May but probably not

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Great news, the winter rains are over. Now we are having spring rains. This is when it’s necessary to closely monitor your phone weather app which shows the day’s weather by the hour and then you can pretty much plan your life around the window of opportunity for rainless gardening due to arrive between say 4:00 pm and 5:15 pm. If this means missing a dental appointment or leaving your child waiting to be picked up after band practice just remember it is not your fault.

So between rain showers I’ve been moving a few plants, something I do every year, kind of like a bird migration only slower and more random. Lately I’ve been bringing ferns closer in, to beds by the house.

sword fern

More and more I rely on graceful western sword ferns in these beds. They are important for their complex textures, their airy shade and for the way they can grow pretty much anywhere even in rock-hard dried up clay soil alongside the highway in utterly neglected ditches under masses of blackberry vines and poison oak.

So anyway they do okay in my garden.

other sword fern

In the next image is a little fern that I love and I may not have mentioned before or with luck if I did you’ve forgotten.

Gymnocarpium dryopteris or Oak Fern

It’s called an oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) another Pacific Northwest native. It gets about six inches tall and it spreads by underground rhizomes so it can form a lovely woodland carpet but in my garden I only have it in a few small scatter rugs so far.

Then of course the native deer ferns (Blechnum spicant) are unfurling their new deciduous parts. Deer ferns are both deciduous and evergreen, they can’t decide, so they shed the central vertical fronds and grow that part new each spring but they keep the outside fronds on hand all year just in case there is some kind of frond emergency I guess or maybe they just forget to toss them I don’t know.

deer fern (Blechnum spicant)

new clematis

Clematis Update–I recently planted out two of the dazzlingly successful clematis plants that I grew from cuttings. (Here is a photo of one of them.)

I planted the two vines together, one on each side of an expanding bamboo structure I set up last year to support some cup and saucer vines. (Then I over-watered those vines so while they did immediately engulf the trellis they only produced maybe two blooms among sixty pounds of vines and leaves. It took about an hour and a half to get them all off the bamboo in January after they died at which time they looked like some kind of rustic wall hanging made of dehydrated snakes.)

Now the problem with the new clematis vines is that the identifying tags were kind of not carefully tracked (very unusual for me, any confusion of this sort) so I am not 100% certain what color blooms these plants will produce. I have this idea that they are both big reddish flowers but what would gardening be without a few surprises now and then anyway so really we shouldn’t be such control freaks about it.

Which nicely brings us to the ever-popular Mystery Plant feature or what I suppose could also be called the Clueless Gardener feature but personally I’d rather blame the plant.

super secret mystery plant

Mystery Plant

It’s a volunteer something that is growing ridiculously crowded at the edge of one of my Big Orange Pots where I believe it intends to produce blooms at its top. It doesn’t look like any weed I know and the only thing I can guess (based upon the bad planning this plant has shown together with its pathetic response to Oregon rain) is that it’s a California poppy. (I used to know some people in SoCal who just shared so many characteristics with this plant really I can’t begin to tell you.)

Let me say that I quite admire California poppies (also many California people) and I have tried to sow the seed for these poppies many times in places like by the driveway or in the orchard because they grow as wildflowers along the road edge everywhere where I live, but never at any time have any of my efforts produced a single California poppy plant. So there is a bitter irony here, and I can only assume that I have in the past insulted the plant by relegating the seed to the outlying unkempt areas outside the fed and watered domestic flower beds and now it’s turned up in a bed in a pot and this is its way of marching around in protest.

About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual plants, Pacific Northwest native plants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to May but probably not

  1. Ginny says:

    love all of your ferns, especially the ones making up the little scatter rugs. But I don’t have a clue what your mystery plant is.

  2. cathywieder says:

    Oh, gosh, now I remember why I love your blog so much! Would you like a Sweet Autumn clematis? Email me…..

  3. I took an accidental clematis cutting a few weeks ago (okay, so I walked into a clematis and accidentally broke a twig… Yes… Walked into a clematis, growing by an 8ft. post…) and it’s doing very well in the pot that I stuck it in in my permanently shaded corner. No fussing about it; just wet compost in a plastic pot… Love it!

    Also, ferns are great plants; we have them in areas where nothing else will grow, and I think they’re so pretty – and they don’t mind a bit of ground elder around their feet…

    • linniew says:

      A happy accident Søren. This time of year especially I expect the cutting will grow. I hope you are recovering nicely from the encounter with the post though…

      • The clematis kindly broke the impact, so only harm was to the plant… I guess that’s why clumsy people should grow lots of climbers; to cushion all objects that one might collide with!

