This yew plant in my garden measured three feet in height for many years. I don’t think it was fond of our High Desert temperature fluctuations. Last year it finally grew taller so now it’s almost five feet tall.
Yesterday I caught one of our resident “landscapers” chewing on the new growth. Guess he thought it needed a trim. 😉
A blooming cosmos is one of my favorite sights to see in a garden. We had several colors of cosmos in our garden this summer, but this magenta-colored flower was my favorite. I love how the color contrasts with the bright yellow center. The bees appreciated them as well.
Oregon grape up close in my yard dressed in seasonal colors. The prickly leaves on this semi-evergreen shrub get burgundy highlights in the fall. Oregon grape plants have yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the summer. It’s striking year-round.
When I first saw this praying mantis on hop plants in our garden of plenty, I thought it must be a species I had never seen. Its coloring was so light it was almost white. I learned that when some types of mantis shed their skin, they stay white for a short period of time. They can molt 10 times before reaching their adult size. This one will probably turn green, like others I have seen on our property.
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is to pick images that go with five possible words. I chose to use all five.
I am featuring pictures from a late September trip to The Oregon Garden, in Silverton, Oregon. It’s an 80-acre botanical garden that is beautiful to visit during any season.
This mixed border is an “exuberant” mix of colorful flowers of various sizes and textures.
This planting looked “comfortable” with every plant spaced out so you can appreciate the details.
These chrysanthemums are “crowded” together in a quilt of color.
This landscape is “growing” red as fall approaches.
The cactus garden is “tangled” with the spiky leaves of prickly pear.
It can get crowded at The Oregon Garden, so if you don’t want to get tangled in traffic, plan your visit for a comfortable time of day so you can experience this growing attraction with the exuberance it deserves.
Last year we started to create a new garden space in our backyard. After a lot of work, it’s looking like a garden of plenty now.
This is how it looked several years ago when we bought the place. The house included a fenced dog run with a heated doghouse.
Some of the beds in our newly-created garden are bordered by rocks collected on our property, and others are store bought. Smaller rocks we collected on our rock hounding adventures decorate the edges of the raised beds. See the obsidian from Glass Buttes?
What’s growing in our garden
This year we have lots of flowers filling in the spaces between the fruits and vegetables. The flowers include sunflowers, Bachelor’s buttons, sweet alyssum, clematis, hollyhocks, nasturtium, and poppies.
The sunflowers grew so tall, we had to clip through the bird netting to allow them to reach their full height.
We’ve had a great crop of veggies including kohlrabi, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.
The raspberries we put in last year are finally producing. We had a few strawberries this year in the garden and they were tasty and sweet.
The garden is fenced with two kinds of fencing and bird netting, but we still find unexpected visitors. This tree frog looked very comfortable around the beet plants.
Our fruit and vegetable garden has filled out and the rest of the landscaping has too. Here’s what it looks like now.
The spruce trees are huge and the birds love them. The Russian sage, the large shrub with purple flowers in the middle of the picture, is more than six feet tall.
Like many of you out there, we are putting more time into gardening this year. Our repurposed dog run has been transformed into a garden of plenty.
To weed or not to weed. Sometimes weeding is a big job, so how can you tell which plant is a weed?
Are the tall plants in this photo weeds that I should pull?
What about this plant with pretty purple flowers?
Are these two plants weeds?
You can’t always determine what kind of plant it is, but plant ID tools will help.
Websites & Apps
A good place to start, is the Wildflower Search website. You can narrow down the possibilities by clicking on a map with the general location you saw the plant. You can narrow it down more by inputting if it’s a tree, shrub, flower, grass, etc. Entering the color of the flower and the time of year you observed it narrows it down even more. This site goes into more detail with options including the growth pattern of leaves and the number of flower petals but most of the time, just selecting the options already mentioned helps determine what it is.
Here in Oregon, you can get a paid app for Oregon Wildflower identification. It has similar features to the Wildflower Search site. This app is great to have on your phone when you’re out in the field. Is there a plant ID app where you live? They are a great resource!
I saved my favorite plant identification tool for last. Install the Google Lens app and take a picture with your phone. Open the picture and click on the icon and your screen will sparkle like it’s been sprinkled with pixie dust. Then it will magically show you pictures with names of possible plants. I have also used this app for identifying random antiques, but identifying plants is what I use it for the most. Does Google Lens work perfectly in identifying everything? No! Yesterday I took a picture of a lizard on a juniper tree. It told me it was a pangolin, a type of scaly anteater, on bamboo. 😀 However, Google Lens usually narrows things down and then you can refer to field guides, etc.
So back to my original questions about if I should pull the plants pictured.
Google Lens tells me the first plant is a type of mullein. They are considered a weed where I live. However, birds love the seeds on those tall stalks so I leave a few in the landscaping for them. It’s okay to keep plants that aren’t native if you keep them from getting out of control.
The second plant, with the pretty purple flowers, is spotted knapweed. It is so invasive around Central Oregon that you can be fined up to $750 a day per lot. I pull every one of those I see. The local Noxious Weed Program helps landowners identify aggressive, non-native plants.
The last picture is a twofer. Are these plants weeds? I can click on each plant and Google Lens will tell me what they are. The yellow flowered plant is Oregon sunshine. This native plant grows like a weed, but I love its cheerful color and long-lasting blooms so I don’t pull it. The pink flowered plant is iceplant. It’s an escapee from a landscaped part of our yard. It gets no water where it is but it’s doing great! Both these plants will stay where they are.
Good luck with your attempts at plant ID. Hope these tools help.
When I walk my dog in the Old Mill district, I always smile when I see the art at the amphitheater. The Les Schwab Amphitheater is the main venue for large events in Bend, Oregon. Minneapolis artist, Erin Sayer, painted the crow on one side of the stage and the owl on the other.
