Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, May 16, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2016

I'm joining in a day late for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. With the heatwaves we've been experiencing in the Pacific Northwest, things have been happening at a fast pace, flowers that usually last several weeks begin fading in a few days. I'm sure I've missed a few but, as usual, this post was ending up long enough, so I won't worry about it missing a couple of blooms

Stump St. Helens has never looked so good. The 'Mount St. Helens' azalea in the center finally bloomed without any problems from deer or nutrient deficiencies. Hutchinsia alpina and Alyssum spinosum are both blooming at the edge of the bed, the former winding down, the latter just reaching peak bloom.

Looking closer at some of the flowers in around the stump: Penstemon rupicola is a native penstemon that forms a semi-shrubby evergreen mat of glaucous leaves, with amazing pink flowers in spring.

Lacking the snow cover of its native higher elevations, my plant has been damaged in the past by sudden frosts after mild weather, and by deer, but has always recovered. This year, everything went right and it bloomed wonderfully!

Another native evergreen mat-forming penstemon, Penstemon cardwellii, adjusts to low-elevation living better than P. rupicola, but the inflorescences would always poke through the wire cage I placed over it to keep the deer off of it, when they didn't just stomp on it to get to the azalea in the stump.

No deer means this tough native blooms vigorously. My camera makes the light purple, fuzzy-throated blooms appear more blue than they really are. Now that the deer can't molest them, I'll be spreading both of these penstemons around the garden more, testing where they'll grow. They tend to die out in spots that get hot afternoon sunlight and/or too much water in summer.

Antennaria microphylla has tall stems (relative to the rest of the plant, at least) topped by little white thimble-shaped flower heads.


I don't know where this columbine came from. It just popped up one year of its own accord. I think it pairs nicely with the foliage of the Xerophyllum tenax and Eryngium variifolium behind it, so I've kept it.

Trientalis latifolia and Viola adunca bloom together at the base of the Viburnum davidii.

Most of the Iris tenax in the woods have finished blooming, but oddly the plants that sowed themselves into the bed around Stump St. Helens bloom later.

This is my favorite one, a white-flowered seedling with blue streaks.

Calycanthus floridus is loaded with its dark red blooms.

I've started collecting cultivars of the native Philadelphus lewisii. I picked up this 'Snow Velvet' at Xera in Portland. The first bloom to open was semi-double.

Subsequent blooms have been single as they're supposed to be. I'm not fond of double flowers in general. I prefer these simpler blooms. Supposedly fragrant, I've had trouble detecting it as I've been fighting a cold pretty much the entire time this plant has been blooming.

Iris siberica didn't make it to Bloom Day, because of the heat, but was beautiful when it was in bloom.

Last fall I dug and divided the large main clump and planted several divisions on the opposite side of the dry creek bed in a new border. I'm pretty happy with the results so far.

In the greenhouse, Streptocarpus 'Bristol's Waterbug' is finally gaining enough size to put on a real floral display.

As much as these rhododendrons were wilting last summer, I'm amazed that they are blooming better than ever. In case you're wondering, yes, our neighbors is cutting down pretty much all of his trees. On the bright side, we'll have more light in this area and our sunset views will be improved. But it is unpleasant to look at and I worry that things will dry out even more here. I'll be planting a few trees for eventual shade, and native screening plants along the fence to block the view.

Rhododendron 'Nancy Evans' (yellow) usually blooms well, but this is the first year in some time that 'Black Magic' (dark red) has bloomed well, or at all. It will probably enjoy the increased light, as will the climbing hydrangea nearby. It would be nice to get blooms on that, finally.

I love the dark, blood-red, blackish blooms of this rhododendron. I've never seen all three of these rhodies blooming together. It's an odd combination, but I don't think they clash too badly.

This rhododendron was inherited with the house, originally growing against the west side of the house (rhododendrons love scorching afternoon sun, right?). We've always simply called it "Big Pink", for lack of a better name. With massive trusses of blooms, each nearly 4 inches wide and hot pink, it seemed an appropriate and descriptive name.

Beneath the drama of the rhododendrons, Epimedium wushanense continues blooming quietly.

