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What Would Eve Do? Ketzel's New Garden

Eve's is Open for Business

In another attempt to answer Talking Plant's most popular query, What Would Eve Do?, the answer is...


Who knew that all it would take to get this relatively reclusive woman to socialize was to revamp her neglected side yard. Behold the evidence:

Is this an ad for bourgeois living or what? Yes, my futon/backpack days are indeed over. Above and below, gaggles of wonderful guests too numerous to mention chow down during a three-course pot luck (were you dreaming?). In-between, the space in which I recover after they leave. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Naturally there is no Eve; I'm the relative recluse (big duh). But now that my courtyard's doing the talking for me, the genetic sting is gone from keeping visitors amused (see: Roz Levine). Mind you, it does take me a few days to recover each time I socialize, but I've been assured it will get easier.

It's taking me much longer to recover from the cash spent on my urban hideaway, and I've only just begun to put in plants (an enviable state, isn't it?). You've already met my new Aechmea (which, alas, has not yet been potted) but this is my first opportunity to discuss the plant that's one of my key architectural elements, Firmiana simplex, the Chinese parasol tree.

Behold the slightly stressed leaves of a newly planted parasol tree as it adjusts to a summer in the sun (believe me, it looks much worse in real life). The tree is one of four I planted directly in the courtyard hardscape which was designed with 2'x2' planting holes. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Here's what firmiana offered me beyond all other runners-up: strong vertical lines, good winter color (the trunks are bright green all year), tropical foliage and in a few years, a luscious shade canopy. And let's face it, the courtyard needs a lot more cover now because of all the concrete which has made the mid-day sunshine all the more brighter and hotter.

Despite considerable warnings of its invasiveness in the U.S. (e.g., Texas and the Southeast) I am not concerned about them spreading here in Portland's inner city. One bad winter anyway and they're likely to get cut back to the ground. While they'll small enough, I also have the option of pruning their flowers before they set seed.

But enough politically correct apologizing, I doubt there are a dozen mature parasol trees in the entire state.

Whadya think?