Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, July 25, 2016


I've been preparing for a trip this weekend, setting up a fog system in the greenhouse (I suppose I should do a little post on that sometime) and moving plants to shadier spots so they won't dry out as fast, even with an aunt coming to water while we're away. While I've been running around fretting over the thought of leaving my potted plants for several days, I've managed to stop ad appreciate a few of the sights in the garden.

In the greenhouse, another of my vireyas is blooming just as 'Littlest Angel' (you can see it here, if you don't mind scrolling through a long post) is fading. This is one I've raised from a tiny seedling that was sent to me as a bonus plant, having been found in the pot of a Rhododendron wentianum. Not having found much information on that species, I'm not sure if this seedling looks anything like it, or not.


I often say that I'm not particularly fond of yellow, but this is one of those frequent exceptions. Dark yellows like this aren't a common color in hardy rhododendrons, although they're much more common in the tropical vireya rhododendrons like this one. It's a shame they don't seem to be compatible for hybridizing.

 Penstemon heterophyllus 'Electric Blue' flops over a bit to say hello to a 'Mikado' California poppy.

I'll have to get my real camera out to see if I can improve on this phone snapshot. It just doesn't give the same perspective as my eye sees in this combination of 'Mikado' California poppy and Trachelium caeruleum 'Hamer Pandora'. The dark stems and leaves of the Trachelium look absolutely stunning with the pale poppy foliage, and I always love purple and orange flowers.

I thought all the gladiolus were gone I dug out most of them because the deer would eat the flowers), but this one just won't give up. It does look nice with the spotted leaves of the calla lily below.

But...it's just so...ruffled...

Moving on to the vegetable garden, which we've been pretty lax with this year. This is why you don't let strawberry spinach (Chenopodium capitatum) go to seed. Oh my. Ninety-nine percent of the strawberry spinach has been removed, and I don't think we'll let them set seed this year. We just found one sprouting in the gravel path off the southwest corner of the house, several hundred feet from the vegetable garden.

The Salvia officinalis that I grew from seed has grown massive in the rich soil of the raised beds. I'm going to dig them out this fall, try to separate them, and plant them in the area I'm preparing across the dry creekbed from the house.

Also massive, the dahlias that I forgot to harvest last fall. Oops. I planted them with the intent of sampling the tubers for their edibility. I guess I'll have to try to remember that this year. They just take up too much real estate in the vegetable garden.

But it has been interesting seeing what came out of the mixed box of tubers I got last year.

This one, besides being up to 8 inches in diameter, is an interesting mix of raspberry with warm undertones and random highlights of orange and white speckled with raspberry.

The most exciting area of the vegetable garden to me is this dense jumble of three different Incan root vegetables. The big leaves belong to Smallanthus sonchifolius, known by the common name yacon. The smaller clover-like leaves below that belong to Oxalis tuberosa, or oca. Growing up the tepee in the middle of that huge mass of oca is Tropaeolum tuberosum, known in the Andes as mashua. You may be familiar with it as an ornamental, particularly the cultivar 'Ken Aslet, selected for its earlier blooming. I'll go into more detail about each of these in a later post. I'm waiting until harvest so I can actually share my impressions of how they taste!

Actually, I did grow oca last year, and found I preferred the crisp, lemony flavor of the raw tubers to the vinegary flavor of the roasted tubers. Though, that may be because we overcooked them. Here's a tip: don't cook potatoes and oca in the same pan. Oca cooks much faster. Anyway, the oca is doing something new this year: blooming!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Foliage Follow-up: July 2016

I keep trying to find new things to show for foliage follow-up, but I feel like I keep getting drawn back to the same plants every month. So I really tried to get a few new things in this edition, and perhaps some new angles on some old subjects. Thanks to Pam Penick at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-up every month the day after (more or less) Garden Blogger's Bloom Day to remind us of the importance of foliage in the garden. Now onto my customary foliar smorgasborg.

