Wednesday, November 27, 2013

All I want...more unusual plants: Part II

Okay, so I thought of a few more plants that I want to try in my garden. One of the best things about taking a trip to the Promised Land for Gardeners (i.e., Oregon) is that I get to see so many fantastic plants in person. Yes, I know everything grows better in the Promised Land, but still...

Abies koreana 'Ice Breaker'

The first is a still-rare Korean fir. It was developed from a witches' broom from `Horstmann's Silberlocke', and grows into a flat miniature round disk of silver foliage. Stems and leaves look like buds. Grows one inch a year. Found by Jorge Kohout from Eastern Germany. I saw this potted specimen at Gossler Farms Nursery when we were in Oregon. They have a limited supply at a cost of $45 each.


I'm a sucker for variegated plants. So far, I've managed to avoid placing too many together in one location, which is like wearing stripes with plaid.  But I can always find room for more. In general, plants with variegated leaves are kind of tricky to place because they need enough shade so their leaves don't burn but enough sun to bring out the variegation and blooms. They also are sometimes prone to reversions, or reverting back to their original mono-color form. 

Still, I'm pretty sure I can find a spot for...

Davidia involucrata 'Lady Sunshine' 

Davidia, often referred to as dove tree or handkerchief tree, has unusual blooms in spring that hang from the branches like crisp linen hankies. 'Lady Sunshine' is a slower grower than the green-foliaged varieties, and can be very slow to bloom. But who needs blossoms with a plant like this? Sure, it would be a nice bonus eventually, but that would mean I have something to look forward to besides its growth, and the way it brightens up and adds delicacy to the heavier plants in a landscape. The one in the photo is young; the pink flowers from an adjacent planting of Rogersia. If you make it to Gossler Farms, you'll find a great number of Rogersia. Roger Gossler is the man who graciously took us through the garden, pointing out his favorites.


Okay, just one more, with variegation. I spotted it from a long way off--thought it was a little shrub with white blooms. Another part-shade-loving plant that prefers acidic soils, Pieris has never been on any of my short lists. Until I saw ...

Pieris japonica 'Little Heath'

This gorgeous beauty is touted as very slow-growing, which Roger Gossler disputes. Of course, if you live in The Promised Land for Gardeners, it will grow more quickly than if you live in Indiana. But because of the limitations imposed on me by property ownership, I like a slow-growing plant. And I like this one a lot.
 
What I've found to be true about some plants labeled "slow-growing" is that they could mean "slow to get established." In my garden, this means that if you plant a "slow-in-any-context" plant in 2009, you don't see any change, or even a change for the worse, in 2010. By 2011, it's perked up and looks like you don't have to put it into the compost heap after all. I figure its root system is taking hold and settling into its space before putting out any new growth. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All I Want for Christmas...

Epimedium 'Royal Flush'
I don't want flowers for Christmas, or even for my birthday, which is three weeks before that holiday. And I really prefer to wait for a fresh batch of new potted plants; they have a better chance for survival if added in March. Show me order forms from the places I've visited, and monetary sponsorship for the plants I've seen on my travels this summer.
Sure, it's a long list, and will entail some serious clearance of real estate thugs that have taken over valuable parcels of land in my garden. I've fallen for Epimedium in all its forms and species. Flower color is secondary to its talent as a ground cover that manages to shade out unwanted while looking like a chorus of gently swaying silken-clad dancers. Of course, I'm no expert on this plant; I just met it a few years ago and am just beginning to realize its value. If you're looking for variety recommendations and a bit about the different species, take a look at Pacific Horticulture Society article entitled Epimediums: Queen of the Woodland.

 Epimedium ecalcarata in early May.
I located a somewhat unusual species with bright yellow flowers and red stems. I bought Epimedium ecalcarata online in spring of 2012 from Edelweiss Perennials in Canby, Oregon. I had wanted to visit them when I was in Oregon in May, but my itinerary was getting out of hand. Anyway, it's a great source for unusual plants, for which I'm a sucker.
As for this particular species of Epimedium,

Epimedium ecalacarta in August.
I'm not even sure how I learn about it, but I've always been an information sponge when it comes to horticulture. I might see a plant I know nothing about mentioned in passing, and down the Google rabbit hole I go. But on my trip to Oregon in May, I was able to see a very nice selection of Epimediums in person at Sebright Gardens. This online retail nursery and display garden and garden center is known for its Hostas and ferns, both of which play pretty well with Epimedium.

