I live and garden in Portland Oregon – what I consider gardening heaven. Over the years, a totally sunny perennial garden has evolved into a mixture of shrubs and perennials under a canopy of shade with a few sunny spots here and there.

As a young gardener, more plants and more land were my focus. As a senior gardener, I want less of both and have become more careful about what I plant. I now select plants that require less water and less maintenance. I no longer agonize over removing an unruly plant. The transition allows me to continue my passion for digging and planting, but in a space that is manageable for a woman in her mid-sixties.

Time passes quickly, memories fade away. Creating this journal will help me re-experience those magical moments in the garden. I hope others enjoy them with me.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Late blooming Clematis 'Etoile Violet' 
and Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake'

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'

My unnamed daylily hybrid

My unnamed daylily hybrid

My unnamed daylily hybrid

On the right my unnamed hybrid 
on the left 'Tylwyth Teg'

My unnamed daylily hybrid

My unnamed daylily hybrid

My unnamed daylily hybrid

'Mask of Time' & my unnamed daylily hybrid with 
Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' in background

My unnamed daylily hybrid

My unnamed daylily hybrid

Daylily 'Flasher'

Daylily 'Sailing to Byzantium'

Daylily 'Bradley Bernard' and Hydrangea macrophylla

Daylily 'Mokan Butterfly'

Daylily 'Piano Man' 

Hydrangea 'Snow Flake'

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Daylilies have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. My mother brought starts for her garden whenever we moved from one place to another and when I headed out into the world on my own, I did the same thing. As my youthful enthusiasm increased, I added many more varieties and when I reached middle age, I had accumulated quite a collection. Now I am doing just the opposite - reducing those numbers.  

The tall tawny orange daylily commonly referred to as the "ditch lily" and the short very early and very fragrant "lemon lily" were always part of my mother's gardens as we moved to new homes during my childhood. Daylilies aren't really lilies, but their familiar name is easy to understand from the shape of their blossoms and the fact that each flower only lasts for one day. Their botanical name is Hemerocallis and they are not a bulb, but an herbaceous perennial plant. The familiar tawny orange one is H. fulva and the lemon scented yellow one is H. flava. Both are species plants that probably originated in China. Some of the beautiful modern hybrids that we see in gardens today are their descendants.

Species plants were banished from my garden years ago because they tend to wander around sending underground stems out quite a distance from the main plant. They will continue to create cloned babies on these stems until something or someone stops them from spreading. That means that without a significant amount of intervention by me, other plants in the garden would be invaded and over time, completely choked out by the species daylilies. 

Modern hybrids have been bred to behave more politely and remain in clumps that slowly increase at their perimeter over time. Flower colors, shapes, and sizes have been completely transformed over many years and today's cultivated forms are spectacular in the garden. At the height of my daylily addiction, I grew well over a thousand different named varieties. That number has been significantly reduced over the past few years as I make choices about what I can and cannot adequately care for as I age. I don't feel bad about letting go of those original poorly behaved plants - I still have daylilies - about three hundred of them now. Many of these plants are my own creations and have great sentimental value. But as time marches on, I suspect that I will have more choices to make.

Sometimes, it is difficult to decide which will go and which will stay. I've come to know them all so intimately. When the hot summer weather finally arrives, I greet each one as its first flower opens, lovingly visit each day to remove the spent blossoms, and say a reluctant goodbye as the final flower of the season fades at day's end. I have discovered that the decision is best made carefully and methodically by evaluating the entire plant's performance over the course of the bloom season. A spectacular flower won't add much to the garden if there are only a few blooms on the plant. When there is a beautiful one right there in front of me, I don't pay much attention to what the foliage looks like or how many more buds are waiting to open over the weeks ahead. Visiting every day is the only way to find negative traits behind the pretty faces. I note when the first flower on a plant opens and when the last one finishes. The plants with the longest periods of bloom and the nicest garden presence are the winners. Once the bloom season is over, if the foliage will bounce back and provide a pleasant grassy green backdrop for other late blooming plants in the garden, that's another plus. I mark the plants that will be removed and dig them when my memory of their pretty faces has faded a bit. It is easier that way.