I know I haven't shown this one before, though I've been ogling it at every opportunity for a couple weeks now. The orange new growth on Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki'  is positively drool-worthy. I need more!

Cussonia transvaalensis, aka the grey cabbage tree, was very green when it arrived from Annie's last fall. Now it's taking on some distinctive grey tones. I happened to look at the picture I took when it first arrived, and was amazed at how much it's grown.

Crassula alba var. parvisepala has wonderful red-patterned foliage. I almost lost it this winter in the too cold and humid greenhouse. Glad it pulled through!

Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery' and Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spears' are continual favorites.

This Phlebodium aureum was a hitch hiker in an orchid that I got a couple years ago. It wasn't even an inch tall then. Despite some setbacks, it's now over a foot tall and the rhizome is starting to branch. One of my favorite hitch hikers in a pot ever.

I did eventually plant out the Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum I grew from seed. I tried a variety of locations. They're all still alive, but most of them are barely larger than when I planted them, obviously protesting their placement and my negligent watering during our scorching late spring. At least a few of them are growing well.

I now have large amounts of Matthiola fruticulosa ssp. perennis 'Alba', especially in the Acer griseum bed. They won't bloom until next year, but they have beautiful grey foliage that's worth having for itself.

The delicate foliage of California poppies. I should have taken a picture of one of the really blue-leaved plants. Next month!

 I've started experimenting with some of the naturally-occurring carex on the property. This is one of them, though I'm not sure of its identity. It seems to occur in locations that are wet to only somewhat moist in winter but that can be very dry in summer. They all seem to have this bright chartreuse color. I'll keep working on trying to identify it. There's a second species, not shown, that has much broader, darker green leaves that seems to enjoy growing right at the bases of the Douglas firs in the dryer areas. Of course, none of my books have particularly extensive sections on native carex, and I'm not particularly good at identifying grassy things to begin with, so they may remain mysteries. Hopefully they become useful ones, adding to the mix of low ground covers that I'd like to establish in many places.

I know I've shown this chartreuse Corylopsis seedling before, but I'm just so happy with it. It was a random seedling I found under a Corylopsis spicata. It was a fairly typical green then. It turned yellow in some rather terrible potting soil, and I wasn't at all sure what it would do when I planted it in the ground. It's been a couple years in the ground now, and it's kept this amazing color. It's also growing very strongly.

I've joined the giant dandelion crowd (it's a very exclusive group). I was given two of these Dendroseris macrophylla while I was working at Cistus. They took awhile to get going, but now they're taking off. It will be interesting to see what they do.

Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' sent out another flush of new growth, bigger than the first. I love the reddish color and the texture of the leaves.

Comptonia peregrina remains one of my favorite plants. That foliage texture... I was surprised to find it had set seed this year. I guess they're self-fertile. It's also sending out copious new plants around the base via rhizomes.

Can't help loving the bronzy brown Carex comans seedlings that appeared spontaneously from my silver-leaved plants.

An accidental foliar mosaic of Leptinella squallida 'Platt's Black' and Antennaria microphylla. The leptinella invaded the antennaria. Hopefully they'll play nicely, as I rather like the contrast.

Leptospermum lanigerum 'Silver Form' delights with it's structure, texture, and grey leaves on red stems.

My favorite California fuchsia, so far at least, Zauschneria 'Wayne's Silver'. Surprisingly tolerant of clay and winter wet, and lusciously silver. It also has a wonderful low, compact form.

Taller and not as shiny, though just as grey, Zauschneria 'Catalina' is also doing well in clay.

The bright chartreuse new growth of Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold' is shocking emerging from the top of the faded brown flowers.

Geranium harveyi is turning into one of my favorite ground covers. Here it is forming a pool of molten silver on west-facing clay slope with a bright green Erica and a woolly grey-green Calluna vulgaris. It's a trouble spot where few things grow well. So far, heaths, heathers, and Berberis x stenophylla 'Corallina Compacta' seem to be the most successful, with Euphorbia rigida showing promise. I think this geranium may be the best yet. The euphorbia and geranium offer some much-needed textural variety to the heaths and heathers.

