Archive for the ‘special plants’ Category

a time to plant

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

As the rain pelted us and beat down the plants in our gardens, we had plenty of opportunities to acquire ever more. It’s the first question after an outing:
What did you get?

Lewisia cotyledon Hyb. ‘Rainbow’

OK, so here goes: first up, Gardenpalooza, which I posted about here. I used amazing restraint at this sale. Both of the plants that I purchased were tiny and came from Wild Ginger Farm. Since the Lewisia I got from Ryan performed swimmingly in a difficult spot I went for this one, ‘Rainbow’, for the orange sherbet color of the flower (which even looks kind of arty in this out of focus shot).

Saxifraga crustata

I’m hoping that this little Saxifraga crustata, with its frosted looking edges, will do equally well.

Bloggers’ swap swag

As we all get to know each other better and new plant nuts join us, our garden bloggers’ plant swaps get to be more and more like parties. I’ll post about the party later, but here’s what came home with me. More or less clockwise from the upper left, starting with two wonderfully good-sized hostas from Loree, which filled in a spot that I had been scratching my head over. A Canna with colorful foliage from Heather will overwinter in a pot until I decide where to put it. Also from Heather, three Penstemon ‘Dark Spires’ supplement the one I bought earlier that seems to be performing well along the fence line. It goes so well with the stalks of the Joe Pye Weed there. Anna brought me some things that we had prearranged, like the two Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ and a goatsbeard that is hidden in there somewhere. Then I made a greedy grab for her two snowberries as well (Anna says these did not come from her. Who can I thank?). In the midst of the free-for-all, I failed to identify where the false hemp you see in there came from (Loree says Megan). next to it, in the carrier, are four little grape vines Anna convinced me to grab (not that it was a hard sell). That ‘Steroid Giant’ may be from Megan (yes), but you can see how we lose our manners in the heat of the moment, so I don’t know for sure. In the center of this shot are a couple of Phyllostachys atrovaginata (wrong, they’re Sasa vietchii), a plant I have been wanting for some time (Anna seems to have the inside track on such things). Kate did a very convincing job of “selling” the plants she brought. I came away with Viburnum ‘All That Glitters’ from her. This group comes up with fabulous stuff to trade. What a way to experiment with things you’ve always wanted and some things you’ve never even heard of.

Cistus ‘Tough Love’ haul

Think I had my work cut out for me? You would be right, but hot on the heels of the swap came the ‘Tough Love’ sale at Cistus. I’d missed it before and was not about to let that happen again. It’s a parking lot sale of plants in need of some TLC at drastically reduced prices. It’s great, because it encourages risk-taking behavior. I’ve been reading about plants that became favorites after having been nursed back to health. At these prices, the occasional loss is no big deal. Quite a few of these are things I had never heard of. I ran into Loree at the sale, and even she could shed no light on the plants in question. Staggering our way from left to right, we have: Convolvus cneorum, a shrub morning glory with year-round silvery foliage; lying on its side is Salix rosmarinifolia with no further info, but the leaf shape is lovely and I assume it enjoys the same conditions as other willows; Salvia leucantha is pretty much an annual, but I will see if it survives on the porch through winter. If so, it’s a plant that brought traffic to a halt in my former garden; a NOID shrub has the red foliage I want more of; Abutilon is one of those things I kept threatening to add; Orixa japonica ‘Jack Frost’ is looking pretty rough but the description of the zone 5 shrub was irresistable; rootbound Olearia x scilloniensis is a gamble, but isn’t that what this is all about?

The skies cleared for a brilliant weekend plus. The ground was nice and spongy. Believe it or not, all of my swag is either in the ground or potted up and tucked away. I should be sated by this glut of plants until springtime rolls around, right? Um…anyone up for a visit to Xera?

Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree)

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013


Richard discovered a Katsura in a friend’s yard in NW Portland. It had everything he was looking for in a tree: slow-growing, with a graceful shape and small, heart-shaped leaves to provide dappled shade. When the leaves fall, they do not compact into a solid, soggy mass like the maple leaves do, but float delicately to the ground and quickly decompose with no need for raking.

from afar

I love the way it glows against the background of the dark cedar trees.

looking up

Looking up, it shimmers against a blue sky.

heart-shaped leaves

Looking for more info for this post, I discovered that the botanical name for the Katsura tree is Cercidiphyllum japonicum, it likes moderate watering during dry spells and it emits a smell most often described as caramel in the fall. I had to squash the leaves to get any hint of scent, but then my olfactory sense is not the greatest.


We haven’t much in the way of fall color around here, now that the sourwood bit the dust, but this week’s favorite is doing its best to make up for that. Learn more at Great Plant Picks and then pop over to Danger Garden to see what Loree has in store for you this week.

