50 for 50

Well, despite my best intentions, I somehow turned 50 on June 19th. I tried to stay young, to deny my mortality, but somehow I’ve gotten officially “old”. At least according to my younger self. Believe me, I know, 50 is no longer considered that old. But, it’s all relative, right? I’ve never been 50 before and the actual fact is darn weird. How on earth did this happen? To celebrate, I toured the garden on June 19th and took photos of all the flowers that caught my eye. Today, I am going to post at least 50 of them. I’ll keep the words to a minimum. Here we go!

Deer garden

1. Dranunculus vulgaris 18" spathe.
Largest flower I've ever grown.
I had 3 blooming at once. Terrible stench. Flies everywhere.
Goes flaccid afterwards. No more stink.
Stem pattern
2. Leptospermum namadgiensis
3. Paeonia lactiflora
4. Geranium dalmaticum
5. Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Bickovo'
Wide shot of the chaos
6. Alstroemeria aurantiaca
7. Aquilegia formosa
8. Kniphofia uvaria
9. Veratrum californicum var. caudatum
Floral close-up
10. Digitalis purpurea
11. Digitalis lutea
12. Iris tenax from clearcut across the street
13. Lychnis coronarius


14. Mammillaria compressa
15. Parodia crassigibba
16. Mammillaria elongata with its straw-textured flowers
17. Mammillaria fragilis. Trying the can planters.
18. First plant I remember growing as a child. Chamaecereus silvestrii.
19. Opuntia fragilis debreczyi var denuda.
Older flowers turn orange.
20. Opuntia polyacantha 'Painfully Pink'

Front rock garden - North

21. Eschscholzia californica 'Red Chief'
22. Sideritis syriaca
23. Sedum album. Another plant from childhood.
24. Silene uniflora, looking southwest
25. Daphne 'Lawrence Crocker'
26. Dianthus plumarius
27. Minuartia laricifolia

Front rock garden - South

28. Umbilicus rupestris
29. Dianthus noeanus
30. Callistemon viridiflorus 'Shamrock'
31. Eriogonum compositum
32. Vernonica (Hebe) sutherlandii
33. Prosanthera cuneata
34. Scutellaria alpina
35. Lavandula stoechas
36. Scutellaria orietalis cretacea
37. Phyteuma oribiculare
38. Lewisia columbiana

Basaltica - side rock garden

39. Penstemon hirsutus

Raised beds

40. Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) in raised beds between the sun garden (left) and Basaltica (right)
I love these. A childhood favorite from age 4 or 5.
Bicolor lusciousness
Doily pattern (Dolly Parton)
41. Calendula officinalis

Sun garden

42. Stachys byzantina. One plant that I wish wouldn't bloom. Ever.

Perennial beds

43. Delphinium grandiflorum 'Black Knight'
44. Abies koreana 'Gait'
45. Surprisingly pretty, Alchemilla mollis
46. Umbilicus oppositifolius
47. Impulse purchase, Calceolaria biflora 'Goldcap'
Reminding me of Patagonia
48. Saxifraga stolonifera
49. Saxifraga crustata and fly
50. Persicaria affinis
51. Allium moly 'Jeannine'

Whoops! That’s more than 50. Well, I need some to grow on…

52. Spigelia marilandica 'Little Redhead'. The plant of the year. Seemingly every nursery is selling this.
53. Rhazya orientalis
54. Geranium 'Rozanne'
55. Iris foetidissima with flower spider.
56. Trigger plant for some of you. Sorry.
Spiraea japonica 'Magic Carpet'.
57. Coreopsis grandiflora 'Early Sunrise'
58. Sisyrinchium striatum
59. Lupinus polyphylla
Lupin aphids, lots of them this year.

Back rock garden

Back rock garden, looking roughly southwest. Green before the July heatwave.
60. Triteleia hyacinthina - local native bulb
61. Monardella 'Marian Sampson' struggling to survive
62. Blue pollen on Collomia grandiflora, native
63. Onosma taurica
64. Penstemon smallii
65. Silene armeria. Always seeds in the path, never where I want it to.
66. Impulse buy, Diplacus aurantiacus. Looking for the right spot.
67. Centaurea simplicicaulis

Woodland garden

68. Lilum columbianum. Native. It was here when we bought the place.
69. Trifolium pratense
70. Prunella vulgaris.

*Side note: If I ever start breeding plants, and I decide to work on Prunella vulgaris, I will be sure to name my favorite one as ‘Prunella Deville’ after a Disney movie villain.

