Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Garden Tours: Kuzma Garden

As I write this post on Sunday, Mother Nature is teasing me with dry breaks, even some sun, scattered between heavy showers. I was debating donning full rain gear to start planting, but a particularly heavy shower accompanied by wind made me reconsider. So today seems like a good day to write a post of my visit to the much-photographed and blogged-about garden of John Kuzma. After seeing photos of this garden from Loree's yearly visits and from various other bloggers that attended the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Portland, I knew I had to see this garden for myself. Though I've been trying to work harder on my writing in these posts lately, I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking in this post.

Stepping out of the car, I could barely wait to start snapping photos. I consider it a remarkable display of restraint that this post only contains 38 photos. I've unfortunately forgotten what the shrub on the left is in the photo below, but I was drooling over the Grevillea on the right. I was very excited about Grevilleas last summer, as I was finally adding some to my own garden. I love how these silvery shrubs are displayed against the dark green screen plantings in the background. Enclosure is something that is seriously lacking in my garden. Even when things do grow up and fill in, I'm not sure I really have garden "rooms". But then, open concept is all the rage in interior design these days. Why not the garden?

Oh how I love the bark of cork oaks (Quercus suber). I do hope the ones I planted last year (and then moved in late summer) put on some serious growth this year. They are such beautiful trees; hardy and adapted to dry summers, too!


Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Theta' (I think) spilling over a low wall under a beautiful Eucalyptus which I'm having a hard time believing I didn't photograph. Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (black mondo grass) is used to great effect in this garden. It shows up much better against the gravel than in a bed with dark mulch.

A beautiful Corokia cotoneaster provides a textural and color contrast to the lush, tropical greenery surrounding it. A little support from a piece of rebar apparently helps it stand up above the crowd.

Backing this plant with green foliage, or elevating it so that it's silhouetted against the sky, highlights the intricate form of this shrub.

I like to tease a certain someone about the plain green Daphniphyllum looking too much like a regular old rhododendron, but I must agree with her that the variegated version is eminently drool-worthy.

I always try to pay attention to texture, in addition to color, in gardens, and this garden had so much to offer on both counts. This blue-leaved acacia (?) is beautiful in terms of color, and also offers a wonderfully different texture with its leaf-lined, upright stems. I wonder how it fared this winter... The bright, mostly white Pittosporum, with its dark stems, adds great color contrast.

How's this for contrast, color, texture, and form? The acacia in the photo above really highlights the dark green of this Chamaecyparis (possibly Cham. lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro'?).

Lovely feathery texture of Taxodium (?) overlaying the coarser foliage of shade plants beneath.

Fine and bold all in one, with a touch of blue that I'm a total sucker for. This Dianella is another plant that has me wondering how it handled the winter.

I loved this vignette. The limbs of a young evergreen oak stretch in front of a Cunninghamia lanceolata 'Glauca', a dwarf blue form of Sequoia sempervirens, and some sort of variegated broadleaved evergreen in the back. The blue and cream foliage had such a cooling effect on that hot summer day. Even the tops of the oak leaves read as somewhat blue-green. I could have stayed in this back corner, soaking up the serene colors, but the rest of the garden called.

This scene was incredible. So much variety, yet it forms a cohesive whole. The Abies koreana 'Silberlocke' (?) in the small bed echoes the silver of the agaves and the Cupressus arizonica (?) in the back. Actually, looking at those now, I'd really like to know which variety it is. They have relatively horizontal branches that look like they'd be better at shedding snow than conifers with lots of upright branches, which all look rather frazzled if not outright destroyed after this winter. And they're such a beautiful blue. The Trachycarpus dotted throughout aid in the cohesion via repetition of color and form. This vignette really displays the incredible diversity of plants that can be grown in the Pacific Northwest, with a bit of zone pushing and careful attention to site preparation and plant placement.

Well, at least I photographed this eucalyptus, not that I have any idea which one it is. Oh how I want my little eucalyptus trees to grow up so they can scent the air with their camphor fragrance and rustle their pendant leaves in every breeze. I love that sound, like a rushing stream or ocean waves, depending on the strength of the wind and size of the tree.

Datura wrightii, I'm guessing?

More textural eye candy, the fine stems of Ozothamnus contrasting with the lush foliage of Melianthus major.

Another acacia, contrasting its blue color against the golden green of the bamboo behind it.

