Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, March 28, 2016

The oca says it's time

Another busy weekend in the garden means a quick post for today. On Sunday, I sowed a variety of seeds, both direct-sown and some in containers in the greenhouse. When I went to dig through the seeds in the cupboard, I saw this:


Those are shoots rising from tubers of oca (Oxalis tuberosa) I had stored in the cupboard over winter. Actually, I had meant to eat more of them, but they were forgotten in the cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind. Oops. Guess it's time to plant them. I put a few back into the vegetable garden (and dug around to find that the few tubers I left in the ground over winter survived and are growing. Until next fall, I'll be researching more ways to prepare them. I found these two varieties (New Zealand Red and Cherry Red) tasted good fresh, with a crisp texture and lemony, slightly starchy taste. Roasting them with potatoes left the oca overcooked and tasting vinegary. Apparently, different varieties of oca have varying tastes. It would be nice to find some other varieties to sample.

At the NWFGS, I picked up a yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) tuber from Raintree. It's been in a pot in the greenhouse the last few weeks and is starting to grow. I'll plant it out in the vegetable garden soon. Maybe this coming weekend. While I'm on the topic of edibles, some of the seeds I started on Sunday included sweet peppers (Jimmy Nardello's and Yum Yum Gold, who thinks of these names?), tomatoes (Chianti Rose and Isis Candy), and basil (Sweet Dani and Finissimo Verde a Palla.

Summer will be delicious.

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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Foliage Follow-up: March emergence.

Just as the flowers have begun to bloom in earnest, so too have the shoots and leaves begun to flush out. It's a time of dramatic change, and one of my favorites along with autumn. So today for Foliage Follow-up, hosted by Pam at Digging, I'm sharing a collection of new leaves and expanding buds.

First, though, some pictures from indoors. As the garden outdoors is still only beginning to wake up, the houseplants are still holding much of my attention, particularly when I'm stuck inside during a surprise thunderstorm dropping hail.
Platycerium veitchii 'Lemoinei' has a thicker coating of grey trichomes than the more common Platycerium bifurcatum. I love watching the fronds expand, fingers lengthening from the tips.

Maranta leuconeura 'Silver Band' is even more stunning than usual, with new growth flushed a purplish  pink. The new leaves are even almost twice as large as the old ones. It must be happy. I like happy plants.

This gorgeous plant is a small form of Iris japonica I picked up when Far Reaches Farms owners, Kelly and Sue, came to Portland last Friday to give a talk about their last trip to China. Those leaves. Wow.

Acanthus syriacus leaves started coming up a month ago, and continue their slow expansion.

Little green candles form in the center of the needle rosettes of Cedrus deodara 'Feelin' Blue'.

New leaves on Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' are emerging orange. They're amazing when backlit by the sun.

My double orange daylily is leagues ahead of the lemon daylilies. They look so lush at this time of year.

One of my tree peony seedlings. This one is planted in the sun and is already breaking dormancy. The one in shade is still closed up tight.

Bright new leaves on Cercocarpus betuloides, a western native shrub or small tree.

In fall, I scattered big leaf maple seeds in several areas. I'm excited to see them coming up. At least, I'm hoping these are Acer macrophyllum, and not from the Acer platanoides in the neighbor's yard. Tiny hairs on the true leaves just emerging from between the cotyledons lead me to believe they're the former.


Heptacodium miconioides started growing in January. Clearly, it's eager for spring.

Aesculus californica seedlings look like tiny palm trees with their umbrella of leaves atop spindly stems.

The sharply pointed green buds of Cornus alternifolia 'Wstackman'  (Golden Shadows), touched with amber, contrast strongly with the dark stems.

New growth on Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies'.

Stachyurus praecox 'Sterling Silver'

Clethra barbinervis

The emerging leaves of Iris japonica 'Variegata' sort of remind me of green and white lobster claws.

Robust new shoots on Parahebe perfoliata. I wasn't expecting this plant, added just last year, to start growing so strongly already.

Fuzzy new copper and white leaves emerge on Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen', from the middle of the maroon leaves still hanging on from last year. I'm not a hydrangea person, but I love oakleaf hydrangeas.

Chasmanthium latifolium shoots emerge golden green, with red at the base.

Diervilla rivularis 'SMNDRSF' (yes, much as it pains me, that is the actual cultivar name of Kodiak® Black bush honeysuckle) foliage emerges with a chocolaty tinge.

Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem' shades each leaf with  light green, through silvery green, to pink at the tips. The Carex comans in the backdrop makes for a great companion.

New leaves emerging on Styrax japonica.

My clone of Epimedium sagittatum doesn't impress much in the flower department, but I love the new leaves.

I love the coppery bark and bright green emerging leaves on Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris, growing here up a Douglas fir.
Looking much the same as the northern sea oats at the moment, Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold' form a pincushion of new shoots.
I was rather disappointed with Artemisia 'Seafoam' being deciduous, but it's hard to maintain that disappointment with new foliage emerging. Yes, that's hail in the center of the plant. A thunderstorm had just passed over and pelted everything with little chunks of ice. Ten minutes later, it was sunny again. Five minutes after that, another cloud passed over the sun. It must be spring.

Origanum 'Kent Beauty' has an early start this year with the mild winter. It started coming up in January.

Seseli gummiferum is starting to grow bigger leaves after maintaining a tiny rosette atop its stem all winter.
 I'm also linking with Anna at Flutter&Hum today for Wednesday Vignette. I've been enjoying this view essentially all winter, though the allium foliage provides an extra special touch.
Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold', studded with constellations of flower buds, backed by lime thyme, Carex comans, and Allium christophii foliage.

New foliage emerging on this Antennaria, which I've embarrassingly forgotten the name of. I want to say microphylla, but I'm not sure. The label is currently about 60 miles away, as I'm in my Portland phase of the week.

In the greenhouse, some of the new shoots on my Agapetes 'Ludgvan Cross' appear to be variegated with pink. I'm not sure it's a good thing, as there's also an odd white, slightly puffy mottling near the base of these stems. It might be a virus, which would help to explain why this plant occasionally struggles. It's an interesting look, whatever it is.

My favorite fuchsia, Fuchsia 'Autumnale' is grown more for the foliage than for the flowers.

Emerging crosiers on Pteris wallichiana. A few of these may be available at Cistus later this spring and summer. Just sayin'.

Now you can see the emerging leaves on some of my Camassia seedlings!


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