constant beat which cuts through confusion and unifies the garden.

JJ told me that when she found the house, it was slated for demolition. She loved it, saw its potential and bought it. The size is small, just right for her to allow the garden and its outdoor rooms to take center stage.

Even ordinary street signs become points of interest when seen out of context.

The pocket wall garden is a nice touch, an easy way to have an instant vertical garden.
I imagine she sells them at Digs Inside and Out.

View from the upper garden looking south and east.

Now facing south and west. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe.

There is a good amount of metal art---I believe this is by a Portland artist. JJ carries a lot of interesting treasures at her store like this. If you are in the Portland area and have a chance to go, it's a really fun store.

Facing east we see the garden shed, and just visible on the right, the upper deck with a good-sized dining table.

When grasses get this large, they become architecture. Stunning.

Facing west, the sweet little house.

 Around every corner is another welcoming seating area.

 I believe this is a former chimney turned into a planter. 

More metal garden art. I spy some holiday lights behind this fishy, I imagine he sparkles when the sun goes down.

Arctostaphylos trained as standards - I saw these at Xera Plants recently, but I think JJ may have done this herself.

When I saw this garden for the first time, I had no words for it I was so overwhelmed. It's true, JJ lives and breathes decoration, design and gardening and so has access to some fantastic furnishings, decor and plants. Beyond the sparkle, however, there are really strong bones to this garden as well as a definite focus on entertaining. She obviously considered what she wanted this garden to be, that is to say an entertaining wonderland full of her personality. She maintained certain aesthetics throughout, repeated color themes and plays with color and complimentary colors (blue and orange, red and green for example). Her plant choices are appropriate for each microclimate (with the help of a greenhouse, I suspect) and I'm sure this garden evolved over a long period of time. The lesson for me is to be true to my own vision and really work at having one. JJ's personality shines brightly here and I for one am inspired.

Thank you for reading and until next week, happy gardening!