This section of the garden looked a little newer. I was a little surprised to see a Schefflera delaveyi growing in full sun, surrounded by yuccas. I think of this plant as a shade-lover, but it can take quite a bit of sun in the Pacific Northwest, provided it has plenty of water, which the yuccas don't mind.

I love the form of this little Arctostaphylos, with its gracefully-curved trunk. It's going to make a beautiful specimen as it grows.

My own take on the agave berm, which has been photographed numerous times. I don't think there's any danger of people tiring of it.

This garden has a wonderful balance of enclosure and borrowed views from other parts of the garden. There's that blue acacia again, plus the blue cypress trees, with other plants layering in greens and blues right up to the Yucca rostrata (?) and agave in the foreground.

I love this silver potentilla. I just wish it was evergreen. I'm so stuck up about deciduous perennials. They really aren't my thing. Not that I don't have any, but I hate having something this beautiful leave a big hole when it dies down for the winter.

Hmm, will this scene be repeated this summer? Kangaroo paws and cuphea, not exactly known for hardiness.

One can never go wrong with a madrone. Few things compare to that bark in my mind.

I love this combination of orange kangaroo paws, blue acacia, and somewhat olive-green and brown Elegia capensis.

I prefer the previous color combination, but still had to photograph this more traditional red and yellow for the sake of the kangaroo paws.

I've fallen hard for evergreen oaks and their relatives. I think this is a Notholithocarpus densiflorus. This entire group of trees is far under-used.

Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera, also known as var. argentea, is such a beautiful palm. I prefer these clumping, smaller (in our climate) palms to the big trachycarpus. I like having the leaves down where I can enjoy them.

Another wonderful textural palette.

This (nearly) all silver garden really celebrates texture. What has become of that beautiful acacia after this winter?

This water feature that looks like it came straight off the cover of a magazine.

Couldn't resist another photo of cork oak bark.

I love the texture of this cotoneaster.

I hope my Adiantum venustum has recovered from its transplant shock last year and takes off this spring. It didn't do much last year, despite being in one of the moister parts of my garden. I really want a lush carpet like this.

Big fabulous umbrella of Arisaema over a Rhododendron pachysanthum.

As I was planning to do something similar in the new garden areas I was developing last summer, I was glad to see it implemented in this garden: Ceanothus gloriousus as a groundcover under taller Arctostaphylos.

I loved this combination of Arctostaphylos trunk and Hebe pimeleoides 'Quicksilver', plus the little opuntia pad waving from the corner. I'm a little surprised the hebe is doing so well. I know it's a fairly drought-tolerant plant, but not as much as the arctostaphylos.

Yucca rostrata and Arctostaphylos make a wonderful pair. I'm pretty much happy with any combination of blue and orange, be it the bright orange kangaroo paws and acacia shown earlier in this post, or the silver blue hebe and yucca with the more earthy orange of the arctostaphylos bark in these last two photos.

And that ends my post this week. I may be looking back on these photos more this spring as I seek inspiration for my own garden projects. And for more inspiration, I'm looking forward to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show this week!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Flowers, Foliage, and a Vignette

Like many in the Pacific Northwest, I'm feeling decidedly despondent concerning my garden. Many of us are watching treasured plants slowly show more and more damage incurred in what has been a severe winter for our region. I'm fighting the winter gloom by cleaning up my garden. Thankfully the weather has cooperated for the last few days. After some hesitance, I've also decided to start planting, though I'm sticking to shrubs with no soft growth and only perennials like sword ferns which I know won't rot in the cold, wet soil. Um... I'll get right to it after this next rain system tapers off. Maybe Thursday, if I'm lucky.

Not much is happening in my garden yet, and I admit I was tempted to skip bloom day and foliage follow-up this month in favor of revisiting summer via my photos from John Kuzma's Portland garden. But I really do like having this record of what's in bloom, so the Kuzma garden can wait until next week.

In this post I'm linking with:

Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-up

and last but not least, Anna at Flutter&Hum for Wednesday Vignette.

This is a multitasking post. Please follow the links above to see more posts for each meme.

The indoor garden is still very much carrying the show, and my spirits. Late winter is actually peak bloom time for my orchids, which are my main flowering houseplants. Most others are chosen solely for foliage, and any flowers are just a perk.

I'm still enamored with my new Rhapis excelsa, which my friend Loree kindly picked out for me after I initially passed them up at the Division Street Portland Nursery houseplant sale. I'm glad I came to my senses and she went in time to nab this one for me. Though the photo below shows it in the sunlight, I especially like the shadows it casts on the wall in the evenings from the room light. The shadow on the wall in the photo is from Vriesea 'Splenreit' sitting in the window.

