Visit to Digs Inside & Out garden shop in Portland


When I heard that JJ De Sousa’s garden was on the itinerary for the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling, I excitedly planned a double-dose of her colorful, creative, offbeat style by arranging to visit her home-and-garden shop Digs Inside & Out.


Located on trendy Alberta Street (where my husband and I, pre-Fling, enjoyed a delicious lunch at Bollywood Theater PDX and dessert at Salt & Straw), Digs beckons with an eclectic and colorful assortment of tables, chairs, containers, and strangely beautiful accessories.


Take these light-bulb-head baby sconces, for example. Have you ever seen anything like them? Me neither. In fact, I was so fascinated by the store’s offerings that David had to seek refuge in a bar down the street while I poked around.


I could have brought home any number of chairs and pots — they were all wonderful. (I already own one of the vertically ridged pots, in red, which I picked up at Redenta’s in Dallas.)


Check out this wall display. Here’s what I lusted after at Digs: a tentacled squid planter!


How weirdly wonderful! Don’t they make you smile? I stared at them, wondering if I could bring myself to splurge on one and pondering how I could get it home. Update: These are made by Phoenix artist Diana Moulds (thanks, Jennifer, for the info).


While I thought it over, I kept browsing. JJ clearly loves orange! And doesn’t the wriggly snake picture remind you of the squid planters?


There was a definite goth element to the store, with its black-painted walls, writhing squids and snakes, skulls…


…baby heads…


…and ghostly ceramic hands outstretched on shelves throughout the store.


I liked this green-framed console with a natural, wood-plank shelf.


And the agave pillow and dusky purple chairs.


And the colorful metal hearts on the wall.


Well, everything, really.


Did I get myself a squid planter, you may be wondering? Yes, I did! I bought a tabletop version in blue that I could pack home in my bag, and it’s sitting in my living room in wriggly-legged splendor.

I can’t wait to show you JJ’s personal garden, in which you’ll recognize a number of items from her shop. She obviously buys what she loves.

Up next: A tour of the display gardens at bucolic Joy Creek Nursery and Cistus. For a look back at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, our first garden stop on the Fling, click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Garden mementos on the windowsill


I have a nice view of the back patio through my office window, where I spend most of my time when I’m at home. But I’d never thought to decorate the windowsill until I visited designer/author Rebecca Sweet’s garden last summer. In her “chick shack,” a charming shed-to-office conversion, Rebecca displays sentimental collections and mementos, and I loved the personal touch these objects added to the room and to the view.


When I got home I took a new look at my office windowsill, which was blocked by haphazard furniture placement, and realized I could open up the view by shoving over my drafting table and placing a storage ottoman under the window instead. Now I was free to place a few meaningful objects on the sill.


I’m not a natural stylist like Rebecca, but no matter. The fun of it, for me, is making a collection that is meaningful: reminders of vacations, family, and friends, objects that connect to the garden on the other side of the glass. It’s easy to change around on a whim or as you acquire something new.

My current windowsill arrangement includes, from left to right, a zebra plant in an Esther pot that I bought at Flora Grubb in San Francisco last summer; a wooden wren made in New England that was a gift from my in-laws in honor of my daughter, whose middle name is Wren; a metal starfish just because; a succulent candle in a terracotta pot; a Keep Austin Weird tile from South Austin Gallery; a sweet, little pot from the Wildflower Center that my friend Dee Nash gave me when she visited recently, into which I popped a tillandsia; and a pot I bought at Spruce to hold a collection of Oklahoma rose rocks, another gift from Dee six years ago when she came to Austin for the first Garden Bloggers Fling. I was born in Oklahoma, and although I only lived there as a baby before my parents moved us to South Carolina, where I grew up, we used to drive “home” to Oklahoma every summer to visit family. So these rocks speak to me of family and barefoot childhood summers on red-dirt roads.

So do you keep any mementos or garden decor on your office windowsill? If so, I hope you’ll share a description or a link to a photo!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

All-American blue and red in my garden


I threw a little soiree in honor of an out-of-town friend last week and got my garden all spruced up for the occasion. The last of the live oak leaves — or as close to last as I’m going to get — were finally banished, chairs and patios were scrubbed, plants were pruned, and pots were tidied. With flush spring growth, a shined up garden, and an overcast, lightly drizzling day, I took my camera out and made the rounds. As I did, I noticed anew how much I love a blue and red combo.


Typically I go for cobalt or royal blue, but more and more turquoise has been creeping into my garden. Witness my new door color, for example.


In fact it’s pretty ocean-hued on the upper patio thanks to a turquoise table, a greenish blue succulent dish, and a turquoise-striped rug.


More cobalt and red courtesy of a ‘Brakelights’ red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Brakelights’) in a blue pot, mulched with chunks of blue and turquoise slag glass.


‘Blue Boy’ Yucca desmetiana in a red pot


And a red Circle Pot from Potted with a royal-blue table in front. Moonshine-yellow motel chairs add a soft accent color. It’s not blooming yet, but cobalt-flowered Salvia guaranitica grows under the red hanging pot.


In case I forget where I live. That’s my new ‘Bubba’ desert willow in front. I’m excited to see its first blooms.


All shades of blue are welcome in the bottle-tree garden. Moby, my ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia), sets the tone with steel blue, but cobalt and turquoise pots and bottles add richer color to the scene.


A few red-leaved or -flowering plants under the bottle tree are putting on new growth: ‘Tropicanna’ canna, firecracker fern, red Salvia greggii.


Turquoise agave and pot — a painted pipe remnant, actually — and powder-blue leaves of ‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus


A cobalt pot-style fountain and turquoise shed doors echo the color of the swimming pool.


A closer look. I like how the yellows of ‘Color Guard’ yucca and Mexican feathergrass and the forest-green of the clipped boxwood balls reduces blue to an accent color in this area, giving it a different feel.


A closer look at the semicircle of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas, backed by chartreuse bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa).


The ‘Wonderful’ pomegranate behind the arch is blooming, as are purple coneflowers and Jerusalem sage.


More purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I love having these cheery butterfly attractors in the garden.


Ah, there’s my favorite red again. I’ve planted a cypress vine on my metal arch this year and am loving the delicate twining of the vine and those lipstick-red flowers against the ‘Sapphire Skies’ Yucca rostrata.


A closer look


Out front, green is more dominant, with pops of red from a tractor-rim planter and a red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). Toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in the tall pipe and ‘Jaws’ agave in the rusty tractor rim keep the greens going, as does ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo leaning in from the left.


Green, green, green, starting with ‘Green Goblet’ agave, which will eventually reach 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. But notice I snuck in a few coral-red salvias behind it, whose minty scent will, I hope, deter deer from antlering the poor agave next winter.


A wider view shows more lush greens — and my neighbor’s red-white-and-blue in honor of Memorial Day. I hope my fellow American readers enjoy today’s holiday. And to my dear husband on our wedding anniversary, you make life colorful for me. Thanks for 24 wonderful years and counting!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.