Thursday, April 30, 2009

A barrel full of color

barrel of craziness
We have several new barrels like this one throughout the garden. Two are home to columnar apples, and another will hold peppers and basil. But this one I nabbed for a riot of color. I think I've achieved that goal.

Along with many other fanatical gardeners, I'm on the Heuchera love train. These crazy intense colors may just have my name written all over them. Over-the-top, really. With over-the-top names like Peach Flambe, Peach Melba, Key Lime Pie and Sashay. Oh yes. Sashay away, you say, just like RuPaul. And you know I'll say that every time I walk by it on our back patio.

But there's not only heuchera in this barrel of fun. To read the names of all of the plants in this crazy barrel, click on the photo and see the labeling in Flickr. I can't wait to see how it will fill in. And the best part? These are all perennials or shrubs. Score!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What should I name my gnome?

my gnome visits the alps
My gnome is enjoying his vacation in Switzerland. It has increased his yodeling but it's getting annoying. I'm waiting for the neighbors to complain. Or to start yodeling along with him. Here's a rare recording of him from yesterday.

He's surrounded by tiny conifers. They'll grow less than 3 inches a year, so they'll stay small and tidy. I'm imagining tiny battery powered holiday lights in them next December. And a gift or two for my gnome.

Now that I think of it, my gnome needs a name. What should his name be?

***UPDATE***Oh my. There's now $$$ in on the winning name, thanks to Just Out. The submitter of the winning name gets a $25 gift certificate to Bridges Cafe. I recently had their eggs benedict: ooh la la. Submit your name here or on the Just Out post, and I'll choose the winner Friday morning.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A window into "El Jardin"

Picasso on the front garden path
El Jardin Encantado has awoken and stretched some. She's blooming tulips, lilac, wisteria, forget-me-nots. She's been groomed with zoo doo and organic fertilizer, and has had her weeds plucked. Oh and the pruning. Truckloads of pruned bits have been carted off to the yard debris recycler. While I walk her paths I mainly see what needs to be done, and it's through the photos I take that help me see her beauty. If you click on that photo above, I've labeled in Flickr the plants.

The crabapple arbor in front is in full bloom...
crabapple arbor is in bloom

My euphorbia collection is at a lovely point in the season right now. There are three different types in this one area.
firey euphorbia in my euphorbia collection
But the stunner right now is Euphorbia 'Fire Glow.' You can see where it gets its name. It's the same family as the poinsettia.
Euphorbia "Fire Glow"

A garden is never "done" and with that, plenty of new projects for El Jardin this year. First off, she's been dressed with a new woodland path.
Woodland path
The dismal grass that attempted to grow here was simply defeated by too much shade and too much foot traffic. The new path cleans it all up and holds this casual area together. It's an important transition between the front and back garden, and signals the transition nicely. Most importantly, Wink approves of it. Here it is from her point of view.
chips under foot are better than mud
Crazy color combinations at the front corner with tulips and rock cress. We're training Wink to bark maniacly whenever a pedestrian helps themselves to a tulip and picks them.
crazy color combinations in spring
Do you have your computer preferences and browser preferences set with Smell-O-Vision on? Check them now. Because you're going to need to inhale this fragrance...
lilac is in bloom

I need to pick a big bouquet of that lilac and bring it in. It's one of my most favorite of cut flowers. You know the secret about lilac in vases, right? You smash or splice the end of the cut lilac stems to allow them to drink up the water. If you've ever had lilac wilt and droop within hours of being picked and placed in a vase, you know what I'm talking about. Just take a hammer and smash those ends and problem solved.

Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Spring awakens in El Jardin Encantado as do we.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ooh looky here: the gays are gardening!

I loved writing this cover story for Just Out. It meant I got to visit with all kinds of gardeners, from pros to hobby growers to farmers to people just starting out. As a good friend once said when he was surrounded by fellow gardeners, "These are my people!" And so it is for me.

You can read the full story here, though the online version doesn't do it justice with all of the fantastic photos shared by many of the people I interviewed and some of my own as well. So go take a read, and then take a look at a handful of photos I took and shared for the story....

Indeed, there's a whole lotta gardening going on this year, and oh what fun it is.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Campaign for Monday Morning Cuteness

Monday mornings are not easy, like Sunday mornings. (Cuz I'm easy, Lionel.) They often involve things like alarm clocks, early hours, and inadvertently setting off the house alarm by opening the back door before turning off said alarm. (Okay, maybe that's just me.)

But I think we can all agree that it's time to bring cuteness back to Monday mornings. And that's where the Campaign for Monday Morning Cuteness comes in.

Hold off on that extra spoonful of sugar in your coffee. Or agave syrup in your uber-herbal tea stuff or whatever. When you have cute fluffy animals, or even cute sleek animals (not including ferrets because I haven't warmed to them), you just don't need too much sweetness. See?

Yes I'm cute

The Campaign for Monday Morning Cuteness delivers directly to you a blast of beginning-of-the-week energy, ensuring your week will be better than the last and full of promise. Traditional media, including print, radio and television will be saturated with campaign imagery and messaging, while social media will buzz with partnered sponsorships and the development of a messaging maven initiative.

Oops. I think my work voice just crawled into this blog post.

Suffice to say, Wink wanted to say hey. Holla atcha sweetness!

