Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Japanese Garden, Portland I

My husband and I went for a mini-vacation to Portland, Oregon last week and, besides other things, visited the Japanese Garden there. I have to say that this was quite a memorable experience. We were very lucky with the weather that day, actually during our whole stay in Portland, and the light and the shadows were just so remarkable beautiful when we toured the garden.

It is said that the Japanese Garden in Portland is one of the most authentic outside of Japan. I don't know if that is true or not, but for sure this garden is of extraordinary beauty. My husband and I just felt instantly calm, peaceful and a strong connection to nature, in short, a sense of happiness. I think it is wonderful when a garden can affect a person that way and I am sure, we are not the only ones.

It was created by Professor Takuma Tono in 1963, who is obviously a master of this art, on 5.5 acres and contains five different gardens/garden styles: Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, Flat Garden. To me this garden felt way bigger than it actually is, probably because it is surrounded by a typical Pacific Northwest forest, so you don't perceive where the designed Japanese Garden ends and the natural woods begins.

When we entered the Portland Japanese Garden this is one of the first scenes that we saw and I immediately knew that we were in for something very special. 

I turned back to the entrance gate and spotted this beautiful simple bell.

Also close to the entrance to the right and left side were two Fu Dogs watching over the garden.

I was surprised to find some azaleas still blooming so profusely at this time of the year. 

When I spotted this gardener hard at work, I assumed that she would pinch off spent azaleas blooms and was impressed that they paid so much attention to detail in this garden.

I asked, if I could take a picture of her and we started talking, and I was more than surprised to find out that she wasn't just pinching off spent blooms from the bush, but pinching off all flowers. That was of course a startling discovery, so she was quick to explain that this was a decision made by the "higher level" of the garden management. The reasoning behind it is, that azalea blooms are out of season by now and therefore didn't go with the authentic look that a Japanese Garden should have at this time of the year.

Anyway, I loved these mossy stones with the white sparse azalea blooms.

An especially beautiful pagoda.

I don't think that it is coincidence that the pagoda mimics the tall needle trees behind her.

This area is the Strolling Pond Garden.

I was fascinated by the moss hanging from the branches of this tree. So beautiful with the sunlight shining on it.

One of the many Japanese lanterns, scattered, or better said carefully placed throughout the garden.

Another gardener doing very detailed pruning on a shrub. I wonder how many people are working in this place.

Light dancing on this azalea bush.

A traditional Japanese Tea House, striking in its simplicity. Sorry for the bad photo quality, but I wasn't able take a better shot with the strong contrasts of bright and dark in this area and didn't want to skip showing you this beautiful traditional building.

Moon Bridge in the Strolling Pond Garden. 

The gardeners used what looked to me like traditional Japanese garden tools. They are beautiful by themselves.

One last look at the Strolling Pond Garden, which was one of the most harmonious areas in my perception.

Mossy lantern, so pretty!

There were many Japanese Maples in the garden. This one had very delicate leaves that were glowing in a bronze color in the sunlight.

Scene that seems to come right out of a Japanese fairy tale. 

The Zig Zag Bridge. 

The area around the Zig Zag Bridge was planted with one kind of a blue flowering iris. Unfortunately, the variety is unknown to me.

Close-up of the lovely iris blooms. 

In this area was a nice Koi pond, filled with many differently colored Koi. 

It was lovely to see the fish eating algae at the egdes of the Koi pond. They made slurping gurgling sounds by doing so, which somehow was entertaining and calming at the same time. I found the yellow golden Koi especially attractive.

I took many more photos of the Portland Japanese Garden, that I think are worth showing. So there will be a part II soon. Hope you come back to see more of this stunningly beautiful garden!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice Garden Tour Video

Just a few hours ago I did another Periscope broadcast about some plants (mainly roses) in our backyard. I am featuring my Hybrid Perpetual Bed with two lovely chartreuse colored plants, a coleus and a heuchera. Then I move on to gardenia 'Veitchii', the Tea Rose 'Georgetown Tea', the Tea Noisette 'Madame Alfred Carriere' and 'Belinda's Dream'. Lastly I show you the Hybrid Tea rose 'Moonstone'. The latter is blooming incredible today! Maybe you would like to have a peek into my garden on this hot summer solstice day!

You can watch the broadcast on Periscope 24 hours after it was taken. My Periscope/Twitter username is csgardendreams.

The video is also on YouTube, just click here:

Wishing you all a beautiful beginning of summer!

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

May Roses

Powdery mildew and rose rust continued to be a serious problem for many of my roses in May. Rust was particularly strong in comparison to previous years, but despite that, most of the roses soldiered on and flowered beautifully.

'Rhodologue Jules Gravereaux', a Tea Rose, was my personal favorite last month. I just love the soft pink color and the elegant blooms with the edges of the petals reflexing backwards.

'Charles Darwin' stayed very healthy despite the high disease pressure.