And Primula bulleyana comes into bloom against the chartreuse foliage of Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'. These are a bit smaller than last year. I think a bit of compost is in order.

No deer means Sedum spathulifolium can bloom and grow safely. I planted this strip of sedum last fall from single-rosette starts, and it's already starting to fill in.

I admit I forgot the exact placement of all these Allium christophii when I redid the driveway island. But I like the combination of silvery lilac stars and the white blooms of Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold'.

The Parahebe perfoliata I started from cuttings last year are already blooming this year. I grow this plant mostly for the foliage, but I admit I love the purplish blue flowers.

 Another native penstemon, P. serrulatus, forms an evergreen basal clump of foliage with upright stems lifting the flowers above. Unlike the two shrubby penstemons above, this species reseeds in my garden. I transplanted most of the seedlings to the driveway island. So far most of them are magenta to purple. This is the bluest one, more like the parent plant in the Stump St. Helens bed.

I picked up this Lavandula stoechas at Garden Fever last summer and planted it in the horrible clay forming the slope at the front entrance to the house. It survived the winter rains and is blooming. Without digging out the label, I can't remember the name, but I chose this cultivar over the others available at the time because of its scent, warmer and spicier than the normal lavender scent.

Helianthemum 'Henfield Brilliant was a new addition last year. These also survived winter on the clay slope and are starting to fill out. I love these fiery orange blooms.

The Erysimum are winding down, but still showy. Most of the seedlings I planted in fall are growing well.

Glumicalyx gosseloides is coming into bloom with its strange, nodding heads of chocolate-orange scented flowers.

Bletilla striata is starting to bloom.

Another Bletilla striata, this one a cultivar named 'Kuchibeni', has white flowers with a pale pinkish purple lip.

The lemon daylily, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, is starting its display of deliciously-scented yellow blooms.

Cistus 'Snowfire' has begun its long season of bloom, and this bumblebee is happy. It's nice to see a bumble going after a flower that's actually bigger than it.

Scilla peruviana, from Joycreek Nursery.

I don't remember Cistus 'Mickie' blooming last year, but it's loaded with buds and blooms this year.

The early heat has brought on the bloom spikes of Yucca filamentosa several weeks early.

 This unnamed Amsonia seedling is turning into a lovely clump, tripling in size from last year.

Not quite open yet, I'm so excited for these that I had to share. The deer have always come along and mowed off the developing inflorescences of Penstemon pinifolius. This year will be the first year I'll get blooms since I planted my first plant. Last summer I planted several more, and they're all coming into bloom. The hummingbirds and I will both be thrilled.

Though the hummingbirds are pretty happy with this Crinodendron hookerianum, with a couple dozen blooms in a gallon container.

A change in soil and some fertilizer finally brought out some blooms on this Abutilon megapotamicum. I might decide to plant this in the ground now that it's finally growing well.

Nemophila menziesii 'Frosty Blue', purchased at Xera, is a seed strain of this western native annual that produces plants with more silver leaves than the species. Unfortunately, I've found that the slugs love the foliage as much as I do.


Cotoneaster microphyllus var. thymifolius has tiny white blooms that will turn into bright red berries.

Ceanothus gloriosus var. exaltatus 'Emily Brown' is still blooming, with beautiful denim blue flowers, while Ceanothus gloriosus var. porrectus is long done.

Another bloom the deer would always nip in the bud (literally), Cotinus 'Grace' is finally able to bloom.

And this native rose has never looked better.

Dasiphora floribunda (or whatever it's called now) has been blooming for weeks.

Iris pallida 'Variegata' requires smell-o-vision to fully appreciate the grape candy-scented blooms.

Whereas the lack of such technology is a blessing when it comes to Dracunculus vulgaris. Not quite open yet, it's already starting to emit its...perfume.

Allium siculum is blooming everywhere this year, after I spread bulbs all over the garden last summer. Here it pairs well with the faded brown blooms and blue foliage of Rhododendron impeditum.

