Flowers, Foliage, and Vignettes

I'm beginning an attempt at posting regularly, on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. With life being so chaotic, I need whatever order I can impose on it. That does create a bit of a jumble in situations like this, though, where Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens) fell on a Tuesday and Foliage Follow-up (hosted by Pam at Digging) fell on a Wednesday, which is also the day of Wednesday Vignette, hosted byAnna of Flutter & Hum. I would have posted my GBBD post on Monday, but I don't have much blooming at the moment and thought I might as well combine all three. Also, when I went to take pictures on Sunday (which was actually sunny!) I discovered that my camera is missing, along with my case and several SD cards. Due to some other bad news I had last week, I was in a bit of a daze and can't remember at all where I may have left it. It can't have been at a nursery or garden somewhere, because I would have left the case in my car. With the case missing, too, I can only think that someone stole it, though I can think of no opportunities anyone had to do so. Perhaps I did leave it somewhere. Either way, it's gone. While I was frantically searching my parents' house and property for my camera (all the while hoping I had left it at my brother's house in Portland, which I didn't), the daylight was fading fast. I ended up having to snap a few hurried shots with my phone, which doesn't work well in low light and frequently has issues focusing. (Is there Ritalin for smartphones?)

Anyway, all this rottenness is to explain why I have so few pictures this time around and why so many are blurry, dark, washed out from phone flash, or otherwise odd-looking. Luckily, I do have a backlog of photos saved on my hard drive that I need to post before I buy a new camera. I was really hoping my next big purchase would be a new laptop, to replace my 6 & 7 year old dinosaurs, which operate as if they were trapped in tar.

 Hutchinsia alpina continues to produce a scattering of bloom all year as long as there's adequate moisture. We've had plenty of that lately in the PNW. Temperatures of 18-20 degrees Fahrenheit the week of Thanksgiving didn't faze these blooms at all.

I'll be jumping back and forth between flowers and foliage in this post, because it's late and I want to get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. The rain greens up the foliage of Alyssum spinosum, but as soon as it dries it returns to a beautiful blue-grey. The old flower stalks have faded from gold to buff, but continues to form a spiny cloud around the foliage.

Much reviled as a ubiquitous parking lot plant by some, I find the dark, lustrous green leaves of Viburnum davidii, accented by red stems and petioles, lush and refreshing. This evergreen shrub deserves to be used more often. I watered it once or twice this summer, though it does get shade by around 2pm. Outside of an ugly, abused parking lot setting, it looks wonderful. Mine looks fantastic hugging the side of a burned out stump that has weathered to look remarkably like Mt. St. Helens.

A trick for getting phones (and point and shoot cameras) to focus when they want to look past something is to put your hand behind it. You should have seen how blurry this Ceropegia woodii 'Variegata' bloom was before I backed it with a hand. Like this succulent, many of my blooms are currently in the greenhouse or in the house.

Lapageria rosea continues to bloom in the greenhouse, surrounded here by several tillandsias.
 The last two years, I've put Blechnum gibbum through some horrendous conditions, nearly losing it two or three times. It's bounced back each time, and it is absolutely loving the cool, humid greenhouse conditions. It continually pumps out new fronds.

Blurry, but I enjoyed the color combination in this photo of the green kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Rhododendron 'PJM', and yellow Achillea foliage with brown seed heads poking through the top of the Rhododendron. The yarrow was an accidental transplant that hitchhiked along with a Penstemon serrulatus. I had originally intended to weed it out, but it's grown on me. I really like the dried seed heads, and I'm now planning to add more varieties of yarrow to the garden.

The kinnikinnick has grown marvelously this year, and will keep looking marvelous all winter now that the deer can't defoliate it during the cold season. This shoot is growing across the side of Stump St. Helens, looking perfectly natural, as if it were growing in a burned area out in the wild. If it weren't slightly blurry, I'd be tempted to use this photo as my new banner at the top of the page. Maybe I'll try to recapture it once I get a new camera.

 The plants of Salvia offinicalis 'Berggarten' I added to the driveway island are small but already delight me with their dew-capturing grey foliage.

I've long since forgotten the name of this chartreuse-leaved Erica (aka heath) cultivar. I had also forgotten that the color intensifies in cold weather. The chartreuse brightens to an almost white-yellow, and the tips take on a coral pink blush.

Other heaths, represented by the photo below, have been opening their brilliant white blooms since October, but are really reaching their prime now.

I've forgotten the cultivar of this Calluna vulgaris, as well. It could be 'Wickwar Flame' or 'Firefly', or another cultivar that turns orange red in cool weather. How many reliably hardy evergreens are there for the PNW that turn such brilliant colors?

 Geranium robustum took the Thanksgiving frost without complaint. I was a little surprised this South African geranium didn't show more damage. It is supposedly hardy to zone 7, but I know it was killed to the ground last winter. I wasn't around then, so I'm still waiting to see how cold it can get before the foliage dies down.

Lacking in settled grace due to being divided and relocated, the basal foliage of Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' is still producing brilliant shades from yellow to dark red, and green!

The last flush of growth from summer on this Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki' is positively brilliant against the darker green older foliage.

Daphne x transatlantica 'Blafra' Eternal Fragrance is still bloooming, as is the 'Summer Ice' I added earlier this year (not shown).

 Several other plants, such as Cyclamen coum, hellebores, and mahonia, are showing flower buds, but probably won't be blooming for another month at least. The cyclamen appear to be falling victim to cut worms, which are slicing off the flower buds. The vile little worms have been an absolute nightmare this fall, chewing on pretty much everything that isn't woody. It's time to bring in the Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) powder.

