Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 2016 Favorites and Musings

The mild fall continues in my garden, with temperatures hardly falling below 40F. This weather pattern always makes me worry, as it often is punctuated by a sudden, sharp freeze, damaging plants more than if a few light frosts had occurred beforehand. On the other hand, if it simply stays mild, it will be great for all those little starts I planted this fall. Unfortunately, it's also great for winter weeds, and I haven't been taking advantage of the dry periods between rains to battle those weeds. Instead, I've been trying to focus on indoor pursuits that I neglected while I was planting the new garden areas earlier this fall. It hasn't been easy, with the news seemingly even more disturbing than usual and my mood taking its own downward turn and my energy and focus following suit. Lately I've been thinking far too much and doing far too little.

 But enough of that. In addition to work and trying to study, I've been doing a lot of reading and looking for new-to-me blogs, especially in mild areas like the southern U.K., New Zealand, Chile, and the wetter parts of Australia and the Mediterranean region. Why? Because these climates are the most similar to the one I'd like to eventually live in, somewhere on the Oregon coast. Naturally, I've also been reading up on anything I can find about gardening on the Oregon coast and the north coast of California. (As a short aside, I find it funny how some people divide "northern" and "southern" California, with roughly two thirds of the state as "north". It makes it very difficult to find information when everything about "Northern California" seems to center around  San Francisco, which is drier and warmer than points further north on the coast.) A couple blogs I've been enjoying lately are Jardins A L'Anglaise, and Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. The former is written by a landscape architect and garden designer in France, taking readers on virtual tours of beautiful gardens around France and elsewhere. The latter relates the pursuits of a home gardener in Italy. I stumbled across this blog, but didn't look closer until I learned of the meme this blogger hosts, Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day. I always welcome another opportunity to celebrate foliage in the garden, and look forward to following this meme and finding more fantastic foliage gardens.

And speaking of foliage, my two favorite plants this month are all about foliage. Actually, as usual, I have lots of favorites, but I'd have to write a book to cover them all. So for this End of the Month Favorites, hosted by Loree at The Danger Garden, I'm sharing two red twig dogwoods: Cornus sericea 'Hedgerows Gold', and Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'. Follow the links for cultural information and sources on plantlust.com.

These two shrubs are two of the brightest plants in my garden right now. So many of my deciduous plants had their leaves blown and beaten off by wind and rain, but these two are just becoming more colorful. Would you believe I never thought much about red-twig dogwoods before? And now I'm featuring them in a post. A specimen of 'Midwinter Fire' growing in the gardens at Cistus Nursery finally sold me on them. It looked phenomenal, backed by a blue-needled dwarf Sequoia sempervirens. A mass of Midwinter Fire, dug from someone's garden, came to the nursery while I worked there, and after the choice pieces were potted up for sale I took home some of the scraps to plant along the dry creek bed. They'll have to be kept as cut-back shrubs, not allowed to grow to their full size. And I didn't have any dwarf redwoods to back them with, but I did mix in some blue Juncus, Podocarpus 'County Park Fire' and other plants that will play off the dogwood and each other in various ways. It's still filling in, but I have hope it will look good when it does.
'Midwinter Fire' colors up with peachy yellow foliage in fall, freckled with ruddy red that expands across the leaves as they age. It's amazing backlit by the sun, or in the evening when everything else is starting to get lost in the dark.

'Hedgerows Gold' was shared with me by a friend in Seattle, and began delighting me immediately when I decided to plant it in a bed covered with silver Carex comans.
Cornus sericea 'Hedgerows Gold'
It's only gotten better as the leaves have turned, taking on colors ranging from yellow, through orange and red, to burgundy, even with some near-white in the photo above. Quite rangy for now, it will become fuller as it becomes established and receives pruning

It's amazing how a disregarded plant can suddenly become a favorite after finding a little inspiration and just the right spot in your own garden. I've also been planning to put in some of the native red-twig dogwood in a wet area on one side of the property, augmenting the existing plants in this natural area to increase interest for us, provide a bit of screening from the neighbors, and increase habitat for wildlife. I tried once, before the fence went up, but the deer pressure in this area is so great that the young plants didn't stand a chance. Luckily, the wet area in question is included within the fence, so I'll try again. It's not an area that needs complete screening, so a deciduous plant like dogwood is fine. And the increased sunlight in the area, created by the neighbor's logging, will allow them to grow much better and should be enough to give them color in fall. If you drive around now by any areas that keep a bit of moisture in the summer, you'll see the beautiful foliage, largely burgundy and green, but often with flaming yellow to red shades mixed in, starting to reveal the red stems for winter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Wild Vista

I'm cutting it a little close on this Wednesday Vignette, but here it is: a view over part of the Siskiyou National Forest. I could spend all day losing myself in the wild wonder of it all. At least, I wish I could, but life makes other demands, whether self-imposed or otherwise.