I picked up several pots of Alchemilla mollis at the Portland bloggers' spring plant swap. They went to good use planted along the base of a log forming part of the wall around the Acer griseum bed. Grass and creeping buttercup would always grow lushly in this spot, escaping the mower. This and a couple sword ferns make a much better alternative.

The last deciduous azalea to bloom in my garden, another that I picked up at Means last summer. This one is named 'Fireball'.

Fuzzy white blooms on Cornus alternifolia 'WStackman'.

I'm still enjoying the fragrant blooms of these Primula veris 'Sunset Shades' from Annie's Annuals.


Strange, almost orchid-like blooms on Rhododendron 'Fastuosum Flore-Pleno'.

 This Mimulus naiandinus hitched a ride to my garden on a Ribes laurifolium.

 And I've finally planted Ajuga in my garden. I avoided it for years because of how aggressive it can be, but I've decided to embrace its ground-covering abilities. I'd much rather have this than weeds like creeping buttercup.

12 comments:

  1. Nice selection! And your photos reminds me of Cornwall so much

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    1. Thanks! Wow, Cornwall? If only I gardened in such a mild climate. Maybe someday!

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  2. And I thought I had a lot of flowers. The value you've gotten from that deer fence is incalculable. I'm envious of the Rhododendrons, penstemons, and all the Iris. The Crinodendron, new to me, is tempting but I suppose its moisture requirements would be a problem. A wonderful post, Evan!

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    1. Thanks, Kris! Imagine if I'd shown all the rhododendrons and the few other random things I didn't include in this post. I guess May is a big month in my garden. Yes, that Crinodendron likes cool, moist conditions. It grows wonderfully on the Oregon coast, and probably the north coast of California, too.

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  3. I'm even later than you, my Blomday post isn't going up until tomorrow!

    That 'Black Magic' makes me swoon, and I'm bummed my Glumicalyx gosseloides (from you) isn't showing any signs of flowering. Maybe I put it in too much shade. Oh and damn! I forgot to check my Dracunculus vulgaris today to see if the flowers have opened yet!!!

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    1. Shall we see who's slowest with their foliage follow-up? Only a couple of the Glumicalyx I planted from those 4-inch pots are blooming now. Some were sadder and are taking more time to catch up. Oddly my big one suffered had big chunks die out this winter.

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  4. What a display! The stump turned out so nice. I think my Penstemon is Penstemon cardwellii: it's so showy this time of year. I have to cut it back once it's done blooming or it gets too large. I love the dry creek display. And to think it's only been one year since the division.
    Hurry up and get over your cold: the fragrance of mock orange is just about the only reason to keep this somewhat unruly shrub. I rooted a branch off a neighbor's plant and now enjoy its unbelievable scent right outside the bedroom window! and finally: I'm grateful for Sedum spathulifolium (and others) for filling in so willingly and quickly. What a marvelous group of plants.

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    1. Thanks Chav! It's taken a few years for the stump to look this good, and it's still got some bare spots that aren't visible in the photos here.

      Funnily enough, I rejected mock oranges as "grandma shrubs" for years. You know, those multi-stemmed, rather shapeless shrubs that really only have interest when they're in bloom? But I've warmed up to Philadelphus, at least, especially the native species, lewisii. The wild, unruly shape won't look out of place in the more naturalistic areas of my garden.

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  5. You've really got an abundance of bloom, Evan. Everything looks great. Loving that blood-red rhodie and that's a great shot of the Antennaria flower head. And of course, there you go flaunting your Penstemon rupicola again! :) Right now I've got major color clash going on with magenta Penstemon pseudospectabilis and red-orange P. eatonii, but it's still spring, so I don't mind. Bletilla 'Kuchi Beni' is super cool. Love that color change from the straight species.

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    1. Thanks, Tim! Sorry, that penstemon just looks so good, I can't help it!

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  6. This bloom day must have caught you at the perfect moment...or will this bounty go on and on? Whatever...I'm gleefully soaking it all up.

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    1. I cheated a bit. The Siberian irises were all but over by the time bloom day rolled around. Usually they overlap more with the lemon daylilies and make a wonderful combination, but I didn't get that this year. Several others in this post are fading, too. The things that are open now will last longer with the cooler weather we're getting.

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