Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Random Tuesday

I missed my semi-usual Monday post this week. Too focused on other things, watering being one of them. Between the heat waves and the slugs, I'm not sure how many wildflowers I'm actually going to get out of my wild sowing earlier this spring. And good help is so hard to find, since it works full-time.

Well, I've got other things to get done this evening, too, so here's a random assortment of things that made me happy this weekend:

This is a self-sown seedling of Iris tenax that appeared several years ago in the Stump St. Helens bed. This isn't the first time I've shared a picture of it here, but it makes me happy every year. It's the first white-flowered Iris tenax I'd ever seen, though I did see a couple pure white (except for the yellow markings) specimens along the road on a walk this weekend. I love the blue/purple streaks in this one. Last fall I scattered seed from this plant in several other beds. They're growing now, but it will be another couple years before any flowers show.

Another iris, this one is 'Burnt Sugar', a Pacific Coast Hybrid I picked up at Xera. I'm finally starting to collect these wonderful, drought-adapted irises. I love golden yellows, oranges, and reds.

Purple is pretty fantastic, too, especially when it's accompanied by an orchid-like scent. This is a small bearded iris I received from Kate Bryant, and it's my new favorite. It's somewhere between a tall and a dwarf bearded iris in size, sturdy and well-shaped. This phone picture doesn't do it justice, and I wish you could smell it. It smells like some orchids I've smelled, a complex, rich scent combining chocolate, vanilla, honey, jasmine, and other less-definable aromas.

The sight of two of my three native penstemons uncaged, untrammeled, and uneaten by deer has been making me very happy. Usually, there's an ugly little cage around this Penstemon rupicola, and even then the deer will have managed to knock it off once or twice and chewed or stepped on the plant. Without the snow-cover this semi-shrubby native is accustomed to in its higher-elevation home, it's also suffered in past years when we've had a very warm fall with a sudden cold spell. Cold falls followed by cold winters aren't a problem. Though fall, and winter, were very warm this year, we didn't have any temperatures low enough to cause damage, so it looks absolutely perfect and is loaded with blooms, just starting to open last week. The bright green photobomb is courtesy of an errant star flower, Trientalis latifolia.

My other semi-shrubby native penstemon is P. cardwellii. This one fares better in those odd years of mild weather followed by hard freezes, but lacks the protection of the rocks around the previous penstemon. So, the deer could kick the cage over more easily, or simply step on it, crushing the penstemon under the very cage meant to protect it. The flower stems are also much taller, and would always grow through the cage, so the deer would eat most of the flowers. I can't wait to see this one in full bloom, finally.

Those flowers are just so unexpected and spectacular on a plant that, for most of the year, is an attractive but fairly nondescript mat of glossy green leaves. It would blend right in with a patch of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi.

7 comments:

  1. Your description of the scent of the iris was so evocative it set my nose atingle. A deerless spring must make the plants even happier than it makes you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a toss-up as to who's happier. The plants are definitely relieved, though.

      Delete
  2. Nice, random selection, Evan. Some iris have the most amazing scent. Can't wait for mine to start blooming. I have one that falls short on looks, but smells like grape koolaid. Not intoxicating, but fun. Super crazy about Penstemon rupicola, now on my lust list. Looks great with the flowers, but it scores big on foliage alone. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tim. I love flowers with that grape koolaid scent! I have a philadelphus with that fragrance. Where are you located? That penstemon is difficult to grow even in low-elevation gardens in the Pacific Northwest, and probably impossible anywhere with hot, humid summers.

      Delete
    2. I'm in central Ohio-sounds like that Penstemon needs to come off my list......thanks for the info. Happily a lot of the desert Penstemon can take moist, hot summers if I site them in my hot gravel garden. Cheers.

      Delete
  3. You're getting a lot of color out of your garden, Evan. I didn't even know that some bearded Iris are scented, which speaks of my success in that area!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many bearded iris are scented, some wonderfully-so. Is it too hot for them there?

      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!