71. Geranium oreganum. Local native from seed down the road.
72. Clematis integrifolia. From seed.
73. Hemerocallis fulva (common daylily) - not a favorite, but it holds the soil in place and keeps the weeds down.
74. Dichelostemma congestum, local native bulb
75. Muehlenbeckia axillaris
76. Rosa 'Red Cascade', a climbing miniature rose. I grew this when I was about 12 in NM.
77. Flowers of Rubus armeniacus amongst the leaves of Rubus parviflorus.
78. Claytonia perfoliata
79. Spiraea douglasii, local native shrub
80. Erythranthe guttata, local native wetland plant
81. Phlomis russeliana, the most abundant flower blooming in the garden

That’s a wrap. I’m out of steam and it is a hot, hot, hot 120°F on the front porch today, July 6th (96°F in the shade). We’re in the middle of an intense heat wave and many of the new plants aren’t going to make it through this. Yuck. However, it sure was nice to relive what was blooming in the garden back when everything was cooler on June 19th! Stay cool everybody.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Jane / MulchMaid

    Belated birthday wishes! You have some beauties in your count and it’s nice to see some with a bit more context. I have struggled with Monardella macrantha ‘Marian Sampson’ in Portland and now in Astoria. Why does she have to be so very challenging?

    Onward, to 51 … or 81!

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      It’s odd, because Marian Sampson is described as vigorous by many other folks. I think I am going to try propagating it and put it in a few other places. Maybe a more sandy/gravelly mix will be more to its liking? Glad I am not the only one struggling with it.

  2. Anna K

    Happy belated birthday! If it makes you feel any better, I can’t even remember what I did on my 50th birthday. 😂 Life goes on – until it doesn’t. I wish I would have asked my grandma if she felt her age. I don’t think she did. She died a young 95 and a half. All of this to say; don’t sweat the number. Because that’s all it is. A number.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I had a good friend, Inge, back in Caroline NY, who was in her 80s. I remember her saying how she would look in the mirror and be constantly startled because she looked so much older than what she felt. I don’t think we ever really truly grasp the meaning of time and its influence on us. I have an atrocious memory, so doubt I will remember my 50th either, except that L made a lovely video celebrating my 50 years on this planet and hopefully that will remind me that we had a small gathering of close friends at Dancing Oaks Nursery that Saturday.

  3. Elena

    Happy belated birthday! You have such an amazing and lovely collection of plants there, so many unfamiliar to me here in the east coast. I particularly like some of your native species. I commiserate with you, we are having 100+ temperatures here too, together with drought–a deadly combination for plants.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thank you Elena! It will be interesting to see what pulls through. We are about midway through our heat wave, I hope. I wish there was a way to convince everyone to take our climate seriously. Hopefully, the natives will take things in stride better than some of the other plants in the garden. The hard part is always getting them established the first 2-3 years. The awful part of this weather for you, on the east coast, is all the humidity. I remember that well from my days back in WI and NY. Hopefully you’ve got some air conditioning and our collective heat waves pass quickly.

  4. Oh my gosh, Jerry, it’s all fabulous, just like a certain 50 year old I know ;) HAPPY BIRTHDAY! So much to see, so many plants looking amazing. Clematis integrifolia from seed? Wow. Prunella Deville? Hilarious! Umbilicus rupestris? Amazing. Those Eschscholzia ‘Red Chief’ are dreamy. All fabulous. Let’s cross our collective fingers we all get through this heat wave with little damage. And yes, age is just a number. Somehow it’s easy to picture all of us as 8 year olds squealing with delight at each new plant we encounter. Cheers.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Tamara! Looking forward to schmoozing with you and the rest of the Oregon peeps at The Fling in a little over a week. I get most of my Clematis seed from NARGS, the North Am. Rock Garden Society. I’ve been trying to get a few species going, but it has been a slow process. It’s fun when something works out! Ha, I wish I was 8 again! Lots of laughs at that age. I sometimes wonder what my younger self would think of my older self if we could somehow meet at the same time. See you soon!

