Sunday, June 22, 2008

Second Annual Garden Edition

Last year, I wrote about the many wholesome joys of the garden. I waxed eloquent, or so it seemed to me, about the pleasures of plant ownership and husbandry.

This year, I've ignored the garden almost entirely.

Fortunately, though, you can get away with that in Portland. When you neglect your yard here, the plants don't die, they just "get away from you." You can end up with an inpenetrable botanical jungle surprisingly quickly. They don't call it the City of Roses for nothing.

Last weekend, I took up my trusty Japanese Garden Knife (which is awesome! Lee Valley, $28.50, worth it) and waded into the fray. My mission was twofold: 1) to bring some order to the rapidly deteriorating situation, and 2) to locate and assess the plants I was putting in at last years post. On both fronts, the result was encouraging. Here is what has happened since we last saw the class of June 2007:

Penstemon "Margarita Bop." It's a little lost in the chaos of the back path, but it's healthy and establishing itself nicely. Now that I'm paying attention to it again, I can make sure it doesn't get bullied by its neighbors.

Melianthus "Antonow's Blue." This one went to town last summer, quadrupling in mass before our neighbors trampled it while using our side yard for access to put in a few plants of their own, allegedly on their side of the property line. I don't mind their plantings; I just wish they hadn't trod on my Melianthus. It's still alive, but it's going to take another year or two just to get back to where it was.

Draconculus Vulgaris. This one, which you may remember promises to smell like rotting meat when it blooms, started to look a little peaked a few weeks after I put it in, and was dead and gone by the end of July. Except, plants often act like the heroes and villains in action movies, popping back up even after the most convincing of deaths. Draco suddenly reappeared a few weeks ago and seems to be enjoying the summer so far.

Two of Delphinium "English Seedling." One of these has not only survived but is in bloom, the first time I've managed to get a Delphinum to blooming stage! Nice. The other one could not be located, and is feared dead. But you never know.

Other Breaking Garden News

Mrs.5000's artichoke plant is going nuts.

Monkshood in bloom.

On the trellises, Mr.Kiwi is finally blooming like a champ after several lackluster years. Mrs.Kiwi, lamentably, has some sort of horrible ailment, and all her old growth has withered and died. Her root system is apparently still good, and she has put out some vigorous new shoots, but it will be at least three years before they are ready to bear. This is unfortunate, because it takes two to make kiwis, and we had thought that this year was going to be the first big harvest (after two cute little fruits last year).

I've put a potted Japanese Maple out by the sidewalk in the front yard. I can't tell whether it provides an attractive point of interest, or if it just looks stupid.


Karin said...

When I walked by the potted Japanese Maple in your front yard the other day, I thought it provided an attractive point of interest.

Well, I thought it was cute. Not at all stupid.

Yankee in England said...

I moved from 10 acres of land in the US to having no garden at all in the UK. Sometimes I miss this and then I think of the hours of mowing just to keep the 3 acres that was not fields in some sort of decent state and I find I don't miss it so much anymore. When I do get an itchy black thumb I go and kill something in my mother in laws garden

fingerstothebone said...

A note from a lazy gardener — that maple looks good enough in the pot in the front yard, but soon enough, you might find having to drag a hose out (or worse, fill up a big watering can) to keep it watered is a pain in the butt.

"A single potted plant away from the easy water source makes for a sad ending" — fingerstothebone.

Bridget said...

Ah, the glories of plant life! I started home ownership as a somewhat reluctant gardener, but have been won over this year, despite the incredible growth of weeds in my yard, and the proliferation of many other unidentified plant objects. Hmmm . . .I feel a post coming on!

Michael5000 said...

@Karin: Thanks for the vote of confidence.

@Yank: When I do get an itchy black thumb I go and kill something in my mother in laws garden. That's very... disturbing....

@fingers: Excellent as that koan is, I have ringed Castle5000 with an intricate network of hidden hoses to address just this issue.

@bridget: It's a beautiful thing, when a post begits a comment, which begits a post. It's what keeps the blog enterprise marching forward.

Anonymous said...

I love your garden! These are wonderful plants. and I am discovering what you mean about plants seemingly dead coming back to life.

Oh the kiwi. That is beautiful.