Speaking of vrieseas, the flower spike on Vriesea ospinae-gruberi continues to grow. I'm finding it a little difficult to photograph properly. It's a complex structure and you can see the multiple branches developing on the main spike. It's also becoming a bit of a balance and siting problem. Already top-heavy, the spike is making it even more so. I've tipped it over once already, thankfully not breaking the spike in the process. So I turned it around, as it has always leaned a bit in one direction. Now I'm having trouble keeping it out of the window, as I need to raise and lower the blinds without beating and bruising the spike.

Ludisia discolor continues to bloom, though on close inspection they are starting to fade.

Paphiopedilum Macabre will continue looking good for a few more months. Incidentally, these photos were all taken with a new lens I purchased and have been getting used to in preparation for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show next week. I'm really quite pleased with the images I've been able to get with it.

I've been working to purge and refine my houseplant collection this winter. More sturdy foliage plants and fewer touchy, finicky plants. Aglaonemas are some of my favorite foliage plants for indoors. There's a reason they're such common office plants. They thrive (or at least persist) on neglect. They can take extremely low light levels that most plants wouldn't tolerate and, unless they're fairly root-bound, they aren't particularly thirsty. They do require a bit more water than, say, a Sansevieria, but I let mine dry almost completely between watering. Over-watering these plants is more common, and can result in yellowing leaves and rotten roots. But enough of that. My oldest Aglaonema is the good old standard, 'Silver Queen'. I'm not sure I've actually seen this cultivar available in local nurseries. It's been replaced with newer cultivars, but it's still one of my favorites.

Wanting more of these indoor foliage workhorses, I picked up three during the Portland Nursery houseplant sale. All, sadly, unidentified, though I've been digging through the internet to try to give them names. This one could be Jubilee or Black Lance. I'm not really sure. But I love the subtle shadings in the leaf. At first, I though there was a pattern on the back sides of the leaves that created a shadowy pattern on the tops. Really, though, there are two shades of grey, a lighter grey and a darker pewter color that causes the illusion of shadows. It's a bit difficult to capture in a photograph, because of the glossy leaves, but you can make it out in this photo.

Two more aglaonemas. I'm fairly certain the one on the left is Silver Bay... or maybe Emerald Bay. I'm not sure what the difference is, if there is one. I haven't been able to put even a tentative name to the narrow-leaved cultivar on the right.

Orchids aren't exactly low maintenance, but most also aren't nearly as finicky as most people think. I've pared my collection down to a few that only need watering once a week, and can go up to two weeks without if I don't make a habit of it. Neostylis Lou Sneary 'Blue Bird' frequently shows up in my bloom day posts because it blooms multiple times per year. It's been in bloom for most of the winter, with it's deliciously-scented blooms.

Another bromeliad, a tiny fraction of the size of the massive Vriesea above, Tillandsia fuchsii var. gracilis surprised me by producing a flower spike. This is a pup from the original plant I purchased, making it one of only two or three tillandsia I've grown from bloom to bloom. It's not a very flashy one, but exciting for me, nonetheless.

Phragmipedium Olaf Gruss is another orchid I've found to be relatively easy. Phragmipediums love water, so much so that you can keep the pot in a tray filled with water. Going away for awhile? Add a bit more water to the tray than usual and this orchid will be fine. It's also been blooming since the end of summer, producing one or two flowers at a time. Two more growths are preparing to send up flower spikes, so while this bloom is the last on this spike, more won't be far behind.

Under the lights, Tillandsia flabellata produces purple flowers from its flaming sword-like spike. Hanging from above, Lepanthopsis astrophora 'Stalky' has a light cloud of tiny amethyst flowers hanging around it.While this tiny orchid is very rewarding, it does require frequent watering, or a nice humid terrarium. Sine I currently mist it daily, I'm going to try growing it in one of those hanging glass balls that have become popular for tillandsia display to reduce the frequency of waterings. In the background on the left, Phalaenopsis stuartiana 'Sogo' has a spike loaded with flower buds ready to pop open.

Two more Phalaenopsis here. A dark form of Phalaenopsis schilleriana, on the right, is open, while Phalaenopsis Philishill arches across with a bloom on the left in the process of opening.

Taking the schilleriana out from under the lights to show the color a little better.

