Sebright Gardens has Outstanding Display

Fremontadendron 'Ken Taylor' is also known as flannel bush.
If you check out Sebright Gardens' website, the first thing you'll notice is that they specialize in Hostas. But if you don't happen to like or need Hostas, don't ignore or click away from this site! In fact, if you are ever out in Brooks, Oregon, which is near Salem, please visit this great nursery for its beautiful display garden. It's actually more of a botanical garden with specimens very well-labeled and for sale.

While I originally planned to look at the Epimediums (they have dozens), I fell in love with several ferns, and discovered lots of goodies I'd never seen before, like Fremontadendron, or flannel bush. This hybrid of the drought-tolerant California native species is said to be more compact than any of the species, and will bloom all summer in Zones 7-10.

Glumicalyx goseloides has chocolate-scented flowers.
Epimedium 'Candy Hearts'
Epimedium 'Royal Flush'
Other little treasures included a chocolate-scented plant in the snapdragon family called Glumicalyx goseloides. It's one of those lackadaisical plants that would be worth trying, especially since it's said to be hardy to Zone 6. It was hard to choose among the Epimediums I saw in pots in the greenhouse as well as throughout the display beds.

Seabright offers a huge selection of ferns.

One thing that surprised me was my newfound appreciation for ferns, another group of plants Seabright offers. I added Athyrium filix femina cruciate cristatum 'Dre's Dagger' to my list.

Anemonella thalictroides 'Shoaf's Double Pink'

And I was completely charmed by a pink-flowered double rue anemone called 'Shoaf's Double Pink', which I added to my list. This little cutie blooms for a longer time than its single relatives because its reproductive structures have turned into petals, and so cannot be pollinated.

Seabright has display beds devoted to iris and peonies, features lots of unusual trees, and seems to be expanding its display area, so it can only get better!
One of the many exotic flowers that would be on my "must have" list if I lived in a zone 7 or warmer garden is Cardiocrinum cathayanum, or Himalayan lily.

Himalayan lily blooms in the shade.

The plants listed along with the photos are just a sample of what we saw at one of the highlights of our trip. I'm glad they are a mailorder business, as they were able to ship the plants I ordered.

If you can't make it to the nursery, find them here.

Peony Season-Part One

We arrived home last night from our trip to Oregon, where we enjoyed some outstanding gardens. But the weather last night in northwest Indiana was so Pacific Northwest-ish: cold and rainy that we felt as if we were still on vacation. I missed very few peonies; most seem as if they were waiting for us to return home.
Peony 'Exotic Sunflower' took 4 years to bloom, but it has a nice fragrance.
We missed 'Roselette', which bloomed the day we left,
but enjoyed 'Roselette's Child'.
It's obvious how this peony got its name: 'Abalone Pearl'.
'Paladin' practically glows amidst its coral companions.
Two coral varieties: in the foreground is 'Coral Sunset' with 'Pink Hawaiian
Coral' and a 'Paladin' in the background.

May Flowers Can't be Stopped!

Primula sieboldii
Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - the day that blogger extraordinaire Carol Michel invites bloggers from around the world to share what's happening in their gardens.
So what's up in my garden this mid-May day? The bad news is that the mosquitoes are back.
But the good news is that, this time of year, plants are popping into growth spurts on an almost hourly basis.

Primula sieboldii is one of the easiest primroses to grow. If given plenty of moisture (mine are in a low spot), they will take quite a bit of sun.

Rhododendron 'Ken Janek'

Rhododendron 'Ken Janek' is one of my favorites, with nearly spotless foliage and consistent blooms in mid-May. I love how they pop open slowly, one bloom at a time until they resemble a frilly party dress. 

When we first planted it many years ago, it was beneath a sizeable pin oak tree. When the tree fell down, it eventually came to thrive in its new, sunnier situation. It's backed up by Rhododendron fortunei, a Chinese species that has nearly reached its stated size of 10 feet tall. Last year, the three Rhodos in this grouping all bloomed at the same time, but the R. fortunei isn't even trying to bloom yet. Oh well, it's not a bad thing to stretch out the bloom sequence.

'Princess Chiffon' is the earliest tree peony to bloom in my garden.

I'd just been thinking how nice it was that the tulips were carrying on for awhile until the early tree peony opened up when I noticed it had.
From yesterday's tightly furled bud with a hint of pink at its tip to a full-blown show of compressed petals in a 24-hour period is what a May garden is about.

