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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

"If ant hills are high in July, the coming winter will be hard" American Folklore

“Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.”
― David Searls

I got out on the ocean a few weeks ago and that felt really good, caught a few salmon, lingcod and cabezon. I love all the quotes  you can read about seeing beyond the horizon. I'm reading a pretty in depth book about Magellens circumnavigation and it is something to think that ancient humans really did sometimes see the horizon as the end. The book literally spends the first 300 pages or so just getting to the point where they are sailing down the Guadalquivir.  I'm trying to see beyond so many things right now, to envision a better place for humanity and I have to be honest It's not that easy. We need more folks to put the boat in gear and place the compass needle at 270 degrees, or whatever compass point gives you a horizon and head for better times. 

Lilium davidii 'Berry Red'
I wish I could go back and talk to Jack Poff, Mrs. Berry's long time gardener and one of my early mentors about this one, I'm sure he would have a story about it, and if he didn't I bet he would make one up. A huge thanks to the wonderful growers at Wild Ginger Farms for getting this one out on the market! Now if they would only get that Scoliopus bigelovii that grew up on the hillside propagated! wink, wink. I bought a bulb of from Wild Ginger last year at the Bush Pasture Park sale and it's now occupying a prominent place next to the treasured Rocks Peony and an Edgeworthia in the slight shade of a purple leaved flowering plum, towering to 6' tall with it's deep red flowers back set on the purple, it's like the dying embers of a fire  when you see it backlit by a summer sunset. 

The rock garden is a splash of color and a few things that will be moved, I have a fondness for these native Checkermallows from my years spent restoring the Willamette Valley Wetland ecosystems around Salem. They do get a bit rangy as they go to seed and often fall over. They really do need to be out in the wet meadow part of the property but they seed around and I can't get myself to pull them out until they are 6' tall and it's too late!
I've been swamped with folks asking about the summer bulb catalog, and I will say that it's coming soon! I have a busy couple of weeks coming up though and so I'm tentatively going to say it should be out around the first or second week of August.



Monday, June 29, 2020

The End of June

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good–and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” – Abigail Van Buren

Well June pretty much flew by, it's hard to believe this weekend coming up is already the fourth of July. Back when I was a kid, I sometimes worked summers for a hay bailing outfit in the valley, cleaning up the straw left behind after the swathers and combines had taken the millions of pounds of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass seed that the Willamette is famous for. It was often an index of the season if the straw bailing started before the fourth of July as that meant it had been an early season. I spent a lot of Independance days, however driving a tractor towing a hay bailer at about 2 miles an hour through hundreds of acres of windrowed straw. Every so often I could see the fireworks as tiny little puffs of light from one of the valley towns like Brownsville or Tangent. But usually the dew would come down and the straw would get too wet sometime around midnight, long after the fire works had finished. We would pile into the farm pickup for the hour or so drive back to Salem, faces covered in dust, and sometimes we would talk about how many mice had been picked up by the bailer tines and flung into the waiting talons of  the red tailed hawks that followed us around the field in search of an easy meal. No big life lessons here really, just recollections and memories of growing up in the country. The spring gave way to summer although the weather didn't totally agree who was in charge as it went from 90 and sunny to 50's and rainy this past week. 

The lily bloom is going well this year. 

This is a new one for me, the supposedly Hardy Amaryllis 'Alaska' I'm trying out next to the colchicums in the foundation bed.  

I've been adding a lot of lilies to the rock garden lately. 

Lilies and a Hesperis foil, make a good combination.

Anya and I and some of her school mates made the brutal descent into Tumble lake from French Creek to see what we could find of the mountain flora. I was thinking it was early but pleasantly surprised to find some nice things blooming. That is Detroit lake in the background. 
It was a great hike, saw some Calochortus, saxifrage, a lot of different color forms of penstemon, it was early for the lilies though. I remember nice patches of L. washingtonianum from this hike and they were still a few weeks out. 

Anya finished up her Junior year aquaponics homeschool project and turned in her final report. It was a fun project and we both learned a lot about what works and what doesn't in using fish to make fertilizer for your vegetable production. One big lesson, the racoons will wreak all sorts of havoc in the fish ponds, but they don't particularly care for baby ceasar romaine which produces well  in that environment. Hard to believe she is a Senior in Highschool now.

