February 11, 2014

This last snowstorm was the biggest since we moved here in 2002. Measuring different parts of the yard, we had 6-9 inches accumulated. There wasn't much in the way of 'gardening' to be done. I looked to my reserves to endure the cold. I told my restless self that it would soon pass. Today there is just a trace of snow, and the weather feels warm at 47.

I have just come in from the new addition to my garden. The much dreamed about greenhouse was built this past fall. We constructed it in about one month's time, which was incredibly fast. It is my new friend. It was designed around some used windows that I was able to buy last spring. They had come out of a school, all measured 5' tall and were either 3' wide or 4' wide. We found an arrangement that was symmetrical. My other find was a set of antique French doors, which we also built around. I will try to find some pavers for the floor this coming spring. In the meantime, I have a sand floor, and of course have it filled with plants. The greenhouse sits quite a distance from the house, and it doesn't have electricity yet. So, during our cold spell, it wasn't warm enough to spend time in it, but most days it is quite pleasant. The plants seem to think so too. I took my sugar snap pea plants out to the greenhouse today. I have a few more seeds sprouting in the house, which will soon be in the brighter environment of the greenhouse too.

This winter I have been on a mission to find some fresh garden inspiration. 'The Home Gardener' came to be 25 years ago. As I choose display ideas for my retail venue at Kathy Kvenbo's wonderful shop 'Redeemed and Restored' in downtown Silverton, and try to come up with original planter combinations and design layouts; I feel like there has been a turning point in my creativity. I've been reading through gardening essays and memoirs, some from many years past. And I've been going through old magazines and books, looking for something to jog my interest. As I do this, I jot down notes and do some internal brain-storming. It is a process. But a necessary one for me, as gardening is an art form and creativity takes work. Even a 'traditional' garden design must have some unexpected surprises. And nature is full of them. It's my job to be a bit of an explorer, and give nature new venues.

On a side note, my creativity took a new form this winter as I started painting...like as in 'art'. I hadn't painted since grade school, so this was definitely a new hobby for me. With the encouragement of my younger son who helped me in a big way, I have done 3 pictures (see 2 of them below). The first one sold, which gave us a dose of confidence to keep going.

July 23 2012

Midsummer finds me particularly busy with nursery projects and working in my garden. The blueberries are wonderful this year. I pick at least a pound a day off of our two bushes, with many more waiting to be picked. I highly recommend blueberries for the landscape. The fall color is beautiful also.

Transitions at Mayberry's are underway, as Kathy, the new owner takes over and the store has a new name and feel to it. It is now 'Redeemed and Restored Antiques and Decor'. Kathy is an artist and it shows in her merchandise and display. Her specialty is restoring furniture and other smaller decor items. An old dresser can become a work of art. Visit the Facebook site to see examples of her work.

I still have my garden space in the courtyard, and my indoor booth as well. My ever expanding botanical inventory currently includes a beautiful selection of heather [one of my favorite plants, deer proof too], many unusual planters, and a custom built gate inset with vintage bakeware. See a photo of it in the gallery. Also several pieces of 'wall art' including a charming original primitive portrait of a young girl with a flower basket. Also metal decor items, bird feeders, etc. I take a few new plants or other decor items to the shop daily. Please visit if you are in Silverton. And visit the other local shops as well. There is much to see and do here. Enjoy your summer.

September 19, 2011

There was a definite shift in the seasons the last few days. After the warmest weather of the year, we quickly changed to some cooler, cloudy weather. It's raining a bit this morning. But one of the most noticeable changes is that the deer are wandering about in the daytime, seemingly without a care to being seen. They've been grazing across the road the last 2 days, all day long. And I keep seeing cats darting across the roads in town. Something is up. There is clearly a different feel in the air. I guess Autumn has arrived, even though it's not quite the Equinox yet.

Our garden structure served us well this summer. The plants are finishing up their growing for the most part, but I added a few fall plants, more lettuce and sugar snap peas. We enjoyed lots of fresh vegetables, rhubarb, and some strawberries. Next year should be better.

We finally came up with an idea to visually block off the underside of the deck, which was visible from our patio. As I enjoy visiting the Mt. Angel Habitat for Humanity store searching for materials to 'repurpose', I made a good discovery about a month ago. Evidently an old bakery had gone out of business and donated stacks of old baking sheets of various sizes, and shapes. These were steel bakeware with a lovely patina from years of baking. We took 4 sheets of bakeware that had an oblong pattern stamped into them, and attached them to the framework. Then filled in the small gap at the base with some rubble rock. Great texture, and an architectural feel that is very interesting. I'll add photos to the gallery as it is hard to describe. Other bakeware pieces are being used to create some planted wall art with sedums and other creepers. The sedums continue to be one of my favorite plants for using in containers and beds. There are some great fall colors right now. Sedum spurium 'Fulda Glow' is a beautiful red leaved creeper that is a great compliment to other fall colors. Also making a great fall display is Ornamental Millet, an annual, but well worth the investment, as it looks like a deep brownish-red corn plant.

