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sprig to twig » special plants

Archive for the ‘special plants’ Category

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Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Brugmansia

I stopped by Means to pick up a little something to plop in a pot and what should I find but this glorious Brugmansia for a mere $1.99. Who could resist such a thing? Not me.

black olive pepper

And yes, I did get this cutie for the aforementioned pot. It’s some kind of a black olive pepper, but you know how it is at Means: great deals but not always the best labeling. We can forgive them that, I think.

Marilyn’s frog

Marilyn is downsizing, so her frog came to live with us…standing in for the real thing, which is heard (mostly in the spring) but seldom seen.

Melianthus major with Carex conica ‘Snowline’

Finally, after several unsuccessful tries, I’ve gotten a transplant of Melianthus major to take hold. A recent trip to Xera turned up these cute little Carex conica ‘Snowline’ to surround it.

Tricyrtis hirta

Just this morning I spotted the first two blooms on Tricyrtis hirta, the common toad lily.

Rosa moysoii geranium

We had a mini nerd night at the Fling. Roger Gossler brought this Rosa moysoii geranium. Those hips got my attention.

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Don’t they look swell in the red pot?

Kalanchloe behariensis

Not long ago, Kalanchloe behariensis was featured as my favorite plant. Seemingly overnight, it turned all leggy and gangly. Major surgery was called for.

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Out of one came many.

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Each has a slightly different personality.

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I don’t really need three of these, so at least one of them will probably wind up at a swap.

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Last night’s dinner guests came bearing plants, a red achillea and a prostrate rosemary. Bill and Hilda know what I like.

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Speaking of guests, this beauty has not been seen in these parts before, so I’m grouping him with all things new. What’s new with you?

ANLD highlights

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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As promised yesterday, I’m going to show you some of the highlights of this Saturday’s ANLD tour from my point of view. One theme that ran through several gardens was the use of cor-10 steel edging to define paths. I especially loved the sinuous one above.

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Fine attention to detail is one of the hallmarks of these installations, as here, where several elements come together and dovetail perfectly.

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This was another path treatment that appealed to me.

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I’m lifting lots of ideas for plant combinations from this tour…loved the purple poppies with the Kniphofia ‘Timothy’.

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Dynamite color combinations needn’t rely on flowers.

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Seating areas offer another opportunity to play with color. I love the way these chairs add a zesty zing to the chartreuse tones of the foliage.

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Taking advantage of a small porch pulls the garden right into this seating area. I failed to photograph another seating area where I sat a while (but Danger Garden captured it perfectly). It took advantage of a driveway with large planter boxes that were on wheels so they could be moved aside when access to the garage was needed: one of many examples of the problem-solving approach taken by these designers.

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Use of materials is another interesting feature of the tour. Here, the material was poured, then carved to resemble stone.

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Nearby, in the same garden, the same material was used simply, as poured, to form raised planter boxes (personally, I preferred this approach).

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Here’s another approach to raised beds.

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A close relative of the raised beds is this formal retaining wall of cast concrete.

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We were served lunch at Garden Fever!, where service is served up with a sweet smile and you can find many of the things you’ve been falling for on the tour.

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Case in point: This charming wall pocket and most of the plants it contains.

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Each Designer is paired with an artist. In this case resulting in a large slumped glass luxury bird bath.

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Everyone fell hard for this garden gate. Other bloggers (links in yesterday’s post) featured close-ups, so I will give you more of a long view of its placement in the garden. This artist also created a new twist on a bottle tree that must be seen to be believed.

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I failed to ascertain if this was the work of an artist or the garden designer. Which goes to show the fine line between the two. At any rate, the carefully placed stones are part of a fountain.

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Many times the placement of ordinary elements like this large, empty pot, could pass as garden art.

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Several of the gardens had structures. This one had an eco-roof.

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The large deck off the back of the house is the result of close collaboration between the designer and the owners. They wanted several large areas for seating and/or staging groupings of potted plants. Most of the owners made a point of the problems that were creatively solved by the designers.

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I was especially taken with the planters designed by owner David P. Best. I love the assymetrical shape, which was not an easy thing to convey to the fabricator. This one, near the basement door, is painted a light color and planted with Rosemary. Another, on the front porch, is equally handsome in a darker color and planted with some sort of rush.

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A longer version.

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Notice how the foliage of the maple exactly matches the color of the door? If this were to happen in my garden, it would surely be a happy accident. I have no doubt it was intentional in this case.

