Garden real estate

And so the train has pulled up to August.

It’s a hot place.

farm field AugustMax and I took a walk up the lane on an early, hazy morning.

oak in August field

The clay ground has gone hard. It’s been hot forever and there are forest fires in the state so maybe that contributes to hazy skies.

I keep watering the vegetables and flowers and so far things are doing okay except for the ones that wilt every single day no matter what.

wilted viburnumThe image above is a double-file Viburnum (V. plicatum tormentosum “Maresii”). They are said to desire full sun to part shade but that appears to be a lie. This plant is well mulched and gets about two hours of afternoon sun and I water it daily and still it wilts each and every afternoon and I think I hear it making moaning sounds too but I’m not sure. (This may be the “tormentosum” part.)

I do love these shrubs when they bloom and are happy so I have managed to propagate several of them. But now I find they only like morning sun and really if I ever build a house I’m going to make it long and skinny and just garden on the east side. (See the helpful and expensive professional landscape-architect’s visual aid below.)


Which is to hint to you that my best gardening success, at least in August, occurs on the east side of the house.

crocosmia bed

Here for example is where I grow many of Francine’s favorite flowers, like the infamous crocosmia above, and as you know Francine is an extremely discerning hummingbird. (Yes Francine has returned to the garden here but so far she has not posed for any pictures.––something about paparazzi and getting a lawyer so I’m leaving her some space.)

Delphinium belladonna

The Delpinium belladonna moved to the Desirable East Side this spring, coming from a rundown tenement in the south. (That interesting foggy effect  in the image just chose to happen. I don’t know how to do it intentionally.)

Verbena bonariensis

I had tried growing Verbena bonariensis (above) in two other locations in two other years but it was a hopeless disappointment until it got to the head of the line for space with morning sun and now it’s all blooms and butterflies and I am seduced––it will be grown always.

In other news, you may recall that I have on occasion been sunflower challenged and I just wanted you to know that this year I had some success.

sunflower past its prime

Although my sunflower looked better earlier…

I have a volunteer in the vegetable garden.

tiny melons

It is either a furry hand grenade (unlikely I suppose) or some kind of tiny beginning of a melon. I am hoping for cantaloupe although the stripes are suggestive of watermelon. These little fruitettes are growing fast but maybe not as quickly as the earth is moving us toward winter––it will be a race so let me know if you want to place bets.

Max on the porch

Max agrees with the plants that the morning sun is just the best.

About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual gardens, actual plants, birds, Max the Westie and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Garden real estate

  1. susan troccolo says:

    Hey great drawing–I know a lot of gardeners who will stand in line to have you design their house. Poor tortured Viburnum!–the thing is way unhappy and I would check to see if Francine’s lawyer isn’t involved in some way with your Viburnum. Sort of a group rate thing. And while I love your other flowers a lot, I have to say in the interest of candor, that that is the mangiest sunflower that ever my eyes have seen. (I’ve been reading Shakespeare.) That said, I have NO luck with sunflowers at all, so you are doing better than me.

    • linniew says:

      Well I haven’t actually ironed out the detail of the inside of the house, but I expect those things will get worked out later… About the sunflower: yes I suppose it isn’t the prettiest one around but you know it is sort of past its prime as it were. Trader Joe’s has big bouquets of them for sale and I’ve thought of just skipping the plant-the-seeds-watch-it-die part next time. What thinkest thou oh friend mine? (Are you preparing for a trip to Ashland? Can I come?)

  2. Hannah says:

    I can see the tormentosum aspect of your Viburnum. The moaning would be a little eerie. Most of my plants that look like that have the roots eaten off by voles. I see that your Crocosmia, like mine, very much enjoys flopping, so endearing. I had to turn down my monitor to look at your brilliant blue Delphinium, I see why you like to run with it. Having that would make it a lot easier to post for Blue Monday. I’m envious of your Verbena bonariensis, I had some appear mysteriously, and disappear the same way.