? Heptacodium micionoides ?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

I am not questioning my choice: those question marks in the title were supposed to be hearts, but got lost in translation. Anyone know how to access symbols in Wordpress?

Heptacodium micionoides

The tree itself is not so very special, but the charm is in the details.

peeling bark

Shaggy, peeling bark bears closer inspection.

blossoms for bees

The lightly fragrant blossoms are beloved by bees. Our tree comes alive with them between showers.


This tree has been blooming for almost two weeks and there are still many tight buds, promising more to come.

overwhelming neighbors

Here you can see that it is overwhelming its neighbors: a crape myrtle on the left and Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’ in the middle. Guess some targeted pruning would be in order.

upper branches in bloom

In most venues the blossoms are not even mentioned and featured photos are invariably of the russet calyxes that remain after the flowers fade. You can see them here in the Great Plant Picks listing. Plant Lust has minimal information but does list sources. Most listings seem to regard the Seven Son Flower (that’s its common name) as a shrub and that was what I was expecting when I planted it. As you can see, it has far exceeded my expectations. To be honest, overplanting is a common problem around here.

Don’t forget to see what the Danger Garden is featuring this week. Follow the comments to other plant faves and join in if you like.

Romeya coulterii, my fave this week

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Romeya coulterii close-up

My first encounter with this beauty was the very first HPSO open garden I visited, that of Jeanne Graham. What a great ambassador she was (and is). We sat and chatted in the shade for a while, and then she took me down the street to see her daughter’s Matilija Poppy. It was huge, tree-like and spectacular.

Roneya coulteri shrub

After several failed attempts to get seeds and transplants to take, I came across a nice little plant at a HPSO plant sale. The vendor assured me that it was a garden-worthy plant, not that much of a sales pitch was needed. Here it is after three years in the ground.

Romneya coulteri

Quoting from the Sunset Western Garden Book “White flowers up to 9″ wide; five or six petals with texture of crepe paper surround a round mass of golden stamens. Fragrant. Blooms May-July, on into fall if watered. Flowers handsome in arrangements.”

Romneya coulteri buds

I do water, but sparingly, and all of those fuzzy buds will open over time.

more Romneya coulteri

Again from Sunset: “Use on hillsides as soil binder, along roadsides and in marginal areas, in wide borders. Invasive, spreading by underground rhizomes; don’t plant near less vigorous plants. Tolerates varying soils (including loose, gravelly soil). Withhold summer irrigation to keep growth in check. Cut nearly to ground in late fall. New shoots emerge after first rains in winter. Although easy to grow once established, the plant is very difficult to propagate. Easiest way to grow more plants is to dig up rooted suckers from spreading roots, but you can try taking cuttings from thickest roots. To make seeds germinate, mix them with potting soil in a foil-lined flat, burn pine needles on top of flat for 30 minutes, water, and hope for sprouting.” In other words, no wonder I had no luck until I found a good healthy plant, well on its way. It’s native to California, and I have found none of the invasive tendencies described here, but consider yourself forewarned. Other stats: full sun, responds to water, tolerates aridity.

We have Loree to thank for getting us talking about favorite plants in our gardens. It’s not unusual to find a new favorite of your own after hearing someone else rave about a plant you have never noticed, or maybe even heard of. Do drop on over to Danger Garden to see what Loree is favoring right now, and why not join in the fun?

when is a bargain…not

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

NOID Deodora cedar

You may recall my excitement over the sale at Means, where we picked up this Deodora cedar for a mere $9.99. R is the tree planter in the family. When he came in from planting this, he was worried. The root ball, he said, was quite small, with evidence of some hacking off of large roots. Now this tree comes in dwarf, upright, towering, sprawling and probably several other varieties I don’t even know about. Often when we buy something from Means it takes some time to recover from transplant shock. If this is one that eventually reaches mammoth proportions, I would not be at all sorry for it to take its time.

fave tool for weeding

Nothing beats a hefty screwdriver as a weeding tool. You know how it is with tools: they keep wandering off. So…off to Home Depot for yet another replacement.


But did I stick to the tool department? Heck no! What’s a trip to Home Depot without a stroll through the garden center? I spotted these lush, healthy looking Agapanthus ‘Frederick St Park’ on sale for $2.98 (there’s two of them there).

rootbound Agapanthus

I had to cut them out of the nursery pots, and then cut away a lot of the roots wound around and around. This was not easy to do without losing a flowering stalk.

