My thumb is not necessarily green, but, I do get lucky from time to time. My gardening experience is project oriented and many times focuses on plant collection. The projects are planned in advance. Then there are the random trips to the nursery where things just sort of follow me home. For example, one day a five foot tall tree peoney just climbed in the car with me. Another time it was a giant tree fern that now has fronds 6 feet long, and a trunk six inches thick. For some odd reason now I have a collection of Sisyrinchium angustifolium and californicum growing next to a giant gunnera in the back yard. Tucked away in a corner by the chimney you'll find a very happy, healthy Goodyeara oblongifolia (Rattlesnake Orchid) that is never supposed to grow in captivity. I just don't know how these things happen.
I like to use as many native plants as possible in landscaping. They are usually more disease resistant than hybrids, and require less irrigation. Water conservation is important to me, even though here in northwestern Oregon water is hardly a rare item. I find it's easier to control weeds in flowerbeds where plants are individually drip-fed. I am also experimenting with introducing food crops into the landscaping. No, I don't mean planting a row of corn along the driveway. But, how about the bold, blue-gray leaves of an artichoke as a feature in a rock garden? I'm thinking the dark green mounds and large yellow flowers of summer squash could catch one's eye as well. Rather than plow up the ground like an 'official' vegetable garden, I'm running drip irrigation to the plants and leaving the ornamental bark dust covering the soil. After the crops are gone I may replace the plants with pansies or ornamental cabbage for the winter.
I'm also interested in environmentally friendly pest control, and use as few chemicals as possible. Aphids respond well to insecticidal soap, and, mixed with sulpher, controls mildew as well.
I built the pond in August of 1999 (at the home we sold in 2003). The 'rock' waterfall was created from styrofoam, chicken wire and concrete. The whole project consumed a week of precious vacation time. I'm now learning all about pond chemistry, algae control, aphid control (yes, my water lily has a serious aphid problem), and filter maintenance.
I started my carnivorous bog in January of 2000. This was (again, at the old house) my pride and joy. It is a joy primarily because after the initial design and installation, I have had to do almost nothing but pour water on it. So far, this is the high impact, low maintenance garden of my dreams. A few weeds appear from time to time, but they are easily plucked from the soft, damp soil. I have planted pitcher plants, venus flytraps, sundews, butterworts and bladderworts. I only selected a single hybrid for this collection. All the rest (more than 20 species) are native plants, though not indigenous to my area. One plant in my collection, Sarracenia oreophila, is actually on the endangered species list. Unless something extraordinary is done, at the rate its natural habitat is being destroyed in Alabama and Georgia it will be extinct in the wild in a few years. This garden has been a source of great pleasure, watching the bugs get eaten by the plants, rather than the usual bug eats plant scenario. Check it out - it's a kick!
So, now with a new home and new yard to populate, I've started all over. I have a small collection of fuchsia, a growing (no pun intended) collection of native ferns, and most recently I've planted a heather garden with 45 or so different varieties. I've also taken the time to whine about the sad things I see happening in gardens tended by the less competent. One of these days I'll talk about my new pond after it recovers from the most recent raccoon damage.