Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, September 18, 2015

A late summer visit to Joy Creek

I hadn't been to Joy Creek since spring, so a couple weeks ago I decided it was time to return to see how the gardens had changed (and check off a few plants from my wishlist).

Parking the car, I was nearly blinded by this swath of Zauschneria. Oh to fast forward to when my tiny plants, added this summer, look like this.

It's such an intense color that it is difficult to photograph, especially in full sun. I'm not sure which was starting to burn first, my camera or my retinas.

I love this simple vignette of Hesperaloe parviflora prominently displayed in a gravel-mulched bed with green in the background. I wish there was a landscape supply company near me that carried the washed quarter-ten gravel Joy Creek espouses as such a great amendment for clay soils. The closest one I've been able to find so far is in Portland and they don't deliver to Washington. I'm going to have to settle for quarter-ten minus or pumice. The quarter-ten minus includes the fine, sandy particles, which can mix with the clay to make it more like concrete, instead of improving drainage like the washed version does. From what I've read, pumice is a good alternative, though I don't think it will look good as a mulch. Too bright.

I couldn't manage a good picture of the giant mass of Erodium chrysanthum, but I did get a close-up of some flowers and foliage. An evergreen, grey-leaved groundcover that doesn't have schoolbus-yellow flowers? Yes, please! I don't know why, but I generally dislike true yellow. The pale yellow, almost white flowers of this erodium, I love.

I really need to add Colchicum to my garden. These ones were just so beautiful. I love fall-blooming plants, or any bloom that appears at an unexpected time.

It was a truly perfect day. The recent rains had cleared the air of smoke, and the sun had broken through the clouds again. It was pleasantly warm, with a cool breeze, not baking, as it has been most of this summer. The puffy white clouds in the clear blue sky made a wonderful backdrop for the bright foliage of Catalpa bignonioides 'Aurea', which in turn served as contrast for the dark foliage of Rosa glauca, complete with bright red hips.

Cyclamens are a favorite of mine. I don't have any white ones, yet. I actually prefer these over the pink. I need to keep an eye out for these.

A beautiful Calycanthus still blooming. I believe this is 'Hartlage Wine', the non-fragrant hybrid between the eastern U.S. native Calycanthus floridus and the Asian Calycanthus sinensis. A beautiful flower, but I'm more interested in obtaining the western native, Calycanthus occidentalis, and the fragrant hybrid, Calycanthus 'Aphrodite'.

I'm not sure which species of Cyrtomium this is. possibly Cyrt. macrophyllum? It's one of the most shapely, graceful specimens I've seen. Perhaps I could ask to collect a few leaflets for spores next time I visit...

Out in the test garden area, it's a riot of color, both foliage and flowers.

what is that burning orange glow in front of the bamboo? Time to move in for a closer look.

That's a lot of Rudbeckia! Seeing this display makes me regret not planting some in my garden. I love the orange, red, and brown shades of these flowers, everything from the brightest flames to the dimmest coals. I don't like their short life-spans, though. I meant to ask if they had trialed any of the new xEchibeckia hybrids, crosses between echinaceas and rudbeckias with the flower colors of the latter and (supposedly) the constitution and lifespans of the former.

It might be worth planting these short-lived flowers, especially given my recent acceptance of Carex comans, individual plants of which only live about 3 or 4 years in my climate but leave copious seedlings as a legacy. Not to mention the self-seeding annuals I plan to grow in the future, like Nigella damascena, Escscholtzia california, and Phacelia campanularia.

I often prefer single flowers over double, but in the case of these dark orange beauties, more really is better. Not to imply that the single versions are slouches. The bumblebee in this photo certainly likes them.

One more shot of these beauties. This one especially long petals, with a slightly more spidery appearance than others.

Does anyone else think this weeping purple beech looks like it's waving? Or maybe just gesturing in the direction of more treasures to be seen.

I didn't get the name of this viburnum. It could be V. rhytidophyllum, but the leaves seem too short and wide. Possibly V. x rhytidophylloides, a cross between V. rhytidophyllum and V. lantana 'Mohican'.

The Heptacodium miconioides, or seven sons flower, was in full bloom. This is one of my favorite small trees. It has so much to offer.

The shaggy grey bark exfoliates in thin strips, revealing light cinnamon new bark underneath, making this deciduous tree attractive even in winter.

 It has a somewhat tiered branching habit, enhanced by the attractive, glossy leaves tending to hang down.

Then, of course, there are the fragrant, white blooms, born in groups of seven which earn it the common name of seven sons flower. Somehow I managed to get a shot without one of the hundreds of bees swarming the tree photobombing me. As if these beautiful flowers weren't enough, as they fade the calyxes will expand and turn a ruddy pink. The effect is of a second bloom, entirely different from the first, that lasts well into fall. No wonder I added one of these to my garden when I found it in the discount area at Tsugawa's Nursery in Woodland.

Almost to the sales area, I stopped to admire the amsonia bracketing a heather, slowly turning golden to echo the variegated yucca in the background.

Rated to zone 8, Salvia chamelaeagna is worth a try if you have a spot with excellent drainage, like a pile of gravel.

The bone-white foliage of Helichrysum tianshanicum beckoned (rather strongly) but for whatever reason, it didn't come home with me.

I've been to Joy Creek several times, but never taken a picture of the famous Yowler, the resident feline and virtual mascot of the nursery. This time, he came right up and demanded petting. I was happy to oblige, snapping a quick photo between ear rubs.

So what came home with me? Not Yowler, unfortunately. As consolation, I did grab this Berlandiera lyrata, with attractive, glaucous foliage and chocolate-scented flowers. Yes, the flowers will be that true yellow I try to avoid, but I'll make an exception for the scent, and the foliage.

