It may be a hard heart that loveth naught in May but it’s a dead plant that flourisheth not in June.

Yes it’s jungle time now, like up in the sky where the trees are all growing together, and their shade is so helpful with the little climate problem we have which shall remain nameless but tends toward too hot.

tree canopy

Now I might have mentioned, in some distant dusty cobwebby old post, (ok yes I did), something about how much I cherish the native Oregon shrub called, among other things, Oceanspray— or Holodiscus discolor if you prefer to be all science about it. Anyway it’s in bloom now.

Here is an image of the delicate beaded sprays of buds which dance from this large, fountain-shaped native shrub. (More information can be read at the website of the wonderful Portland Nursery.)

Holodiscus flower bud

The blooms open up to frothy foam, and sometimes they splash against “Jude the Obscure” roses in a vase.

Holodiscus and Jude the Obscure roses

[Now I shall deftly divert the discussion to garden lights. Watch this.]

And next is an image of the Oceanspray blooms in the night, romantically illuminated by the adorable string of LED lights which casually sparkle among the rampant grape vines of the long arbor.

night lights in the garden

There are three stings of indoor/outdoor lights here, the same ones I use on the Christmas tree. LED’s are improved and are extremely bright these days, so in winter when the Christmas tree is alight in the parlor I need to hand out sunglasses… but the lights are perfect in the garden in the dark.

LED string lights in the garden.

The ones I have must be plugged into an electricity source. My experience a few years ago with solar garden lights went well for a couple of seasons then all perished and it wasn’t possible to replace the rechargeable batteries. I was warned, but still I hate that.

LED strings in the garden

I use a timer that turns on at dusk for a few hours.

It’s fun to wander around outside by the sparkly light, and very fun for parties. But mostly they are fun to photograph.

LED lights outside summer

Sometimes I do go outside in the daylight:

Peruvian lilies

Here are the Peruvian lilies, who received the Nonstop Bloom award just this week. Now I know some gardens get invaded with these lilies but at my house they die in winter unless you dig them up and give them a warm plant-hotel in which to lounge. My friend the Plant Goddess did that and shared the extras that grew. Thank you Plant Goddess.

Jackmanii clematis

Previously the Nonstop Bloom award went to the Jackmanii clematis, and really he could have kept it a little longer.

I will close with the ever-popular view of the laundry drying in the sun. (Allow me my delusions.) The retractable clothesline spent the winter outside and still works great. It wishes you a happy June.

fabulous retractable clothesline


Posted in actual plants, Clematis, Pacific Northwest native plants, stuff for your garden that isn't plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

I got out

Perhaps you travel to exotic regions regularly. To France, if you live in Cincinnati, or to Cincinnati if you live in France. Or to Russia. Or outer space.

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image presents the Arches Cluster, the densest known star cluster in the Milky Way. It is located about 25 000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), close to the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  Hubble Space Telescope image of the Arches Cluster, located about 25,000 light years from Earth. (One carry-on allowed. Free pretzels when you’re half-way there.)

Personally I tend to enjoy vast internal travels and only limited travels in what you might call The Real World. But recently I left Oregon and flew south 900 miles for a few days in La Jolla (San Diego) California, and then, four days later, north almost 1000 miles to Sitka, Alaska. (In airplanes, like other people.)

It turns out that San Diego and Sitka are quite different from each other, and also from Oregon.

I liked Sitka.

It’s a little city (about 9000 people) on an island with dramatic close mountains. In summer giant cruise ships, like five story hotels, arrive and briefly double the population of the town. Here is a photo of one, expertly captured through a screened hotel window which I didn’t notice was screened until later.


Sitka has a rustic and wild character, unpretentious and hardworking, a town with the wilderness and sea woven around and through it. Eagles fly overhead and all the trash barrels have big heavy lids to discourage bears.

Enormous black ravens are everywhere, smart and busy.

I watched a group of these birds systematically unpack a box that someone left in the back of an open pickup. They tore open the top, threw out a lot of packaging material, concluded there was none of whatever ravens eat, then left the scene. The local public radio station is called Raven Radio, and raven images occur in native culture and art.

Fishing and tourism seem to be the main things that keep people busy in Sitka. Shops open at 8:00 when the cruise ships are in, and some don’t open at all other days. The harbor is full of boats. Some are home to their owners.

Sitka harbor

A long time ago Russians arrived and fought the Tlingit natives, took the land and imposed Christianity.

The thing I liked best about the historic Russians is their cemetery.

Russian cemetery in Sitka

It’s up on a hill in a deep forest full of native plants, most of which I recognized from Oregon. The unsteady headstones are varied and many, with always more to be found up the paths ahead, mixed in with the trees and ferns.

Sitka Russian cemetery Broken crosses and finials rest where they fall, left undisturbed. There is a lot of mossy concrete, and ghosts.

Russian cemetery2

The native plants were glorious, and I wonder why gardeners don’t use them more in the town.

Sitka is so far north that the days included almost two more hours of light than at home, although the growing season is short. I was told there was no plant nursery here but you can buy plants in season at the hardware store. There is a farmer’s market in summer (later) and I’ve read that some people garden in tunnel greenhouses but I didn’t get to wherever that is happening.

There is concern for growing food locally but still it appears most everything is brought in except for fish. There’s at least one good local brewery (Baranof, same as the name of the island) and a coffee roaster too.

Sitka clematis

Clematis having a house party.

stones, Sitka

Cool rocks are everywhere. I wanted to bring some home but they were too big to fit under the airplane seats or even into the overhead thing.

Totem pole, Sitka

Same problem with bringing the totem poles. They are magnificent.

But back to San Diego: a lot of sun, and nice beaches and good food.


Mostly it was great visiting with the Royals. I learned that the little princess tends to misplace her crown, but it doesn’t bother her sister the queen. (The queen plans a visit north soon, by way of her flying dragon.)

Back home I found the native mock orange all alight…

Philadelphus lewisii

…and the dog exhausted from the dog boarding place. (We missed  him.)

tired Westie

Posted in actual plants, Clematis, Pacific Northwest native plants, weather | Tagged , , | 14 Comments