Ready and waiting

She wanted you to know she has a secret trick of sitting at the table when no one is around. Especially if food is left on the table. Because duh, it must be for her, right?

What are YOU staring at?

Right? Whatevs. Have a great week and hopefully The Campaign for Monday Morning Cuteness will make your week even better than it started out to be.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How do you learn how to garden?

Joe and Leola in their garden
For many of us, learning how to garden is a mix of grandparent-parent experience and practical know-how. Throw in a lot of passion and interest combined with a voracious read through the library and magazines, and you have it.

But if you have neither, or if you really want some expert hands-on experience combined with education, there’s a new program from a well-respected organization, Oregon Tilth, offering classes on organic vegetable gardening.

Now I’m a gardener of both ornamentals (hello, flowers!) and veggies, but I know a lot of you are hardcore into the vegetable growing this year, and there’s a ton of information out there telling you to do this and not to do this. I know that whatever Oregon Tilth is going to teach you is going to be valuable and practical. For a few Thursdays and Saturdays now through mid May, it should be a really great course to learn a lot, meet some other folks just like you, and set a great foundation for growing your food.

Check out the class info and site here. Bonus: You get the NW Maritime Garden Guide as part of your materials. This guide is super helpful in understanding our freeze dates, planting dates, all specific to the Pacific Northwest. Which, by the way, I can't stress enough about knowing: if you're reading guides that are general or are written from a Texas perspective and you live in Oregon, you're going to run into problems. Seriously, I can't say enough about Oregon Tilth. This is the organization that actually set the structure for the National Organic Program: good peeps.

As for that photo above? Those were my grandparents. Joe, the farmer, and Leola the spitfire. They grew zinnias the way Joe grew his wheat crops: massive. I love and miss them. Pass on your gardening knowledge!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What I learned about our taxes this year: scenes from a queer couple

i love summer
The moment really should have been a sweet one. For the first time in our 14-year relationship, my partner and I were signing tax forms together.

. (Cue the birds chirping.)

And who would ever think taxes could be a sweet moment for a couple? But for us? And for many same-sex couples, the drama of taxes and their on-going inequity are painful reminders of our relationships being deemed invisible by the very government we pay taxes to.

But not this year. In 2008, we were able to register as Domestic Partners. (Doesn’t that sound romantic? Domestic Partners. Don’t be jealous.)

When it came time to trot in to our tax preparer, we were sure it would be interesting. The State of Oregon would recognize us as a couple, and even Linda, our tax preparer, was excited to do our taxes this year. We’re always a good challenge for her: from being married in 2004, to not being married thanks to Oregon’s Measure 36, to doing our taxes independently every year over the years, this year it would be different. It even required two visits because the paperwork was complex.

Linda ran our taxes both ways so that we could see the difference. One was if the federal government recognized our relationship as a married couple (it doesn't). That showed we’d get a nice check back from the feds. But the second, and the final was with the state recognizing our relationship, but the federal government not recognizing us as married (remember DOMA, or Defense of Marriage Act, ensures this), we owed the feds.

In the end? The financial impact was $1,800.

So that, my friends, is the financial difference in taxes, that it costs us this year. And don’t get me started on all of the other inequities. Because this one is clear as day and I have a number for it. $1,800. And the only thing I have in response this point in time are the wonderful words of Kathy Griffin:

"Suck it."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Goin' all out for Easter in N. Portland

Easter House of N. Portland 1
Don't say we don't know how to throw some yard decor up in NoPo, because I'll show you a house that says otherwise.

Easter is no small matter, evidently. We all have our favorite holidays, but Easter is very popular at this house, and has been, for as long as I've lived in N. Portland (12+ years?).

It's not as much decor as it used to be, but they always make the front bushes into Easter baskets. My favorite part.

Easter House of N. Portland 2

No really, take it all in.
Easter House of N. Portland 3

Can anyone find the chocolate rabbit? And lest we forget the reason for the season, there's also a cross in there.

Fantabulousness. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Scenes of an Oregon Spring: Mud

spring mud in oregon

Lest you think it's all pretty, flowery fa la la, Oregon this time of year also means mud.

Rain + ground = mud.

Goopy, wet, sloshy, squirmy.

It makes us appreciate the delicate blooms elsewhere.

But when you're in this mud? You have to be completely conscious of where you're stepping and where you're going or it's not going to be a pretty fall down.

One. Step. At. A. Time. Sweet. Jesus.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Scenes of an Oregon Spring: Things are looking up

things are looking up
Time to get a new perspective. Recharge and look at things from all angles. From new angles. Spring is a time to stretch it all out. Shake it off. Heads up to the sky.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Scenes of an Oregon Spring: Color

Flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum
When the sky is grey and the landscape is grey/barren, colors explode and vibrate. It's because of this lack of color that I'm so grateful for spring and when I see it through the beauty of nature, like this flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum).

Monday, April 06, 2009

Scenes of an Oregon Spring: First in a Series

My gentle blog readers. I am so busy. So, so so busy. I have just not made time for my dear blog. But I have so many photos to share with you. So this week, I'll post one or so every day for you to enjoy. Here is my first...

Sometimes spring brings us amazing gifts

These are croci that have naturalized in a forgotten urban space. Probably a few planted years ago, they've slowly multiplied and now they frost the ground in their lavender icing.