Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, December 30, 2016

December 2016 Favorites

This time of year, my favorite plants are basically anything that's evergreen and doesn't look like a photosynthetic drowned rat. Oh, and houseplants. This time of year, I smother my houseplants with attention, probably more than they want or need. I really don't mention my houseplants on this blog as often as I thought I would, so here's a few of my favorites.

Tillandsia straminea and Hoya 'Minibell'.

Another tillandsia (don't know the name of this one) with Quesnelia marmorata in the background, and Tillandsia caput-medusae peaking out of the top of the Quesnelia. Caput-medusae is one of my favorite tillandsias, one of the easiest in terms of care and one of the few I've successfully gotten to rebloom.

Platycerium veitchii 'Lemoinei' is a bit awkward to make room for, but I love its furry grey fronds.

Ludisia discolor is first and foremost a foliage plant, but it does produce interesting white flowers.

Two Tillandsia xerographica, an unknown tillandsia, and a crested Monvillea spegazzinii.

Shooting star flowers on Hoya multiflora

The smudged form of Vriesea ospinae-gruberi, so called because the dark markings on the leaves appear streaked or smudged compared to the sharper markings on the regular form.
 I also love going out to the greenhouse this time of year to escape the cold. Just a couple favorites from there, really more "Look what's happening!" than favorites per se.
The baby Cyathea dealbata are growing their first true fronds! There are quite a few of them at the moment. Hopefully I can keep a good number of them alive to give Cistus Nursery a crop, since I got the spore from them. Yeah, I couldn't completely stop being a propagator.

I've been watching this bud on Rhododendron himantodes for months now. Yeah, that's a rhododendron, one of the vireyas in my collection. I'm thrilled it's happy enough to form a flower bud. This is a very slow and difficult plant in cultivation.
 Moving outside now. I really do have a lot of favorites at any given moment, so this is really more a random show and tell than a true favorites post. Sorry, couldn't help myself!

I can't help but marvel at Leptinella squallida 'Platt's Black'. I don't water it in the summer and it goes completely dormant. In fall, it springs back up into a lush carpet. It's actually grown and spread quite a bit.
 Carex comans and orange Calluna vulgaris make a stunning pair, even more so with a bit of Blackbird euphorbia peaking in.
 
I love this carex that seeded in at the edge of a heather. The heather has since grown to surround the sedge.

I really don't have a lot of berries in my garden, but that's starting to change.
These turquoise blue berries belong to Viburnum davidii. I now have several plants from different sources, so I hope I'll get berries like this from now on. These have been on the plant since I bought it at the nursery.

Cotoneaster integrifolius, also known as Cotoneaster microphyllus var. thymifolius, has little red berries among even smaller evergreen leaves. I was surprised to find flower buds all over it, too, when I leaned in to photograph the berries. I have two of these plants and they have a lot of filling out to do (they were free rescue plants) but I'm already enjoying them.

The three Rosmarinus officinalis [weeping form - Brentwood Bay] are covered in buds. Will they make it through the cold predicted next week? Depends on how cold it actually gets.

Euphorbia characias is a wonderful evergreen (ever grey) shrub. This isn't the best-looking one, but I'm using this picture because of the surprising favorite covering the ground beneath it. The Galium odoratum hitched a ride with the euphorbia, and amazed me with its tolerance of drought and full sun. I want more of this tough, lovely green groundcover!

I don't know the name of this Baccharis. It's a chunk of a low-growing form in the gardens at Cistus that had to be dug out to keep it from eating the path from the parking lot. I'd love more of it. It's a wonderful green, dense groundcover.

Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice' has taken on purple tones for winter, and still looks good with the bronze Carex comans.

Cheilanthes lindheimeri, from Cistus, is my favorite out of the three xeric ferns I have so far. I also have similar, but less blue, Cheilanthes and Bommeria hispida. The fronds of the Cheilanthes hold up better than the Bommeria through winter, though the Bommeria does seem to be growing a bit faster.

The wispy spire-like branches of these Calluna vulgaris, allowed to grow au naturale, are decorated with tawny, silvery seed heads. These plants look great with euphorbias, like the Ascott Rainbow in the background.

One of my favorite heaths, I've sadly forgotten its name. It's a nice chartreuse in the warmer parts of the year, but as the weather cools in fall, it takes on tints of yellow and warm rose. It really looks like it glows.

One of my seedling Erisymum has these lovely cherry red flowers with orange tones in the center.

Why are so many of my top favorites so slow growing? Danae racemosa is one of my very favorite plants, but it is notoriously slow, and thus expensive. I would love to have big specimens of these all over the shady areas of my garden, with their graceful weeping stems spreading and draping over the ground.
 I'll end with a favorite vignette. It's so simple, just an Aspidistra elatior rising above a cover of wild strawberries, Prunella vulgaris, and Carex comans. But I think the simplicity, and the mix of greens and textures, is why I like it. The prunella, especially, makes a great companion to the carex, filling up those spaces underneath and between the sedges.