    • linniew says:

      Yes that delphinium is kind of electric blue. I rarely run with it but I did run it around to the east side this spring. Your Verbena bonariensis sounds like some sort of traveling salesplant, here today gone tomorrow, a different garden in every port. (We all know the type.) I’ll be checking the roots of the Viburnum when I dig it up for Autumn Relocation, which happens every year after I make lists all summer about what needs moving although I typically lose the lists. Anyway I will watch for vole tooth-marks –and I suppose the voles could be moaning while they chew.

  3. Could you ask Francine to send some of her friends over this way, we have had only a couple of quick glimpses of hummers this whole season. The countryside in your area is beautiful.

    • linniew says:

      Okay Jason I will do what I can but to be honest Francine’s fame has kind of gone to her head so she is not so easy-going as she used to be. I’m glad you got to visit Oregon. I’m constantly amazed at how much of it remains rural and small-town. Also Portland is so wonderful––when I get tired of watering plants I think about a nice downtown condo.

  4. Susan says:

    On the garden tour, last Sunday, I came across a path lined with crocosmia. I started laughing at the memory of your crocosmia and Francine stories. For good measure I practised saying crocosmia out loud. I know people think I’m odd, this will have confirmed it.

    • linniew says:

      Odd is so completely under-rated! Because you have to be different to be better. Also to be odd. You see how it is. Anyway I am so proud of you Susan, practicing your ‘crocosmia’ right out loud like that. I just told Francine about it and she is writing you a thank-you note although it may show up high in a tree so keep an eye out. Aren’t garden tours the strangest experience? I like them, but I like wine too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have often been thinking of you and your gardening adventures when I see breaking news telling of high temperatures, drought, and raging fires and the occasional mudslide in the PNW. I am starting to dislike drought as much as our brutal winters and our summer humidity. So many gardeners seem to be gardening on scorched earth.

    Tell Francine I am treated to hummingbird vaudeville each morning on the deep cranberry beebalm out my bathroom window. If Francine did not have such a good publicist in you my dear, her fame will go the way of Greta Garbo.

    • linniew says:

      Weather is pretty moderate here, compared to say southern California where the water shortages are becoming a crisis. I kind of expect a great influx of people moving north to Oregon after this summer. My biggest garden challenge is amending the clay soil, and that poor viburnum I wrote about is in a new bed which I have only hauled tons of compost into and slaved over with the shovel for one year. (Still, I will rescue it in the fall.) Francine sends her warmest regards to her cousins who dance over your Italian beebalm and just hopes you enjoy the free show and also wants you to know that she does not “want to be alone” like Garbo so maybe I will get a photo yet. Did you get a new computer Alberto? Lovely to hear from you!

  6. Chloris says:

    My Viburnum Maresii is looking just as miserable as yours, although I haven’ t actually heard it moan. I suppose I should water it really but it is just one of many wilting plants in my garden at the moment. Your delphinium is wonderful, a gorgeous colour.
    I don’ t want to hurt your feelings but I wouldn’t t want to live in the house you designed. It would be like living in a corridor. How would you arrange your furniture? You’ d have to line it up along the wall. I think you need to rethink it.

    • linniew says:

      Oh. I didn’t think about furniture. But I like couches. It could have couches on one side of the long thin room, and bookcases all along the other… Or it could kind of flare at one end, with a wider part there for the kitchen and woodstove and bed. And a little bump-out to the south for a bathroom. Does that sound better? (You might not realize it but I have never designed a whole house before.)

      • Chloris says:

        I’ m still not all that keen on it. You’ d have to flatten yourself against the wall whenever you needed to pass anyone., you’ d constantly get in each other’ s way. Mind you on the plus side you could reach for a book without getting up.
        What part of a house have you designed then? The long, thin bit?

        • linniew says:

          Well one of the people could always just crawl from couch to couch, and then if the crawler got tired during the trip he could stop on whatever couch he was on and nap. (I know you climbed over that fence to get the mulberries and couch crawling might be easier than that.) OR I could install an overhead trolley system, kind of like a ferry going regularly from end to end in the house. I like high ceilings so there would be lots of room.

          But yes hallways are pretty much my specialty.

    • Well, it does say GIANT maple. Maybe it’s just a different scale; perhaps the long narrow house is actually 20 or 30 feet wide and two or three hundred feet long. that would help balance out the high ceilings and there would be plenty of room for the couches and bookshelves along with the foot traffic. I do like the idea of an overhead trolley though..