This is the time of year I value my indoor plants most, and several are currently in bloom, with more on the way. Phragmipedium Olaf Gruss appears to be on it's final bloom. Flowering sequentially with one to three blooms open at a time, this round of blooms has lasted four months, starting in August. This is still a young plant. Once it becomes a clump with many growths, it will be able to produce multiple bloom spikes at a time and will last even longer.

Blooms in the works and foliage to enjoy right now! Phalaenopsis schilleriana is one of a group of moth orchids with foliage fantastically mottled in silver, purple and green, with solid purple reverses. This is a purple-flowered form.

My phone did a great job focusing on this Paphiopedilum Hsinying Alien, and the flash didn't startle it any worse than the one on my camera would have.

My Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti had been in the greenhouse until this weekend. They were looking a bit pouty in the cool greenhouse, so I decided to bring them inside. This one has been slowly opening blooms for over a month.

More blooms to be, this time belong to a dwarf form of Billbergia nutans. This form is hardy in North Carolina in zone 7b, provided it has perfect drainage and you don't mind it looking mostly dead. I'm keeping mine inside during the winter to enjoy its reliable winter blooms. It was also in the greenhouse until recently, and might already be in bloom if I had brought it inside sooner.

Vanda Moonlight Firefly (formerly Ascofinetia) is getting closer to opening its pale yellow-orange blooms. It also has two more inflorescences still hidden in the leaves.

Phalaenopsis Rong Guan Mary is putting out a strong new inflorescence after spending summer in the greenhouse. I finally cut the old spike off to force the plant to take a break. It had been blooming from the same spike for over a year. But the roots had deteriorated because the potting medium had broken down and I wasn't around to repot it, so it needed some R&R. I guess it decided break time is over.

Vandachostylis (formerly Neostylis) Lou Sneary 'Bluebird' developed three bloom stalks this summer and started blooming in August. This is the last and smallest of those spikes. I thought this would be the end of the show for now, but a fourth spike just started poking out from the base of the leaves, which you can see just above the flower next to the yellow tag. It should be back to blooming after a fairly brief interlude when the current blooms fade.

And finally, for my vignette this week, I was struck by the sharp contrast of old, brown flower stalks against bright blue-grey foliage on this Phlomis fruticosa at Cistus Nursery. Color aside, the textures in this vignette captivated me. The fan of sword-shaped iris(?) leaves takes it even further. Texture is often overlooked in favor of color in the garden, and I plan to try to overcome that tendency in my own garden.


  1. Aw Evan - I'm so sorry about your camera!!! You must be devastated - I know I would be... I hope you just thoughtlessly put it down somewhere safe, where you will find it, and be able to laugh at yourself for being so careless. I'm with you on the Viburnum. I think it is a lovely plant, and a real workhorse to boot! That Blechnum gibbum has now firmly planted itself on my wish list - it is stunning! You have an impressive array of orchids, and your vignette is great! Talk about underused plant - Phlomis deserves to be seen more - it is so cool!

    1. It hasn't shown up in any of the places I would have left it with the case. It's gone. I really want to find a different clone of Viburnum davidii, to get the metallic blue fruit. It's a shame it's become so maligned. I bet if people appreciated it more, we'd see multiple clones so it would be easier to get berries. I love that Blechnum. While not technically a true tree fern, botanically speaking, it is the most compact trunk-forming fern you can find, and so easy to grow. I killed phlomis once, but I want to try it again in other areas where it should do better.

  2. Damn bad news about the camera Evan, I hope it pops up soon.

    Lots to love here, I'm especially smitten with the foliage of your Hutchinsia alpina, although when I Google it the flowers are a little much.

    1. That's right, you don't much care for white flowers, do you? If it helps, I didn't get more than a scattered bloom this spring. They didn't cover the foliage like in some of those photos. I think it needs more winter chill than we got last year.

  3. Your Blechnum gibbum is gorgeous. Is it destined to remain in the green house, or will it be able to venture outside in Spring? Goshiki Osmanthus shines with those brilliant leafs.
    The Paphiopedilum Hsinying Alien doesn't even look real: what an amazing flower!

    1. The Blechnum spent all summer on a north-facing deck, and it will return there in spring. I did water it almost daily during the heat of summer though. Not the most low-maintenance plant in dry heat, though it would have survived with less water.

  4. I love the Phlomis in your Wednesday Vignette - mine don't look half as good. I also envy your collection of indoor plants, particularly that green-tinged Paphiopedilum. I hope the camera turns up!

    1. That Phlomis is a specific, compact form of P. fruticosa, but I couldn't remember the exact name, so I didn't include it. I have no phlomis in my garden, having killed one in what turned out to be a bad location and a bad winter. Time to try it again.

  5. Some of the shots you took with your phone turned out beautifully. Maybe it's a matter of getting used to it? I'm hoping to get an iphone soon so I won't have to lug around the bulky camera to events where it can be distracting. Were you talking about a new camera even before misplacing yours? That would ease the sting of losing it ever so slightly. Right on re the V. davidii. It looks good through all kinds of weather. The Blechnum looks fragile: nice to know that its looks are deceiving.

    1. I'm sure practicing with my phone will help. I just get frustrated tapping the screen trying to get it to focus where I want it. It does better with some things than others. I've thought about getting a DSLR since I used a film SLR in a high school photography class. So, while I really liked my camera, this is an opportunity for me to get a DSLR. I've nearly defoliated that fern several times, and it always comes back once conditions improve.

  6. I'm sorry about your camera, Evan. What a drag! But thanks for your dedication in joining in anyway. I use my cell phone more and more to take garden photos. My old iPhone does pretty well in all but low-light conditions, although of course the resolution is not as high as with the DSLR.


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