Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, September 21, 2015

Annie's Delivers

Right around my birthday, about a month ago, I decided to treat myself to my first-ever order from Annie's Annuals. Several items from my wishlist were available, so I thought, "Why not?"

The people at Annie's obviously know what they're doing. Nice sturdy box...

And a well-designed system that keeps things from shifting about in transit. Anyone who has ordered plants by mail knows that the carrier isn't always that careful.

On to the plants! First up is Sempervivum 'Plum Fuzzy'. Not very plum at the moment, though certainly fuzzy. I'm guessing it was either growing out of direct sunlight at the nursery or it lost its color in the dark box. I was hoping the color would return fairly quickly after it got some sun, but nearly two weeks after unpacking it and planting it in the ramp bed, it still only has the bits of purple under the leaf tips you can see in this picture. After looking again at the pictures on the Annie's website, it's not as purple as I thought. Still, time, growth, and some harsher treatment in my garden should result in better color, though perhaps not until next summer.

After finally adding Lupinus albifrons to my garden earlier this summer, I found this species, Lupinus sericatus. While the leaves are over twice the size of my L. albifrons, it grows into a much lower, more compact plant. The thick leaves are almost succulent, and so silver as to defy belief. After hearing Loree (Danger Garden) lost this in her Portland Garden, I'm a bit worried about my new little treasure. Hardiness ratings vary widely, from zone 3 to zone 9. Digging around the internet, I found a sufficient number of sources claiming zone 8 or lower that I'm going to practice a little optimism and hope for the best, with a good dose of prudence should a sudden hard freeze come in this winter and I have to cover certain things. I did plant it in the best-draining soil I have, along the west side of the house, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens this winter.

This one is destined to spend winter in the greenhouse. Psoralea pinnata is a broom that can grow into a 12-foot shrub or small tree, and is fast-growing, but anything can be kept in a container for awhile, right? Especially a tough, drought-tolerant broom? The common name, Kool-Aid bush, arises from the grape-scented, purple and white flowers. Since this is becoming one of my favorite floral scents, I simply couldn't resist. Though now, Annie's is listing an even more fragrant, weeping version, Psoralea fleta. I may have ordered too soon, but I'll see what Psoralea pinnata does, first.

Another plant not hardy in my zone, Crassula alba var. parvisepala has a fantastic mottling of red across its green leaves. Again, how could I resist?

A couple of the brittle leaves broke off either during packing or in transport. What's a compulsive propagator to do?

Many years ago (more than 10, at least), at Fred Meyers I saw a variety of thyme labelled "spicy orange." It's been in the back of my mind ever since. Not enough that I really researched it, but enough that I usually look for it at the herb section of nurseries. That's why I was thrilled to find Thymus fragrantissima, also known as orange-scented thyme. I'm not sure it's exactly the same as the one I saw all those years ago at FD, but it's close. Now, if I had any sense, I would have realized it's the same thyme carried at Cistus, and I could have picked one up at my leisure. But I didn't pay much attention to the scientific name on Annie's website, and had forgotten sighting the herb at work while looking for the next plant to demolish for cuttings. Ah well, what's done is done.

Perhaps my favorite plant in this order (that is, if I had to choose one) is Cussonia transvaalensis, the grey cabbage tree. Just look at those leaves! They may not be very grey at the moment, but that shape!

And look! It already has a little swollen caudex!

 Reaching to 16 feet high in the ground, at least in zones 9-11, the grey cabbage tree can be kept in a container for many years, and is a popular bonsai subject (though I don't recall seeing it mentioned in any of my half dozen bonsai books). I struggled a bit to decide on a container for it, but finally went with this round, studded bonsai container.

The crassula went into another wide, shallow container, along with a couple pieces of Kleinia stapeliiformis (formerly a senecio). Both plants have great foliage (or stems) with cool flowers as a bonus. I didn't notice until I looked at this picture for this post, but the plants in the pot sort of echo the design on the outside.

