KnorQ's Kitchen

Serial Hobbyist

Category: Portland Oregon

Around the Yard: understory update

The other day I was out in the yard admiring the back-lighting on the plants under the right fir tree.  1.5 years ago this are was barren — it has been satisfying to experiment with new plants and watch this spot grow in.


Two years ago I started transplanting neglected ferns from other parts of the yard to this area and slowly I have added hostas, epimedium, more ferns, Heuchera, spiderwort, hellebores, trillium and crocus. Back in February of 2013 the Right Fir understory looked like this:

Over the past couple of months a few of the tiny, new ferns have put on some impressive growth.




The third fern from the top is is a crested male fern “Crispa Cristata” – not sure about the two above that. Need to get better at documenting these things…that is what the blog is for, right? Not sure what that plant is directly above — I thought it was a baby fern at first but…not so sure.  Below are some shots from the fir tree on the other side of yard. I recently expanded the planting beds here and all the transplants are still quite small. New plantings in this area include blood grass, bishops weed, variegated St. John’s wort, Mahonia aquifolium, along with the existing rose campion — basically a hodgepodge of aggressive spreaders. Anchoring this area are a small hardy fuschia, ostrich fern and a arching Japanese holly fern I picked up at the HSPO sale. Also – the ugly pottery collection is clustered under this tree next to the new-ish Fatshedera ‘Gold Heart’ planted this past spring.




This week in the yard

Pretty NOID rose out in force! Below – the veg garden below is looking a little wild. Next year = prune tomato plants early. It is so cool to see how large the tomato plants are in the raised beds.
It is hard to get a sense of scale from this picture but for comparison sake, below is a picture of the tomato plants from last year that were NOT planted in a raised bed. They are much smaller:
Below: The butterfly bush got a hard chop in late April (as it had last year) and it came back blooming!

Back in May the lawn around the base of the left fir tree was smothered to expand the planting beds.  Because I have a moratorium against new plant purchases I searched around the yard this past weekend to see what I could transplant to this area. Basically I found what I have historically thought of as enemy plants: aggressive spreaders like Bishops Weed and Sweet Woodruff.  My rational is that I’m a cheapskate and this area is challenging: deep shade, transplanted rocky/clay soil and little water. If these plants can’t grow here then…? I took some plugs of blood grass and threw them in here too along with some columbine that had been popping up around the yard.
Because I am weak-willed I also ended up with the plants below from Portland Nursery: An Ostrich Fern, St. Johns Wort and a hard fushia (not pictured).
We’ll see how that all works out. Below are the blooms in the yard – the poppies and dahlias are still going strong, the first of the nasturtium opened up, the 2nd sunflower arrived along with the very first sweet pea (yay!) and one final plant indulgence – my first echinacea – also from Portland Nursery.

This week in the edible garden

I broke my “no plant purchase” rule and picked up some starts from Portland Nursery. I have no will power. But maybe by fall I will have some Cave Man’s Club gourds:
Shelling peas and potatoes above – Sweet peas below. I think the plant in the green pot is a berry vine of some sort…not sure…it was growing among the weeds and I threw it in a pot to see what it does.
I harvested the first lettuces – Look at their pretty little heads:
I fixed up the fourth garden bed and planted it with  summer squash starts from Portland Nursery
The green beads (Jade II) just surfaced:

Wednesday Ramble

Wednesday’s ramble route started in the Hawthorne District, went up and over Mt. Tabor and ended up at Beer Bunker in Montavilla for pints. About 1.5 hours and 3.3 (leisurely!) miles in total.  I liked these two front yard combos – still collecting ideas for the parking strips:


The roses above remind me of the “Joseph’s Coat”  rose I am thinking about planting in the garden nook.  There are tons of flowers in bloom – the walk smelled good and was so colorful:
Check out this flower….
It is on a tulip tree (Yellow Poplar) Liriodendron tulipfera….
A giant tulip tree with a tree swing in front of a pink house! I love this part of town.
I would be nervous if this was my neighbor below – notice the running bamboo coming up through the lawn… yikes
I do have a slight fascination with pollarded trees and pollarded catalpa in particular – which I think this is below. Hmmm…maybe in some future yard.


