the gates of hell

the gates of hell
The Gates of Hell

Sunday, November 15, 2015

devil ducks

The devil ducks are taking advantage of the puddles from the heavy rain. I love the fall color of this Cornus sericea 'Cardinal' (red twig dogwood) in the devil garden, brightens the place right up. Not sure how long it will last in this pot, but I'm afraid if I plant it in the ground, it will take right over, nowhere enough room for it.

Another bright spot in the devil garden today--can you see the malevolent black crow heads in this molten glass disc? Rorschach anyone?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Halloween minions

Its wonderful to have spider minions doing my Halloween decorating, and doing so much higher than I would dare go on a ladder myself. I'm used to face-fulls of spiderwebs in the fall, but these are particularly awesome--huge, completely out of reach, and as high as I can see. I thought of circling the webs to make them easier to locate, but it would ruin the view. Maybe you'll see them all...maybe you won't...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jekyll and Hyde

Spent a wonderful morning at Bellevue Botanical Garden's Art in the Garden event today. I'm uncertain of final placement of my new sculpture, but this spot is a strong contender. Lends an ominous tone to the entry into the devil garden. The ravens are scythe blades, mounted to a scythe handle. The scythe invokes the Grim Reaper, so fitting at the gates of hell. The artist (Steve Bryant) named these birds Heckle and Jeckle, but I have renamed them Jekyll and Hyde, just because. I was inspired to look up the relevant poem, and have pasted it below for your reading pleasure.

The Raven

By Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

T-Rex bouquet

Nothing like a private jungle to produce an enormous bouquet. This is composed of (a 4 foot wide!) Tetrapanax leaf, and Joe Pye weed and butterfly bush flowers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Angel of Death

If I were a poet, I'd write an ode to Cardiocrinum giganteum (Giant Himalayan Lily). It took my breath away this year. I nicknamed it "Angel of Death" (thanks to Amanda for the idea) because of its location in the devil garden, angelic white blooms towering on high, and also because it dies after a multi-year march to flowering. Since I'm not a poet, I'm just offering some basic documentation here. I planted this bulb in 2013, it was part of the initial devil garden planting. It must have been several years old already.

March 22nd of this year, newly sprouting again, already with gorgeous leaves.
 By April 8th, the developing stalk made it obvious this would be the flowering year.
April 27th, growing rapidly toward the sky. (That's a 5.5 foot fence.)
June 1st, passed the 8 foot mark, with buds starting to develop.

 Flowers opened for about a week mid-June.

The remaining stalk today. It will darken and the seed pods will grow larger over the summer. I'm happy to leave this sentinel in place until it topples, sometime in winter? This is an awesome plant...I am in awe.

Friday, May 29, 2015

yet another kin to the devil's apple (aka mayapple)

I am so enamored of Podophyllums, all of them! This is Podophyllum pleianthum, or Chinese mayapple. Makes a fabulous umbrella for my neighbor Totoro. Wide-eyed duck prefers to stay out in the rain. (These first two photos were taken in April showers, on April 1.)
The new leaves are unbelievably glossy! (Its not wet in these last two photos. The first was taken a week ago, the last was taken yesterday.)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

dancing delavayi, anagram: Aya, dancing devil

Podophyllum delavayi, now nicknamed Aya (though I don't think that really takes the devil out of her), has been dancing since birth. Well, almost since birth; she started out looking more like a clutch of half-submerged brussels sprouts. First the emergence of the amazing leaves, toad-patterned parasols swaying to music, then the emergence of amazing red flowers reminiscent of ballgowns. And another surprise underneath; her yellow petticoats fluttered when she kicked up her heels in the heat today.
[she or they? I'm not sure]

Friday, May 8, 2015

catching flies

I have started a few patches of several varieties of wild ginger, which make a beautiful evergreen ground cover. I started with Asarum europaeum, which is dark green, low to the ground, and has quite unremarkable tiny hidden flowers. Asarum flowers lie nearly face down in the dirt, apparently because they are pollinated by flies and/or beetles.

Last fall I added Asarum speciosum 'Woodlanders Select.' The leaves are much taller with bright green variegation, almost lime-colored. The flowers are a little larger and much more dramatic, though they still take some effort to find and appreciate. They are so bizarre that I had to share. They started off looking rather, shall I say, male. Most have now cracked open and seem alternately ominous and gorgeous, depending on my mood.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Mike the headless chicken

I have nicknamed this Schefflera delavayi "Mike" as of today. It's hard to describe how very much Mike actually gives the impression of several chickens upended and stuffed into last year's schefflera stalk. Here are some photos that don't quite do justice to Mike's actual appearance. And, no, I'm not going to post any photos of Mike the headless chicken. That's what google is for.

On a sweeter note, the angel in the devil garden (aka Giant Himalayan Lily or Cardiocrinum giganteum) is clearly headed for bloom this year. That's a 5.5 foot fence behind her. I'll call her the Angel of Death so she fits into the theme better, which is apropos since this stalk will die after blooming. I'm grateful for the two offsets she generated this year, they make me feel less conflicted about jumping up and down and clapping my hands in glee over her impending divine death. (Amanda, thank you for the "Angel of Death" idea)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

sparks fly

Spring is heating up, and today I was taking note of all the plants that are emerging "hot" or otherwise reminiscent of flame.

Rhus typhina "Tiger Eyes" (sumac)

This "Fire Flame" tulip looks just like a candle next to the bamboo (Tulipa acuminata). The coloration seems to vary a lot between bulbs (varying degrees of yellow/orange/red).

Euphorbia "Fen's Ruby"

Euphorbia "Blackbird" and Heuchera "Fire Alarm"

Euphorbia "Bonfire"

Lobelia fulgens "Elm Fire" just emerging.

Athyrium nipponicum "Burgundy Lace"

Even the burgundy pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa "Oakhurst") is joining in...

Perhaps cheating, since this a houseplant, but these brilliant red begonia leaves certainly follow the theme. They look dark green until light shines through them.
 And to close with perhaps the most dramatic, the dogwood (I don't know the variety) is burning especially bright today. Happy Spring!