I spent the weekend doing more planting, though I'm still waiting for some real rain in the forecast before I do any major moving of established plants. I'm going to be spending most of each week in Portland from now on, coming home to garden on the weekends, and the days are getting short enough that both my parents leave in the dark and come home almost in the dark, so they won't be able to water during the week, either. Perhaps Mother Nature will humor me with rain during the week and sunny weekends...

No, I don't think that will happen, either.

By the way, I also finally took a look at my blog on a mobile device. It happened to be my GBBD and Foliage Follow-up post and because of the layout the pictures are not arranged the way they are on the full version, making the text a bit confusing. For anyone who tried to figure out which plant was which in that post on a mobile device, I'm sorry. I'll try to be more conscious of that in the future.

16 comments:

  1. Annie's must have a corner on the Lupinus sericatus market. Hopefully yours will do fabulously and then I'll be tempted to get a couple more. Love that Cussonia transvaalensis, you chose the perfect container!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found it listed by a few wholesale nurseries in California. Of course, Californians frequently suffer from a similar affliction as the Brits, they just call something hardy without a rating, or if it's really hardy they might say "hardy to 15 degrees or lower." We'll see. I've lost other borderline plants in that bed, but that was before I fluffed up the soil, raised everything 8-10 inches, and added a slope. Thanks! I almost went with a pot I made out of a warped record, but I like the bonsai container, better.

      Delete
  2. I wish I'd known you wanted that Kool-Aid plant. I have a large one in a pot that I've decided I'm not highly enamored of. I got it at last year's plant swap from Matthew Hubbard. Should I bring it to this year's swap for you? It's always good to have an extra, in case the little one from Annie's fails.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear. I wish I had known you had one you wanted to get rid of. I would order one and then be offered a free one. Sure, bring it on down!

      Delete
    2. No problem, I'll bring it this weekend.

      Delete
  3. That Cussonia is a stunner and already has the bonsai shape. I haven't seen Psoralea pinnata for ages. It used to be grown commonly in the suburbs of Sydney (I know they aren't especially long lived). I never got the opportunity to smell it though, so I'll have to take your word for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will look even better once it grows and develops a tall, crooked trunk, like a literati-style bonsai. I've noticed some buds near the base that look like they could start growing, but may not do anything unless the main leader is pruned. I don't think I'll be doing that for awhile. I'm taking Annie's word on the fragrance of the Psoralea. I haven't smelled it yet, either.

      Delete
  4. Nice choices! I like the idea of trying the Cussonia in a pot to keep its size under control. Annie's is my favorite mail-order source. I'm sitting on a gift card I received way back in May, waiting for the end of our seemingly never-ending summer to place my order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a common tactic for us poor northerners to keep tender plants imprisoned in pots to reduce their size. Ooh, gift card, eh? I'll look forward to seeing what you get.

      Delete
  5. Great new plants! I got a Cussonia from Annie's this spring and have had to pot it up a couple of times as it grew so rapidly. What fantastic foliage! So, are you working at Cistus during the week now? How cool is that?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Mine has already started to grow rather quickly, too, but I'm going to grow it bonsai-style and keep it restricted to that pot, at least for awhile. Yep, I'm the propagator at Cistus, 2 days a week!

      Delete
  6. I keep hearing rave reviews of Annie's...and now this. I may be tempted to break my no mail order rule. The leaves on your cabbage tree are spectacular. Someone should come up with a more elegant common name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They really know what they're doing. Probably the most well-packaged mail-order plants I've ever received. It really does deserve a better name. I prefer to call it cussonia.

      Delete
  7. They really do! When I ordered some things a bit early this spring, worried that they would sell out, they called me up within a day to quiz me on whether I would actually be able to take care of the plants until it got warm enough outside. Everything but one African marigold is still blooming now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You got the 3rd degree, huh? Nice to know they do that. I'm sure there are less knowledgeable people in cold areas who might order early and not consider where they're going to keep the plants until it's safe for them to go outside.

      Delete
  8. I LOVE ordering plants online: the day they arrive is like Christmas!

    I just ordered the Psoralea fleta today, and hopefully I'll be able to keep it alive over the winter until I can put it in the ground in the Spring! (I'm very bad at keeping things in pots alive.)

    ReplyDelete

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!