Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, March 25, 2016

March Favorites Round-up

It's been awhile since I've joined Loree at Danger Garden in sharing a selection of favorite plants for the month. I've had both too many and no favorites the last few months, but mostly I've just been lazy and forgetful. March brings a mash-up of favorites old and new, particularly some favorite combinations.

It's not the most artful picture, but it gets the idea across. I planted three of these orange Erysimum and several Carex testacea along the front of the house, and have been enjoying them just as a foliage combo, the plain but pleasant green of the wallflower emphasizing the orange of the carex. Now, the wallflowers are blooming and it's even better! I planted many more wallflowers that I grew from seed I gathered from the three initial plants. They pretty much sat doing nothing all winter, but have started to grow as the weather warms. I don't expect flowers from them until next year, though.

Plain old Magnolia stellata never fails to delight when it blooms at the very beginning of spring. I limbed this tree up last year, partially in submission to the suckers that seemed intent on increasing the height of the plant. I'm glad the bloom doesn't seem reduced. In fact, allowing a few of the more dominant suckers to create a rejuvenated canopy seems to have reinvigorated the bloom display. I love this common plant because it provides beauty while asking nothing in return. In this location, growing in clay soil at the edge of the driveway, with some of the worst drainage on the property, it is entirely carefree aside from pruning for aesthetics. It requires no water in this spot during summer, provides a beautiful, fragrant spring display, has pleasant yellow fall color, and attractive branches and fuzzy buds in winter.

 I love the emerging leaves of Clethra barbinervis.

The new leaves of this Syneilesis I got from someone (sorry, I've forgotten who) at the fall plant swap remind me of shaggy mane mushrooms.

The flowers of Asarum caudatum always seem so exotic to me, like some Masdevallia orchid from the cloud forests of South America. Normally hidden beneath the leaves, this bloom is exposed on a small piece of stem I planted in one of the newer shade beds.

Though I wish it would bloom, I do enjoy the emerging foliage and cinnamon bark of Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris all on their own.

Rhododendron 'PJM' is blooming by Stump St. Helens. Not a particularly floriferous display this year, but beautiful nonetheless. Part of why I love this picture so much is the old seed heads of the Achillea millefolium rising just behind the rhododendron, as well as the blackened stump in the background. It's the combination, rather than any one by itself, that really makes this a favorite for March.

The same is true of Rhododendron 'Bob's Blue', just starting to fade. The backing of blackened stump and rich green, textured foliage on Viburnum davidii create a backdrop for the rhododendron that makes the whole display a favorite.

Native Viola sempervirens, growing wild both in cultivated and natural areas of the property, are always a favorite this time of year.

The textured, bronzy new leaves of Aesculus pavia make this a favorite for the month, too. I have three seedlings of this small tree that I plan to arrange in a small grove in the part of the yard that doesn't get bone dry in summer.

I've been enjoying this combination filling in. Sedum forsterianum 'Antique Grill' mingles with volunteer native Prunella vulgaris, with a few Sempervivum and a dwarf bearded iris in the mix.

A cushion of Saxifraga arendsii sends up clusters of dark flowers buds above the foliage.

Rhododendron impeditum flower buds are starting to pop open. I think they like their new home in the Acer griseum bed.

 I've been absolutely captivated by the bright new leaves on the silvery stems of Cercocarpus betuloides. Though apparently they are normally evergreen in USDA zone 8, the three I planted this fall lost most of their leaves. They were already quite stressed and had been in their containers for too long. This is also a plant that doesn't particularly enjoy living in a container. I expect they'll remain more evergreen next winter, though I kind of like the fresh new leaves emerging from the bare, silvery stems.

I recently was lucky enough to tour the growing facilities of Little Prince of Oregon. I've been absolutely terrible about getting to that post. It's coming, I swear. Until then, here's one of the plants I purchased, Epimedium 'Amber Queen'. Besides huge sprays of spider orange flowers held above the foliage, the new growth is mottled an amber green and bronze.

Luzula sylvatica 'Marginata' has, at least in my opinion, rather attractive black and brown inflorescences. My initial small clump seems to be sending up vigorous new growth. Hopefully it will make a nice evergreen groundcover in the dry shade where it's planted.

And finally, I recently added a whole flat of Adiantum venustum to this bed. The flat-full of ferns was a greatly-appreciated gift from a coworker. It should make a nice groundcover in this bed I made last year with random odds and ends. I'm already enjoying the interplay of foliage with the various plants, though it looks rather messy in this photo. Things will settle in.

That's hardly everything that has excited me in the garden this month, but if I tried to show all of it I'd break the internet.

10 comments:

  1. You have some great favorites this month, but I really love the combo at the very top, the Erysimum with the orange Carex. I have a similar wallflower that I love. At this time of year Epimediums excite me too.

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    1. I love coming home and seeing that combo front and center. The only drawback is that the wallflowers aren't quite nose-accessible. Maybe once more flowers open and the weather warms a bit more, the scent will travel further.

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  2. So much good stuff Evan and I agree with Alison, that first combo is luscious. Is that the Fatshedera I gave you cozied up to the Syneilesis? (which I think probably came from Jane) I've been rooting a couple of pieces that broke off in a windstorm in January. I keep meaning to ask how yours is doing. I'm hopeful the ones I've got going can be happy in the ground here.

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    1. I love the orange, too. Yes, that's the Fatshedera I got from you! I kept it in the greenhouse for most of the fall, but planted it sometime in late winter. Pretty sure it went through the 20-something degree frost here in January, with no damage despite having been just recently planted. Seems to be doing great! Excited for it to start growing this spring, though.

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  3. This post is a nice reminder to consider groupings that wind up being more than the sum of their parts. So often I find it hard to photograph something because of tatty surroundings. The pleated leaves of the Aesculus are fabulous. My climbing Hydrangea took several years to start blooming. Never thought of M stellata as ordinary. The one I got at the tough love sale last year is blooming. I am thrilled, having wanted one for ages.

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    1. Combinations, both accidental and intended, are really what makes a garden, in my mind. We planted the climbing hydrangea when I was in high school, so close to 10 years. It bloomed the first year, then sat for a few years while it got established, and the last few years it's been growing a lot, but no blooms. I'm hoping now that it's starting to develop some side branches on the long climbing shoots it will bloom again.

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  4. You have some wonderful plant combinations here, Evan - I particularly liked the one with the Rhododendron 'PJM', the Achillea and the stump. I adore the Epimedium too - I wish they liked SoCal's climate more than they do.

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    1. Thanks, Kris! I like that combo, too. I forgot to add that without the rhododendron, those yarrow stems would have fallen over by now. It all works together.

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  5. So many cool faves! Your Epimedium reminded me that I didn't cut back the old foliage of mine this year. Oh well...

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    1. I've never cut back the three epimediums that I had before the latest additions. I just got several more from Little Prince, but before that I had wushanense, sagittatum, and a form of davidii (I think). Pretty sure the first two are types that don't need cutting back. The third I've chosen not to because I want the ground-covering foliage more than the flowers.

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