Epimedium 'Bandit'


Epimedium 'Lilac Cascade'








From the photos I took at Sebright, these three are on my list:

  • Epimedium 'Bandit': 12" tall with white flowers
  • Epimedium 'Lilac Cascade': 10" tall with violet-lavender flowers
  • Epimedium 'Royal Flush': 14" with lavender flowers.
Epimedium 'Royal Flush'

Friday, November 15, 2013

Inside and Out: It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

The color I see in my garden is best viewed from inside. Luckily, I have a wonderful sun room with lots of windows. Inside, I'm seeing signs of fungus gnats but am also seeing signs of growth of the many Amaryllis I replanted about a month ago. It's not pretty, so perhaps I'll wait awhile to post photos of them.

My obsessive need to collect dried hydrangeas has left me with dozens of stems. I also still have lavender from last year, Oregano 'Kent's Beauty', peonies, Astilbe, roses, and Liatris.
Wall basket with dried peonies, lavender, Astilbe, roses, oregano and Hydrangea.
Another basket, stuffed and stacked with hydrangeas in varying stages of blue and rose needed a little something, so I added stems of dried lavender. Simple, and a little scented. I still have lots of Hydrangea stems left over. Perhaps I'll stick them into the Christmas tree like I did last year.

Meanwhile, in case you hadn't realized the beauty of Salvia besides attracting bees and hummingbirds, they also make pretty long-lasting cut flowers. I picked some 'Wendy's Wish', and Salvia c. 'Coral Nymph' along with Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' and a cut stem of Hydrangea p. 'Pinky Winky' before we had a serious freeze a couple of nights ago.

I know this time of year is marked by the dearth of blooms that come from our actual gardens. Two months out of the year the simplest, and even obviously flawed flowers are given pride of place indoors. In my garden it's March and November. With that in mind, I've snapped a photo of this final bouquet.

And this ends my November post in Carol's May Dreams Gardens Garden Blogger Bloom Day, held on the 15th of each month to tell about what's going on in gardens throughout the world.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

New Plants and Great Plants 2013

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' was one of my favorites.
I had a great time checking out new annuals and a few perennials this year. Although I typically hold back on judgement for perennials until they've been with me two or three years, Those added this year (2013) performed very well throughout the season.

A number of the plants I photographed this August resided on trial grounds in Michigan. August is a pretty tough month for many plants. They haven't been able to catch their breath from the long, hot days of July. On trial grounds such as C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, Michigan, plants are fed and watered and are grown in a variety of methods, including in containers, in the ground, in raised beds, or under shade cloth, depending on their cultural requirements.

I've come up with a series of slides of the Best for 2013 that includes annuals, tropicals and a few perennials.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Color in November: You Can Grow That!

I doubt we were the only scofflaws during the government shutdown. Yes, we walked on a beach that is considered federal land when our government figuratively closed its doors. They hadn't considered the fringes, the transition space between public and private, state or municipal property. And like the government shut-down that couldn't really be considered an all-out shut-da-door to parks, plants don't suddenly go dormant on October 15 (or whatever your first frost date is).

There are the "fringe" plants--those that shrug off each subsequent frost episode with panache. Sure, their panache falters eventually, but that too happens gradually.

Roses are wonderful fringe plants, and if the buds show color toward the middle of October, there is a good chance they'll open. 

The absolute latest bloom comes in the form of Korean chrysanthemum, or Dendranthema zawadskii ' 'Clara Curtis', a perky pale peach daisy that benefits from pinching or outright cutting back until the 4th of July.
Not really a bloom but a berry-like hip, the First Edition Series of Hypericum by Plants Nouveau, is still putting on a show, albeit somewhat limited at this juncture. Hypericum is a plant used by florists to punch up a bouquet, and I love it for the same purpose. I cut it back to the ground in spring and it grows to about 2 and a half feet tall and wide. Its yellow flowers are short-lived but the hips are more interesting and last at least a week.
As slowly as the flowers fade, colors form gradually on the leaves of a surprising number of plants. I was surprised to see the gorgeous golden-coral of Magnolia 'Butterflies'. 
Magnolia 'Butterflies' boasts fall foliage as colorful of its spring flowers.
Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky'
The Amsonia hubrechtii, a native perennial with delicate foliage, has yet to turn completely gold as it does each year, but I love how the flowers of Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky' transition each day to a deeper pink as its leaves change to yellow.

These are just a portion of the plants that color my world in November. Inject some color into your fall garden. Come on, you can grow that!