Veggie garden kick off

Part of Saturday and Sunday were spent filling the new raised beds with 3 yards of 4-way mix soil. So many trips with the wheel barrow. We’ll see if it was worth the extra 12 inches of height come tomato season. For now they have been planted with first of the carrots, spinach, lettuce and broccoli seed. Peas are going into the ground and there is 3 more yards of soil to be hauled about the yard. Good times!



HPSO haul

Here is the haul from Saturday’s Hortlandia Hardy Plant Society of Oregon sale at the Expo Center:


For reference – the list of acquisitions:
1. Bamboo: Fargesia Robusta
2. Heucherella ‘solar power’
3. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ 
4. Ligularia ‘Dragon Wings’  – Cool shaped leaves
5. Fatshedera ‘Gold Heart’ – Excited about this one
6. Japanese Maple Villa Taranto – Didn’t realize this turned red. I liked it for the very pale, wispy green leaves.
7. Arching Japanese Holly Fern 
8. Epimedium – Many of these plants are new to me but I really never noticed epimediums until grabbing one at the HPSO sale – since Saturday I’ve been noticing them all over town – sweet little plant. Apparently they do alright in dry shade so they will get a test run under the left fir tree.
9. Euphorbia ‘Fire Charm’ – For the front yard
10. Big leaf lupine – For near the bamboo bed?
11. Golden currant – Grabbed this on a whim because it was in the native plant section – knew nothing about it and now not sure where it will go. There is a lesson in there somewhere about impulsive plant purchases.
12. Hosta Patriot – For under the left fir

I got a few of these in the ground on Sunday:





Road Trip>McMinnville Oregon

This weekend was a blast — rollerskating on Friday night at Oaks Park then packed up for a quick trip to McMinnville on Saturday.  Char and I headed out to the countryside to explore the area around McMinnville. This area is packed full of wineries and attracts the wine and cheese bunch from Portland and the surrounding area. Char and I are more beer and nut types so we took advantage of the sunny January day to sit on the roof of our hotel – Hotel Oregon – and sip their suds. Hotel Oregon is part of the Mcmenamins empire and is a noisy but fun place to stay. We had drinks and appetizers at a fancy restaurant in the area but sadly, were not inspired to order a main course. The place was way overpriced and the food was average —  disappointing after reading a glowing review from the Oregonian – maybe it was an off night. We decided instead to fill up on beer at a dive bar down the street and spent some time stalking Ranch Records which was closed but had a good window display. The next night we had a kick-ass, delicious, best-steak-I’ve-had in-many-years dinner at Laurelhurst Market. Yay!! Some snaps below:

Room at Hotel Oregon

Inside ET's tent on the roof of Hotel Oregon

Sunset on the roof of Hotel Oregon

Blurry Tree -- Look at what a pretty shade of blue the sky was

Outside of Ranch Records

One copy of born in the USA, please

After we failed at fancy dinner this is where we ended up

Inside the Blue Moon, move over Merlot

Oregon Roadtrips: Farmland!!

Charchar and I hit up Kruger Farms on Sauvie Island then the following Sunday took the loop through Hood River, to the 35 fruitloop to farms and jam shops and on to Timberline Lodge. I love this roadtrip. One of my favorites. We stopped to feed the Alpacas.

At Kruger we picked flowers and tomatos and ate roasted corn

At Kruger we picked flowers and tomatos and ate roasted corn

Farmer Charchar heads towards roasted corn cobs

Farmer Charchar heads towards roasted corn cobs

This is where i got my pumpkins the past coupla years

This is where i got my pumpkins the past coupla years

you should see this guy milk cows

you should see this guy milk cows



The peak of Mt. Hood

The peak of Mt. Hood

Made in Oregon Sign to go dim

According to press reports, the Made in Oregon sign will go dim at the end of the month. I have this picture to remember it by. So much for the deers nose lighting up at Thanksgiving. Thanks Randy.


Oregon Road Trip: Newberry Crater

South of Bend, OR is the lovely Newberry Crater. Lava flow created obsidian fields, tubes and a large crater to explore. Lovely area. Some snaps below:

Veiw from Paulina Peak, Newberry Crater

Veiw from Paulina Peak, Newberry Crater

Paulina Falls, Newberry Crater

Paulina Falls, Newberry Crater

On the way home we stopped Peter Skene Ogden Park -- Pretty Ravine

On the way home we stopped Peter Skene Ogden Park -- Pretty Ravine

On the way home we saw a great sunset

On the way home we saw a great sunset

sunset shot

sunset shot