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Friday, January 6, 2017


The rock garden blanketed in snow.

So it was 12 degrees when I left this morning. Turning out to be a crazy cold winter so far.

The bulb frames would probably benefit from some more snow cover.

I promise some flower pictures soon, I saw a few crocus buds wanting to pop out as I was putting frost blankets on the greenhouse pots.

20 degrees and sunny now at noon with freezing rain, sleet and snow in the forecast for the weekend.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

First Day of 2017

Woke up to a new year with a dusting of snow. Chilly end to the old and a frosty start the new.

The rock garden alpines seem to be loving this extra cold weather year we seem to be having.

I did manage to get some seeds down and cheers to a productive and prosperous new year.

32 degrees with an occasional snow flurry today.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

In Like A Lion

Check out the greenhouse tonight.

Welcome to winter. If you've been following this blog, I've been waxing on about how the growing season wouldn't end and we had been frost free for so long. Well that's all done now. I was off in Mexico celebrating my 40th birthday, playing old man and the sea and it hit 26 degrees in the greenhouse. Followed shortly by a pretty decent snow storm, and if you are familiar with our "mild" Mediterranean climate here in the Willamette Valley, decent snow fall is pretty rare in these parts in December.

Me and my wahoo!

Catching the fastest fish in the ocean was a helluva a way to cap off my 40th year on this planet. I think of how much of I've learned and experienced in the first 40, if I can make it another 40 the fish and flowers that are gonna pass through these hands will be many fold.

The growing season has officially ended. 24 degrees with 8" of snow on the ground and I'll be heading out to knock it off the greenhouse soon.

Welcome to winter from a boat somewhere in the Sea of Cortez.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Colchicum cupani

The little Meadow Saffron doing its thing in December. Usually this time of year I start seeing some of the hoop petticoat Narcissus starting to bloom. But this year is a bit different still no killing frost or any frost for that matter. But it's forecasted for this Tuesday to be down into the 20's. Long growing season for sure to go almost 10 months frost free.


Saturday, November 26, 2016


Narcissus obsoletus

Somethings will never be obsolete. Like flowers. If this one always blooms at Thanksgiving I'm gonna be really happy with that.

I guess I'm thankful it's over and I am now just hoping it all doesn't end in low thundering booms and mushroom clouds rising on the horizon. America hit a rough patch. It's palpable, you can feel the tension, coworker to coworker, family member to family member. Etc....

I'm also thankful to see some great seeds germinated already, I think it's gonna be a great growing season ahead, if the current one ever ends.

In case anyone is keeping track, we still have not had a killing frost, or frankly Amy frost for that matter. It's been a really long growing season.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.” 
― Stephen King'Salem's Lot

The fall season at Illahe Nursery and Gardens
It seems the older I get the more I take notice of the changing of the seasons, The little things like carving pumpkins seem to take on new meaning as the years go by, My little girl is now a teenager and Halloween isn't such a big deal as it once was. But she still carves a pumpkin with her dad on the weekend before the big show. Life goes by pretty quick and if you blink you can miss an awful lot. I smile as the facility maintenance guy brings his grandkid by the cubicle for a trick or treat at the office and I'm reminded of that little 3 year old dressed up like a lady bug, wide eyed and wondering about everything in the world. Now it's horror movies and haunted houses with her friends. I sigh a little bit and I think about how some people find the often grey days of Autumn depressing and I think about the spring that waits around the corner and how you wouldn't really appreciate anyone season if it didn't give way to the next.

Crocus cartwhrightianus 'Marcel'

I love the stories of where selections came from and this is no exception, the story goes it was named by Janis Ruksans for Antoine Hoog's son. Mr. Hoog grew the wild collected seedlings and sent them to Janis. The saffron type looks fantastic this time of year with the failing light and although the slugs love them, I've finally got a handle on those critters by some frequent metaldehyde applications under the pots. 

If I can get my act and camera together before the frost and wind have taken there toll, I'd like to do a post on the Autumn crocus collection. 

Rain, but not that cold this week. Still haven't seen a frost or gotten really close to it, which is nice because I have some food crops I'm trying to get up and established in the greenhouse. 


Thursday, October 27, 2016

I hate daylight savings!

It's true, and if I didn't love the ocean and salmon and clean abundant water, I'd consider moving to Arizona just because of it. I have to admit I don't love this time of year when you have to leave for the day job in the dark and drive home in the dark. This year does offer some tiny bit of solace in that I spent a good deal of time with a trencher and at the electrical panel putting in a proper power line to the greenhouse this year. This weekend I'll install some HID lighting so that I can at least get a few hours of work in when I get home at night basking in the artifical rays of flourescent and burning sodium lamps.
Crocus thomasii in the raised beds at Illahe
Looking great despite the 7 or so inches of rain it has had to endure this month.

I had an amazing visit to the wonderful garden of  Claire Cockroft in Bellevue, Washington. Jane and I took a rain filled drive up and she was a great host for some hours of visiting. I'm so thankful to the elders that are willing to share bits of knowledge and time and plants with the younger set to ensure the collections live on. 

Jane McGary admiring Claire's wonderful curbside rockery, much of it seeded with Ron Ratko's Northwest Native seed treasures.

Claire's nursery is loaded with treasures
And back home Sam is standing guard over the
Crocus collection, he is a marvelous hunter and
After Ginger passed and we went through a few cats
lost to Coyotes, I'm happy to have a good Tom to
Keep control of the rodents.

So the daylight is fading ever faster now and the days grow shorter by minutes. 
I do look forward to the holidays, but having to leave in the dark and drive home from the day job in the dark does grow old fast. That doesn't leave much time for enjoying the fall bloomers. 
Thunderstorms and rain, hopefully a little sun this weekend and I'll be out harvesting some of the Saffron. 
Cheers, Mark Akimoff