Further along the front of the house, in loose, sandy/silty soil, it's growing equally well with orange Carex testacea. It's a bit taller and looser in this soil. Still wonderful, but I think it's actually better on that awful clay slope.

Geranium harveyi, Carex testacea, Erysimum, and Thymus 'Fragrantissimus'. I love the colors and textures here.

Carex testacea, Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten', Artemisia abrotanum 'Silver', and lime thyme. The new palette of the driveway island, installed last year, continues to provide visual delight.

I really love this artemisia. It has a similar texture to Artemisia 'Seafoam', just without the curl, but it has a more intricate play of colors, with cool greys and warm golds intermingling.

Lime thyme, Euphorbia 'Nothowlee' (Blackbird), some sort of weedy grey Gnaphalium that I've adopted as a desirable, and Carex testacea. So much color and interest, and it's all foliage.

Lupinus sericatus, like Lupinus albifrons on steroids and even more molten silver. My little plant had a couple spikes of flowers. I collected most of the seed, so hopefully I'll have more plants next year.

Sesseli gummiferum backed by lime thyme. Love that feathery blue foliage.

An orange Calluna vulgaris, Berggarten sage, a particularly blue-grey Erysimum, and some contrasting dark green Erica foliage. In some ways, this bed could use more of that regular green, both to pacify and contrast with the other colors. Parahebe perfoliata and Geranium 'Dark Reiter' peek in at the top right, and there's just a tiny touch of flowers from the Origanum 'Kent Beauty' in the lower right.

 I always love the combination of dark laceleaf maple foliage and Asarum caudatum, augmented here with a bit of lime thyme and a weed like irish moss.

And I'll leave you with this vignette of Carex testacea surrounding Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens', with an Erysimum in the background. Something, or a combination of somethings, was chewing on the salvia for most of the spring. It's only in the last couple weeks that the salvia has managed to outgrow the pests, or they've slowed down in their feeding. I'm surprised it was a problem with this salvia, as herbs are usually relatively pest free. It was a fairly minor annoyance, though, and I still want more of this beautiful purple foliage.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2016

July 15th has arrived, and that means it's time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Though the garden when viewed as a whole doesn't appear particularly floriferous, once you take a closer look there are blooms everywhere. So many, that I've edited out a few, and this is still a very long post.

Blooming but not shown:
Calceolaria integrifolia 'Kentish Hero'
Calceolaria arachnoidea
Fabiana imbricata 'Violacea' (only a couple blooms, it's a baby)
Alchemilla alpina
Assorted Calluna vulgaris (not quite open, but buds showing everywhere, very early this year)
Iris domestica 'Gone With the Wind' (not quite open, maybe tomorrow)
Iris x norrisii Kiba Giant strain (ditto)
Geranium harveyi and G. robustum
Lily (yellow-orange, no ID)
Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
Hosta 'The Shining' (within the next two days, probably)
Daphne x transatlantica 'Blafra' (Eternal Fragrance) (hell, this one's always blooming)
Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice' (same)
Assorted lavenders
Cistus 'Snow Fire' (a bloom here and there)
Crinodendron hookerianum
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Lobelia laxiflora var. angustifolia
Astrantia major (some red cultivar)
Diervillea rivularis 'SMNDRSF' (Kodiak® Black)
Abutilon megapotamicum
Lithodora diffusa (a flower here and there)
Mitraria coccinea
Marrubium supinum
Grevillea victoriae 'UBC', 'Marshall Olbricht', and 'Murray Valley Queen' (all in various stages of bud, but none open yet)
Grevillea 'Poorinda Leane' (lots of buds and a few fading flowers, not very photogenic at the moment)
Cryptanthus lacerdae 'Menescal' (standard white cryptanthus flowers, more exciting because of all the pups!)

