Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, May 1, 2015

Seeking Inspiration

Today I went to a nursery with two goals in mind. The first was to see if they had Fuchsia 'Autumnale', which was a flop. The second goal was to simply look around with a fresh pair of eyes to see what I wanted to grow after the fence goes up. I've spent so long looking at plants in terms of deer resistance, I practically have blinders on when it comes to things that deer eat.

Having already checked Castle Rock Nursery and Greg's Gardens, the two nurseries closest to me, I went all the way to Woodland (about a 45 minute drive) to visit Tsugawa Nursery. A traditional garden center with the usual selection of quintessential plants for Pacific Northwest gardens, I have a soft spot for this nursery as it was a favorite destination growing up. Going all the way to Woodland was a big adventure then and Tsugawa is the biggest and best-stocked nursery within an hour of home (well, until I discovered Lael's Moon Garden, but that's coming close to an hour away).

Anyway, poor me, living in the boonies with multiple acres to garden in and poor access to the really cool plants. Bla bla bla. On to the plants. Since this post is already so long, I kept the pictures small. But if you want a closer look, just click on the picture.

Some of the things that caught my eye were deer resistant. I love heaths and heathers, although I'm not fond of pink, which is the predominant flower color for hardy selections. Erica x darleyensis Eva Gold was dark enough that I liked it, plus the new growth was a gorgeous chartreuse. Now if only I could find winter-blooming heaths with flowers that dark. Maybe I should just give up and stick to the white-flowered cultivars. I'm a sucker for blue, so Lithodora keeps drawing me back. I had some once, but tried growing it in close quarters with other short plants. The Lithodora proved much more vigorous and smothering than I had anticipated, and the subsequent pruning left it a bit too ugly, so away it went. I still want to try it somewhere it has the room to spread without choking the plants around it.

 I'm looking forward to growing succulents like this Sedum 'Chocolate Ball'. Contrary to lists of deer-resistant plants everywhere, succulents are not deer-resistant. Or at least, not in my garden. Especially during the dry summer, sedums and other succulents are prime candidates for an afternoon refreshment. And they are such a good source of evergreen, burgundy/purple/brown foliage, too. Since I'll be able to use sedums, heucheras, and other plants with dark foliage, I might get rid of the 'Crimson Pigmy' Japanese barberries in the driveway island. They are just Japanese barberries after all, and they didn't stay as "pigmy" as they were supposed to. That bed is getting a major redesign.

Pieris japonica is deer resistant, but I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the cultivar 'Katsura'. That deep red new growth is especially striking against bright green. My garden needs more pieris. I don't care if it's ubiquitous in the Northwest. I love it.

Vaccinium glauco-album has been on my radar for about a year now. I like the relatively large, smooth evergreen leaves and love the powdery white undersides.

I already have two Pernettya mucronulata, but they are small things and haven't really started doing anything yet. These two-gallon, 2-3 foot tall plants were only about $17, thick and loaded with blooms. So tempting.

Drymis lanceolata is also on my list of possibilities. I love the red stems and petioles. I think these were flower buds, but they could have been the fruit. I like them, too, whatever they are.

Mahonia are deer resistant, though the new growth will sometimes be nipped off. These Mahonia japonica would be great as an element in the mixed screen planting I'm planning along the new fence to block the view of the deer. Here's a trick for helping to keep the deer out: if they can't see what's on the other side, they are less likely to jump a fence, so a screen of plants can make a six-foot fence much more effective.

 'Blue Ice' bog rosemary is also deer-resistant (or so I've read). I love the blue foliage, but I've never been quite sure if I had a good spot for one (or several). I think I need to try harder. The foliage is so fantastic I can forgive the pink flowers, which actually pair so well with the foliage that it hardly matters.

Another deer-resistant group is the genus Daphne. This is another genus I want more of, especially ones like Brigg's Moonlight, below.

It's not always about variegation or really colorful foliage. The foliage of Daphne x rossettii is clean and tidy, with a rich, deep green color tinged with purple. The rich but subtle colors really drew me in. Simple foliage like this is just as important as the more flamboyant leaves in the garden, giving the eye a chance to relax a bit. I liked the flowers, too, almost red tubes opening to palest cream yellow.

Deciduous azaleas and enkianthus are near the top of my list of plants to grow now that I'll have some protection from the deer.

Members of the witch hazel family are supposedly deer resistant, but I've held off. After all, I've seen Japanese maples on those same lists, and I have a defoliated eyesore of a red laceleaf maple in the center of the driveway that says otherwise. But I am so fond of witch hazels, corylopsis, loropetalum, and other members of the family. Blue-leaved cultivars of fothergilla are definitely on my list to grow.

Red twig dogwoods are also on my list. I think these would look nice somewhere along the dry creek bed, maybe near the wetter end.

 I love oakleaf hydrangeas. I've never been a huge fan of mophead hydrangeas, but I LOVE oakleaf hydrangeas. Adding them to the list.

I never realized the difference in color between Cotinus 'Grace' (left) and Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' (right). I have 'Grace'. I think I need 'Royal Purple' and a green-leafed cultivar, too.

Maples are on my list. Clockwise from upper left: A. palmatum 'Sango Kaku', A. palmatum 'Purple Ghost', Ajaponicum 'Meigetsu Itaya', and A. japonicum 'Green Cascade'.


