the gates of hell

the gates of hell
The Gates of Hell

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hades and Poseidon

My garden has two new inhabitants, gorgeous 22" mosaic slugs, courtesy of Elaine Summers Mosaics

Poseidon brings calm in ocean colors under the pseudo-beach gazebo, while Hades is fiery and warms up the devil garden. I hope they send their smaller minions far far away!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

el diablo mosquito

Every devil garden needs a devil--it's the main character after all. So I was tempted by 'el diablo mosquito' at first sight, and after a year-long battle, the devil won (of course). And now it's at home in its garden, courtesy of Sean Goddard Insects.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

three years in hell

The devil garden was built and initially planted just over 3 years ago. Its amazing how plants fill in over time. And I never could have predicted which plants would struggle and which would thrive. I'm learning patience and joy, so good for me (amazing what hell has wrought).

For comparison, here is a photo of part of the original planting in April 2013, same view as the second photo. Today, the red "firecracker" monarda and crocosmia (fittingly, I have both 'Lucifer' and 'Hellfire') are lush and thriving, and are already (in May!) nearly as tall as I am, filling all the space I can give them. They have bloomed profusely and reliably each July; somewhat surprisingly, since they get very little sun. If anything, the shade seems to encourage them to grow taller in search of the sun. (The blog header photo is from July of that first year, 2013, with just a handful of red monarda in bloom, visible through the gate.)

The two cornerstone plants that in large part inspired the devil garden (planted at opposite ends of the devil garden area--I imagine them calling to each other), have not done as well. The devils club (Oplopanax horridus) is surviving, but never has grown more than a few leaves and only gets about 2 feet tall. I'm hoping that with root growth it will do better, but in its third year it looks about the same as it did initially. Iris foetidissima has always looked good, but hasn't bloomed until this year. The flower is yellow and brown, not very striking, but very much anticipated. I'm really hoping it will produce scarlet seeds this year!

On a more colorful note, the orange Begonia boliviensis flowers echo the orange circle pot exactly! (The circle pot was a welcome prize from DangerGarden's blog contest.) Not sure this pairing will work long-term, seems like very little dirt for such a vigorous plant, fingers crossed. (And, yes, if you zoom in enough, you can see the wicked witch's red shoes, lower right corner.)

Sunday, April 24, 2016


I first saw the single flower form of bloodroot at a botanical garden in British Columbia, and had to grow it. Aside from the name, I was fascinated by the leaves, which looked like butterflies or like pelvic bones, depending on the particular leaf or perhaps on my mood. I planted the double form (Sanguinaria canadensis 'Multiplex') two springs ago, and this is the first year it has flowered. I'm hoping it makes a nice colony, because I love it. The flower was tiny (about an inch in diameter) but amazingly beautiful, and I love the way the leaf hugs and shelters the flower bud as it emerges from the ground. Here are a series of photos to illustrate:


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Icarus tethered

Watching so many plants grow rapidly skyward this past month, and musing about their stretch upward toward the sky, tethered by roots and gravity.

New shoots and leaves reach.
Peltoboykinia watanabe

 Variegated Solomon's Seal - Polygonatum odoratum

Podophyllum pleianthum

 Flowers reach,

some nodding to gravity.                  
Erythronium revolutum (trout lily, fawn lily)

Depending on perspective, Fritillaria persica seems to create its own (cool) sun, as though to model: Become what you seek, Icarus

Some are more successful in their reach than others. This is T-Rex (Tetrapanax papyrifer), which for the first time didn't die back to the ground over winter. Also for the first time, its roots have escaped the bamboo barrier intended to contain it. I've pulled a few dinosaur babies already, yards away. I'm expecting a jungle adventure this year.

 And we reach...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Saint Valentine's Day in Hell

Not very hellish at the moment, actually, full of promise and new growth. So many gorgeous Hell-ebores blooming!
 And galanthus, and crocus. So excited about my very first snowdrop! It's tiny perfection!
 And heart-shaped leaves (Beesia deltophylla) and bright red leaves (Heuchera 'Fire Alarm') for the occasion!

Must, bid the Morn awake!
Sad Winter now declines,
Each bird doth choose a mate;
This day's Saint Valentine's.
- Michael Drayton

Friday, February 12, 2016

Alien sky eaters redux

The Himalayan lily bloomed and died last year, but the stalk remains ominous overhead (that's a 5 foot fence behind it), covered with alien sky eaters. I'm borrowing this perfect turn of phrase, coined by the Outlaw Gardener; also his close-up photos came out better, which you can see at the link. But at it's base, bulblets are growing. I'm hoping for new flower stalks in 2 or 3 years.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

ghosts or skeletons?

A wonderful post by the Outlaw Gardener ( led me right out to the devil garden, because I have the same plant! This is my first winter with Acanthus sennii, and I didn't know to look for these skeletonized leaves. I've seen them referred to as both skeletons and ghosts (of leaves past). Photo placement in front of the devil duck gives a good idea just how transparent they've become, but they are still quite sturdy, especially the thorny spikes on the leaves. These skeletons still bite!  In any case, this plant has earned its place in the devil garden, and then some.