A rose that makes a rare appearance on my blog is 'Stephen's Big Purple', a Hybrid Tea rose, with huge blooms. The plant is still growing in a two gallon pot and that might be one reason why it is not blooming that often. For my taste the color is a little bit too bright and rather a dark pink than a purple as the name promises. If I ever plant it out into the ground, I definitively need "to tone the color down" by companion plants. 

'Belinda's Dream' is supposed to do well in hot and dry climates and it does in my garden. It is planted very close to a big 'Queen Palm' and I assume for that reason is not as vigorous as expected.

Here is another shot of 'Belinda's Dream'. I like the particular pink color of this rose very much.

'Marie Pavie', as usual, is outdoing itself with flowering.

'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is also hard to beat in terms of flower power.

In my opinion the silvery pink color is very pretty.

'Reine des Violettes' at her best! This rose has a very lovely fragrance as well, fitting for an Old Garden Rose.

'Georgetown Tea', as the name indicates a Tea Rose, has a beautiful veining on the petals. Unfortunately, the rose blooms fry very easily when it is hot in San Diego and a whole flush can be ruined within hours on hot days.

'Auckland Metro' continues to be a good rose in my garden, but even though the bush normally has been very healthy, this year it also got affected by rose rust.

The rose was still blooming strongly despite the disease present on the leaves.

'Heritage' was one of the worst mildewers and rusters! If the blooms weren't so beautiful...

...I would have discarded the rose by now, already.

The blooms of 'The Prince' continue to fascinate me with their dark red captivating color and their strong "Old Garden Rose" fragrance.

The bush itself (here you can see it in my front yard in the middle of the photo) is less delightful, though. The plant is tall and has a narrow silhouette, not necessarily a pleasing bush form to the eye. The rose also suffers badly from powdery mildew in my garden and seemed to be weakened by the fungal infection.

By the way, do you see my violet gladiolus behind 'The Prince'? They have been outstanding this year and I really like how they back up 'The Prince' and fit in with the blue color scheme of the front yard.

The flowers of 'The Prince' are one of a kind, no matter what the flaws of the bush might be, they are stunningly beautiful.

I am finishing this post with a photo of 'Sweetness', a Grandiflora, photographed under gray skies. The light brought out the clear lavender color of this rose perfectly that day. 

Wishing you wonderful last days of spring!

See you in the garden!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ever heard about Periscope?

Yes, well, you must be a tech guy/girl.

No, you are like me. Or like I was until three weeks ago. That was when my husband, who is interested in all new technical developments told me about Periscope, a live video broadcast application for your smart phone, that allows you to send live videos to anyone who knows your twitter user name. The live video streams are also available in the mobile application itself. My husband thought that it would be a great application that I could use to broadcast live and globally about our garden. First I dismissed it, but later changed my mind. The possibility that I could invite all of you for a garden tour, even though it is only a virtual one, was way to tempting.

So about two weeks ago I pulled all my courage together and produced my first live Periscope broadcast about the White Garden Bed that I also blog about monthly. You have to know that I am a pretty shy person and doing this is way out of my comfort zone, but I think it is good to try out new things and sometimes you need to push yourself a little bit beyond your limits.

I don't want to discuss the technical possibilities of Periscope here on my blog, since I feel that would lead too far and it looks like that even the experts don't know yet. Periscope is still very new and seems to develop itself further every day. If it will be top or flop, only the future will tell, but I thought that it would be interesting for gardeners, who want to share their gardens, plants and experiences with a broader public.

Surprisingly I discovered that I enjoyed the experience of doing the broadcast and for the very first try ever, I think it didn't go too bad. There are a couple of things that I would like to change: first of all my strong German accent (yikes, I didn't know that it was that bad); that I was mixing up words, because I was so nervous; that I could focus more on the content of what I was about to say and not be so distracted by holding the phone camera and lastly refine my overall camera skills. So there is lots of room for improvement, of course, but I believe with more practice it will get better.

Periscope only saves the broadcasts for 24 hours, but my husband uploaded the video on YouTube. If you would like to see it, please click on the video below.

Last weekend I gave Periscope a second shot. This time I was broadcasting about part of our front yard and I think, I was already doing a little better. I spoke more slowly and the camera movement was not so erratic anymore. Here is the video of the second Periscope broadcast:

I intend to continue with these live broadcasts from my garden and other gardens that I visit. They will later appear on YouTube, so that if someone missed the 24 hour Periscope window, one still can see them.

If you want to watch my next live Periscope entry, please follow me on twitter (@csgardendreams). Then you get a tweet when I am going live. In case you are not able to watch me live, you can see the broadcast on Periscope within 24 hours after you got the tweet. After that you can visit my YouTube channel and watch the video there.

I am curious what you think about this new media? I would be thrilled if we could have a little discussion in the comment section.

See you in the garden!