Agapanthus flower

Which I did, but waste not want not…it made a nice focal point in a little posy of sweet peas.

potted Agapanthus

All potted up, they continue to put on a show without missing a beat. I’ll move these onto the porch when cold weather returns. I’ve tried Agapanthus in the ground a couple of times and lost them. We shall see.

Cotinus coggyria ‘Golden Spirit’

Another Means purchase, the Cotinus coggyria ‘Golden Spirit’ in the back pot set us back all of two bucks. What do you think? Do these plants qualify as “bargains”, or have I been played for a sucker? My own thinking runs along these lines: even if every one of them were to conk out by the end of this growing season, I would feel like I’d gotten my money’s worth and then some.

Zantedeschia aethiopica, my fave right now

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Zantendeschia aethiopica

In my book, nothing quite equals a single unfurling Calla lily (Zantendeschia aethiopica) for pure elegance. She has many relatives, some with spotted leaves, some with interesting colors in the flowers (I quite like the nearly black one), but in this spot, with the dark foliage background, white is by far the most dramatic choice. I keep transplanting more of these in hopes of one day getting a full bouquet of them. There was a scene in the movie Frances where Jessica Lange (Oscar winner for this role) came in with an armload of white Calla lilies, just the flowering stems, no leaves, and put them in a tall glass vase…sublime. The movie was difficult to watch, dealing with a famous actress and her spiral into madness, but I would almost watch it again just for those lilies.

That Loree…first she got us all interested in spiky plants and now she has started a hard-to-resist meme featuring a favorite plant in the garden. It’s loosely organized: you can post weekly, monthly or follow any schedule that suits you. She doesn’t have any widgets, but you can link to Danger Garden to join in the fun. If you happen by on a different day, it will be easy to find her most recent “favorite” post in her archives, as she posts one weekly. I’ll be curious to see what your favorites are.

foliage follow-up: Stachyrus salicifolius

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Stachyrus salicifolius

I was faced with a delightful dilemma: how to use a generous gift certificate at Portland Nursery. We should all have such problems, right? Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. I wanted it to be something really special, and it took three trips before something finally clicked. On the day that the stars aligned, I had spent the early part of the day on the ANLD pre-tour. Showy tall pots had been a theme running through all of the gardens, and a plant that had been on my want list for ages showed up looking every bit as seductive as the photo I’d been carrying around.

new pot grouping

I started with the plant: Stachyrus salicifolius. It’s hard to capture in a photo, but the growing tips of those long, willowy leaves have a reddish tint. When I spotted this pot, the first thing I noticed was how the color matched those growing tips. It wasn’t until I got it home and started potting it up that I noticed how the carved relief of the pot echoes the leaf shapes. Then I started finding other pots to add to the grouping.

Drimys lanceolata

Terra cotta pots mix well, especially this one containing Drimys lanceolata with deep red bark.

the collection

Stepping back, I’m really liking the whole collection. Thank you, Marilyn, for the wonderful gift. Putting this all together is the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

succulent bowl

Another gift (can you believe my good fortune?) We had a Dads’ Day BBQ, and this was a hostess gift. We really should entertain more often. Some of the plants I recognize and others are new to me. I love the crowded composition with many textures and colors. It’s a look I only rarely come close to accomplishing, and then only after the arrangement has had a chance to grow into lushness.

Pam Pennick at digging gives us all the gift of a forum for foliar appreciation mid-month, each and every month. Thank you, Pam.

garden tour giveaway

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

floramagoria art

Interesting plants, garden art ranging from whimsical to totemic, all arranged in inspiring ways by members of ANLD (Association of Northwest Landscape Designers). The seven gardens on this tour will get your creative juices flowing. I was fortunate to be invited to the pre-tour for a sneak peek at what is in store, and part of that was a pair of tickets to give away. So here’s the deal: leave a comment at the end of this post and I will put your name in the pot. One lucky person will be awarded two tickets on June 20 for the event to take place June 22, 10 am - 4 pm. I took so many photos on this tour that it will take some time to sort through them, but here are a few to pique your interest:

floramagoria lantern

floramagoria greenhouse

Common Ground raised beds

Common Ground shelter

Plant Passion fountain

Plant Passion pot

Paraiso pot

Paraiso scene

Leon scene

Leon totem

elemental sculpture

elemental paving

Cedar Mill path

Cedar Mill table

Each of these gardens has a distinct personality. I fell in love with two of them, but there wasn’t a one that failed to spark an idea or two to take away and store in the old memory bank for future use. I’ll do expanded posts on each of these gardens at a later date, but for now I wanted to get something out and give you time to get in on this drawing. Tickets, at $20 each, will be available through the ANLD website right up to the day of the tour. Proceeds will benefit design student scholarships.

tis the aquisition season

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Acanthus sennii

Hortlandia gets the buying season off to a flying start. I had a cold. This is where gardening buddies are invaluable (as well as in many other ways). Loree asked if she could be on the lookout for anything for me. I immediately thought of a plant I’d been admiring in her Danger Garden, Acanthus sennii, above. True to her word, she looked, and she found. Woo hoo…add another star to Loree’s crown.