As the total number of my daylily plants decreases, the percentage of worthy plants increases.  I am removing some very good garden plants these days and feel fortunate that there are many young and enthusiastic gardeners ready to give them another chance in another garden. Seeing the delight on the faces of a new generation of daylily enthusiasts, I am transported for a brief period back in time - to when I was the recipient with the young garden. I am energized by the enthusiasm and excitement they project as they share plans for adding these daylilies to their new gardens. I hand them a daylily. I am given so much more in return. My heart is warm, my spirit happy, my soul content. What a gift!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The rains have begun and I am happy to have Mother Nature watering the garden again. I've put away my hoses, leaves are fluttering to the ground, and visions of Hellebores begin to dance in my head. But, it is not quite time to button everything up. There are still a few late season garden chores to take care of before  gardening season is over for this year. My number one priority will be to face my garden's nemeses. They are waiting ........... taunting me .......... daring me to venture out and do battle.

I hear them - chomping, rasping, chewing - making salad out of what used to be a lush, crisp garden full of beautiful hosta leaves. If they would stick to munching on dead and dying plant material, we could live in harmony, and I would even welcome the help cleaning up around the garden. Instead, I focus on eliminating as many as I can. Sometimes, I find them boldly basking in the morning mist on the surface of a leaf while a gang of young ones is munching underneath. I feel a twinge of glee when I locate large gatherings. At night, when it seems safe to travel under the cover of the damp darkness, loners traverse across paths and patios. I feel great satisfaction when my flashlight blows their cover.

Hostas are spreading their long, tired petioles wide, allowing their shredded, dying leaves to bend and touch the ground. The process reveals a center filled with tight, pointed "noses" that hold and protect next spring's tender new growth.  Slugs are searching for nearby cozy hide-aways to lay their eggs - maybe under a stick or a rock or just below the surface of a clod of soil. I must admit, they seem to be making good parenting choices, laying eggs in a clutch in close proximity to a food source that will also provide cover and protection when the young hatch.  The voracious little dots of slime will climb down into the plants' crowns and attack from within. Babies will be joined by some evasive stragglers who've survived many battles and some travelers from beyond my garden's borders. I'm prepared. Shed shelves are stocked with bait, scissor blades are honed to perfection, flashlight batteries abound. Cool, moist conditions combined with the ever diminishing cover of foliage brings them out like a crowd headed for a day of sunbathing on the beach. They seem oblivious to the reality that the garden landscape is about to undergo a major change - one that will provide an advantage for me in my quest toward slug elimination.

One dark night, very soon, nature will take its course and sad looking remnants of my beloved hostas will fall victim to the first bite of frost leaving nothing but big piles of mush dotting the landscape.  Like throngs of shift workers cramming in the last elevator going down at the end of a stressful workday, slugs will crowd together in the folds of the slimy layers of detritus for protection. When that becomes their only source of nourishment, they will munch on it, too. What seems like the perfect hiding place for them brings me hope for a modicum of satisfaction in my many faceted approach to slug control. I'll carefully pick up the piles and drop them into the yard debris container where slugs and slime will be hauled off to a giant, well heated compost heap. I almost want to stand out along the street waving goodbye as the container is picked up and dumped into the truck, but there is no time for celebrating. Diligence is key to winning the war and now is no time to ease up in the battle.

I am ready to continue the battle right up to the very moment winter's blast of cold air arrives. Then there will be little left above ground for slugs to dine on and they will slip deep into the soil and find a place to hunker down. There will be no foliage munching going on once Mother Nature ushers in wintry weather, freezes the earth's crust, and seals them in. Only then will I curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea, glance out the window at the cold, frozen ground and smile from time to time. 

It has been suggested by some that I am a bit obsessive about slug control. I'll ponder that statement this winter as I strategize a battle plan from my cozy home and daydream of the perfect garden devoid of its nemeses.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


In mid July, this bird visited the garden. I first noticed it hopping around on the patio among the pots of hostas and thought that it might be injured. But it did fly up into a tree when I walked closer to get a better view. Every day for about two weeks, I would see it in the evening in the same place, just hopping around and seeming to be unafraid of my presence as long as I didn't get within about three feet. And then - one day - it was gone.

I've looked on the internet and in every book I have and cannot find any picture or description matching the color and markings on the pretty little bird. Can anyone out there tell me what it is?


One evening in late July, I was sitting on the patio visiting with family when someone noticed an unusually large number of bees above the main pathway in the garden. We got a little closer to see what was happening, and sure enough, it was a swarm of honey bees looking for a place to spend the night. 