My little pastoral country road got 2 huge streetlights installed this week and it really rocked my world, no notice from the county and PGE told me they can put them wherever they want, I literally have flood lights shining directly into my windows and can read a book in the middle of the night from the intensity. It made me think back to those long drives home from the straw fields well past midnight on the country roads of the willamette valley and how I may have taken for granted the ability to look up and see the stars at night. It's sad to see the sprawl continue unabated, the valley isn't the same place as it was when I was a kid, that's for sure.  You probably haven't heard the last of this one as I'm gravely concerned about the effects of 24 hour lighting on the nursery production and am doing everything I can to get rid of them. 

From one of my favorite bands, the Arcade Fire:

                              "Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
Then we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness someone please cut the lights"


Friday, June 12, 2020

June..........oh June, you used to be a summer started.

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

I'm still here, although somewhat stunned, shocked, baffled, disheartened, enraged, and engaged in what it is going on in the country right now. I could fill pages and pages with discourse on the murder of American citizens by Police, unleashing the Army on it's own populace, the rise of a racist and fascist leadership in America, white supremicists patrolling the streets of my own home town with assault rifles and all the hell that is breaking loose coming with it. If you don't know where I stand at this point politically then please thumb back a few pages in this blog and figure it out. If any of my standpoints offend you then I have made sure to do my bit to speak my mind. I recognize how privileged I am to have been able to get an education, find gainful employment doing what I love and even start an independant small business without facing racism and discrimination that could have made all my dreams impossible. Take a minute, no take all the time you need to process your own privilege and then think about how you can be active in making sure other people get the same opportunities we did. If you are reading this there is a chance you have some disposable income to spend on flower bulbs, so that means you likely made the most of the opportunities that were given to you. Lets all start to think about how we can use our privilege to give opportunities to others who have been less fortunate then us. 

There are flowers in the garden, seems almost silly to be talking about them as our country descends into chaos but I had to get a June post in between attending protests and planning the overthrow of the Nazi regime currently seated in the White House. 

The calochortus look great in the rock garden

The rock garden is really starting to come into it's own at illahe

The marks on the ground are the addition to the rock garden at illahe, It's actually done now and we added a succulent bed, with a road punching through to the RV rental campground that we rent out to hiker/bikers/

Some years ago, Rick Lupp donated a bunch of plants to a Norman Singer Endowment funded Sensory Rock garden project at the Oregon School for the blind, I asked Rick if he could put together a collection of Alpines that the blind and visually impaired could "feel" there way through a mountain top. That garden was eventually bulldozed for development and the blind kids kicked out on the street by the State of Oregon. This is a rescued Dianthus from that project, and thank goodness for kind hearted people like Rick who would give to those who have less. For a while at least some kids who may never get a chance to botanize above the treeline got to experience that. Lets make opportunities for those that are less fortunate then us. 

A marguerite daisy in the rock garden at illahe. This was a chance seedling by a local grower who was sowing clear white marguerites but ended up with this lovely pink form. I propagated a bunch of them overwinter and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Maybe I really run a nursery business not to sell flower bulbs but to be able to have a forum where political dissent can be featured. The flowers just make it all possible. 

The weather is wet


Monday, May 18, 2020

The May Garden

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live 'em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give 'em.”
― Shel Silverstein

These days are just packed, despite having no resturants, movie theaters or bars to visit, the boat launches mostly closed so I can't go fishing. I somehow have managed to fill about every minute of every day with something to keep me busy. Lot's of work in the garden lately, as I'm doing an extra big vegetable garden planting this year. I had noticed over the past few years it had gotten progressively smaller and smaller until it seemed to balance out the needs of the two individuals that live at illahe most of the time. But this seems like a time to have a good supply of food on hand so the planting season has been a busy one. There are flowers as well, and I finally managed a quick walk around the garden and greenhouse with the camera on a lazy sunday afternoon that alternated between sun breaks and thunderstorns. 

The Calochortus season has begun

The Rock garden has really been a lovely respite through the "social distancing days"

Allium unifolium 'Wayne Roderick' and Cammassia cusickii in the fading light.

Calochortus luteus

Townsendia's have always delighted me, I grew some in pots plunged in a sand bed this year. I really wish I had more time to do the alpines I love justice. 

The last of the Fritillaria to bloom out in the raised beds, F. biflora grayana

The Calochortus are like paintings, lovely paintings done in natures hues.

Cypella, I've been doing more subtropicals on the patio during the summer and overwintering them in an unheated shop or the greenhouse, and this one is a fun long season bloomer. 

