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Posts Tagged ‘Ciscoe Morris’

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend

The Saturday night party was far from the end of the study weekend.  No, indeed.  We began Sunday morning with early rising to get back to the plant sale when it opened at 8 AM.

early rising heading out the ground level hotel door to the plant sales room (usually a parking garage)

early rising heading out the ground level hotel door to the plant sales room (usually a parking garage)

In my hand, I clutched a pain au chocolat, my favourite pastry (no one has it here at the beach!).

one of the perks of civilization, from Tully's coffee in the hotel lobby

one of the perks of civilization, from Tully’s coffee in the hotel lobby

Fueled on pastry and coffee and considerably sleep deprived, I re-entered the plant sales room and gravitated to the Gossler Farms table, where I bought…oh yes, I DID…the $140 Davidia involucrata ‘Lady Sunshine’.  (You all thought I had more willpower, didn’t you?)  Roger Gossler knew I would be back; he said he had only brought two to the sale, and that it is rare, and was discovered by a small grower in Oregon, and that it will be wind tolerant.  Someone had bought the other one, but the second Lady Sunshine waited for me.

plant room

plant room

Of course, I would have liked one each of everything.

Of course, I would have liked one each of everything.

Do I know where I am going to put the tree?  Not really, nor do I know where I will put all my other acquisitions.    Billy Goodnick would be appalled but probably not shocked.

I picked up all my plants (two flats of them) from the holding area and schlepped them to our van, so that we would be ready immediately after the morning’s lectures to begin touring. By the time we returned from the day’s tours, the plant sale vendors would all be gone and the big room would be a parking garage again.

By the way, Wilburton Pottery was one of the vendors; I love their tiles and have some at home that I acquired years ago at the NW Flower and Garden Show.  I did not look over their wares at the study weekend as I was completely plant focused, but check out their website to see some beautiful things.

a Northwest Perennial Alliance volunteer on guard at the plant holding area...Talk about "Pet's Corner!"

a Northwest Perennial Alliance volunteer on guard at the plant holding area…Talk about “Pet’s Corner!”

In the lecture room, we made one last walk around of the display of cut flowers and foliage.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo showing how all plants were labelled.

Allan’s photo showing how all plants were labeled.

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CPNs (Certified Plant Nuts)

CPNs (Certified Plant Nuts)

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Note how fresh the plants look on the fourth day after they were picked.  Clearly, volunteers have been fussing with them and refreshing the water and fluffing them up.

more CPNs

more CPNs

Eryngiums!

Eryngium!


 

Northwest Perennial Alliance Hardy Plant weekend lectures, Sunday morning

Northwest Perennial Alliance Hardy Plant weekend lectures, Sunday morning

First lecture:

Ciscoe and Mary

the lecture title

the lecture title

Mary began the lecture and spoke on her own for twenty entertaining minutes.  She said this photo proves that in younger days, she had a thing for hippie men:

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This garden division is about like me and Allan... if you count the lawn as part of his 20%.

This garden division is about like me and Allan… if you count the lawn as part of his 20%.

Mary said Ciscoe’s cooking runs to Top Ramen and Brussel Sprouts Surprise.  (I’m lucky Allan does the cooking or we would live on packaged salad and couscous.)

I enjoyed every moment of their lecture but was laughing so hard that the only notes I took were:

“windows in garage”  [Ciscoe has them, and has tender plants by them in winter; I want some more windows in our garage now]

“Choisya: cut down low in spring”

“Epimedium  ‘Spine Tingler’!” [must be a great one!]

“6000 square foot lot” [their size]

Seeing Ciscoe brought back happy memories of the day he visited our garden and transformed a mundane day into a thrilling one.

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Second Lecture (after a break for coffee and life-sustaining pastries):

Sue and Kelly

Their lecture title:  24/7/365 and Still Smiling

My interest in this lecture goes way back to when Kelly, with his previous partner, had a tiny storefront in Ballard (a north Seattle neighbourhood near where I lived) called Reflective Gardens.  Must have been about 1988 when I walked by and just about fell over at the sight of a passionflower blooming all up a brick wall.  I was smitten with their tiny landscaped parking strip garden and went home and dug up my parking strip sod and tried to recreate their design; I had even sketched out their placement of rocks.

Eventually Reflective Gardens moved from Ballard to one of the islands near Seattle.