Rhododendrons, another group that is (mostly) deer-resistant, but I just couldn't resist snapping a few photos. I do need more with interesting foliage, after all. Clockwise from upper left: 'Golden Ruby', 'Daphnoides', 'Teddy Bear', and R. makinoi.



 I was excited to see 'Red Foliage Elizabeth' still available. I love the color of the new growth and the narrow, deeply veined leaves. I may have to go back for one of these and the ones above.

 I tried Hebe 'Red Edge' in the driveway island, but it turns out deer like those, too. Weakened by the deer, they were also hit pretty hard by the winter of 2008. Rather than waiting for them to recover so the deer could make them ugly all over again, I discarded them. Now I'm looking at the genus again, specifically at hardier selections such as Hebe ochracea 'James Stirling' and Hebe pimeloides 'Quicksilver'. Actually, 'James Stirling' is probably deer resistant. Green/gold and silver with black stems. These are probably my two favorite hebes.


 Hellebores are deer resistant, too, though the deer have an annoying habit of picking off the flowers (not eating them, just biting them off). I have plenty of plain green-leaved hellebores now. It's time to get some more with cool foliage, like this cultivar, 'Winter Moonbeam'. Seeing the hellebore and hebe pictures together makes me want to grow them all together. I wonder how much sun the hellebore can take. If not, I saw Helleborus lividus growing along the edge of a patio in quite a bit of sun.

Last summer, Picea abies 'Pusch' caught my eye with its rosy cones against bright green new growth. I still like it and there is still space for it in the bed off the back patio, but I decided to save my money for today. Maybe if I had already been digging out my wallet to pay for a Fuchsia 'Autumnale' I would have picked up a few more things. Huh, probably a good thing I didn't find that fuchsia today.


Well, that's a good start to my wishlist. At least for the "normal" garden plants. Can't forget all the cool, weird, unusual plants available from specialty nurseries. Now, if only my budget matched my gardening space...

14 comments:

  1. Yea, another fan of Pieris - Love them! It's interesting how spoiled we are in this region that the plants you've shown seem "normal." I remember when I moved here from zone three and each of these was an amazing discovery. Heck, 'Briggs Moonlight' is a fairly new and not every nursery carries Pernettya mucronulata or Ekianthus. (Isn't Pernettya amazing? Seems like it always has berries on it, even when it 's blooming.) We always pass Tsugawa on the way to Portland but next time, we'll definitely stop!

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    1. Well, the Drymis and Vaccinium are fairly new to the mainstream selection of plants. Not sure they qualify as "normal" yet. And I don't think I've seen Pernettya there before. It's always worth a stop. They do have a good selection.

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  2. Brigg's Moonlight....wish we grabbed one now when we first spotted it!

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    1. I think I'll have to go back soon for a few things, including Brigg's Moonlight.

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  3. A virtual nursery visit is almost as much fun as a real one, good stuff! I have a soft spot for Tsugawa as it's the first place I ever spotted the purple yucca, Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy'. I'll be curious to learn how you do with Sedum 'Chocolate Ball', every single one I've bought has disappeared. It's so disspointing because it's a beautiful plant.

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    1. That is unfortunate. :( There were a few other sedums similar to that one. I used it mostly to represent all sedums. I used to have a ton of Dragon's Blood, but the deer ate most of it. I think it's gone now. I'll be trying a whole lot of sedums, semps, and other succulents now that the deer will be out of the way.

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  4. What fun you're having planning what you're going to plant in the fenced garden. It will be even more fun once you actually start buying and planting. Like Peter said, next time I'm on my way to Portland, I think I'll stop in at Tsugawa.

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    1. I need to do more nursery visits, and even more so I need to visit gardens. But it will be way more fun when I start buying and planting!

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  5. I too am a fan of Pernettya, although I haven't broken down to get one yet. Unlike you, I have a tiny, stamp sized lot, and my family is already complaining that I'm crowding them out. The Quicksilver hebe is a total rock star! My husband ran mine over with the car, and it bounced right back! Which almost kicked it up to Top Ten status in my book!

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    1. I'm sure you could shoehorn a Pernettya in somewhere. Send the family out somewhere and sneak it in while they're gone!

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  6. We share a love for oak leaf hydrangea. Arn't they wonderful? My first was so lovely I bought a second... The same goes for Hebe James Sterling: the first was so successful I purchase 2 more. I love whatever works best in my garden! My red twig dogwood looks very different then the one you showed here, probably because it variegated. It needs diligent pruning (not to say hacking) annually to keep it in step with my small garden proportions: you shouldn't have that problem!
    Looking forward to fence and green house updates.

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    1. Oakleaf hydrangea just has more to offer, I think. More interesting leaf shape, more fall color, peeling bark, plus flowers as a bonus. What's not to love? I, too, love whatever works best in my garden!

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  7. Ah, that nasty budget issue. You have a lot of great prospects. I remember how surprised I was to hear (from one of the Texas bloggers) that deer will eat succulents, even agave - they certainly have a broad palate, at least when they're hungry. I tried the Drimys - it's attractive but was a slow grower here and it really didn't like being moved (i.e. I no longer have it because it showed its dismay by croaking).

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    1. Yeah, where's that winning lotto ticket when you need it? Oh, wait, I'd have to actually buy a ticket first.

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