The iris collection is expanding every year. I think the Dutch call this 'Eye of Tiger'

I have sworn that I finally identified this Iris that was growing neglected in a corner of the yard at our first house on Tolman St. in Portland as Iris ensata 'great white heron'. But the foliage is more like a bearded then a Japanese. Whatever it is I have propagated thousands of them and put them everywhere for the lovely fragrant hankerchief sized flowers. 

Iris douglasiana one of our wonderful native species that grows so well with so little care.

Looks to be a wet week ahead, as soggy sneakers were to be had after a morning walk to check the greenhouse. Good for the plants though as I don't really like to start irrigating anything if I don't have to until well into June.



Monday, May 4, 2020

Tritonia flabellifolia

"Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals."
Mark Twain

Blind and Fear filled really seems to be the only way to describe them, Although I would have added the "worship of  dead radicals (and living idiots)" to make it more complete. 

I have had a few Tritonia's blooming in the greenhouse for a few weeks now, along with the other South African's like Albuca, Moraea, and Gladiolus. No Ferraria's this year which is a bummer as they are on of my favorites. 

Tritonia flabefollia is on right now, with it's long tubular flower, and wonderful veining on the petals in shades of dark plum on the light pink background it really does put on a show. To me the the flowers have an almost mauve appearance. It was late last night when I got around to taking pics so they are perhaps a bit underexposed. 

A dainty little thing really but quite charming in it's own right. 

From the South Cape of Africa, in an area known to be of winter rainfall. This species seems to take to copious amounts of water. Since the kiddo is homeschooled now because of the Covid shut down, I usually have her water in the greenhouse and while she is much more knowledgeable then the average person. She still tends to pour it on thick even if they don't need it. 

My specimen has had a bit of a time standing upright, I'm guessing it's one of those species that grows up through grass and gets help from its nieghbords.

The warm weather is on it's way! Forecast says it should be in the 80's by the weekend. Seems too hot for the start of May.


Friday, May 1, 2020

May Day, May Day, May Day!

"Yeah, this one's for the workers who toil night and day

By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead
In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines

We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with sliderule and stopwatch our pride they have robbed

We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die

The first ones in line for that pie in the sky
And we're always the last when the cream is shared out

For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

And when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
Though we've never owned one lousy handful of earth?
We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die

The first ones in line for that pie in the sky
And we're always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about
And all of these things the worker has done

From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can"
The Workers Song-By the DropKick Murphy's

"And all of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can" 
The Workers Song-By the Dropkick Murphy's

The Dropkick Murphy's

The lovely Camassia cusickii I started from seeds collected in the Wallowa Mountains about 16 years ago. Looks wonderful with the late blooming tulips.

What is May Day to you? A celebration of spring, dancing around the May Pole? The Celebration of Beltane? The somber recognition of a long and hard fight to be allowed to only work 8 hours a day? 

This ones for the workers! If ever there were a time in history when the lowest on the totem pole should be recognized for holding the whole thing up its right now. My heartfelt gratitude to the farm workers and laborers who are risking covid to get food to our table, many of them undocumented immigrants that the current administration views as trash not worthy of help in this time of need. Here is to the minimum wage worker at the grocery store risking infection so you can eat. Here is to the essential workers who kept us alive and healthy, and are making minimum wage and probably struggling to pay the rent themsleves. 

Happy International Workers Day.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Moraea polyanthos

"It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool, 
than to open it and remove all doubt" 
Mark Twain

If that quote ain't as much truth today as it were back in Twain's Day. What an insane world we are living in. With the pandemic rolling along, and the "leader" of the freeworld a babbling buffoon 
spouting drink the poison kool-aid, his followers.......oh, here we go again. Occasionally the political hijack of the rare flower bulb blog comes along and things just have to be said. 

Easter seems like an eternity ago. In the mean time i've been working on the vegetable garden. Kiddo and I built an aquaponics system in the greenhouse and she is running a comparative analysis of a few different expanded clay grow mediums for the production of Romaine Lettuce, Collard greens and Cucumbers. 

Moraea polyanthos, is an easy to grow South African irid family charmer. From an area of the South Cape with year around rainfall, and a prevalance toward clay soils. It seems to be pretty well adapted to Oregon's Willamette Valley. 

I've found the winter wet species from the warmer regions the most difficult. I seem to learn a new lesson about the
South Africans every season I grow them. 

It is nice to have flower filler between the Fritillaria's and the onslaught of the California later bloomers like Calochortus, brodaiae and the like. 

A lot of the South Africans are starting into bloom now. A few Alliums and the Camas species are all coming on nicely as well. 

The weather has been in the low 70's for highs and pretty warm nights as well.