I was hoping to include a picture of my Lilium formosanum var. pricei, which I showed in bud in an earlier post. Sadly, something chewed the bud off, so no bloom photo this year, I'm afraid. It had to be the plant that had ONE flower bud, didn't it?

And there are almost certainly a few things I'm forgetting, but you get the idea. Lots of flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. So, on to the pictures then!

Starting out indoors, Chirita 'Patina', an African violet relative, is proving to be a better bloomer than I anticipated. I mostly purchased it for the foliage, but it's been pumping out flowers for about a month, now. I should have taken a picture of it during the peak of this wave, but this gives you an idea of what the flowers look like.

Paphiopedilum Macabre is still blooming. I've lost track of how many months these flowers have been open.

Hoya 'Minibell' has several umbels open at the moment, the only one of my hoyas currently in bloom, mostly because I cut back my Hoya multiflora in yet another attempt to force it to branch.

Phalaenopsis Rong Guan Mary never seems to stop blooming, unless I do something dumb like accidentally break the bloom spike.

If I'd had more foresight, I might have cleaned off the dead blooms from this Porphyrocoma pohliana inflorescence before photographing it.

Columnea 'Janella' is finally gaining some size. This is the first of many blooms that will be opening in the coming weeks.

Streptocarpus 'Bristol's Water Bug' is loaded with blooms.

Rhododendron 'Littlest Angel', one of my tropical vireya rhododendrons, bloomed for the first time. The flowers have been open for several weeks now, and are just starting to fade. They drip great big fat drops of gooey nectar.

Also soon to bloom for the first time is this vireya I grew from a very tiny seedling. It was less than an inch tall when I got it, oh, about 3 years ago I think. Now it's almost 2 feet tall and has about 7 buds. It was a freebie sent along with an order, found along with two other seedlings under a plant labelled Rhododendron wentianum. I think I lost one of the seedlings to some kind of stress, and I discarded the other one because it was always chlorotic and had distorted growth. This is the last survivor. I can't wait to see the blooms!

Salvia forskaohlei, always a joy in bloom, even if it is a bit weedy.

 Common Achillea millefolium, looking lovely poking up through the foliage of Rhododendron 'PJM'.

An oddball Iris tenax blooming extremely late. Most of the others are already dropping their seeds.

More early blooms: Aster x frikartii 'Monch' is starting to bloom already! If I could grow one aster, this would be it. Oh wait, I do only grow one aster!

Salvia nemorosa 'Ostfriesland' poking up through a pool of Carex comans. The salvia is almost finished with its first wave of blooms. I should cut them back now for another flush before fall.

The dainty flowering stems of Origanum dictamnus.

Penstemon heterophyllus 'Electric Blue' pokes up through Origanum 'Kent Beauty' and lime thyme.

One of the Erysimum seedlings I planted last fall is starting to bloom.

This Parahebe perfoliata decided to bloom now, weeks after all the others.

 Eryngium agavifolium.

Kniphofia, from some seed strain I don't remember the name of.

Jovibarba heuffelii 'Angel Wings'

Mimulus cardinalis in the evening light. This, the Origanum 'Kent Beauty' and the lime thyme are probably the flowers making the biggest visual impact on the garden, right now.

 Fuchsia 'Pat's Dream'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen'. I had four of these, all salvage plants. Unfortunately, only one made it. I love it so much, I'm going to have to get replacements for the others.

My Clethra barbinervis from Dan Hinkley is blooming for the first time! And it smells absolutely divine! It's just starting to open. The second C. barbinervis I got from Kate Bryant is close behind, with even more blooms.

Black mondo grass has beautiful flowers.

Fuchsia 'Delta Sarah'

Cyclamen purpurascens, in danger of being swallowed by Prunella vulgaris. This is one of those situations I alluded to with the prunella. Great ground cover around larger plants. Not so great around little treasures.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea'. It will be wonderful when all these fuchsias have been in the ground for a few years and really put on a show.

White calla lilies.