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So…have I managed to pique your interest in spending your Saturday strolling through six enchanting gardens, engaging in stimulating conversation with artists, designers and owners and filing away your own set of inspirations for future projects? You might win two tickets by backtracking to yesterday’s post and leaving a comment. Barring that, you can purchase tickets at Portland Nursery, Cornell Farms, Dennis’ Seven Dees, Garden Fever!, Xera Plants or online at www.anld.com.

Eremurus, always a favorite

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

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From the very first sign of it breaking through the ground, Eremurus generates excitement and anticipation.

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This is what ‘Cleopatra’ looks like right now.

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I borrowed a photo taken in July of 2011 to show you what there is to look forward to. I’m pretty sure they will be bloomed out by July, so this must be evidence that they are early this year.

Eremurus ‘Ruiter’s Hybrid’

My first attempt was Eremurus ‘Ruiter’s Hybrid’. It would bloom one year, then do nothing the next. This isn’t a bad shot, but nothing compared to the way the light was hitting it before I dashed into the house to get the camera. You know how that goes, I’m sure.

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Now that I have moved it to the berm where Cleo was performing well, it produces several “candles” and comes along later for a long blooming season. I get most of my bulbs from John Scheepers, where the photos of Cleopatra make it look a much deeper orange than it ever gets for me. Oh well, I can live with that small disappointment. Here’s what their catlog has to say:

Desert Candle or Foxtail Lily: Deer and rodent-resistant, these willowy spires are comprised of densely packed florets that open progressively from the bottom of each spike up, with a sparse, low growing rosette of long, strappy leaves. Preferring rich, well-drained soil with bright sunlight and protection from wind, these woody, tuberous rootstocks should be planted upon receipt 36″ apart, never crowded, and covered with only 2″ to 3″ of soil. They dry out after harvest and rehydrate once planted. Loosen the soil at each each planting site and gently place each brittle, spidery rootstock with its pointed crown pointed up. Avoid breakage. In marginal zones, apply a 2″ layer of mulch after the ground freezes. Zones 5-8.

Does one plant stand out in your garden as a momentary favorite? Danger Garden gives you an opportunity to gush about it.

Allium siculum by any other name…

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Allium bulgaricum (Nectarosecorum)

…would still be my favorite plant in the garden this week.

Sicilian honey garlic

It goes by so many names, and they seem to be more or less interchangeable: Allium bulgaricum (Nectaroscordum); Allium siculum bulgaricum; plus the common names: Sicilian honey garlic, Sicilian honey lily, Mediterranean bells.

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The most informative description I found was on Wikipedia. My own experience has been that it grows best in dappled shade and is one of the few members of the genus Allium to reliably come back and even multiply.

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I’m counting on it to continue doing that, so that eventually there will be a colony big enough to offer up a few stems for bouquets. It has all the attributes I value: long, sturdy stems; a lax umbrel of bell-shaped flowers; interesting foliage (triangular in cross section, strappy and twisted); muted colors with a striped pattern. Find more favorites by visiting the Danger Garden, and why not join in while you’re at it?

Arisaema, a group of favorites

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Arisaema triphyllum

When I first introduced Arisaema triphyllum to the woodland’s edge, I had visions of it forming a colony of Jack-in-the-Pulpits. That was in 2010 and there is still only one.

A. taiwanese

Frustrated by its recalcitrant ways, I added A. taiwanese from my first visit to Xera in 2013. Already it has gone from one to two blooms. Maybe it has something to do with the source?

A. taiwanese foliage

The foliage on this one is quite beautiful.

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It’s a good thing too, because the flowers hide coyly beneath the leaves. Love those patterned stems.

A. concinnum

The HPSO spring sale, Hortlandia, yielded yet another to my growing collection: A. concinnum. It is less of a shrinking violet than the others, in that the leaf bends away from the flower. As it unfurled, the leaf looked like it might be diseased or slug-damaged, but I needn’t have worried.

A. concinnum

Sorry for the out-of-focus photo, but since it is pouring rain at the moment, I’m stuck with it. I hope these close relatives can learn to get along in the colonization I have forced upon them. You can learn more about the many faces of Arisaema here. Join us over at Danger Garden by leaving a comment with a link to your favorite plant in the garden this week.

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

katsura

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.

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

looking up

Looking up, it shimmers against a blue sky.

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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.

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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.

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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.

buds

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.

Agapanthus

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.