Years later Kelly met Sue on a plant collecting trip, and, well, love is a burning thing, and makes a fiery ring…they fell into that ring of fire and after what they referred to as a “mess”, they ended up together at Far Reaches Farm.  Their nursery (from which I will be mail ordering Roscoeas!) features plants that they have collected (responsibly) from around the world.

My notes:

Cercium…a thistle like thing…must have, doesn’t spread

Castle Howard (where Brideshead Revisited was filmed) is the Yorkshire arboretum?!?

Meianthemum henryi!!

Roscoea…tough as nails…I must start collecting them!!

Meianthemum white and pink, must have!! So big! 6′ high

gold form of Polygantum

Polyganatum…phillinianum?? 9′ with flowers, little hooks to hang onto other plants it climb on…must have!

and so on…some in scrawls I can barely read.  Fortunately, they provided a slide list.

This is the sort of lecture we crave at a Hardy Plant weekend, all about plants.

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Third lecture:

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lecture title: The Invisible Garden

my notes:

Two great English gardeners went for a walk in Dungeness…Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto…and they came upon a garden that blended into the landscape of sea and shale…

I knew before he said so that they must have found Derek Jarman’s garden, which is also the name of one of my favourite gardening books of all time.  I used to lend it to every new client that wanted a beach side garden (back in the days when I took on new clients).

Derek+Jarmans+Garden

Derek had heard of Beth Chatto and had never heard of Great Dixter (Christopher Lloyd’s garden)!

I thought, Beth wrote the great book The Gravel Garden, and that may be why he had heard of her.

Later, having gone there, Jarman said he loved Dixter because it was “shaggy”.

His idea of a nightmare was Hidcote, which he called Hideouscote.  Hidcote is often described as a series of  “outdoor rooms”.  Frank Ronan said,  You go outside to get away from the rooms not to be in another room with no roof.

He said Christo’s exotic garden encroached and enveloped you (his words accompanied by glorious slides).

He said the only place where nature is a good gardener is in the high Alps.

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He said England is poor in native flora and that one could learn all of it in two days of concentrated study.  That is, he thinks, why the cult of gardening took off in the UK.

He said that Ireland has no moles, no rabbits, and a high water table.

The front of his house has a boring garden in order to say “Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.”

He says clipped evergreens are “the ultimate statement of control; ‘This did not happen by itself'” and he does not have a fondness for huge yew topiaries.  He finds topiary static, admires it but doesn’t want that kind of static stability in his own garden.

He mentioned a novel about a man who lived in a bleak place and kept sneaking out to plant things elsewhere.  (I wonder if that is one of his own novels; I intend to read them.)

He says “If the house is ugly, hide it.”

“Be relaxed, don’t try to blow your own trumpet.  Don’t say look at me, say look at the plant.

He notes there is a lot of mulching going on in the Pacific Northwest gardens that he toured.  “If you mulch, you can’t get the self-sowers.  I’d rather be weeding things out than putting them in any day.”

“Nature can decorate things better than you can,” he said of a tree festooned with lichen.

Martagon lilies like to grow in the shady end of a garden.

Labels on plants:  “Don’t!  I’d rather not know what it is.  Labels are scars on the garden.”

Re “The Invisible Garden”:  “If you can’t see that it is a garden, it’s a paradise.”

Of course, because I am easily influenced I mentally drop the idea, inspired by the Hummingbird Hill garden mostly, of making my garden more formal with…rooms!


And now…back to garden touring!

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We’ve done Whidbey Island and Eastside Splendor, and today we will do the North Seattle Jewels.

 

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I did not leave the property today which is just the way I like a Sunday to be.  We had been invited to visit friends, and even offered a ride due to our defunct car, but we asked them to come visit us instead and they did.

Pat, Larry, Margaret

Pat, Larry, Margaret

We sat in the shade because Margaret is going through chemo.  I know so many friends who are, or who have done so.  They all soldier on so bravely and cheerfully.  Margaret and Larry have a charming garden in Long Beach where we put in a flower garden, and Patricia waters it for them.

We put Smokey (the friendliest cat) in the laundry room because Margaret cannot risk getting a scratch.  Where people are, Smokey will surely be.  Frosty usually follows him, and was mystified why his brother had been put away.