It's a great time to shop for ornamental grasses, as this is their time to be showy.

Enjoy your fall garden!

April 12, 2011

Finally, a day of sunshine. This has been such a wet, cold Spring, it's been challenging to find inspiration to go outside. Despite that, I have our vegetable plot almost prepped. We're trying something different this year. My husband, who is willing to try out my ideas, is going to build a framework around the garden, out of copper pipe. Deer netting will be strung around that, improvising as needed for access. It is my hope that it will look architecturally interesting, as well as provide a fortification against the deer family that grazes through our property daily. I intend to finish up my prep today [weeding], followed by some tilling in of that alpaca manure. And maybe start on the structure this evening. I have some seedlings that I'll put in soon, probably the lettuce and onions first, then some squash I started from seed, which is growing quite nicely in the greenhouse.

Aside from the vegetable garden, I've been working [between showers] on the other borders. And formulating some ideas for Spring additions.

My nursery venues have received new plants every week. I found a wonderful source of colorful Sempervivums [Hens and Chicks], which are so much fun to use in planters, and small scale plantings. Also, I've added early blooming rock garden plants, like Arabis and Erodium. I visited a native plant nursery and bought some Trillium, Deer Fern, Vine Maple, and a handful of other charming woodsy plants. And I've created some interesting planters featuring Nasturtiums, which are on the verge of budding out.

The next few weeks provide some of the most beautiful color of the year. Enjoy.

Feb 9, 2011

We've enjoyed many sunny, though chilly, days this winter. I've begun the annual 'nursery sorting' process, of inspecting and trimming up my entire nursery stock. My goal is always to have it completed by March 1st.

I've also added an additional retail location for my plants and garden related accessories. I've been selling plants on a cart at The Red Bench, here in Silverton for the past 6 years. It's a small assortment of seasonal plants that provides local gardeners with year-round access to feed their gardening habits, as most nurseries in town close down for the winter months. I try to keep something in bloom on the cart every day. Across the street from The Red Bench is Mayberry's, another store with vintage and reproduction home decor; a charming store with several rooms of display. Both stores are fantastic for browsing. Mayberry's has a wonderful outdoor courtyard, which opens out to the sidewalk on Water St. Behind the wrought iron gates, you'll find a small display of my wares. This location allows me to offer items besides plants, as I search out vintage pottery, and interesting accessory pieces to complement a botanical theme. You'll also find an interesting plant inventory with reasonable prices.

I made a trip to my favorite heather nursery in Canby yesterday and brought back a large assortment of winter blooming Ericas, both in 4" and 1 gallon sizes. Also Pieris 'Valley Valentine', which is just starting to bloom with it's dark pink flowers. Heather is one of my favorite plants, deer resistant, easy to care for, and with some choice given to the collection, there is always a variety in bloom.

Enjoy the prelude to Spring.


The New Year is here. As I begin my 23rd year as 'The Home Gardener', there have been big changes in my daily life as I say 'goodbye' to what has been my day job for the last 2 years and resume full time effort once again to my garden designing.

Today we picked up a load of Alpaca manure for the vegetable garden and to add to some of my planting beds. I am most eager to get outside, but it is simply too cold today, so my work is going on in my head today.

I've noticed the Hellebores starting to bloom; also my Winter Jasmine and Viburnum bodnantense. The birds are quite active today, and I hung up a feeder for them. If you don't have the motivation to actually get out a shovel, consider creating a winter pot for your entry or patio. Red Twig Dogwood is showy now, and other deciduous shrubs may have branches with hints of spring buds, which can be beautiful. Cyclamen foliage has great interest. Bulbs will be up soon.

On a personal note, this will be my first New Year's without my father who was my biggest inspiration, not only in garden design, but in all matters of growing up. My last project was a memorial garden to him, located at the Silverton Senior Center. I will carry on with him in my heart, as I try to live up to his artistic talent. He loved composting, and he would have been thrilled to see our trailer loaded with the wondrous ingredients for a fertile soil. The cold would not have prevented him from putting on his red plaid wool jacket, and tweed cap, and heading out to create miracles. As gardeners we look to the future as we collaborate with nature, and have faith that the results will be wondrous.