Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

June 13th, 2016 by Celia

The Beauty of the End of May Flowers

grand dame rose bud
These photos are from a couple of weeks ago, and the plants have already drastically changed since. I want to post these before they have gone to seed, wilted and died. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but summer is basically here and the plants are growing leaps and bounds.
What is most striking now is the contrast between the flowers and the shades of grey skies we’ve been having. The plants don’t care if it’s cool and rainy. And I don’t care either. Everyone else is inside, but 62 degrees with a sprinkling of rain and a cool breeze doesn’t keep Wolfie and I inside. We go right along with our plans of digging dirt, poking at bugs and playing with the plants. There’s so much to look at!
peach agastache


top: Grand Dame rose bud

above: Apache sunset agastache

(numbered starting below)

  1. south facing view of NE 16th Ave between Wygant St. and Going St.
  2. native columbine
  3. massive purple alliums
  4. these yellow flowered Fraggle-like mint family plants (PLEASE help me with the name)—-> FOUND the name, it’s Jerusalem sage, Phlomis spp.
  5. my wooden planter with succulents, violas, and lotus vine
  6. succulent with offspring; hen and chicks?
  7. Lamb’s ears
  8. red-purple heuchera
  9. emerging echinacea
  10. delicate rose


16th ave

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April 27th, 2016 by Celia

A Mid-April Plant Update at Our NEW House

lily of the valley
April has been a truly spring-like experience here in Portland. Cool and rainy one day, blazing hot the next (mid 80’s!). Luckily for me, I thrive off of inclement weather. I love the excitement in the changes in pressure, humidity, temperature and precipitation, especially when they are all seemingly changing in one day.
Many other people I know aren’t so lucky. For others, the constant wishy-washy-ness of spring is annoying at best, and downright migraine or depression-inducing at worst. As an East Asian medicine practitioner (fancy name for acupuncturist), I wonder why some people find the winds of spring so disturbing, and what we can do to lessen the blow.
One way to arm yourself against the changes of spring weather is to dress in layers, and always have a scarf around your neck. From a Chinese perspective, Wind can enter the body through the back of the head, where the base of the skull and neck meet, on either side of the spine. These little divots are even named “Wind Pool”, because it’s where wind gathers. Keep a scarf covering those Wind Pools!
Another antidote to the discomforts is purely aesthetic: GO LOOK AT PLANTS. Their leaves are filling up with juicy chlorophyl, their flowers are showing off and attracting early pollinators with blues, purples and whites. Everyday they seem to gain a little more resilience, their roots go a little deeper, and their leaves are opening up to catch their food in the way of sunlight.
Yeah, plants eat sun. It must be pretty yummy stuff, that sun.
So make like a plant and play with opening up to the increasing rays, even if it is intermixed with withstanding a bit of rain and windy cold.
heuchera and forgetmenot
On March 25th, we moved to a new house. A house of our own! Woohoo! After 5.5 years of renting, we bought a house and are slowing sinking in our roots.
The first thing I did was not unpack (I did some, but not all). I planted the two dozen or so plants I transplanted from our apartment. They HAD to get into the ground, in my opinion. Later I can move them, or build the beds that they are a part of.
Now they are starting to flourish, although it will be a couple of years before they are really established. I feel that we will do the same. Our house is a MAJOR fixer. We have a lot to do to be able to fully inhabit it. But it has good bones (that’s what all owners of fixers say to make themselves feel better;) and we love it.
The neighbors and location is our favorite part. There are 21 kids just going up and down the street, half of them are 3 and under. Wolfgang already has so much fun playing with the neighbors.
Our yard is so so so small. I can’t believe that I ever fell in love with a house with such a small yard, considering how important gardening and being outdoors is to me. There is a major bonus: the house is on a corner, which means that there’s a lot of space in the parking strip to plant. Even with such a small lot, I know that we can fit in at least half a dozen trees, lots of shrubs and tons of plants.
Another plant positive point is that my house plants are doing really well here. There is much better air flow, and the it’s a lot dryer here. Our apartment was like a sponge, it was so damp and moldy. At our new house, we all can breath, including the plants.
Back to the plants:
Above: purple heuchera and forget-me-nots.
  • big leaf hydrangea, hopefully it will be able to flower this year (it never flowered at the apartment)
  • some funny new lily of the valley plants; their leaves and flowers came in a different rates
  • close up of that pretty purple huechera
big leaf hydrangea
garden sage in a cup
purple heuchera