Just one plant actually in bloom out in the greenhouse this month, though several others are in bud. This is the unidentified Agapetes/Vaccinium I showed in my last post, with one bloom fully expanded like a little paper lantern. The leaves and hairy stems look a lot like Vaccinium nummularia, but the flowers are much larger and the pinkish red color is at the base of the flowers instead of around the opening. I love the little hint of green on the tips. But where Vaccinium nummularia is hardy to USDA zone 7, this plant likely isn't hardy below zone 9. It enjoys winter in the greenhouse with the rest of my agapetes and vireyas.
Just a side note: unlike all the other photos in this post, this one was taken with my phone. Good enough for a blog post, but on my big monitor the difference in image quality is significant.

Moving on to the outside garden. Not much is happening out here just yet, though things are definitely waking up. I neglected to photograph the two open flowers on my Lonicera fragrantissima. It's amazing how fragrant just two tiny blooms can be. It will be wonderful once it's established and hasn't been moved or hacked down or any of the other tortures I've put it through. And hopefully there's enough sun where I put it... Well, I can't pamper all my plants (or even most of them) so they get what they get.

The Helleborus x hybridus are pushing up flower buds, though they probably won't open until the end of February.

The bright cultivars of Calluna vulgaris are some of my favorite foliage plants in the winter garden. I've forgotten which cultivar the plant in this photo is, though I want to say it's 'Wickwar Flame'. The harsh winter has only made it burn brighter. Actually, I'm pretty happy with the whole bed, since redesigning it about a year and a half ago. Even now that I've started cutting things back, it still looks full. The large, awkward bare spots that plagued it before are either eliminated or reduced to the point where I don't find them horribly ugly. And the only open flowers in this photo are on the Erica directly behind the orange Calluna. That's all foliage color.

The big flower buds of Petasites japonicus 'Giganteus' sort of remind me of little cabbages.

Erica carnea continues to bloom through all the weather winter throws at it.

Tiny Galanthus flowers are just about to open. Plants like these illustrate the differences between my slightly cooler microclimate and warmer ones. Friends have been posting photos of open Galanthus for at least a week.

Come on, Helleborus x sternii, just a little more!

Penny's Pink hellebore, on the other hand, opened as soon as the snow melted last week, and had started even before that.


I also love the foliage on this hellebore. It's much nicer than the x hybridus types.

The Cyclamen coum are waking up. I like this one, popping up through the gorgeous foliage of a small form of Iris japonica from Far Reaches with that incredible indigo staining at the base. This year I've noticed cyclamen starting to show up even in places where I haven't scattered the seeds myself. I think the ants are helping me a bit with that.

Sedum forsterianum 'Antique Grill' seems to suffer from an unfortunate cultivar name, at least according to some. To me, it's no worse than many other cultivar names. Names aside, I love the plant. It's a beautiful blue in the warmer months, but it takes on glowing shades of purple and pink in winter.

I love seeing that color from the dining room. It's proving to be a decent ground cover in this very difficult bed with compacted clay soil under a thin layer of heavily decomposed mulch (under the mulch you see in this photo). It gets extremely hot in summer and watering becomes a challenge. Some plants fry without it, some fry with it. This sedum takes it all. I want more ground-covering plants in this bed, so I'm on the lookout this spring for a low-growing juniper that will snake around the existing plants, like this Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific' in Loree's front garden. The sedum and other small plants in this photo can handle the front of the bed, but I need something to cover the ground between the taller plants in the back of the bed.

I haven't photographed this combination in quite a while, and it's really looking good right now, despite some damage on the mini mondo grass and the bare spot from where I removed an Asarum that was getting eaten to death by slugs. The cold winter seems to at least kept the slugs from also decimating the Cardamine diphylla. Gotta make sure to sprinkle some slug bait here now that the weather has warmed up.

The deer that came in last week on the snowy night that brought three alders crashing into our fence ate some of my Hamamelis 'Jelena' blooms in passing, but left me a few. Now that the weather is warmer, I'm certain I could detect a faint scent from these blooms. Not nearly as powerful as cultivars like Arnold's Promise, famed for their fragrance, but nice all the same. To me, it smelled a bit like oranges, the fruits, not the flowers.

The buds on Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem' (maybe I should just start calling it "Sss") are starting to expand. This plant has a thuggish reputation. I've only had it for a couple years. Will this be the year it shows its true colors? Or will the clay soil its in prove a match for its spreading ways?

And to end this post, here's a photo of the amazing sunrise we had on Tuesday morning. I had to get my camera out, though I was too lazy to actually step outside of the house to capture this photo. Not bad for through a sliding glass door.


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!