things and places for homes and gardens

Beach gardens

Thursday 29 July 2010 - Filed under Plants

New Zealand Flax flowers
The last two winters in a row took down almost all the New Zealand Flax in Portland, and most Portlander gardeners seem to be swearing off the plant for good. How’s that going, by the way? I’ve already caved on that resolution. However, it’s not one of those plants you have to travel to far to see in action. The Oregon Coast can grow New Zealand Flax like crazy, the plants over there are nothing like the ones we see in town. I would have thought it was California if I didn’t know better. I mentioned in a previous post that Lincoln City had towering tall, blooming specimens dotting the roadside in various parking lots. They were all so big, I couldn’t get a good look at the flowers. For those who live in more phormium-hospitable climates, it must seem rather common and mundane, but in Portland, despite the past popularity of the plant, it almost never blooms. I had several plants in my yard for years, and I didn’t even know they were capable of blooming until I saw one on business trip to California.

New Zealand Flax flowers
Down at Cannon Beach last week, I saw the Oregon Coast magic working on phormiums once again. This plant was polite enough to be short, so I could get a good look at the flowers close up. I just love the black stems. The picture is a little crummy and blurry. I had a bunch of in-laws in tow on this particular walk, and couldn’t hold them up too long looking at the plants, since I was the one who instigated a trip in search of a cafe with WiFi. I had a whole weekend without phone or internet access, it was killing me.

New Zealand Flax flowers
The flowers remind me of Kangaroo Paws. I wonder if they make good cut flowers.

Olivia and daisy
My niece Olivia became fascinated with some daisies along the way. They’re not a plant I would ordinarily stop for, but I will always encourage a budding gardener, so we examined these for a while.

Olivia wanted me to get a photo of one of them, how could I refuse such a request?

Haystack rock tidepools
The house we stayed in was right by Haystack Rock, which is designated as a Marine Garden, a term I hadn’t heard before, but I like it. Anemones must be the agaves of Marine Gardens – their graceful shape and dramatic beauty demands you acknowledge them as the focal point.

Haystack rock tidepools
The starfish were looking especially vivid.

Haystack rock tidepools

chihuahua puppy
And in other beach life… we have a new member of the extended family. A couple months ago, I fostered a litter of four chihuahuas. Really sweet dogs, way more well behaved than you could reasonably expect puppies to be. The biggest surprise of my stint fostering chihuahuas is that many people really don’t like this breed. Of all the dogs I’ve fostered, I had only ever heard people talk about disliking pit bulls before, but amazingly, even more people say they dislike chihuahuas. I’ve learned over the years in both gardening and animals, never say never. You think you don’t like a particular plant or type of dog, then you see one you do like that wins you over. This little one here did exactly that, won the hearts of my brother in law and his girlfriend. They recently lost a very sweet Staffie, little miss Paris. She was a tough girl, went camping and climbing, and all the outdoorsy things Matt and Michelle love to do. Imagine my surprise when they set their sites on this 1 pound pipsqueak.

matt & zoo zoo
Puppy and her new owners all seem very happy, and I get to keep another one of my foster pups in my life. I love it when that happens.

2010-07-29  »  megan

Talkback x 7

  1. Loree / danger garden
    29 July 2010 @ 7:44 am

    First things first that last picture…too cute! What an adorable little ham.

    I noticed the same thing about the flax on the coast and took a picture to post. Sadly I didn’t get a photo of one in bloom, although I saw several. I love your comparing the Anemones and Agaves! There is a big tank at the Oregon Zoo that has a beautiful collection, I can stare at them for hours.

  2. Denise
    29 July 2010 @ 8:54 am

    Love your Oregon beaches, where we’ve spent many summers. What a great matchmaker you are. I don’t think there’s a dog born I wouldn’t like. About the phormiums…I swore off them too for a while, for different reasons of course They get huge here and ungainly and crowd everything else out. But a couple have been sneaking back in. ‘Allison Blackman’ was too stunning to pass up, and she’s been growing slow and compact.

  3. Urban Eden
    29 July 2010 @ 9:25 am

    Next thing to keep your eye out for: the amazing dangly seed pods that develop after the Phormiums bloom! Wish I had a photo for you, but like you noted, they’re kinda pedestrian for us here in the Bay Area! :>

  4. ricki - sprig to twig
    29 July 2010 @ 10:12 am

    Aaaah…I feel refreshed by your beach report. Now I am longing for a trip to the coast myself. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Karen
    31 July 2010 @ 10:02 am

    I love that your niece is interested in plants. So nice of you to comply with her photo requests. Those Shasta daisies can make an impact in the right spot, so I am trying not to sneer at them so much as I used to (I have a few weedy spots of them). Beach vacation, yay! Always so many tough plants to admire in that type of ecosystem. Adorable puppy, looks like you helped him find the exact right perfect forever home. Yay!

  6. tina
    31 July 2010 @ 6:07 pm

    Wow on the beach and starfish. I’ve never seen such beautiful sea creatures. The starfish I saw in Maine were nice but always a brown. That daisy your niece found is a really cool daisy. Such a pretty close up. And oh isn’t it nice when dogs have happy endings. Such a cute little thing! But as an owner of a chihuahua mix I can tell you they bite and they bark an annoying yippy bark all the time. At least all the ones I’ve known are kind of mean like this-not to the owners though. They do become very loyal and faithful friends and it’s so great your foster will stay in the family.

  7. Grace
    31 July 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    What an absolutely adorable pup, Megan! She looks so tiny on the massive beach. Congrats to the new owners and how nice that you’ll be able to witness her growing years.

    I confess: Two phormiums. Jester came home with me in April and what I think is ‘Yellow Stripe’ is a newbie from the rescue shelves at Home Despot. [sic] I’m weak. I will take better care of them this winter. Ahem, yes I will.

    Bless Olivia’s little heart. She’s got an eye for beauty. She’ll be watching you and learning from the best.

    Marine Garden: I’ve never heard the term either but it’s absolutely perfect, isn’t it? Those anemones are amazing.