A golf course is dependent upon a healthy, vital and uniform turf. It directly influences a courses playability. Even if you don’t play golf, courses evoke a calm with their pastoral, expansive lawns and views. This is a view down the 14th fairway at Eastmorland Golf Course. The perimeter rough areas receive no water and minimal maintenance. To the left is a swath of Blackberry. Other areas are over grown with weeds with fence lines draped with the invasive Clematis.
[A reader asked me to do an edited down version of this article to make it more accessible for those less interested, but in need of its message. This is a stab at that.]
The suburban American lawn has been identified with the fall of nature by many. Today, a good and green American, certainly us Portlanders are included in this, rejects the perfect monoculture of the lawn. Nature:good; lawn:bad. Our lawns demand water that could be better used growing food and assuring healthy fish populations, our lawnmowers spew air pollutants damaging to us all, our fertilizers leach away and move off site contaminating ground water and stream flow while our pesticides used on them, more directly attack nature all around us, all of this for no justifiable benefit, only fulfilling some narrowly defined human desire for an outdated aesthetic. Detractors of the lawn argue against the waste of resources they require and they are difficult to justify if their purpose is restricted to providing a neat and ‘defensible’ perimeter for each house, the appetites of golfers and the youthful fantasies for power and dominance of sport, all increasing the consumption of land ‘stollen’ from nature to sate our hunger for it. But this view of the lawn does it a disservice. Continue reading →
A golf course is dependent upon a healthy, vital and uniform turf. It directly influences a course’s playability. Even if you don’t play golf, the landscape can evoke a calm with their pastoral, expansive lawns and views. This is a view down the 14th fairway at Eastmorland Golf Course. Imagine this drought stressed and brown overwhelmed with weeds…both the play and the ‘feeling’ the landscape evokes will be badly degraded. The perimeter rough areas receive no water and minimal maintenance. To the left is a swath of Blackberry. Other areas are over grown with weeds with fence lines draped with the invasive Clematis. Priorities are one-sided.
[The world is like a ball of string…pull on the loose end available to you, and you pull on the entire thing!]
Portlanders, Oregonians, often promote ourselves as being ‘green’ leaders. Cleaning up the Willamette, the Bottle Bill, preserving our beaches as public property, state mandated land use planning, bicycling, recycling, mass transit…and it’s an apt description…to a point. Combine this with our relatively low population, our huge, diverse and beautiful natural landscape, our progressive ‘weirdness’, and we are firmly on the national map, the envy of many places and a beguiling destination for those who find themselves looking for the laid back, ‘cool’ place, to be. Our environmental righteousness is intoxicating and clouds our own vision of where we are and the work to be done. A steady stream of new arrivals brings with them their own visions of Portland, based more on their own desires and marketing efforts than the on the ground reality, skewed by tinted glasses of Portlandia’s popularity, our own boosterism and the ‘boom’, probably transitory, commitment that big money has showered upon us. Our little town is not what it once was, if it ever was. But this is the nature of any place, it is many things, often contradictory, when looked at by its many very different inhabitants with their unique history’s and perspectives. Continue reading →
Sunday night our son and his girl friend came over for dinner on the deck. The week long heat wave had passed and it was another very comfortable evening outside. They had been at the beach attending a wedding the day before, Julie’s birthday. When they first arrived, because I can be a bit obsessive, I noticed that the still tightly ‘rolled’ petals in the extending flowers on my Puya mirabilis were ever so slightly beginning to curl back and open. It was one of those times I wished I had a camera to set up to do a time lapse series, but I don’t. Regardless, within 2 hours the five lowest flowers were completely opened with stamen and styles fully extended beyond the corolla. Continue reading →
Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ and Delosperma cooper both ‘succulents’ that are well adapted to heat and though they do best with an occasional summer soaking.
Zauschneria (Epilobium) ‘Select Mattole’. All of these ‘California Fuchsia’ only come into bloom with the heat of summer and are not only tolerant of drought, but abhor regular summer irrigation.
Echium wildprettii. Heat is also not an issue for Echium spp. All of these are thickly haired their epidermis covered with trichomes. These same hairs likely lead to its winter moisture/rot problem as it slows the foliage’s drying.
Agave montana. This one has been very durable for me over the last 18? years. Like all Agave it wants winter/dry conditions, tough here, with occasional summer wet, which I provide with drip tubing.
Arctostaphylos auriculata ‘Knobcone Point’. After planting this out last summer and giving it supplemental water to establish, I was thinking that I was home free. It wintered well, or seemingly so, and then we began our normal summer dry season…. I watered it a little bit, left town for a week and came back to it drought stressed, remember the 102º day in June? I watered it more, not wanting to overdo it, was out of town again and, you’re looking at the result. This was planted from a larger, 3 gal pot, could this have been a factor? I have never plant larger plants like this in unamended heavy soil.