September 17th, 2013 by Celia

Saturday Evening at the Farm

A farm in the city, mountains of kale, a mountain view, swing music, kids running wild and free popcorn…my idea of a fun, late summer Saturday evening. Read the rest of this entry »
June 29th, 2013 by Celia

Project Found: Home-Grown Goodness of Late Spring Bounty

3/30.  In 2013, once a week, I highlight what I have found and that which has found me.

Project Found this week is fresh from the garden! The weather has just recently morphed into the hot-hot (at least for Portland) dryness which dominates July and August in the last day and a half. Greens and herbs have bolted and gone to seed, and today we picked the last few stragglers in the strawberry patch.

Before I move on to the next planting phase of my gardens, I need to say thanks and goodbye to the produce we have had thus far. Is this what it is like when your kids go off to Kindergarten? Sad and sappy and exciting all at the same time, with the nagging, unreal feeling of time moving too quickly?

Radishes. Peas. And lots and lots of strawberries. Just a few of the delicious fruits and veggies that have come our way so far this season. Some are from our garden, some are from the farmers market, and all were divine.

What good things are in season where you are?

May 22nd, 2013 by Celia

Back Porch Garden Update: Starting to Bloom and Fruit

Last years Mugwort wreath looks out on my back porch. It is the first of many decorative touches to the back porch garden, I can tell. Hanging out on the back porch has become a daily (or more than daily) thing to do. Since I am out there so much, why not make it beautiful? Or is it the other way around; I am out there because it is so lovely to be enveloped by plants?
I found this green tin planter on the street. I find so many beautiful things on the street. I also found the Lily of the Valley growing in a crack on the sidewalk, and used the blunt end of a fork in my lunch bag to gentle extract it from its crack to come home with me. I am an opportunist, and I also don’t believe in coincidences. When something comes my way I wonder, “Is this a sign? Do you want to come home with me? Must be!”. In this way I am quite permissive.
Words cannot describe how much I miss Lily of the Valley. It just doesn’t grow in my neighborhood the way it did back in Minnesota. I had a 5 x 3 patch of them behind my garage by the compost bin there. It made going to the compost such a lovely experience. There is such bliss in filling shot glasses with the drunkenly fragrant Lily of the Valley flowers.
Speaking of compost, Rob found a free compost bin on the side of the street a couple weeks ago (see what I mean about finding free stuff!). Get this: I figured out later that the moment he found it I was at home saying to myself, “If only we had a compost bin, then my gardening experience would be complete”. No joke. It is set up by the bike garage and a few other residents put their compost in there, too. It is almost full. It’s only been 2/5 weeks. Somehow a sense of community has be created over a free compost bin.
I want flowers and vegetables mixed together. Fuchsia and lettuce go well together, don’t you think? Marigold and chard are a nice match, too.
The strawberry below was abandoned. I found the chipped hand-thrown pot with some dried strawberry leaves and a bunch of weeds inside. I thought I’d use the pot for something, sometime, not knowing that it would sprout new growth in the spring. What a sweet surprise. This is my second season with it. They are very good, kid of wild tasting, like strawberry candy.
My back porch garden is growing on me as it grows. I feel like a kid before Christmas as lay in bed at night; all those pots and flowers and veggies are just on the other side of my wall. When I wake I go out and look at them, see if anything has changed.