Fellow Minneapolis artist, Yuya Negishi, assisted her. Yuya painted a dragon mural on the side of a building across the river and another mural on a staircase.
Even the utility boxes are painted.
There’s a big, open field in front of the stage.
The Deschutes River runs behind the stage. Here’s a view from across the river. Those silos on the right side belong to Deschutes Brewery.
Events are temporarily postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus. Huge crowds, such as these seen at Bend Brewfest, often fill the fields at events.
The flower border along one side of the field is spectacular at certain times of the year.
Accommodations for entertainers at this venue are unique. They are old boxcars resting on a section of train track. You can see the old train station, built in 1911, across the street.
Here’s a closer view of the train station on a winter day. Now it’s the Art Station, managed by Bend Park and Recreation District. It offers art classes for adults and children.
Art at the Amphitheater shows up in many forms including murals, concerts, colorful flower borders, art classes, and locally brewed beers. 😀
You may have heard of this plant referred to in the classic western, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. But did you know purple sage is not actually in the sagebrush family? It’s a type of sage in the mint family, Lamiaceae, and one of its common names is “mint sage.” If you crush the leaves in your hand you’ll be able to tell why.
I’ve seen purple sage, Salvia dorrii, in various high desert locations in eastern Oregon. Gray Butte, just northeast of Smith Rock, is a great place to see this native shrub in full bloom.
Purple sage grows in the western United States and northwestern Arizona, south to the Mojave Desert. It grows on open slopes, flats, or foothill areas receiving 7-15 inches of annual precipitation. This shrub grows in low to high elevations in sandy, rocky, and limestone soils. It often grows in stands of sagebrush and in pinyon-juniper habitats.
This plant is a semi-evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 1-3 feet and a width of 2-4 feet. Its narrow, grey-green leaves are rounded at the tips. The flowers are purple and dark blue and they appear in spike-like clusters. Purple sage blooms from May through June. Their gray to red-brown fruit is 1/8 inch or smaller.
Purple sage in the garden
Purple sage can be grown in gardens. This plant grows in full sun and has very low water requirements. Purple sage is propagated by seeds, dividing the plants in early spring, or taking cuttings of new growth. It attracts bees, butterflies, and birds, including hummingbirds. This shrub is deer and rabbit resistant. Purple sage grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 4b through 10a. That includes areas with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of -30 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Native Americans made use of this plant throughout its range. Stems and leaves of purple sage were used as a cure for colds by the Kawasiiu, Paiute, Shoshoni, Okanagan-Colville, and Washoe tribes. They also applied poultices to the chest, smoked the dried leaves, and made steam baths from parts of the plant. It was used in various forms to treat headaches, stomachaches, fever, influenza, pneumonia, gonorrhea, swollen leg veins, eye problems, and general illness. Hopi, Kumai, and Paipai used this sage to treat epilepsy, headaches, stomachaches, and other conditions. The Kawasiiu people threw it into the fire to ward off ghosts.
Fun Fact: The genus name of this plant, Salvia, comes from the Latin word salveo. It means “Be well/ in good health.”
There are many shades of obsidian in nature. The Weekend Challenge from GC and SueW, and their monthly color challenge for June, is the color Obsidian.
By coincidence, I was out in the yard yesterday morning rearranging some of the obsidian I’ve collected at nearby Glass Buttes. Here in Bend, Oregon, we recently had a huge storm with high winds, rain, and hail. My rocks all had a nice bath. 😉
Here are few portraits of obsidian rocks in my garden.
A piece of black obsidian in with the ice plants. I like to pick up pieces that have interesting textures.
Here’s a larger piece of black obsidian tucked in under the mint plants.
Here are a trio of mahogany obsidian rocks.
Here are three smaller pieces beneath a cholla cactus. Spotted mahogany colored rocks, like the middle piece in the photo below, are called leopardskin obsidian. If that’s true, is the striped piece on the left tigerskin obsidian? I don’t think so!
Go to OreRockOn and look under the Obsidian & Knapping for Sale tab to see pictures of many varieties of obsidian.
This is green sheen obsidian. It has stripes of green color crossing the black.
This piece of silver sheen obsidian is being guarded by a prickly pear cactus. Silver sheen, and other types of obsidian, have a sparkly iridescence when you tilt them in the light.
This gunmetal obsidian, next to an Oregon sunshine plant, blends in with the color of the gravel. Gunmetal is solid gray in color.
These are just a few of the many shades of obsidian located an hour away from my house. Lucky me!
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Pastimes so I immediately thought of rocks. I have always collected them.
Here’s a still life of rocks in my collection. Some we found, some were purchased, and others were gifts.
A couple of weeks ago we visited Glass Buttes, one of my favorite places. Yes, there are several types of obsidian in this haul, but I also picked up ones that looked cool. I like the large one in the upper left in particular.
I try to incorporate the rocks we find at various locations into our landscaping. Here’s a few around a cholla cactus I started from a single “leaf.”
Stones encircling a golden sword yucca plant.
Igneous rock from our property was used to make the border of this raised bed in the vegetable garden. The hops and chives are growing well.
However, I am not the only rock painter in my neighborhood. When the lock down started due to the coronavirus, a few of my neighbors began to paint rocks with positive messages and distribute them around the neighborhood. This one was by my mailbox one day. This is one of my most precious rocks!
This sharp-shinned hawk was either cooling its jets because it was overheated or it was pretending to be a piece of yard art to lure in an unsuspecting songbird. 😉 It stood in my backyard creek for a LONG time!
These wild buckwheat blossoms were photographed in the High Desert near Bend, Oregon. I believe this is a variety of Eriogonum umbellatum, the sulfur flower. Their yellow blossoms brighten up the desert like little rays of sunshine!