Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, January 22, 2016

Two Years

It's been two years to the day since I began my blog. Last year at this time, I was working to escape the toxic environment I had stumbled into, and such things as blog anniversaries completely escaped my attention. This year, I find myself much more happily situated back in the PNW. Work and my somewhat odd traveling living situation have made it a bit more difficult to blog, and recently I fell into a nasty bout of winter doldrums that I'm still fighting my way out of. Though it's sunnier today than I expected, I feel more like curling up on the couch with a book than dealing with Portland traffic to go out somewhere. Books are my other love, and they've been feeling a bit neglected, so I've been spending more time with them lately. Tomorrow will be busy enough. Among other things, I'm meeting up with someone to get my new camera body. Once the lens arrives, I'll probably be snapping lots of photos to get a feel for my new camera, which will result in more blog posts. Despite learning a bit of how to take better photos with my phone, I really prefer having a real camera in my hands.

Last weekend I finally took advantage of a dry, non-freezing day to do some gardening. Some Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' came into work from someones yard, and after dividing and potting up most of the mass, there were some awkward odds and ends left over for me to take home. These bare-root bits of dogwood needed planting sooner rather than later, thus galvanizing me into action. Some went along the edge of the woods below the drainage field, an area I'm working on planting with mostly natives such as Ribes sanguineum, Lonicera involucrata, and Oemleria cerasiformis. The dogwood, though not native, will add some welcome fall and winter color. Other pieces of dogwood went in a spot near one of the new faucets, and still others went in along two sections of the dry creek bed that I'd been wondering what to do with. The dogwoods provided the necessary starting point for inspiration. However, I was so focused on planting that I didn't take any pictures. There's not much to see yet anyway, just a few scrawny twigs in the ground. I'll post some pictures once I fill in some of the areas with other plants.

So instead, here are some pictures of the plants I acquired last week at the Portland Nursery houseplant sale. First, though, some things that caught my eye, but were left behind:

Alpinia luteocarpa, gracefully holding dark green leaves with wine-red reverses. This is one of those plants I couldn't get into focus with my phone no matter how I tried. 

Stenosarcos Vanguard. I've actually wanted this orchid for some time, but recently I've been drifting towards plants that need less frequent or careful attention than orchids. Though this one is a terrestrial orchid with care more similar to a normal houseplant, it requires a period of dormancy, and I've always had trouble with houseplants that need that.

It was hard to walk away from these Neoregelia 'Guacamole'. I'm actually not sure why I did. I have several other Neoregelias, but none of them have the same colors or patterning. 

This Maranta had huge leaves, twice as big as I'm used to seeing. I'm not sure if it was just very well-grown or if it was a special, large variety. It was tempting. Marantas form small tubers in the soil that make them more drought-tolerant than their lush foliage would suggest. However, I already have one with very silver leaves and didn't feel the need to add this one.

This aloe (or Gasteraloe?) was very interesting. I'd never seen one with linear stripes like this. But while I found it interesting, I didn't actually find it that attractive, so it, too, was left behind.

There were many gorgeous sansevierias in 3 gallon pots, but at $50, they were too expensive (and too large) even at 30% off. So, what did I bring home?

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Silver Queen', one of the few sansevierias that wasn't in a 3 gallon container.

Since pots were included in the sale, I picked up a few of those as well, not specifically to match them with the plants I was buying. But this shallow, green hyacinth bowl did seem to fit 'Silver Queen', so I potted it up

I like it much better out of that plastic nursery pot.

I also picked up a Chamaedorea metallica, with metallic blue-green leaves like fish tails (or forked tongues).

I ended up pairing it with this charcoal-colored container with dragonflies and bright green leaves, which I got for 50% off because of a couple small chips the cashier noticed that I hadn't even seen. Such a nice person!


I didn't see the large Ludisia discolor that were there on previous visits, but these smaller plants were more affordable anyway. A good cleaning will remove those hard water spots and the leaves will be beautiful. I know, I passed on the other orchid because I worried about the care requirements. Ludisia doesn't have any tricky resting period in which the plant loses appeal, and it has very thick stems that make it drought-tolerant, though it does require good humidity.