  5. danger garden

    That’s A LOT of flowers! I love the “Green before the July heatwave” photo and the name Opuntia polyacantha ‘Painfully Pink’ is so darn perfect! Happy 50… it’s the oldest you’ve ever been! Well until today.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Well, too be honest, I’ve done something absolutely atrocious. I named the Opuntia ‘Painfully Pink’ myself. It came without a name from one of our favorite local nurseries and I decided to do the honors. Was trying to think of something more imaginative, but that was the best I could do that day. Looking forward to reading this post again, when I am older again, in a few more minutes…

  6. Denise

    Happy birthday! I love how you celebrate it with 50+ photos of your incredible garden. And keep in mind that “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” ;)

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Well, just like Indiana Jones, I am starting to feel my mileage. I am still thankful to be on this planet in my present iteration though. There is still a lot of joy to be had nurturing the garden and observing this beautiful planet we call home. Looking forward to meeting you at The Fling!

  7. Kris P

    Well, you’ve demonstrated in no uncertain terms that 50 is fabulous, Jerry! I love so many of your 50 pics, especially the stem on the Dranunculus vulgaris and the Veratrum. (I’ve chosen to ignore the aphids.) Happy birthday! Those decade markers can be jarring but it’s best to ignore them. (Like the aphids they don’t mean much in the overall scheme of things.)

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thanks Kris! Looking forward to meeting you too at The Fling! I’ve just decided I should probably have 50 foliage photos too, but my idea list for blog posts continually grows. It’s nice to have something to think about. I’m one of those weirdos that think aphids are sort of cute. I forgot to check if the ladybeetles were feeding on them! See you soon!

  8. Wow, that was a wonderful tour! I don’t know where to start to comment on individual plants/flowers–but they all look happy and healthy. 50 IS young…I know it’s funny to hear it when you’re feeling the age thing, but many more years ahead! Happy birthday! Your garden looks great!

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thanks Beth! Yes, definitely age is relative. I am thankful for what I am able to do and to be able to keep gardening. Looking forward to many more years of horticulture to come!

  9. S.

    Happy Belated! (genX represent!!)
    I’ve found my 50’s (not done with them yet, whew) to be a very interesting decade so far. I expect that to continue (even without the insane amount of turmoil with everything beyond gardening atm)
    With this heat I’m watering like crazy because I’ve been adding so much. I learned the hard way drought tolerant does not mean the first year. There has to be enough water to grow the roots.

    These garden pictures look great and after this week, refreshing. I like seeing the different perspectives, too. I hope you have some good survivors after this long scorch. I hope your neighbors didn’t dam your creek again.

    I’ve just been reading about a new(?) Salvia called “Celestial Blue” that’s a cross between s. clevelandii and s.pachyphylla. It’s being presented as hella tough, can handle anything except waterlogged soil. It sounds like something that might be a good contender for your garden. Have you tried it yet?

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      It’s strange being on the other side of 50. I used to think of myself as one of the few younger people interested in plants and gardening. No more. I’ve officially joined the ranks of the gray haired people I used to roll my eyes at (only sometimes, I swear!). Doesn’t seem like there are many gen-exer gardeners out there compared to older generations either.
      I was able to mostly keep up on watering over the holiday, but can’t keep up during the work week. After working late, the last thing I want to do is get up extra early or stay up late watering. Fortunately, the irrigation system L put in last year is taking some of that burden off. I’ve lost quite a few things anyway, but oh well, try, try, try again I guess.
      I don’t think the neighbors are pumping out water yet, but the creek is almost completely dry compared to 3 days ago when it was fairly full. It will be interesting to see if it bounces back as the temperatures cool or whether this will be the year it dries up completely.
      Coincidentally, I have heard of Celestial Blue. Had a nice plant of it since 2021, but unfortunately it kicked the bucket during our January freeze. Salvia patens ‘Guanajuato’ and Salvia reptans ‘Blue Willow’, purchased at the same time, have returned however. I would give Celestial Blue another try if I can find it. It was a nice one.

  10. Chavli

    Now back stateside, I can wish you a belated Happy Birthday. Those round number years seem to throw us off a little, though we still live just one day at a time :-D
    Your garden looks fantastic. I was taken aback by the very unusual Collomia grandiflora’s blue pollen: Wow! And I’m very envious of your Abies koreana ‘Gait’. How big is this gorgeous fir of yours?

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thanks Chavli! I have to laugh, because of your question about how big my Abies koreana ‘Gait’ is. It is a mere 12 inches tall (if that!) and it is an awkward, lopsided thing. That was its first cone! Where did you go?

  11. Chavli

    I visited gardens of Cornwall, in South West England. I’m still in a dream-like state…

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