        (And one of the clematis I bought and planted last year seems not to have survived the winter, so the cutting will eventually take it’s place!)

  4. Your fern collection is beautiful! I don’t have any ferns…sometimes it gets too dry. I do have some growing in the wooded area…put there by mother nature.

    • linniew says:

      Well ferns are one of my favorites Butterfly. Except for a few that grow in wet areas in nature, it seems most of the native Oregon ones are adapted to some dry time in the summer here.

  5. Alistair says:

    Linnie, growing a clematis from a cutting that is way up the scale as far as I am concerned. Love your Ferns and your mystery plant looks very much like an unknown weed which grows in our garden on the odd chance that it manages to hide from us. It has tiny yellow flowers, very horrible, on the other hand it could be a carrot.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Alistair,
      Thanks –I won’t mention again the dozen or so clematis cuttings that died. But I am so excited, a carrot! I have never grown such a successful one before. But the weed with the dreadful little flowers, oh dear. I will certainly report on the outcome of this very important and baffling garden development.

  6. Grace says:

    Frond Emergency: LOL. Actually I have a little story about the Deer Fern. Years ago when I worked at a small nursery and felt vastly superior in my plant knowledge, I told the owners how I learned that the Deer Fern has both male and female fronds. The males stand up straight and the females lie prostrate. They snickered. I rolled my eyes at their infantilism. Like I said, I was feeling vastly superior.

    The native sword fern is a mainstay in my garden. I love them because other than a little clean up every few years, they require nothing and give so much in return.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that the mystery plant is indeed a Calpop although the leaves look almost a little too green. The Calpops in my garden are more on the glaucous side. But perhaps being in a cozy greenhouse makes them greener. Or, if the foliage has a sweet smell, it could be Chamomile. Or it could be a Larkspur. Or a carrot. The flowers are so important, aren’t they?

    Congrats on the impressive success of your Clemmy vines. Whatever the flower color they’re winners!

    • linniew says:

      Oh Gracie that deer fern story! I worked in a nursery once too but I don’t have any stories as funny as that one about it.

      I think you made up Calpop so in the south they have SoCalpops? Sounds like some kind of disaster maybe associated with an earthquake… Excellent suggestion to see if the foliage smells sweet. Nope I just checked and it smells like nothing except rain–this pot is outside the greenhouse. Buds are definitely coming so soon there will be more information. A larkspur would be very nice although I am still thinking an enormous carrot could be amazing and maybe I could enter it in the Fair and get a ribbon.

  7. b-a-g says:

    I have to get a fern somehow, the curly bits are the best.
    Mystery plant is most probably a cross between carrot, fennel and love-in-a-mist.

    • linniew says:

      Well it doesn’t smell herb-y at all but some love-in-a-mist blooms (in blue not white) with a nice blue-ribbon carrot root, now that would be something.

  8. It would be much more barren here without ferns. I love the Western Sword Fern too, and moved some this year when we built the goat pen. You’d never even know they were dug up. I was hesitant to move them at first, but dug them up on a rainy day, and they’re growing like weeds now, pushing up scores of new fronds! We have a native fern here similar to your oak fern, the Goldback Fern (Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis). It’s very similar in shape, and stature, but it’s deciduous and disappears in the summer. Is your oak fern deciduous too?

    • linniew says:

      Yes those Sword Ferns are very adaptable. They can come with quite a lot of roots though which can be awkward in certain roadside ditch situations or at least I have heard that.

      The oak fern is indeed deciduous and looks a lot like the images I just looked at online of your Goldback Fern. I have to mark the planting for winter with little sticks which I often lose or can’t read in the spring but fortunately these little ferns are pretty tough too.

  9. Alberto says:

    Lovely and very technical descriptions about ferns, I like your blog because you can turn the poetic contortion of a fern curl into something silly and funny.
    Your oak fern is very similar to the Osmunda fern I’ve planted last year (and kept under a tent, remember?), well this spring it is producing new leaves like mad so I may have a rug of fern soon too.

    I agree with b-a-g about the mystery plant: it’s definitely a Frankenstein cross, and I’m not surprised seeing all the things that are going on in your greenhouse… Could they be some baby scary vulture tree you got the seeds with that voucher?

    • linniew says:

      Hi Alberto
      I’m glad you appreciated my highly technical fern discussions. I’m looking forward to photographs of your Osmunda fern rug and just so glad it’s doing well this spring. (You know one of my goals for you is ferns.) I should report too that my little olive tree is looking much better this year than last.