I couldn't resist the stunning silver leaves of Philodendron 'Silver Sword'. This is a very young plant. The leaves get much bigger (and a bit more sword-like) as the plant matures.

On the 50% off table at the Division St. location, I found a selection of warm-growing Cymbidium hybrids and couldn't resist picking one out. Cymbidium Valerie Absolonova has yellow flowers with red speckling on the petals and more heavily on the lip. These small, warm-growing Cymbidiums have some of the best-smelling flowers, and I've been wanting one for awhile.

I experimented with my tillandsia collection this year by keeping most of them out in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, I lost a good number of them, probably by watering when I shouldn't have and the plants failing to dry out in the cool, humid greenhouse. So clearly I needed to pick out some new ones. I brought home 3 Tillandsia funckiana (2 shown here).

A new T. caput-medusae, since I lost both of mine, even my favorite purple-leaved form. I'll be on the hunt for a new one of those as soon as possible.

My favorite is this bright green one with a dark black/purple center. I think I actually found the ID for this one, but I've already forgotten.

I'm tempted to return, at least to the Stark St. location. There were several things I passed by there because I was holding back until I went to Division St, though I hardly need more houseplants.

12 comments:

  1. Congrats on the blog anniversary and the new camera -- looking forward to seeing what you can do with it! Also surprised to hear that tillandsia die in the PNW! I thought they were bulletproof out there?

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    1. Nope. This isn't the first time I've killed tillandsias. When I first started growing them, I lost a few to rot from lack of air movement and light. I did pretty well for awhile until this year, experimenting with the greenhouse. I kept it above 36, which most tillandsias can tolerate, but it also didn't get much warmer than that, either, because of the cloudy weather. I shouldn't have watered them at all, it's so humid in there.

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  2. "Though I hardly need more houseplants" is no excuse, though I've been using it as an excuse to hold back. Our house fills up with all the things that an organized person would put into some sort of storage space for the winter. You did some mighty fine shopping.

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    1. Hehe, indeed not, though I am rather short on space. If I get any more, I might have to get some new grow lights along with them.

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  3. I had that Neoregelia 'Guacamole' in my hands no less than three times. Somehow I too managed to leave without it.

    Two years? I've only known you for two years? Seems so much longer. And I mean that in a good way.

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    1. I can't understand how we both left it behind. And yet, for some reason, we did.

      I know what you mean. But with all the drama I've been through in the last two years, knowing you has been one of the highlights.

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  4. Happy second anniversary, Evan. It's a joy reading you posts. You'll be getting your new camera just as the season starts and there will be so many opportunities to practice! You are very fortunate to work in a nursery. It would probably be my dream job! All the 'left overs' you can find a home for (Yours!) is a bonus. I try to not add to my house plants and concentrate on the garden, but Ludisia discolor may just break my resolve.

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    1. Thank you, Chav! I always enjoy your comments, too.

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  5. Happy two-year Blogaversary! The time goes so fast. Love all the plants you found. I'm starting to become less enamored with my little collection of Tillandsias. I'm probably going to bring them all to the spring plant exchange and give them away.

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    1. Thanks, Alison! It does go by fast, and yet at the same time it feels like more than two years. It's interesting how tastes change. I'm sure there will be plenty of willing hands to adopt your tillandsias. Some will probably come home with me!

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  6. Happy second blog anniversary! Sorry to hear about your tillandsias! I'm still smitten with them and have found them happier in my greenhouse than in the warmer kitchen. Maybe my greenhouse is a bit warmer than yours? Anyway, glad you got some new ones as they fit in just about anywhere very well. "I hardly need more houseplants." is just crazy talk. Need is such an ugly word:) Hope you and your new additions are happy together for years to come!

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    1. Thanks, Peter! Yeah, I've got the greenhouse thermostat set to heat at 36F. Unfortunately, the lack of sunlight during most of December meant it never got much above that either. I think the constant cool temps and high humidity slowed down the tillandsias and favored diseases too much. I also watered them a couple times, which I probably shouldn't have done. My trouble with getting more houseplants (not that I'll stop) is that I'm running out of room, and it's hard taking care of all of them since I have to do all the watering and such over the weekend to make sure they're good while I spend the week days in Portland. I'm working on editing my collection to more low-maintenance plants. It's slow going.

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