And that's my random favorites post/garden update for December. Please follow the link to The Danger Garden to see more monthly favorites and, since I won't be posting again until next week, Happy New Year!

18 comments:

  1. Xeric ferns? I'm going to have to see if I can find that Cheilanthes. How much water does it get in the summer?

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    1. I didn't water it much this summer. Sort of a "when I thought about it and had time" schedule. It's still getting established and I'm still figuring out what it needs. They're native to places in the southwest, so they get summer rainfall but not much. They tend to grow in rock crevices where their roots stay cooler.

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  2. That Viburnum is to die for (as my 13 year old girlfriends might say to my 13 year old self). Sunset says they'll grow here but the fact that I never see them in local nurseries raises questions about that contention - and then there's the water requirement. I might try it in a pot if I can find one, though, just for those berries. Like Alison, I'd like to hear more about xeric ferns!

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    1. I don't water that viburnum at all, but we both know dry in my garden isn't the same as dry in yours. You could probably grow xeric ferns. They might go dormant in summer though without a monthly watering.

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  3. Great faves! Just this summer I got Danae racemosa and it's quickly becoming a favorite of mine as well. Your final combination may be simple but is stunning!

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    1. It's such a beautiful, lush plant that always looks good. Just remove the occasional dead stem. Thank you! I want to do more of the garden that way, simple but beautiful combinations.

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  4. The light in your "houseplants" section is wonderful. So much nicer for your plants than my basement lights. The flowers on the Hoya multiflora are crazy cool and my Leptinella squallida 'Platt's Black has never looked as good as yours!

    I wonder if the Euphorbia characias/Galium odoratum combo came from me? I will worn you the Galium odoratum is tenacious and can look like crap in the spring. I pull all the old leaves and the new ones look great. I can give you more if you want it.

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    1. We've had some beautiful sunny days lately that I took advantage of to photograph houseplants. I do prefer natural light (it's free!) but prime window real estate is scarce. I need a few more grow lights. My Leptinella is growing in a fairly open spot with nothing else to really compete with it, but I also want to say it's looked better since I stopped bothering to water it in the summer. It goes dormant, though, so it's not something I'd want if it was in a more prominent bed.

      That's a definite possibility. Hmm, I guess I should actually observe it through winter and see how it looks in spring before I fill my garden with it. I'm less worried about the tenacious part than I used to be, especially with lower-growing plants like Galium. If I don't mind the rough appearance in spring, I'll ask for more! I'm thinking of adding Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, too.

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  5. So many things to look at, Evan. Thank you for the tour. I agree with Loree on the lighting and the Hoya pic are especially glorious. That Viburnum davidii - I love that one, need to get it soon! Oh, and I think I have all three of the xeric ferns you mention - I became addicted a few years ago and am happy to report all have survived beautifully over the past few years. Two were from Cistus, I believe.

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    1. Thanks, Tamara! I love Viburnum davidii. They're especially nice in winter, with their big, deep green leaves and red petioles and flower buds. I really hope I get berries regularly now that I have several plants. I want more xeric ferns. I remember seeing Astrolepis sinuata in your garden. That one is still on my wishlist.

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  6. I like your last vignette very much , I'm a fan of the wild strawberry as ground cover . Though mine needs a good few pulled out !

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    1. Thank you! The strawberries aren't my favorite ground cover, but they're so hard to get rid of that I've developed a tolerance for them. I do like the berries. When they get carried away, I just tear out the excess.

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  7. Some might say I have too many houseplants. I do not, however, have that Hoya. I need it in my life!!!!

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    1. "Too many houseplants." What? I'm sorry, that combination of words just doesn't make sense to me. Actually, I shouldn't say that. I've been trying to reduce my collection a bit. Unsuccessfully, but it's the thought that counts! I've seen Hoya multiflora at Portland Nursery on Division.

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  8. I was going to warn you about Galium odoratum, but Danger already did. I planted mine in mostly dry shade. There is total dieback in the fall but it comes back dutifully in spring. Need to be vigilant with this one. I can't believe it's still green in your garden.
    Every time you show your Hoya I get nostalgic. That first picture is my favorite, and I'm going to stop at the garden center and get me a Hoya for the new year!

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    1. Maybe it just stayed green this year because of the mild fall. I have some really tough areas where I think I'll try it.

      I love hoyas. Have a hoya new year!

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  9. Great roundup! We've already had some killer cold snaps but the one coming up will really test the mettle of everything in the ground. I'm fretting over several things that went in in the fall. Glad to see V. davidii getting its due...and E. robbiae is a great plant when you have lots of ground to cover (my son calls it the Dr. Seuss plant).

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    1. Thanks Ricki! I'm so glad they moderated the forecast, though we won't know how cold it will actually get this week until after it happens. I'm hoping it won't be too bad. I protected a few things, just in case.

      I really am dying for more plain, simple green in my garden, especially in winter. E. robbiae looks like such a nice, rich green, and evergreen. I have a few really tough spots where I can test its mettle.

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