Both lilacs--'President Lincoln' and 'Beauty of Moscow'--are gifting our noses with the epitome of May fragrance, but Viburnum 'Aurora' is no slouch in the scent department. We moved it to its current location last fall, but it's still managed to throw out a few blossoms.
Viburnum carlesii 'Aurora'
If you have a spot with great drainage and lots of sun, I hope you're considering Dianthus. While some of the newer hybrids are not known for their fragrance, 'Red Beauty' won't disappoint. It's a sport of 'Firewitch' but more heat tolerant.
Lilac 'President Lincoln'

Dianthus 'Red Beauty'
Promising bud of peony 'Roselette'

As for the mosquitoes, the people at ThermaCELL sent me a portable mosquito repellent appliance last year and it really works! I used the appliance that covers a 15 by 15 foot square area, which was perfect for use when relaxing on the patio. I liked that there was no strong chemical scent that I would have to wash off when I got inside. These appliances are available at lots of chain retailers for under $30, well worth the price for enjoying the outdoors without those buzzing, biting little blighters.

It's Geum Cocktail Time!

Geum 'Tequila Sunrise'
I love these little plants for their cheerful blossoms and healthy-looking summer foliage. They typically open at the same time as mid-season tulips, perennial bachelor's buttons (Centaurea montana), many deciduous Azaleas and short, mid-season Iris.

Last year Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials sent me some of his newest Geum cultivars from his Cocktail Series, and this year, they're doing swimmingly! Named for adult beverages, they include 'Tequila Sunrise', 'Alabama Slammer' and 'Mai Tai'. And if you ever thought all Geum are orange, you should take a look at these little marvels.

Geum 'Mai Tai'
Depending on the stage of bloom,Geum flowers of the Cocktail Series start out with a deep coloration  that contains varying degrees of red and yellow and then fades to a beautiful shade of peach, pink, or gold with subtle highlights. Each flower is a work of art and, if possible, the plant should be as close to eye level as you can get it or at least near a well-traveled garden path.

Geum 'Mai Tai'

Geum 'Alabama Slammer'

Plant Buying Trip Part One

Once again, Lake Michigan is providing us with some April-esque weather, and I don't mind it a bit. We've been on this seesaw before--cold and dry, then cool and wet, and finally warm and sunny. This sequence of weather patterns seems more than a little schizophrenic, but I'll take it over a sustained heat wave any day.

Dicentra 'Burning Heart' planted with Galium odoratum.
Last Monday, my neighbor Lesley and I drove to Sunrise Greenhouse in Grant Park, IL and drove home with a little space to spare in my Saturn Vue. I'm happy to say I found some real gems, including a little bleeding heart I fell in love with called 'Burning Heart', with cherry red flowers hovering over blue fern-delicate foliage.

In keeping with my lifetime goal of trying everything once, I purchased a single pot of each plant that caught my eye. (If I still love it after an entire calendar year, I will buy more.)

The little bleeding heart's placement beneath Magnolia 'Pink Charm' is to eventually provide a wonderfully layered color echo. If the Dicentra remains in leaf throughout the season, I can't think of a better match for the deep pink of the Magnolia flowers.

Magnolia 'Pink Charm'
I considered planting Rodgersia 'Cherry Blush' beneath the Magnolia, but it might grow a bit large for that and possibly upstage the Magnolia. I'd tried growing Rodgersia before but had no luck with it. Persistence pays off in gardening, however, and the Rodgersia henrici I planted last year has come up and even looks as if it will bloom! 
This is the Rodgersia 'Cherry Blush' I just bought.
Last year's Rodgersia as it emerges from the ground.

Great Combos: You Can Grow That!

The most wonderful time of the year in my garden is peony time. And although I have finally succeeded in having something in bloom or looking colorful throughout the season, it's from mid-May through early June when things get downright take-my-breath-away gorgeous. With more than 40 herbaceous peonies and a few tree and intersectionals, I could concentrate on just the peonies. But every plant, no matter how breathtakingly beautiful, can look even better when partnered with another plant or plants. I've captured these peony pairings because timing is everything and the range of bloom times for peonies is, on average, about five weeks.
Peony 'Mme Ducel' with Iris siberica 'Baby Sister'

Peony 'White Wings' with Dianthus Bath's Pink

Peony 'Paladin' with Helianthemum 'Hartswood Ruby'

Peony 'White Cap' with Penstemon 'Prairie Twilight'
That's it for now, just enough to get you started. Each year I add more to the mix, but haven't captured the happy couples on camera.
Make sure you take a look at what other garden bloggers have come up with for this month's...