I had a really great time on our excusion to Northwest Garden Nusery yesterday. It was my first time attending this annual hellebore love-fest hosted by Marietta and Ernie O'Bryne at Northwest Garden Nursery, which is located on the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon. My travel-mates, who were veterans of the event, made sure we were on the road plenty early from Portland in order to get there well ahead of the scheduled opening time. Even so, it would be an understatement to say that we weren't the first to arrive, not by a long shot. Shoulder to shoulder in a greenhouse packed with plants, a small crowd was already on site, milling around ogling the myriad of pretty hellebores and jockeying for positions next to their favorites so that when the official word came down that the sale was open, they could snap up their first picks. This crowd of hellebore enthusiasts was festive and good-natured, conducting itself in a very sportsmanlike fashion, in keeping with the spirit of the event.
Seemingly within minutes, the crowd's focus shifted from the frenzy of selecting plants to the forming an orderly queue for processing thier purchases.
This lovely single is one of the many outstanding hydrids available.
One of the many hellebore hybrids growing in the gardens surrounding the nursery.
The nursery's Hellebore Open Garden Days continues through 5 pm today (Sun, Feb. 20th) and will be repeated next weekend, February 26 and 27th, 10 am - 5 pm.
A recent post by Jim McCausland on the Sunset blog, Fresh Dirt, inspired me to dig up this photo of Chusquea gigantea. What I like about this clumping bamboo is that it has the most bamboo-like qualities of the clumpers. (Unlike the running bamboo species, clumpers grow more slowly and in an easily contained growth habit. You can learn more about the clumpers on the Bamboo Garden website.)
The culms have a certain architectural oomph which is often what draws people to bamboo in the first place. This effect can be enhanced by removing the lowest foliage and thinning the canes on an annual basis.
To me, some of the other clumping bamboos read as big arching grasses in the garden, which can be lovely, but if you're looking for a plant with all the goodness of bamboo without the containment hassles check out Chusquea gigantea.
Recently, I came upon this unique and attractive oddity as I was touring a client garden installed a couple of years ago. This was bought and installed as Hosta 'Sum and Substance', follow the link for photos. This is normally a bold large-leaved variety with solidly-colored chartreuse foliage. Solidly-colored foliage, I say. Not a lusciously mottled variegation of deep rich green and luminous chartreuse.
What will it look like next year? Will it be stable? I'll definitely be keeping my eye on it. Where's this beauty located? I'll never tell.
UPDATE: Conversation with@JoshSpece on Twitter confirms that this hosta is a victim of Hosta Virus X. I've seen hostas stricken with the virus before but they usually look weak, wilty and/or puckered. This one's foliage was quite smooth and, I dare say, very attractive. Be sure to follow to the link to Josh's excellent post on the topic.
In the meantime, it's off to the trash heap for this one. DO NOT compost infected plants as it will lead to risk of spreading the virus. Josh tells me via twitter that you may replant a new, uninfected hosta in the same position if you're absolutely certain that you've gotten the entire plant removed, roots and all. So it might be best to wait a year or so, so that any remaining roots have a chance to decompose.
Even the kitchen garden seems to be getting into the act, offering up a late-season finale. There are some plants that seem to really get a second wind with the cooler days of fall; the rainbow Swiss chard is looking lush, full and colorful in a couple areas of my garden. Though I think some, like the lemons, kick into high gear because they sense that their time is running out, figuring they better get a move on if they're going to deliver anything for the season.
Now that the Meyer lemon is starting to color up their true identity is revealed. For months, garden visitors have been commenting on the limes that I was growing! The Cuban oregano shown in the foreground of this photo is one of my favorite ornamental edibles. Though I have to admit that I seem to be growing this strictly as an ornamental; I have yet to use it in my cooking. Guess I'm not sure how to use it. Any tips from readers on that?
I don't normally think of strawberries as a source of fall color, but this season they're sure adding a nice pop of red in these baskets hanging from my eaves.