Wednesday Vignette is hosted by Anna at Flutter&Hum. Follow the link to see more Wednesday Vignette posts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Foliage Follow-up: November 2016 and Wednesday Vignette

I'm linking today with Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up and with Anna at Flutter&Hum for Wednesday Vignette. Be sure to follow the links to see more posts for both memes. I was going to split them up but, to be honest, I wanted to use one of these foliage shots and couldn't pick! So here's the whole lot of them. They actually span the last couple weeks, with some taken yesterday and today, and others taken near the beginning of the month. Things change so rapidly this time of year, and I've been so busy, I feel like I've missed a lot out in the garden.

Stachyurus praecox 'Sterling Silver' continues to keep its leaves in pristine condition while the Clethra barbinervis flashes through a brief display of fall color. This photo was taken a week or two ago and the Clethra is now all bare stems and dangling seed pods, but the Stachyurus still looks the same. Interestingly, my other Clethra barbinervis still has most of its leaves, which are mostly green with blushes of red and orange and falling gradually. It's been in the ground longer, but it's a younger plant.

This is what the leaves on the Clethra barbinervis shown above look like now. Brown against the silver Carex comans below, with a stem of Rubus lineatus fallen over it, broken off at the base by the wind.

I've actually gone a few foliage follow-ups without posting one of my silver mahonias. Here's my first one, on the left. The purple color is fairly normal for it as the weather cools. The more orange shades are stress-related from growing in a spot it didn't like. It's now in a new location, so hopefully I'll be seeing less orange. Not that it isn't pretty, but I want it to be healthy. On the right is Diervillea rivularis 'SMNDRSF' (Kodiak®  Black), blazing against the silver Carex comans.

I love the apricot yellow of Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'. It's beautiful when backlit during the day, and it glows as the sun lowers into evening.

Cotinus 'Grace' has had all of its leaves blown off by now, but it had amazing color this year while it lasted. On the right you can see it in the mid-ground, with a 'Midwinter Fire' dogwood in the foreground and Acer rubrum just peaking over the cotinus in the background.

Acer rubrum isn't really the best tree for the PNW. This one has looked a bit tired in the summer drought the last two years, and I just don't think that trees should need supplemental irrigation. But boy, does it earn its place in the fall.

It's just about bare now. These photos were taken at peak color.

Below, left, Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit' with a Euphorbia characias in the background. On the right is a celebration of browns, with bronze Carex comans, the dark brown leaves of dormant Bletilla striata, and the semi-dormant leaves of Iris 'Black Gamecock' contrasting in chartreuse.

I love the way Comptonia peregrina turns, with brown leaves gradually shading into green at the stem ends. On the right, an Achillea millefolium with amazing fall color. I didn't know yarrow turned these colors. I though it went straight to brown. 

I got out today for a couple more pictures just before it grew too dark. I've really been enjoying this Epilobium 'Catalina' along the dry creek bed. I'm really looking forward to next year when all the cuttings I planted are this size, too, and really put on a show. 

I'll leave you with this photo of Cornus sericea 'Hedgerow's Gold' taking on dark pink and wine-red tones now and glowing against the Carex comans below. It's going to be amazing when this shrub fills in.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 2016

This month is slipping by even faster than I realized. I forgot about bloom day until the posts from other bloggers started showing up in my email. Luckily, there was a break in the rain and I took my camera out to get a few quick shots. I just got a new camera and I'm still learning its quirks, but I'm starting to get some pictures out of it that I'm pretty happy with.

The extremely mild fall we've had so far in the PNW has kept many flowers along much longer than normal, and is even producing a few new flushes, late bloomers, and early bloomers. In other words, things are all wonky out there.

Inside, a couple orchids are in bloom. Neostylis Lou Sneary 'Blue Bird' faithfully produces its fragrant, dainty flowers. One spike aborted, but it has a couple more following.

Phragmipedium Olaf Gruss.

Outside, next to the greenhouse to be moved in quickly as soon as frost is predicted, Lapageria rosea keeps up its exotic display. The weather has cooled enough that no more buds seem to be swelling.

Inside the greenhouse, Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery' has a couple of blooms. I'm still not brave enough to try planting this one out in the garden, though it may be hardy here. I think it's a better bet in this area in urban gardens that get a bit more heat, particularly in spring to wake it up.

