Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Orange Garden, The Chocolate Garden

Earlier this summer I highlighted the blue border with a promise of showing more color themes here at Chickadee Gardens. Let's have a look at two more of these tiny borders this week: 
 The chocolate garden and the orange garden. 

It sounds like I'm gardening with food on the mind. Whether or not that is the case (ahem...yes), those are some of the colors of my very small borders in the back garden that have somehow taken on these themes. I really do enjoy foliage color and I rely on it more than blooms to hold interest through the seasons. Most of the "chocolate" and "orange" comes from foliage. A few blossoms do add some sparkle because, after all, I am a flower floozy from my earliest gardening days. Gratefully, there are a few of those sprinkled throughout. 

Both borders -- chocolate and orange -- are in back and both receive a fair amount of sun although the orange border has a north-facing side and partial shade for some of the day. Here, Geum 'Totally Tangerine' is paired with Heuchera 'Marmalade', both among my favorite perennials. I have three of each plant.

 Abutilon 'Smoked Salmon' from Xera Plants.

 I believe this is Abutilon 'Tangerine Scream', also from Xera Plants, although I have lost track of the Abutilons in the garden. They are all orange varieties, all from Xera.

 Abutilon 'Smoked Salmon' again. I just love the Abutilons, they perform very well here.

 The orange border earlier this summer with Heucheras, Carex, borders of Sedum oreganum, Mimulus aurantiacus and Uncinia rubra 'Belinda's Find' grasses.

 Native Mimulus aurantiacus, a woody sub-shrub that hummingbirds and pollinators adore.

Closeup of them all.

Around the corner in the orange border, a bit of silvery foliage of Olearia lineata 'Dartonii', native to New Zealand, Cunninghamia lancelota 'Glauca' and Rodgersia. 

 Penstemon pinifolius in the foreground center (I have several, it's such a valuable evergreen plant with long tubular flowers that hummingbirds adore), Libertia ixiodes 'Goldfinger' on the left, orange sedge on right.

 Chilean glory vine or Eccremocarpus scaber vine wandering all about the orange garden. Here shown with Heuchera 'Marmalade' in the background.

Uncinia rubra 'Belinda's Find' in the foreground. It would look better except The Furry Ones also love this grass.

Rosa 'Sunrise at Heirloom' from Heirloom Roses in St. Paul, Oregon.

 Here is the majority of the border. There are a few other little treasures tucked in such as a dwarf pomegranate, lots of sedums, begonias and plants that haven't bloomed yet.

 Here the Chilean glory vine climbs up a support. Bee preservers from Glass Gardens Northwest float in the birdbath.

 Geum 'Totally Tangerine'. This seems to be finished blooming and, frankly, I may take them out as all three have scorched terribly this year from the record-breaking heat. I don't think they are meant to handle the intense temperatures, which is too bad as I really like these plants.

 Moving on to the tiny chocolate garden.

 This is the extent of it. Long ago it was simply mud, then it was peonies. While the peonies were nice, they didn't pull their weight year-round. Now I have a Callistemon sieberi, Sedum 'Matrona', Aquilegia formosa 'Black Barlow' (just to the left of the Cordyline), chocolate cosmos, Rumex sanguineus or sorrel, sedum, what was supposed to be Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate', but is more likely Nicotiana mutablilis. Lots of sedums in pots on the deck. Since this photo was taken I have removed some of the sedum in the foreground to mix it up with this:

Sedum pluricaule 'Isle of Sakhalin' from Little Prince of Oregon.

 This is Nicotiana 'Hot Chocolate'. At least I have one plant!

 Cordyline australis Atropurpurea.

 Chocolate cosmos.

 Rumex sanguineus or sorrel. A little chewed up but still an interesting pattern on the foliage.

 Nicotiana mix-up. I have seen more hummingbirds visiting this plant this year than ever. Its continuous bloom is very appreciated, as is its easy-going nature. It really fills in nicely as a backdrop.

In the white pot Astelia 'Red Gem' and Sedum spathulifolium 'Purpureum'. In the terra cotta pot on the right Echiveria 'Black Prince', which doesn't get much sun so is quite green. In the pot on the bottom is Jovibarba hirta 'Bulgaria' from Little Prince of Oregon, mixed succulents in the other.

And last but not least, the chocolate kitty, Hobbes. Not a plant but of the sweet purr-suasion (ok, the husband added that last line...he's a sucker for the kittehs).

While it may seem silly to garden this way, it just kind of happened. Once I get going on a theme I do like to continue through and try to make it look cohesive. I have changed many aspects of both of these borders throughout the past few years, they will likely continue to evolve.  For now as the temperatures reach the 100 degree mark I will leave them be and just continue to water and keep everybody alive. 

That concludes this week from Chickadee Gardens. I hope you've enjoyed a brief look at a couple more borders here at the gardens. Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Special Garden in Hood River

Sheila Ford Richmond is the kind of person that brings charm wherever she goes. I count myself lucky to not only know her, but to count her as a friend. She is a loyal reader of Chickadee Gardens and we have chatted in passing over the past few years about native plants, birds and art.  She has given me an open invitation to visit her garden out in the Columbia River Gorge, and so I finally had the opportunity to visit. A couple of weeks ago our mutual friend and artist Sharon Bronzan and I took a lovely drive out to Hood River in Oregon's scenic Columbia River Gorge to visit Sheila and her not-so-ordinary home and garden. Wow, was I in for a surprise. Allow me to take you along for a ride.