Dioon spinulosum, a Cycad from Oaxaca, Yucatan and Vera Cruz and is the largest growing in America. This plant is very heat tolerant and appreciates the occasional summer shower. Its ‘hard’ leaves help it conserve water. For a Cycad it is tolerant high humidity, but prefers some protection from the hottest afternoon sun. My plant, last year spent the summer protected from sun and the consequent softer growth then burned in the intense sun earlier this summer. This new growth, in center, will presumably be tougher as it is in nearly full sun.
This is typical of my Willamette Valley Latourelle Loam soil, even under mulch, drying and cracking wide open.
It’s Sunday, July 30, and 87º outside, our forecasted high. We’re at the front end of a forecast that is calling for two days over our record highest temperature ever recorded in Portland. I’m looking at it now, Monday, the 31st calls for 92º, August 1 for 99º, 108º, a record, on the 2nd, 110º, another record, on the 3rd, before ‘cooling’ to 105º on the 4th and 95º the next day. Our average high for this time of year is 82º. The current record is 107º set on Aug. 8, ’81 and matched on Aug. 10, ’81. That may not seem that high to people in the SW, but it is here and here is what matters. Temperature is a local phenomenon. It’s okay if we whine about it. It’s hotter than we’re used to. Hotter than what the local native flora and fauna are ‘used’ to. For native species it’s not just about preferences, though we may use that word when we talk about their requirements and limits. Continue reading →
I don’t know what this Bromeliad is, but it is statuesque, the inflorescence reaching well above my head. I took this shot next to Burl’s ‘chateau’ at Rare Plant Research just south of Oregon City. He moves a lot of tropical exotics in and out of his greenhouses every year. This is what a lot of people think of when they picture a Bromeliad.
I awaken and come down stairs at about 7:00 am…it’s a warm 66ºF outside. I was up late last night, until after 12:00 am, keeping the air flowing through downstairs in an attempt to cool the house. This is on the warm side for us here in the summer. On rare occasions our lows can drop to as high as the low 70’s…such temps tend to occur more frequently in more recent years when ‘heat lows’ settle in around us and we suffer through ‘heat alerts’, whenthe air stagnates and turns ‘brown’ and we can become caught in one of those cycles of days where our highs remain in the upper 90’s and low 100’s. Our all time record high of 107º, in August of 1981, was during such a cycle that I had the privilege of experiencing as I was here in Portland visiting a friend and attending my brother’s wedding. On the 6th it hit 99º. The high rose the next day to 102º, 105º on the 8th, 104º the next, 107º on the 10th, the humidity at 15%, then cooling to 97º on the 11th. I remember taking turns trying to cool ourselves, without any air conditioning, submerging in a tub of tepid bath water, Continue reading →
This is a street tree planted elsewhere in inner SE. It may be ‘Autumn Brilliance’ or another variety, but there are several of them planted here, all with heavy Rust and twisted branching.
This is mine with the branches heading every which way causing a flattened oval form.
But, the flowers are worth it!
Sometimes we are drawn to plants by memories and sentiment, plants we have early associations with. They can regularly appear in our palette, our quiver of plants, that we might choose from. We all have our preferences, our biases. Sometimes the mismatch might only be aesthetic other times it can be a problem related to our site conditions. When we include these plants they may struggle, yet persist in the garden, maybe demonstrating to others their ‘ill-fit’. When a plant is a poor fit, its inclusion can become a glaring error to others that we are blinded to. Diseases can present such a problem, diseases that can be problematic in our area, or that our site is simply unfortunate enough to suffer from. ‘Rust’ diseases, Gymnosporangium spp., can be an issue here. In the case of Serviceberries, it can be disfiguring and debilitating. Several of these species attack Rose Family members, that include the Serviceberries, which seem particularly susceptible, though it doesn’t kill them. Diseased, stunted and suffering, unwilling to just die and put us both out of our misery, these plants continue. It is akin to being drawn to the wrong lover or life partner…it’s not going to work out and we simply can’t seem to help ourselves. Continue reading →
[Please note that I wrote this in 2004 as an article in the HPSO Bulletin. A recent FB posting has prompted me to revive/revise and repost it here.]
The emerging shoots are clothed in very colorful sheaths.
Phyllostachys spp. all have two branches at their nodes. I prune these off between 4′- 6′ up on the culm to better show them off, at the same time that I thin out the spindly and oldest, least colorful canes. This is done after the fragile new shoots have been hardened with silica and lignin.
These three are of Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’, a ‘reverse’ form of the Yellow Crook Stem Bamboo…reversed because in this form the sulcus, the groove, is green while the rest of the internode is yellow.
My first significant relationship with a bamboo,15 years ago, (this was the summer of ’89 when we moved into our current home) was a fatal one. Phyllostachys aurea, Golden Bamboo. I had heard all of the usual stories, yards lost, asphalt heaved and cracked, good neighbors gone bad. Our new house confronted me with several problems, that I knew would get worse if I put them off. It was another example of a homeowner picking the wrong plant for a screen, or failing to take the precautions to contain it. With my limited knowledge and biases I had no doubt about what I needed to do. I got my shovel and chased every rhizome down. I was thorough and a good hunter, none survived. Continue reading →