      • linniew says:

        Well of course you are just so totally right Peggy. The house is exactly 34 feet wide and more or less 88 feet long. I just forgot is all. So there is room for everything, even the bathroom, and the couches and the trolley. I’m getting really excited about building this house and the first thing when it’s finished will be a dinner party for you and Chloris. We’ll have maybe strawberry scones mostly.

  7. You shot into the sun, which made everything look so dreamy. Some plants are just whiners. You seriously live in the boonies. I t looks fabulous and quiet and peaceful and devoid of traffic traffic traffic. I made those scones a while back. Incredible! Love at first bite!

    • linniew says:

      Oh good to know about the sun in the image. I like dreamy. I have discovered that the Viburnum was suffering from maple tree root domination. So I moved it, in the heat of summer, and already it is improved. Those maple trees are not to be trusted. Yes we are are in almost the exact middle of nowhere. Lots of nice owls and coyote sounds but the occasional baling machine and of course the helicopters working the Christmas tree fields sometimes. But generally quiet and I appreciate that. So glad you like the scones Tammy– I’ve learned that you can use chopped apples or fresh blackberries too.

  8. kate says:

    Hi Linnie,
    Pretty slim pickens this year, huh? A very sad number of my plants have reverted to the ‘Horizontalis’ variety. Even so, I would never move to O-re-gone. Your landscape plan needs way more trees. A sunflower! A big one too. That is something to be happy about.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Kate
      My personal half acre or so is cram-packed with trees, I’ve seen to that. They are coming together in the sky in a nice canopy which I think could possibly support monkeys but only in summer. You are right that the farmland around us is pretty cleared but in general Oregon (aren’t you naughty with that pronunciation!) is all about trees. Well that and rain…

  9. fay mckenzie says:

    Now you see here was me all shy with my own ‘professional’ drawings of the garden and you’ve beat me to it. I think your ‘professional’ is a bit better than mine, they used old wall paper here.

    Anyway max looks fine on that deck. Away from the hairy grenades, I do so hope they turn into melons.

    It looks hot with you. The blue of that delphinium is gorgeous.

    The verbena I do have envy of. I ordered plants (shoddy I know, but hey I was late to the garden and had a voucher) – they never arrived then told me they’d be here in September. Utterly no use, so I swapped them for a voucher.

    I found, by accident, in a garden centre a more compact Verbena rigida looks simiilar to VB but erm, well, more compact. Not sure if I like it but it saited my verbena fix when the others were off on a gap year or something.

    Unreliable things verbena’s.

    Well done on the sunflower.

    DId you see these japanese ‘smiling’ sunflowers. What show offs.

    • linniew says:

      You were resourceful about those runaway verbena plants Fay, but maybe they will speak French when they get back in case the gap year was in Paris. And oh they might have learned how to make real croissants too– you can hope! (My kids did gap in Germany. They learned a lot about beer.) Those smiling sunflowers—now I guess the goal is moved up yet another notch. I did so well to get one to grow at all and I never even thought about happy faces.

  10. Glad your Verbena found a spot to be happy in, hopefully they’ll self seed around for you. As for your drawing, that looks like my kind of plan. Not much house to clean, but lots of garden to garden in 🙂 .

    • linniew says:

      I have kind of noticed that as the garden gets better the house gets more neglected. But no worries, all those cobwebs are nothing compared to my broom in the autumn. Or winter. Before Christmas anyway. And I’ll collect a few verbena seeds to draft next spring, just in case there are no volunteers.

  11. Gosh Linnie, I’m not bragging… just lucky. I have an east-facing garden. There is a lot of afternoon shade but still several places with all-day sun which is good for growing things like Dahlias and butterfly bush. Congratulations on your sunflower. It looks great. But don’t despair. When it falters, it’s really is the fault of the slugs and not the gardener.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Gracie!
      The trouble is that I didn’t really capture the sunflower when it was at its best you know– a busy summer. I do like blaming slugs for things though. Maybe they are behind all the MS rejection slips! or not, but anyway I hold them completely responsible for when the pizza slipped off the pan and hit the floor the other night.

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