Vanessa Gardner Nagel chirps about garden design

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Welcome to Garden Chirps!
I make every effort to blog once per week (or more) to keep readers current about what I am up to in the garden or with design. If you have a specific topic you are curious about, please contact me. I'll consider writing about it. Read on below...

My Arms Look Like Hoses

Rosa 'Paprika' loves it dry.

Rosa ‘Paprika’ loves it dry.

About this time of the summer, as wave after wave of heat descends on the Pacific Northwest, I find I spend an inordinate amount of time at the end of a hose. So much so that I begin to feel that in lieu of arms, I have hoses. This year has been worse than most because I decided to turn off the irrigation system and water by hand.

Purposely not using the irrigation system may seem foolish, but much of the system needs to be revised and repaired. Rather than waste water shooting in the wrong direction, I’ve opted into the more time consuming method until we can make repairs in early spring.

Feathery flowers of Stipa gigantea

Feathery flowers of Stipa gigantea

Epiblobum (aka Zaushneria) will bloom until Thanksgiving without a hard frost. Hummers LOVE it!

Epiblobum (aka Zaushneria) will bloom until Thanksgiving without a hard frost. Hummers LOVE it!

What I’ve discovered is many plants didn’t need the amount of irrigation I had programmed. Often I was over watering an entire zone for the sake of one plant (i.e. Astilbe or similar thirsty plants). The entire driveway garden has not had any additional water this year other than the two cloud bursts associated with infrequent thunderstorms. The only plant that has suffered so far is a daylily up near the top whose roots mingle with a Douglas fir tree. I’ve decided that I will move that daylily to an area where it is not as dry and allow more Euphorbia characias wulfenii to seed in there, with perhaps some red-orange Kniphofia. These are two plants already in the bed that are doing well. Also included in the mix are Stipa gigantea, Eryngium giganteum (although I’m considering its purge due to its slutty ways…it is also known as ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’), masses of orange lilies, carpet rose ‘Paprika’, purple asters, Blue Star junipers, Coppertina ninebark, Berberis ‘Sunjoy Gold Pillar’, Epilobum (Zauschneria), 3-Yucca ‘Color Guard’ in red-orange pots and a newly planted  Callistemon. The border is about 5’ deep at the top, tapering to 2’ deep about 75’ down the driveway. Then is widens again as it gets beyond the property line row of arborvitae that my husband planted when we first moved here 24 years ago.

So while the rest of my garden gets pampered with additional water, this is one area that gets very little and still thrives.

Yucca 'Color Guard' sits in 3 pots that act like exclamation marks along the border. Note the orange (glass) flower...so unusual for a Yucca...wink, wink.

Yucca ‘Color Guard’ sits in 3 pots that act like exclamation marks along the border. Note the orange (glass) flower…so unusual for a Yucca…wink, wink.

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BEING Outdoors

Create spaces to sit, lie down, dine, play, workout, and even take a shower in your yard. Create a garden that entices you to be outside…even in the winter…to investigate what’s new and pique your curiosity

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Serendipitous Spring

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.  While I can’t wait for my garden to wake up in spring, I find myself wishing that it would slow down so I can keep up with the work out there. So much happening! After a hard winter  I am browsing the garden for dead […]

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 4

The Philadelphia Flower Show (grand Poobah of American flower shows) is the first show I’ve attended where floral exhibition was integrated into the landscape rather than segregated as a separate area. This year’s theme, ‘ARTiculture’, found designs inspired by a selected piece of art, a range of paintings by a particular artist, or even a specific exhibit at a museum.  […]

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 3

Because I will be in Philadelphia during the course of Portland’s Yard, Garden, & Patio Show this year, I asked to come to the show the day before its opening. Yes, it’s a LOT hectic that day, with so much construction still going on. So I’m focusing this designer’s eye on what was in place […]

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 2

The same family-owned company that owns the Northwest Flower & Garden Show owns Portland’s Home & Garden Show. This year the gardens were the first visible parts of the show as we walked in, making it more evident that the owners want to refocus this show into something that will eventually look more like the […]

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Learning from Garden Shows-Part 1

At this time of year, garden shows are in abundance. The Northwest Flower and Garden Show has already been tucked away until next year, with two Portland shows about to happen over the next two weeks. The granddaddy, The Philadelphia Flower Show, begins Feb. 28.  Seeing something new is what I yearn to see as […]

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The Ubiquitous Adirondack

For those of you expecting a gushing love affair with the Adirondack chair, this is a rant about the excessively-used and overly-beloved garden seat. People use Adirondack chairs in nearly every style of garden imaginable. While a few locations are well-suited to this chair, many are not. Thomas Lee designed this chair in 1903 when he […]

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Looking Back at the 2013 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

I’m in the throes of substantial anticipation of the 2014 Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Since that is two weeks away my best option is to look back at the 2013 show and what were my highlights. As a member of the APLD’s international board, I must recognize my fellow members’ efforts in the following […]

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Sharpen the Pruning Shears; I’m Ready for Spring.

It’s late January in case you hadn’t noticed. The days are getting a little longer and there’s a wee bit more sun. Time to prune! I’ve already begun with hellebores, which if I don’t clip off the old leaves, the new flowers will have a rather dismal looking skirt. Once I’ve finished with the hellebores (they are […]

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About
Garden Chirps is written by Vanessa Gardner Nagel, gutsy garden designer, passionate garden speaker, enthusiastic garden writer/author, and frenetic gardener.