Our Portland Garden in July

Portland Garden in July

I know we’ve had some super hot days here and there, but I’ve really been enjoying the weather this summer. My memory may be faulty, but the stretches of days in the mid-to-low 80’s during the day, with under 60 at night, this summer have been unusually (at least in recent years) plenty — and that’s my kind of summer weather. Warm enough (but not too warm) during the day, and plenty cool at night. We’re soon headed into a week of days over 90, including one close to 100, which means we close the house up and turn the air conditioning on — and I hate closing the house up. But I’m not built for the heat — it gets to me, and makes me grouchy and uncomfortable — and because we work from home, turning the air conditioning on is the practical choice.

This summer I’ve also installed my first drip hoses on automatic timers for the newly planted garden beds. I’m a hand waterer from way back as it gives me time to really check out the entire garden, but the ease of this new system is wonderful. The more established garden spaces are still watered periodically (and deeply) by a sprinkler that I move around. But based on the success of this drip hose trial, one day we might have a drip system for the rest of the garden too — we’ll see. The ability to go away in the summer without asking friends to spend a great deal of time managing the garden in my absence will be great.

So, what’s happening in the garden in July?…

Our Portland Garden in July

I love the blooms of the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’ and the bees love them too.  They’re both congested and airy at the same time, and they fade so beautifully as the season progresses towards this plant’s gorgeous autumn display.

Our Portland Garden in July

The Garrya elliptica has put on some good growth this year, and I’ve attached a trellis to the fence to better support its ascent.  Eventually this will block the large window of our neighbor’s newish ADU to give us some privacy back in the garden.

Our Portland Garden in July

It’s definitely warm enough that “Water for Your Dog” is back in play in our hellstrip.  It’s well used by neighborhood dogs.

Our Portland Garden in July

I’m smitten with the seed heads of this Gaillardia — at least as good as the flowers.

Our Portland Garden in July

This Salpiglossis has the most lovely colored flowers — it’s on the edge of magenta & burgundy — and its velvety texture make me happy.

Our Portland Garden in July

Over on the north side of the house the shade border still looks relatively lush.  When the neighbor’s giant, dying cherry tree is gone (Aug 6!) it will feel even more so because there won’t be dried, crispy leaves constantly falling all over the ground.  This side of the house is also having gate envy as the other side of the house was just updated.  It’s not in the budget to do anything about this gate this year, however — but in the future I’ve been sketching out some metal gate options that might be nice.

Portland Garden Gate Design

Here’s the other side for context.  Next up for over here is a path with a bridge over a bioswale.  My neighbor and his crew built this gorgeous fence, gate & arbor out of reclaimed cedar and redwood, and it will frame a joint garden we’re going to plant together on the property line this autumn.

Our Portland Garden in July

I’m continually in love with sedum of all shapes and sizes as they’re such a reliable, beautiful, hearty ground cover. And many have the most dainty flowers.

Our Portland Garden in July

This combo of sedum and Loropetalum ‘Jazz Hands’ is making me happy.

Our Portland Garden in July

And I include this photo because this fountain has been a night-time playground for raccoons recently.  Many mornings when I venture out with my coffee it’s nearly empty despite being full the night before, and the telltale signs of their adventures surround it — flattened plants, a completely eaten variegated Acanthus (which is the end of my attempts to grow this plant, which have always ended in disaster), and disturbed gravel.  There’s a mama and 2 babies living nearby, so I blame them.

Our Portland Garden in July

The hardy succulent bowl has a new addition of some amethyst for sparkle.

Our Portland Garden in July

And the first of the Lilies has opened!  I’ve got a small collection of white-flowered varieties, and I’d like to find and add a white Tiger Lily next year.

Our Portland Garden in July

This tiny Sedum is nestled up to a tiny Saxifraga between two stones and I’m looking forward to them both filling in.

Our Portland Garden in July

I rarely get super crafty, despite being a potter in my home studio, but I kept seeing these terra cotta pot wreaths and was captivated by them.  It looks a bit new at the moment, and once it has some age on it I suspect I’ll like it even more, but I love seeing it out the living room window.  It replaces a section of a wooden barrel that we had hanging as a wreath on the fence that had totally disintegrated.

Our Portland Garden in July

This was supposed to be a photo of a plant combo that’s making me really happy — and it’s still that — but it’s also a sad display of what I think is verticillium wilt on the Cotinus.  It has already claimed a Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’ in another part of the garden many years ago, and I had hoped that this Cotinus ‘Grace’ might be spared, but it appears not.  I’ll give it a good root drench with mycorrhizal fungi and we’ll see what happens.  If not this, then I guess I’ll be looking for another, less susceptible purple-leaved shrub for this space.

Our Portland Garden in July

This is the annual Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (aka: Purple Bell Vine), which is putting on a good show despite getting potentially too much morning sun.  Its neighbor, a Cobaea scandens (aka: Cup & Saucer Vine), is grower like the clappers but has yet to flower.

Our Portland Garden in July

Here we see the replacement for one of our losses two summers ago from the house lift project, a Euphorbia rigida — an odd plant to lose, but it was crushed under a steel beam for a bit so it’s understandable.  I’m happy that its replacement is starting to fill in a bit.  You can also see the advance of the aging bark of the Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’, which until recently was only just getting started — I’m looking forward to seeing much more of it as this tree gets older.

Our Portland Garden in July

And the blueberries are continuing to be delicious.  This variety is ‘Spartan’ which has massive berries.  And I love how their bunches fade from deep blue to light green as they mature.

Our Portland Garden in July

And a plant that is new to our garden this year has just begun to flower, Crocosmia ‘Solfaterre’, which is supposedly less enthusiastic than varieties like ‘Lucifer’ (which is good) and has that gorgeous bronze cast to its foliage.

Our Portland Garden in July

And the noid Clematis is still weaving its way through the conifers delightfully.

Our Portland Garden in July

I have some Nicotiana every year, and primarily it’s been outside of our bedroom window for the evening scent, but this year I’ve added some next to the front porch so we can also enjoy that scent (one of my favorites) up there in the evening too.

Our Portland Garden in July

I’ve got some tender succulents that I’m hoping to over winter in my pottery studio under a grow light, and they’re currently thriving in the sun outside.

Our Portland Garden in July

I haven’t had the best luck with Canna in my gardening life but this Canna ‘Durban’ has a lovely bloom stalk.

Our Portland Garden in July

Out front I’m delighted to see that a Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ that I thought had kicked the bucket last year has made a triumphant return, and I’m hoping it won’t flop so much this year.  You can also just see in the background that we had our front steps & path replaced with concrete recently.  The previous steps were rotting (they were wood).

Concrete Front Steps

And we’re delighted by the new ones. This photo is just after they were poured, and they’ve lightened up a bit since then.  I’m also going to replant along the path section this autumn.

Our Portland Garden in July

I might be getting into fuchsia?!  Here’s an annual variety that’s making me happy.

Our Portland Garden in July

And a wide shot of the back garden where we have yet to put up the restoration juniper 4×4 retaining wall along the back border bed.  It’s on the list for this summer but I just haven’t been overly enthusiastic about actually doing the work.

Our Portland Garden in July

Here’s the Dahlia that overwintered in the ground — it has lovely dark foliage and white flowers that fade to a very pale pink.  Around Thanksgiving last year I put a large plastic saucer over the ground where it lived and removed it in May.  I think it also benefitted from the heat of the water heater exhaust.

Our Portland Garden in July

And finally, the chocolate Cosmos have started blooming, and I love them with the backdrop of the dwarf purple barberry in the front garden.

Kate McMillan

Author Kate McMillan

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