What I had pictured was a heavily shaded woodland garden. What we drove up to was a Mediterranean-style gem of a native garden with pollinators everywhere. Her house is special, too. It is energy efficient with solar panels, triple-pane windows, Lifebreath heat recovery for fresh air exchange and humidity mitigation, low-flow plumbing, Feng Shui principles throughout (you can tell when you're there), artists worked on custom murals and plaster work and..and..and..cork floors, hardwood floors, no wasted space. Native plantings, a bioswale which Shelia helped develop, and a veggie garden for fresh produce are all part of her paradise on the west end of Hood River. Oh, and did I mention she is an artist, too? Her own tile work and other art can be seen throughout her home. There is a wonderful article in The Oregonian about her home and garden. You can read about it here.

At the front door, a great pond with a fountain feature welcomes you. I believe I heard her mention frogs. I would not be surprised and, frankly, if I were a frog, this is where I would want to live.

A sculpture of Quan yin greets you at the front door.

Epipactis gigantea or chatterbox orchids out in front, in full bloom. Just lovely. This is a native orchid preferring wet locales. We caught them at their peak.

At the front walkway, a carpet of thyme and lavender greets you. Sheila's home is made of stucco and painted in bright shades of yellow, two shades of purple and a more neural taupe color to calm down the bright tones.

Fragrant dill scents the air near the front door.

From the street level, looking down into the veggie garden where Sheila and Sharon explore what was ripe on this sunny summer day. I believe they were picking sweet peas.

Some very jeweled-toned nasturtiums.

More of the veggie beds, with a view of the outer garden on the upper embankment on the right. This is where Sheila has a lot of her native plantings and has sourced many of them from one of my favorite nurseries, Humble Roots, not far from her home.

Sheila tells me that the sunflowers in her garden were all planted by birds. They did a lovely landscaping job, I'd say. Planted by birds and later enjoyed by birds. It's a lovely world.

Wide shot of the home from the street with yarrow or Achillea millefolium on the right.

Achillea millefolium detail. Although it does not show up in this photo, the pollinators went crazy for this plant. I mean there were all kinds of bees and tiny bee-like insects just buzzing all over, this is a winner if you want to provide sustenance for pollinators.

This is a Erigonum compositum or heart-leafed buckwheat.

Myrica californica or California wax myrtle.

Eriogonum niveum, or snow buckwheat, another tough, sun-loving native.

Amelanchier alnifolia or serviceberry. A very valuable food source for wildlife. These were highly esteemed by Native Americans as the berries would improve the flavor of other berries when mixed together. A great deciduous tree/shrub for full sun with little maintenance once established. Yes, it's native to these parts, too.

Isn't this a fabulous leaf? It's a native too, Penstemon barrettiae or Barrett's penstemon. I had one for several years but it eventually pooped out on me. Purple flowers. I LOVE this plant and will get another. Needs great drainage and sun. Stunning plant.

Spiraea betulifolia or birch leaf spiraea, one I have highlighted from my own garden. They can handle much more sun than I give them.

A broader look at the outside garden with some sun-loving natives that help to support wildlife and build healthy soil. Down below is the bioswale Sheila helped to create. Just on the other side of this part of the garden is her veggie garden.

Earlier I mentioned that Sheila's home is solar powered. See the panels here? Hers was the first home in Oregon to have angled panels; that is to say that they fit the contours of the roof line so they aren't obvious. How clever and visually satisfying is that? I love it. I didn't even notice them, to tell you the truth. She had to point them out to me.

Here is a shot of them from inside the home.

Here's another shot with the extended garden facing south with a view of the neighborhood beyond.

The outer garden with a field of Gaillardia aristata or blanket flower, another pollinator favorite.

From the veggie garden, there is a trail around towards the west side of the house (garden shed on the left), towards the back of the garden and home.

A tucked away shady picnic spot. How lovely...nice Doric columns, too.

Here's the north of the home and garden with multiple bird feeders and shady areas.

Birdfeeders and shade...something she can see from outside her window. Blue elderberry or Sambucus nigra in the background with the white flowers.

Ginger or Asarum caudatum, a lovely native groundcover for shade. Pinkish flowers are Bletilla striata.

Maidenhair fern or Adiantum pedatum.

View looking north across the river to Washington from inside the house. Wow.
So, speaking of inside the house:

Light, airy and open. It feels good to be in Sheila's home, filled with bright colors, carefully chosen fabrics, floors, textures and a lifetime of artwork. Books, lighting, paint colors - it all blends seamlessly in a functional dream of a sunlit home that makes you want to linger.

Her garden and utility room. How sweet would this be to work in? Notice the floors, made of cork, good on the feet and the environment.

View of the main room with the kitchen, the living room and dining area.

A work of art by our mutual friend, Sharon Bronzan, with whom I traveled to Hood River to visit Sheila. This is a new work of Sharon's from an exhibition titled Luck at a recent Augen Gallery exhibition earlier this summer. Sharon is an amazing artist, one of my very favorites EVER. You can see more of her work on Augen's website here.

Her sweet kitchen and custom table and chairs, hand-made and quite comfortable - made for other words, "butt friendly" no, it's "bun friendly"...I have it right now... is how she put it, if I remember correctly.


More details. This is actually a Little and Lewis (of Bainbridge Island, WA) sculpture filled with tadpoles and duckweed.

Thank you, Sheila for a wonderful day out. It was an honor to spend time together and to visit your incredible, thoughtful, beautiful and artful home. Your garden is a bountiful paradise full of native plantings, and you quite surprised me with the sun-loving plants! Yours is a garden for the birds and insects, for people to enjoy visually and through taste and smell. Your home is a joy to be in, I wished all homes were as welcoming and warm and energy efficient.

Thank you for making a difference and for leading the way. You have had a profound effect on how I think about building and creating and how I want to live my own life.

That's it this week from Chickadee Gardens, until next time, thank you for reading and happy gardening!