You may notice that the plants in these photos are already spread about the garden as I decided where to place my new acquisitions. Carex flacca 'Blue Zinger' ended up near the wet end of the dry creek bed.

Erodium chrysanthum moved about several times before finally ending up in the bed by the patio. Hopefully the slope will be enough to counteract the clay soil.

Here you can see two salvias (left) from Joy Creek staged with the erodium (right) and two hesperaloe from Means in the bed along the front of the house. None of these plants ended up here.

Salvia x jamensis 'Sierra San Antonio' may be a bit on the tender side according to some sources, but Joy Creek lists it as zone 8, possibly zone 7, so I'm willing to try.

Salvia chamaedryoides has some of the most intense blue flowers available, enhances further by the lovely grey foliage. They show up a bit purple in this photo, but I assure you they are a true, cobalt blue. Plant Delights Nursery rates this as hardy to zone 7a, but they are often overly optimistic in their ratings, even more so when translated to wet PNW winters. Still, everything is worth a try, especially if you can give it good drainage. Did I provide adequate drainage? We'll find out in spring.


21 comments:

  1. '... xEchibeckia hybrids, crosses between echinaceas and rudbeckias with the flower colors of the latter and (supposedly) the constitution and lifespans of the former." -- sounds like a grand cross to me, if only to get to tell visitors, "This is Echibecki."

    Then I read Tony Avent saying it is only Rudbeckia hirta and not a true cross. He does admit that the leaves are less plush.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Tony's word is not gospel, though he likes to pretend it is. I'm going to wait and see how these new plants perform in other people's gardens.

      Delete
  2. You remind me I need to get out there again. Yes, the tree is waving at you, Evan - of course it is....So that salvia - I have a similar one, Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glow' and it's been hardy for me, but it could be miles away from being similar to yours. It sure looks like it, though. Great photos, nice haul, too. Glad you got the Erodium!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good, then I wasn't crazy for waving back. That salvia does look similar, though the pink color seems to spread over the whole flower whereas in mine the lip lacks that color. I'm only worried about hardiness because the place I planted it may not drain as well as I thought it did. I thought it was a nice gritty soil, but there's clay underneath and even the gritty portion didn't drain that fast when I filled the hole with water. I added gravel to the planting hole to try to compensate. We'll see. Same with the erodium, unfortunately. At least it's more cold hardy. Thanks, Tamara. Hope you make it out to Joy Creek soon!

      Delete
  3. It's been a while since I've been to Joy Creek. I think I was there briefly this spring, but didn't buy anything. Hesperaloe at Means? I wonder if they still have any...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They only had about 7 left when I was there, and some of them had been moved uo to 2-gallon pots. Still cheaper than what I see at a lot of places. Only $6.99 for the gallon size.

      Delete
  4. Evan, I live in Seattle and my local sources do not carry quarter-10 BUT I was able to special order it. It wasn't too expensive, it just too more time. Then, when I got it, it was more like 3/8"--but that was OK. Now a source near us DOES carry quarter-10. So, I guess my message is--ask around a bit and maybe some supplier will offer offer the special order option. I can't quite imagine choosing pumice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Emily. I was considering doing just that. I would use pumice as an ammendment, but not to use as a mulch that would work itself into the soil. Like I said, too bright. There are a lot of rock suppliers in my area. Hopefully one will work with me.

      Delete
  5. I'm in your camp: love silvery foliage, hate the gaudy yellow flowers that usually come along for the ride. The Erodium is a great work-around. Guess I'll try it again (after all, it's only failed once).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, it's such a curse, isn't it? I did recently see a santolina covered in old flowers that had faded to a beautiful gold. I might be willing to tolerate the initial flower color for the aftershow. Hope you have better luck with the erodium the second time around.

      Delete
  6. Perfect weather, a great nursery packed to the gills, and a full carload trunk of plants to take home - it sounds like a wonderful day to me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really like the burnt reds and oranges of the autumn flowers...I'll have to try and ass some - they really do match the season so well. And that beech does look like it's waving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of my favorite flower colors. I really want them in my own garden, even if it means growing a short-lived perennial.

      Delete
  8. Evan - I just found your blog via your Corylopsis article, I'm an addict as well. You clearly don't live in Wisconsin anymore, I'm thinking Portland, OR now? I'm in Edmonds, WA, another upper Midwest expatriate from Minnesota.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! It's nice to hear from someone who read my article. I'm actually from SW Washington originally, and only spent about 9 months in Wisconsin. That was enough for me. I'm currently splitting my time between Portland, OR, and Castle Rock, WA. Welcome to the PNW.

      Delete
  9. It took me a little longer...when I turned 40 I asked myself: what the hell am I still doing here?

    No, actually its a nice place, just not for someone who likes to garden 365.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such beautiful plants! Thanks for giving me visuals of what the place some of my treasured plants come from looks like!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! It's a beautiful garden. Nice sales area, too, but I'm usually too busy shopping to think of taking wide shots there.

      Delete
  11. Indeed, it's too bad you couldn't adopt the nursery's mascot (for the orange element in the garden if nothing else).
    The weeping beech is a favorite tree of mine: weren't you tempted to get one? It has a rather striking and contrasting color against other garden trees, not to mention it's friendly gestures.
    Orange Rudbecia hybrid? Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! I do love orange. Especially orange cats. The cat we had when I was little was an orange tabby with a medium coat and a big, plumed tail. She was amazing, even if she had trouble getting along with hyper-active little me. I don't think they had any weeping beeches for sale. That one was in the display garden. I don't have any strong feelings for them one way or another, though I am considering trees with purple foliage at the moment. Beeches need water, though, and that limits the possibilities in my yard. I suppose I have room in one area, and 'Black Swan' is quite narrow...

      Delete

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing what readers think and answering questions. I also welcome suggestions for improvement!