Goodbye, 2017,... will not be missed.

One of my favorite mosses, Hylocomium splendens, or step moss.
True, it wasn't all bad. I had an open garden to "show off" my botanical wonder(mess)land, a fact I find intensely embarrassing now as I look out at my winter landscape. I got to make a second trip to my beloved Brookings, OR, with two wonderful friends. Emotionally, though, this year has taken an enormous toll, for a myriad of reasons which I won't detail here. A few friends have expressed their concern regarding my long silence, so I'm taking advantage of a spurt of energy to assure you all that I'm still here and, at least for now, I plan to return. I can't say for sure what the future will bring.

Western sword fern, Polystichum munitum, and vine maple, Acer circinatum.
In an attempt to chase away the blues, if only for a time, I took a walk through the green. Few gardens, in my mind, can match the quiet beauty of a forest, especially on a foggy winter day.

A colorful Cascade mahonia, now known as Berberis nervosa.
 Sometimes I think I'd be perfectly content with just a nice plot of woods, a "garden" of little more than sword ferns, salal, Cascade mahonia, and mossy trees. The lush greenness of it all is refreshing at any time of year.

But as much as I love the simple greens and hardy constitution of those stalwart natives, I know in my normal state I typically have too little self-control and too much horticultural lust to restrict myself to such a limited palette.
Some particularly large leaves on this salal, Gaultheria shallon
 Still, these evergreen beauties give much to the garden while asking little in return. Sometimes they might give a little too much, especially salal, but it wouldn't be the first plant in our gardens to require a little control. Sword ferns are a safer choice in that respect, and offer such fantastic texture.

Some of the trails get a little damp in winter...
 I had to check in on this special little Goodyera oblongifolia, or western rattlesnake plantain. While it may resemble a plantain, it is, of course, an orchid. I've been keeping an eye on this unusual, variegated specimen for several years now.

Maybe I wouldn't be able to restrict myself solely to sword ferns, but I do like walking through them when they form a waist-high, lush field under the trees. Maybe just a few choice shade-tolerant bamboos and a handful of other plants scattered here and there for variety.

Speaking of variety, this fern didn't listen when its friends told it not to get its fronds in a twist. Ha...Ha.... Jokes aside, I've never seen a sword fern with quite so many spiral fronds as this one. There were several more on this plant in addition to the two visible in this photo. Unfortunately, it's likely just a result of the stressful roadside growing conditions, including chemicals and drought. It would likely revert to normal if moved to a different location.

Stress can cause interesting changes. If only they were all as beautiful and interesting as the above fern and the beautiful colors on the mahonia below.

And so ends this brief little blog update. I'll be prioritizing my health for the foreseeable future and can't say when I'll get back to writing regular posts, but I do plan to do so. Have a happy, healthy new year.


  1. Best wishes for health and happiness in 2018! I had missed your stories and peeks at your part of the world. So lush, even in winter...

  2. Pleasure to hear from you.

    "In an attempt to chase away the blues, if only for a time, I took a walk through the green." That my friend is quite the line. I'm gonna be thinking on that one for awhile...

  3. A walk through the woods can't help but do the mind and body good. I'm glad to see your posts and your always interesting plants whenever you choose to pop up, Evan. I hope 2018 brings you what you need to be healthy and happy.

  4. Hope you have a healthy happy New Year too. It's hard to get your enthusiams back for blogging (or for life, sometimes), once it wanes.

  5. I am glad to see the back of 2017 as well, and I'm happy to read a new post from you. I wish you a happy and healthy 2018. I'm in total agreement with you, a walk in a Northwest forest is better then anything to elevate my spirit and well being.
    Do you expect to catch Goodyera in bloom? Hopefully you'll share when you do. "Goodyera"... its sounds like "Good Year on Ya"...

  6. I hope you have a great 2018. No better way to truly heal than a walk in the garden. Best wishes for good health!

  7. Wishing you the very best, and lots more green walks, in 2018.

  8. 2017 was a bitch of a year. May your 2018 be so much better.
    This is a lovely post...simple, honest, uncomplicated. The simplicity matters so much, perhaps why you crave those mossy-trees woods. Actually that seems to be the appeal of the winter too, everything pared down (outdoors, anyway).
    But, oh, how you had me at the photo of Hylocomium splendens/Step Moss! If that is the moss I am thinking of--only ever seen in one particularly undisturbed native Oregon woods--in winter, I might add-- wow, that is SUCH a cool moss. I don't even know how to describe it--that moss takes my breath away...? makes my heart skip a beat...? Words are so inadequate.

  9. Evan - I really love your photos of our native woods. You truly capture the lush, serene quietness of it all. I could almost smell the wet, decomposing leaves, and feel the soft moss under my feet. I hope your walk brought you back a sense of joie de vivre. I agree with you about leaving 2017 behind - Alyse put it well. It really WAS a bitch of a year. Like you, I have no idea what 2018 will bring, but early indications point toward some changes, and probably challenges for us. Not sure what to make of it yet, but we'll deal with it - come what may. Like you, I am a big fan of Sword ferns, but unlike you, I don't have room for all of them, so I dug you some up. Now I just have to figure out how to get them to you. Stay well, friend, and take good care of yourself.

  10. Hugs to you, my friend. Your natives are gorgeous, that salal - WOW! Huge-o. Come over and have lunch with me sometime and we can put 2017 behind us. Cheers!

  11. I miss your garden updates and hope to see one from you soon.
    GBBD is coming up... ;-)


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