Frosty in the hallway

Frosty in the hallway

I decided Frosty should go in the laundry room (where the cats have food, water, and litter box) to keep his brother company, so that Smokey did not feel singled out.

After our delightful visit with human friends, we went back in the house to find that the cats had reached under the door, grabbed the hallway rug, and dragged it almost all the way into the laundry room.

disappearing area rug

disappearing area rug

How in the world did they get all that rug under the door in such a relatively short time?

all ruched up

all ruched up

They hightailed it out the cat door as quickly as they could.

out they go!

out they go!

If our friend Kathleen S has sharp eyes, she will see the cool fire extinguisher bell that she gave us.  It has been so unseasonably windy around here, we have been waiting to hang it outside til the weather settles a bit!

For most of the afternoon as I weeded and clipped in the garden, I had the mildly ominous feeling that in the evening we had to go out and water the Ilwaco planters (on foot) and the boatyard.  Oh how I wanted to just stay at home.  Then I came up with the most cunning plan.  Tomorrow, Allan can take the car into the auto shop (turns out it will “go” long enough on a battery charge to get up the highway that far) and then water Long Beach and come home on the bus, while I will water the planters, boatyard, weed down at Howerton and maybe even the mayor’s and Cheri’s gardens.  Tuesday, we could do Ann’s garden and if we are lucky enough to get the car back by Wednesday (depending on how fast an alternator can be delivered), I might not have to take the bus at all.

I am a big proponent of public transit, but the bus here is maddeningly intermittent.  Oh, and we found so many extra costs in renting a cargo van (such as one that size not even being available here) that we gave up on that plan for now.

With the burden of work off my mind, I was able to find more complete enjoyment in the rest of the day and got almost every part of the garden at least partly dealt with, except for the bogsy wood which has gone to the wild!

We had a raspberry fail; the canes of the early raspberries, loaded with berries, became burnt looking and the berries stopped growing.  Fire blight?  Allan cut those cane to the ground and they went into the wheelie bin.  What a shame, but perhaps the fall bearing ones will be all right.

Phooey!

Phooey!

I do hope all the canes are all right next year.  They are sentimental to me because most of them came from my mother’s garden.

We have all these plants to plant here and there and no way to get them to work in the very near future, so I will just get to enjoy them here a little longer!

holding area

holding area

The garden sometimes looks magical in the late evening light.

the patio

the patio

Night Owl? rose

Night Owl? rose

I was sitting at my computer typing away, about to share a passel of rose photos because not much happened today at home, when there was a knock on the door.  Allan said, “It’s Bill from the Boreas!”  I did not even make the connection in my mind that Ciscoe Morris, who was here today to give a lecture benefiting the local Boys and Girls Club, was staying at Boreas Inn tonight.  I had not gone to the lecture because of the feeling of being so far behind in the garden and having just one day off and because it was during the day when I just have to be outside.  So it took me quite by surprise that Susie and Bill had brought Ciscoe to see our garden!!

Susie had asked me if I wanted to come meet him at the inn but I felt all shy and Emily Dickinson-ish (“I’m nobody, how about you?”) and like it must be tiresome for him to have someone coming to meet him during his quiet time at the inn between events.

And here he was!

Ciscoe and the saying that would relegate me to just weeding if all my clients took it to heart.

Ciscoe and the saying that would relegate me to just weeding if all my clients took it to heart.

Classic Ciscoe!

Classic Ciscoe!

(“Nobody can design a better garden for you than the one you think out for yourself.  It could take years, but in the doing of it, you should be in paradise.”)

Oh!  And when he saw the feathery plant that is on a pot behind him in the above photo, he grabbed a frond and said “A restio!” and something complimentary about cool plants.  Yay!!!!  (You don’t see Restios much around here because, well, they look a little or a lot like horsetail, but they are wonderful!)