 The Daboecia cantabrica I transplanted last year are starting to come into bloom. They would have been blooming basically since the end of winter, but I cut them back to make the straggly divisions fill out. They seem to be doing well in their new homes.

 Alstroemeria 'Glory of the Andes', planted out last fall from a 1-gal. container, now forming a patch over 3 feet wide. What have I done?

But they're so pretty! I'll just have to carefully dig all the tubers out of the radioactive soil in this bed and plant them somewhere a bit more challenging.

 Nigella damascena, opening white and aging to a pinkish purple. This must be one of the offspring from the packet of seed I got from Alison.

Yucca filamentosa in the evening light. They started spiking very early this year, but then cooler weather slowed them down to where they're only slightly earlier than usual. The cooler nights at my higher elevation and away from the city have mine blooming well after the ones in Portland.

Fireweed! Yes, it's a weed, but it's pretty and good for various wildlife, so I don't mind that some of it volunteered here.

Penstemon pinifolius is still spitting out a few blooms, though the main show is past.

My Dyckia choristaminea bloomed this year and I didn't get a picture until it was on its last two flowers! Here they are. Cute little things, aren't they?

Double orange daylily

The first bloom on my new Abutilon megapotamicum 'Red'.

 Eschscholzia californica 'Mikado' is another flower making a wider impact than most in my garden. You can can actually see it here and there from afar, rather than just close-up like most of these flowers. Still not nearly as many as there should have been from all the seed I sowed, but I'll take what I can get. My favorites are the ones with orange petals brushed red on the outside.

The solid red ones are nice, too.

Yes, I got a little carried away with the poppy pictures, shown here with a little Phacelia campanularia. The phacelia are looking a little tired around the garden, now, but they're still blooming.

Another nigella, with a Liatris spicata almost open.

I had almost forgotten that I sowed these seeds. Collomia grandiflora, one of my favorite native wildflowers. Just starting to open in my garden. I first saw these in the Columbia River Gorge and have wanted them ever since.

Gilia capitata was included in the meadow mix I sowed earlier this year. I do like the flowers, but I wish the plants weren't so tall. Many of them are almost three feet tall. Too close to tall meadow for my liking, though they do look better after I clear out the tall coreopsis that was substituted into the WESTERN NATIVE seed mix for something the seed company switched out. Why would you throw a midwestern prairie species into a northwest native seed mix? Why not substitute in a different NATIVE? I got more damn coreopsis than anything else out of that mix, and it's exactly the kind of tall, blousy meadow look I didn't want. (Sorry, mini-rant.) The gilia does look nice spotted here and there, a tall spike punctuating lower plants. In one bed, it came up very thickly, though, and just looks like a solid stand, swamping smaller plants. Hopefully future generations will be shorter, as the compost covering the beds breaks down and conditions become leaner.

Nemophila menziesii flowers, another native I've wanted for years.

An orange-yellow cultivar of Dasiphora fruticosa. I need to get more of these. So tough, easy, and attractive.

Trachelium caeruleum 'Hamer Pandora' has been teasing me for weeks. The first flowers opened today.

Leptospermum lanigerum silver weeping form, from Cistus.

Molinia caerulea 'Variegata', or purple moor grass. I've grown this grass for almost 10 years now, and this is the first time I've really appreciated the common name, purple moor grass. The anthers really are dark purple! I knew they were, but they seem more intense this year.

 My first California fuchsia blooms. This one is Schieffelin's Choice. I need a lot more of these, especially for those larger areas I'm working on.

Sedum oreganum. It's so nice having this beautiful, full patch of sedum and not having to worry about the deer demolishing it in the dry summer.

The same goes for Sedum album. It's never looked this good!

One last shot of 'Kent Beauty' oregano and 'Mikado' California poppies. As you can see, I don't really subscribe to that whole "never combine orange and pink" nonsense.

If you made it this far, thanks for slogging through all those pictures! The alternate title for this post is "Oops, I (over) did it again."

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!