Means plants

Means Nursery is so nearby that I can easily pop in whenever I have a special need. Two ipomoea batatis ‘Mardi Gras’ and one Coleus ‘Chocolate Drop’ filled the bill…

red pot with Means plants

to fill this red pot that had been standing empty.

Daphne odora ‘Mae-jima’

When it comes to plants, I can never stick to a list. I’ve been wanting a daphne, so Daphne odora ‘Mae-jima’ came home with me too.

blogger swap1

Next up: the Oregon Bloggers’ Swap, with the welcome addition of several Washingtonians. Starting from the top, let’s go clockwise, skipping the two pots disappearing from the bottom of the photo. A nice flaming Euphorbia whose name I can’t remember…maybe Dixter?; Rubus lineatus; Pacific Coast Iris; Polypodium scaulen; Dicentra spectabilis

more swap plants

Sorry, that big pot still fails to show off Iris confusa, but believe me, it’s a beauty; Arum ‘Jack Sprat’; Pulmonaria; ‘Ron Davidson’; and a pretty little frosty Heuchera whose name escapes me (it’s ‘Snow Angel’. You guys are so good!). The bloggers are all true plant nuts, and they bring fabulous stuff to our swaps. By the time someone has spieled about a beloved plant, I’m a convert even if I never noticed that plant before. What a fabulous way to introduce new material into the garden. Somehow I failed to get photos of the nice big clumps of Polygonatum and Convellaria majalis, but they’ll be showing up in future posts, you can be sure.

plants from Linda

Last Sunday, Linda and I met up at Joy Creek to wander the display gardens and shop for plants. Linda never arrives empty handed. This time she brought me a couple of primroses I had admired in her garden and a Hellebore to try. She says to plant it in sun, so that may be the problem with those I have (all in shade).

porch pots

Heading to meet Linda, I stopped by Means to get a few things for porch pots: upright Fuchsia ‘Firecracker’ to put in a cachepot; two Impatiens and Lysimachia ‘Midnight Sun’ to spill from a wall pocket.

plants from Joy Creek

And finally, here’s my haul from Joy Creek: center front, Erodium chrysanthum; front left and right, Zauschneria ‘Everett’s Choice’; top left, Phlomis italica; top center, Oxalis ‘Klamath Ruby’ with purplish undersides to the leaves; top right, Oxalis oregana. I probably should have waited for cooler, overcast days to do the planting, but I’ll just have to be a diligent waterer until we get back to some Oregon weather. We will, won’t we?

a new bed is born

Monday, March 25th, 2013

With the last stretch of nice weather, I was finally able to address the issue chronicled at the end of this post.

digging out

Digging out the area and storing the soil in wheelbarrows and tarps was the hardest part.

straightening the wire screen

Meanwhile, I unrolled the wire mesh and weighted it down with rocks to help it uncurl. The plain old garden dirt was mixed with 1/4-10 gravel and dark hemlock mulch before returning it to the screened bed.

Itea ilicifolia and Acorus gramineus variegatus

Several plants had been waiting in pots (one for years) for this day. Two Acorus gramineus variegatus from Home Depot were divided into enough plugs to cover a large area. The pot in the above photo contains Itea ilicifolia, a plant I have high hopes for. See it here on Plant Lust. I’ve killed it before, but maybe the care that went into preparing this bed will do the trick.

new bed looking north

In the foreground is the lovely small tree that inspired the making of this bed. It has lived in a large pot for several years, and it was showing signs of longing for liberation. I thought it was ‘Red Bells’, but when I compare it to the excellent photos on Plant Lust, I think, instead, it is Enkianthus campanulatis var. sikokianthus. To its right is Hypericum inodorum ‘Albury Purple’. Impossible to see at this stage is Disporum hookerii. The sweet flag plugs take up the middle of the bed, where their root system is meant to protect the water lines beneath. In the distance, on the left, is a Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana). An Osmanthus too small to see is somewhere there in the middle distance, and on the right is the Itea. Where the new bed joins an existing bed a vigorous ground cover of Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’ will pretty rapidly migrate into the bare patches.

looking west

Looking west…

looking east

And one last shot, looking east. Take That! evil gophers! With this project taken care of, I guess it’s back to weeding for me.