I was awfully glad we were not out watering the Ilwaco planters when they all showed up;  I had, as often happens, not turned on my phone during the day, so had missed Susie’s call.

me, Ciscoe, Allan, Susie

me, Ciscoe, Allan, Susie

with Ciscoe

It was a particular thrill for me when we were partway back into the garden and he said again that I had a lot of cool plants that you don’t see everywhere, and asked where I got them, and of course knew exactly what I meant when I said I used to mail order from Heronswood, and that we take a trip most years to Cistus and Joy Creek, and that I had gotten some at Dancing Oaks near where Sheila lives.  He said we must go to Far Reaches Farm, and I very much want to.  I said we had been to Dragonfly Farms and he beamed. I told him I get to help pick the plants ordered by the Basket Case and that Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart gets plants from Xera.  He agreed that if a plant has a Xera tag it is worth trying out, and admired the Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’ and the Verbascum ‘Eleanor’s Blush’ (which was new to him!) that I had ordered through Basket Case.  Oh!!  And when I said my plant table in the bogsy wood was big enough to be George Schenkian, he knew exactly what I meant.  It was just so fun to not have to go into the whole explanation of what lay behind the idea.  Not that I don’t enjoy recommending George Schenk’s great gardening books to people!

He wasn't used to our chilly evening wind!

He wasn’t used to our chilly evening wind!

He had interesting information about many of the plants, and of course my mind was sort of reeling and I probably have forgotten some of it.  I think tomorrow I’ll walk our route around the garden and see what I remember.  One particular thing he said was, upon admiring a pinky-mauve Astrantia in the front garden, that in England a garden was planted almost all in Astrantias and the garden had no slugs and snails so they might actually repel slugs.  Must get many more of them.

poppy admiration society

poppy admiration society

He remarked upon a particularly large Oriental poppy that had thrived on the dairy manure.  Susie was very pleased to hear it is one that I acquired from her former volunteer planter in Long Beach where I thin them out and replant them here and there so they don’t take over the planter and then leave a big gap when they go over.

the tale of Susie's poppy plant

the tale of Susie’s poppy plant

I promised Susie to bring a piece back to her garden!

Everyone was in an exuberant and happy mood.

in the garden

Ciscoe admired Allan’s own garden and seemed to think it clever that I had offered him a larger area so I don’t have as much to weed.  Of course, he is famous for his funny stories about how he and his wife have separate garden spaces and sometimes compete for plants.

by Allan's garden...Bill finds something very funny!

by Allan’s garden…Bill finds something very funny!

He also seemed to enjoy Allan’s spreadsheet of all the plant names, but could not help identify the one mystery fern that we just call the lettuce fern.

reading the spreadsheet

reading the spreadsheet

admiring Allan's garden

admiring Allan’s garden

discussing the fern of mystery

discussing the fern of mystery

And like me, he was amazed at the chocolate scent of one my Xera plants, new last year, that had finally bloomed and that he had never heard of either!

nodding chocolate flower

nodding chocolate flower

the tag, from Xera plants

the tag, from Xera plants

a closer look

a closer look

You have to lift the blossom to smell it.  Ciscoe said “Now I want a candy bar!”  Maybe he even said “Ooh la la! Now I want a candy bar!”

As we lingered around Allan’s garden, we heard our friend Devery’s voice at the gate.  Not ten minutes before, I had been telling Ciscoe (as we were by the transparent fence that gives a clear view of Nora’s house and gave Nora a view of our garden) about how when Nora and a friend of hers and Devery had heard Ciscoe was coming, and when I said (but not seriously believing it) that Susie had wanted to bring him to our garden, they all got very excited!  Especially Devery, who is a big fan and watches his show every Saturday and just loves him and Meeghan Black.    It was poignant that Nora’s funeral had been yesterday (I was explaining the big gathering of chairs for our memorial get together in the garden afterwards.)

Devery was walking by our house on her way to close the curtains of Nora’s house, and she had heard and recognized Ciscoe’s voice in the garden.  Oh please, do come in and meet him! I said.  She was so filled with delight, I could not have thought her naturally happy personality could get any bubblier, but it did!

joy!

joy!

Devery and Ciscoe

Devery and Ciscoe

Ciscoe takes off his hood for a better pic

Ciscoe takes off his hood for a better pic

Devery and Ciscoe

Devery and Ciscoe

a delightful moment

a delightful moment

This made me happier than anything, to have a part in bringing Devery so much happiness.

Allan, Devery and I were all quite giddy after Ciscoe left to go back to the inn with Susie and Bill, and we hung about the front steps chattering and laughing until it got so cold that we parted.   Devery said we must get together more, and idea that I was so glad to hear because we like her so very much and I have been worried we would lose touch with Nora gone.

There are people who just exude joy and bring happiness wherever they go.  Ciscoe is one and Devery is another and the fact that they got to meet in our garden is the happiest thing of the whole delightful evening.

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