Pictured below -- Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' in all its fall glory.
I've been growing this beauty in a container in my garden for several years now and it'll likely be happy in my relatively large container for quite some time. This small tree grows quite slowly; according to the Great Plant Picks site, it's expected to reach only 8 to 10 feet tall by 6 to 8 feet wide in ten years.
Its deeply dissected leaves are green in summer and a bit larger and bolder than some of the other maples, lending nice textural contrast in my garden. But in my mind it really shines in fall; its electrifying color shining like a lantern as it illuminates a dark corner in my garden. It buoys my heart as we transition into the increasingly overcast days of autumn.
This combo of Diascia 'Flirtation Orange' and Lobularia 'Snow Princess' has been blooming non-stop for me since I planted them as pint-sized starts presented to me as comps from the fine folks at Proven Winners earlier this season. All this without much intervention on my part. I'm not very disciplined in terms of applying fertilizer -- I probably doused them with liquid fish once, maybe twice this summer. Neither have been deadheaded, cut back, or been the recipient of any fussy maintenance since they were planted in this container.
Already a fan of diascia, I'm enjoying the rich orange tones of Flirtation Orange; vibrant but not overpowering. It's able to blend into garden combinations without overpowering.
This lobularia would easily pass for the standard and widely grown white-flowering sweet alyssum. However, it's bloomed longer and more profusely than that plant and I hope and presume that it won't self-seed as much. We'll have to wait and see on that point.
As annuals go these are pretty commonplace. But I think this just goes to show that plants like these are widely grown for good reason and if they can be improved, all the better.
Diascia 'Flirtation Orange' and Lobularia 'Snow Princess'
Begonia grandis and Chasmanthium latifolium get in on the act.
Season to season there can be quite a bit of variance in terms of when plants bloom. Since I take a lot of photos, I was able to look through some past years and find this example which confirmed my suspicions that some plants are indeed blooming later this year.
Narcissus 'Minnow' on March 16, 2005; in its full glory.
The same bulb this year. Photo taken today March 10, 2009; buds are barely beginning to show. There's no way it'll make it to the stage of the upper photo in the next six days.
I have a small garden and most of the client gardens that I work in are quite small as well. Because space is limited, we aren't able to grow every plant that catches our eye, so we have to be ultra-choosy about what we include in our gardens. So I've come up with this way of thinking about it that; for lack of a better description, I call it "the goodness ratio."
It boils down to this: the larger the plant, the more rigorous the selection process.
In our small plots we can only grow a few large shrubs and/or small trees. And what I'm looking for in these larger plants is something that will really deliver through the seasons. More
than likely we're going to require that it deliver more than one of
these type of attributes: spring or summer bloom, fragrance, wonderful
foliage, fall color, interesting bark and/or branching structure for
winter interest, and so on.
Small plants that are especially lovely and or plants that share space well might be given a bit of a reprieve, the standard relaxed somewhat. Naturalizing spring bulbs such as crocus, anemone, species tulip, and allium are a good examples of this. Or plants that peak in winter or early spring that are then a good host for a summer blooming vine.
Small trees and shrubs that earn their keep
Here is a very small, very partial list of some plants that I turn to time and time again. I encourage you to think more about the "why" they made the list so that you can then add to it, creating your own list of hard-working plants to consider using in your garden. All are recommended because they deliver through the seasons,
displaying at least three of these attributes: summer bloom, attractive
foliage, fall color, fabulous bark, provide a strong contribution toward structure, and they're suitably sized for city
Choisya ternata 'Sundance' - another Mexican orange, with yellow foliage
Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' - a columnar Japanese holly
Cryptomeria japonica 'Little Diamond' - dwarf Japanese cedar
And the list could could go on and on ...but why don't you do this, check out Great Plant Picks for lots and lots of really great plants specifically recommended for their suitability to northwest gardens. But don't forget, be choosy.