      Those seeds I got from the vulture tree place have been singularly unsuccessful in the greenhouse. I have some tomato plants, and a sort of daisy, but now you are frightening me about the potential Frankenstein plant. I will arm myself when I check on it’s progress and hope for a poppy.

      • Alberto says:

        I guess in your imagination I have a lot to do with olive trees, maybe because I am italian, but instead I can’t grow olive tree in the north east of Italy, they’re not fully hardy in winter. Anyway you can continue thinking of me as if I lived amongst citrus and olive trees and palms and I wore a white roman tunic all year round…

        • linniew says:

          But I was certain you had mentioned olive trees being some of the few trees in your garden area. I guess not. Since I grow them here, and really I only have a couple togas in my closet, well it never occurred to me that your garden was too cold. Actually I have citrus olive and palm all growing here so I guess all things are possible. You might LIKE a toga, very comfortable.

  10. Kate says:

    That poppy sure looks like a chamomile.

    • linniew says:

      A chamomile would not be so unlikely here Kate in that I have grown them in the past. But that sweet chamomile fragrance that I recall is missing in the mystery plant–maybe that comes with the little flowers, I can’t remember. I think when the rain stops (I do feel that someday the rain must stop) and we get some warm temperatures again then the plant will bloom which will totally clear up the mystery. Or maybe not.

  11. kininvie says:

    Personally, I dig up every fern I come across. Nasty scaly brutes that infiltrate themselves into cracks in walls and then dominate everything …….
    The mystery plant: I guess fennel or a fennel-like weed. It looks a little too robust for a californian poppy, but I could be wrong.
    The hitherto-unconfessed DEATH of a dozen clematis cuttings does make me think I am only going to carve a partial neep.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Kininvie
      Thank you so much for your singularly appalling comments. I discovered your remarks here on my blog upon returning home from work and from a dreadful supermarket incident about which I will not give you the pleasure of hearing.

      As you well know I have always been brutally honest about the numbers of failed clematis cuttings or at least you should have extrapolated the fallen based upon my earlier posts where I included images of the flat filled with the initial cuttings.

      Regarding the wager, from the beginning it was MY understanding that you would carve one neep for each successful cutting and I grew of course four remarkable successes. In that we are obviously of two minds about this (next time we must write a contract) I am prepared to compromise and accept only one completely carved neep even though I grew four successful plants. (How are the neep plants coming along by the way?)

      As to ferns, I am so sorry there are apparently no worthy ones in your part of Scotland.

      Warm regards,

      ps: We say California poppy.

  12. kininvie says:

    Well WE say Eschscholzia (if we can spell it….must beat the record for number of uninterrupted consonants surely?) And while we are on the subject, would the title of your post not be more grammatical if it were ‘May, but probably won’t’?
    I do think my comments were no more appalling than usual, so I wonder if your supermarket incident – you do appear to have a lot of them – has not left you somewhat jaundiced today? However, because I love you dearly, I shall carve a whole neep in the shape of Tillie to keep you company through the autumnal dreariness.

    • linniew says:

      Oh come on, no one says eschscholzia. And I hate that you are right about the title. (I always leave titles until last and don’t give them enough thought.)

      A neep shaped like Tillie in the autumnal darkness could inspire nightmares.

      Good night Kininvie.

  13. Foxglove Lane says:

    Just love how the ferns unfurl like that. Mystery plant……It’s not fennel no, I have lots of that, it looks like more of a daisy thing we have here. But hey what’s not to like? Give a weed a break, I’m for keeping it every time, well almost every time….and ferns a big thumbs up… of the triffids comes to mind with those guys:~)

    • linniew says:

      Unknown plants, which appear quite often in pots it seems but even in the garden, are just irresistible. I typically let them grow– and watch. Clearly the current mystery item is about to bloom so, as you say, why not give a minute and see?

      I adore ferns, but deadly people-eating triffids maybe not quite so much.

  14. cynthia says:

    Funny linniew.

  15. Your posts really make me laugh especially this one. I love ferns and have been working hard to establish two (out of five) deer ferns. I love the little fern that grows in scatter rugs. I wonder if it works here.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Carolyn
      The deer fern here is one of my favorites–when they are happy they become quite large and grand looking although it took a couple summers for me to learn just how serious they are about shade and water. You should definitely grow the oak fern too, it would love your gardens.

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