This next photo is just of buds, but I'm so excited by this I couldn't wait. I grew this Erica oatesii from seed started about 2.5 years ago and this will be its first bloom!

Moving out into the garden, Anaphalis margaritacea is still blooming here and there, though most have already turned into fluffy seed heads. May they sprout to their hearts content, hopefully in areas that don't get mowed.

The Parahebe perfoliata is STILL BLOOMING!

I really love white-flowered fall and winter-blooming heaths. We don't get much snow at my elevation (not complaining) and the bright white really brightens up the dark, usually rainy landscape.

A particularly silver Helleborus x sternii from Cistus is blooming already.

While ragged and worn Nigella damascena have been prompted by the rain and the warm fall to gasp out a few final blooms.

A seedling Erysimum I'm fond of.

 All the fuchsias that bloomed this summer are still blooming. I'll let 'Lady Boothby' represent them.

I was disappointed to find out that "Penny's Pink", the name under which this Hellebore is sold, is a trade name. The real cultivar name is 'ABCRD01'. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I strongly dislike breeders who don't bother to give their plants sensible names.

Who's tired of me sharing pictures of Prunella vulgaris? Too bad. Here's a few more.

The effect of the seed heads en mass. The mass of dead brown stems that disturbed me at the end of summer now looks wonderful to me. It helps that they've greened up under those seed heads since it started raining.

They're rather nice when the sun comes out and hits them.

I finally got a decent shot of the berries on this Gaultheria mucronata. Actually, I was kind of hoping for white berries, but both of my plants turned out to be red! These are pretty, too.

This Vaccinium ovatum that I just planted is opening flowers all over.

 I thought Asarum caudatum only bloomed in spring, but the plants in this bed haven't stopped blooming all summer.

A nibbled Cyclamen purpurascens. I need to spread more slug bait.

Dicliptera squarrosa

These weird, late Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' flowers were produced by one of the monster-sized set of leaves, which are still green while the rest of the plants are all turning lovely fall colors.

Kniphofia 'Percy's Pride' surprised me with one last bloom spike. I went a few days without checking on it and found the stem doing a double turn, once where a slug had chewed the stalk and it fell over, and once more where the stem turned back up and kept growing. You can't keep Percy down.

Finding out that Leptospermum lanigerum will bloom sporadically throughout the year was a happy surprise. This is the silver form from Xera, which bloomed for me the first time this spring.

A couple of the Epilobium are still blooming, but 'UC Hybrid' is the one that looks the best this late.

Lobelia laxiflora var. angustifolia is racing against the clock to open a couple more flowers before frost. The rains brought out a couple more buds after it quit for the summer.

I grew this Lilium formosanum from seed four years ago and it surprised me with a late bloom. Maybe if I didn't have it in a bed that gets no summer water, growing in the back where the house keeps it even drier, it would have bloomed sooner, but I'm content to let it tough things out here.

Berberis x stenophylla 'Corallina Compacta' has a few out-of-season blooms.

The orange Bidens have started slowing down. This one still looks pretty good, but I don't think they have much longer.

Daphne x transatlantica 'Blafra' is blooming, of course.

The rosemary is starting to bloom.

One of my free rescue Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Wayside' has a few flowers open at the ends of mostly bare stems. Hopefully they'll flush out with lots of new growth in spring. I have a 'John Dourley' that looked just as bad that came back wonderfully, so we shall see.

The light was just right on this Achillea millefolium. The hoverfly on the right thought so, too.

They were a bit overly rambunctious in places, but I did end up enjoying the blue flowers of these Gilia capitata. Many of them are still blooming, making me like them even more. I just need to encourage them in dryer, leaner areas where they won't grow five feet tall.

Some fluke of circumstance has made the flowers on Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki' highly visible this year. Usually they're much more hidden within the foliage. Even so, I still smell them before I see them, as the scent can waft more than 20 feet on the warm days we've had this fall.

Abutilon megapotamicum continues to bloom. This will be its first winter in the ground. I'm a little nervous.

The variegated Elaeagnus pungens is almost finished. Just a few more blooms to open.

Meanwhile, the primroses are just getting started. They'll keep trying to bloom all winter into spring. The individual blooms don't look good for long, quickly turning to mush in the pounding rain and the frosts to come.

And last but certainly not least, I'm so happy that we've avoided frost for as long as we have this fall. My Tropaeolum tuberosum is blooming! This is not the early-blooming, day-neutral variety 'Ken Aslet', but a selection grown more for its edible tubers. 'Ken Aslet' isn't very good for eating, from what I hear, though it forms edible tubers, too.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting GBBD. Be sure to follow the link to see what's blooming in her garden and gardens around the world this month.
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