I've heard and read about bee swarms, but this was the first opportunity I'd ever had to experience it. They formed a column between two trees and their combined buzzing created enough sound that we had to raise our voices to hear one another. I was so mesmerized by the sight that I almost forgot to take pictures. They settled on the outer part of a branch on a Japanese maple about fifteen feet off of the ground forming a large ball in the shape of a football, quieted down, and then settled in for the night. 

Early the next morning, I checked the internet for someone to collect them since they obviously were from a healthy hive that grew too large and split to form a new colony. They would soon fly off again looking for a new home and if a satisfactory one could not be found, would perish - especially if they were to invade someone's home.

I was able to contact someone who came and collected them and will use them in an educational program in local schools. They will have a nice, clean and safe new home. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Answers Found In The Garden

Discovering The Illusion of Time Lost

“The older you get, the faster time passes”. As a child, the words made no sense to me. What did grownups mean by that? The space between birthdays seemed like forever and adulthood was an eternity away. On sunny spring days, I longed to be outside feeling the warmth of the sun, not spending beautiful spring days sitting at a school desk, my eyes and attention quickly switching back and forth from window to wall clock. Five minutes was such a long time to wait for the final bell so I could race home to play in the garden. There were flower petals to gather for decorating mud cakes and heads of fluffy dandelion seeds to disperse with a huff and a puff. The entire world was filled with the sweet, fresh smell of spring.

I’m not sure at what age I succumbed to that grownup phrase. Life happened and years went by.  With a busy career, two children, and a household to manage, I found myself looking at the clock and begging for more time. I realized there were not enough hours in a day to accomplish everything on my list. Even my passion for gardening had limitations as I raced the clock – bending over at the waist, nose to the ground.  Breaks were rare as I tried not to waste any precious gardening time. When I did stand up and pause for a moment, my eyes focused on a weed to pull, a branch to prune, a plant to move, a slug to slay or something else needing immediate attention. Soon I found myself back in the “gardener’s position” trying to make the most of daylight hours. Time definitely seemed to be moving faster with each passing year. Many years and several gardens later, I wonder how I found time to accomplish all I did in my younger years.

I've now grown old enough to be counted among the elderly. Except for a few persistent aches and pains, I do not feel much different than I did as a young woman. But, I do realize that my outlook on life has undergone a major transformation. Is this the affect of time? Aging brings with it a new appreciation for life, a desire to move at a slower pace and an ability to let go of the mundane. It also brings a new perspective to things always taken for granted and a longing for answers. There is no better place to contemplate important matters than in my garden surrounded by nature’s beauty.

My latest quandary is whether or not time passes by more quickly as we age or whether time is even an entity. There are many sayings using time to explain away the unexplainable, but how realistic are they? We speak of saving it, running out of it, wasting it, using it wisely – or foolishly, losing it, and finding it. “Time will tell”, so it must not be able to keep a secret.  If it truly can heal all wounds, why do we have doctors and hospitals?  Time sounds like a tangible object, but it is not. I’ve never seen it, touched it or heard it.  Time cannot grow or shrink because it is only a measurement of an abstract concept. I'm beginning to feel a sense of understanding. I think my own unrealistic expectations and my reliance on clocks combine to form an illusion of time moving faster. I don’t look at the clock as often as when I sat waiting for the school bell to ring. The difference is not in the measurement of time, but in my own slower pace. I no longer rush around trying to beat the clock. Activities that consumed ten minutes on the clock when I was younger might now take an hour. I don’t look at the clock very often, so my mind perceives that ten minutes have passed, but the clock indicates it has been six times that amount. There seems to be a communication problem between my brain and the clock.

I don’t plan on ever picking up the pace again. I am content to meander along the garden paths, pausing to enjoy the beauty around me, feeling relaxed, creating pleasant new memories. Gone are the days when I watched the clock with anxious anticipation and gone is the time when I could not sit still because I saw something that needed to be pulled, pruned, supported, picked up, or tied back. I'm now going to savor the moment, no longer concerned with the illusion of time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Power of Plants

Even though they would far rather have the warmth of the sun to help their petals open up, the floral residents of the garden have let it be known this week that they will no longer be deterred by our cold, damp, gray spring weather. Today was their day to take a stand, spread their leaves, open their petals, and take back the garden – no more waiting for the clouds to give in to the sun. They have shown me the way - encouraging me to join in as they scoff at Mother Nature’s attempt to dampen our spirits. 

Trillium ovatum wasted no time ushering in spring.