Friday, October 18, 2013

Pictures From Kauai

Anini Beach Sunset

Waimea Canyon

Sleeping Giant Sunset

Hanalei Pier Sunset

Another Kauai Sunset

Closeup of Kauai Sunset
     Well, I am back from Kauai, but am still having trouble getting back to gardening, so I thought I would give you some of the photos I took on our trip.  As you can see, I like taking shots at sunset--I never did get up early enough to take any sunrise shots this trip.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Off To Kauai!

Taro Fields at dawn near Hanalei on Kauai
     We are off to Kauai tomorrow for two weeks, leaving in the midst of a big rain and wind storm here.  We will be staying at Princeville on the north shore of Kauai so it will probably be raining there, too, but at least it will be a warm rain! The shot I have posted is one I took last time we were there.  The sky actually was that color. The locals said it was because of volcanic particulates in the air.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Big Pot

Big pot on the back terrace

  Today I am showing you a picture of a very large pot which I purchased from Aw Pottery recently because the stager for our house thought there should be a big pot outside one of the bedroom windows.  Although the picture does not adequately convey how big this pot is, let me assure you that it is huge.   And I planted it in a style I usually do not use with pots.  Usually I put just one plant in a pot because my garden is filled with so many plant combinations that I have never felt the need to add to them with elaborately planted pots. 
     Anyway, I got this pot around the first of August, and since I had to fill it quickly, I went to Valley Nursery, a very good nursery in Poulsbo.  Luckily, they had a good selection of summer bedding plants and tropicals which were on sale at 50% off.  So what you see is the result of cramming some of those plants into this pot and letting them grow for less than 2 months now.  I think it did pretty well, if I do say so myself.
     At the top of the heap are three black colocasias, which I love.  The yellow foliage is a salvia, there are some black sweet potato vines and there are some begonias.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chusquea Couleou Seedlings

Chusquea couleou seedlings in my garden now
     I previously wrote about the Chusquea couleou 'Chilean Straight' that was blooming in my garden here.  It was looking dead, so it was cut down, but now in the bed under it, I just noticed what looked like a bunch of broadleafed grass seedlings coming up, and then it dawned on me that these were seedlings from the Chusquea.  How cool is that?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yucca Gloriosa 'Variegata'

Patch of Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' growing in my front border
     This is the third and final chapter in my Yucca series. Yesterday and the day before, I highlighted the best in the genus, in my opinion, Yucca rostrata and Yucca linearifolia.  I have grown a number of of other yuccas from time to time in my garden, but the only other one I now have is this one in the picture (although, as I will discuss below, I have some others that were labeled Yucca aloifolia, I am not at all sure they are not Yucca gloriosa).
     Anyway, the ones in the picture--there are probably 8 or 9 of them planted en mass in this area--came to me as tissue cultured liners from Terra Nova more than 10 years ago when I still ran my little nursery called Froggy Bottom.  For those who are not familiar with  plant nursery jargon, a liner is just a tiny plant which is then potted up to a larger pot and grown until it fills out the larger pot for sale in a retail nursery.  Tissue cultured plants are sold as liners to wholesale nurseries which then grow them on and sell them to retail nurseries, and they are marked up in price at each step of the way.  If you can use 32 plants of a single variety, then buying a liner tray of them is certainly the cheapest way to get them.  But, like with Costco, you have to buy large quantities to get the savings.  And you have to be willing to grow them on to larger sizes before planting them in the ground.
     But enough of that interesting (or not) sidelight--on the the main topic of Yucca gloriosa.  These yuccas are growing in a location in my front border that had terrible, compacted soil, that dried out in the summer, but that was fairly waterlogged in winter.  Yet despite these hardships, these plants have prospered.  Yucca gloriosa, being a native of the South Eastern US is adapted to coping with wet, more so than many other yuccas.
     I planted so many of them in this spot because I had that many of them and at that stage in my gardening career I was into mass plantings of one type of plant.  As it turns out, while the effect looks pretty good, it is a big mistake to plant these yuccas en mass because you will probably put your eye out sometime when you are weeding under them.  The leaves on these are wicked sharp.  Another problem with these yuccas is that the dead leaves have to be cut off periodically or else they start to look really shabby.  Doing this is yet another way to impale yourself.  I should also mention that once you have a plant of this established in your garden, it is virtually impossible to get rid of because it will regrow from any bit of root left in the ground.  Indeed, if you have a plant that has gotten too big or ugly, a good way to rejuvenate it is to cut it down to the ground and wait a few years. 
     In the picture you see the blooms on these which are starting out.  While the flowers are really spectacular, albeit of the dreaded white variety, usually the deer wait until they are poised to open and then they eat them.
     I have some other yuccas in my garden which look just like these but they were sold to me as Yucca aloifolia 'Variegata'.  While I am no yucca expert, I have read here that Yucca aloifolia differs from Yucca gloriosa in that Yucca aloifolia has marginal spines on the leaves and a brown sharp terminal spike, which my plants do not have.  I have also had conversations with Sean Hogan concerning the identity of these plants, and he was not at all sure that they were different species.
     When I was first starting my garden almost 20 years ago, I bought a Yucca at B&B Cactus in Tuscon that was labeled Yucca aloifolia 'Marginata'.  A picture of that plant, taken by my friend Terry Moyemont in my garden may be found here.  I loved that plant and it looked good for many years until one snowy day when my husband backed his car into it and caused vehicular horticide.  That was the end of that plant, although it may live on at Cistus, since Sean took some portions of its roots to propagate from.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yucca Linearifolia 'Dusky Blue'

Young Yucca linearifolia 'Dusky Blue' surrounded by colchicums in my front border
     I have previously mentioned, here and here, that I grow Yucca linearifolia in several places in my garden.  This is a very choice yucca, apparently related to Yucca rostrata, except that the leaves are narrower and more succulent.  This yucca was first discovered in the 1980's by the Peckerwood and Yucca Do guys on one of their many forays into Mexico, and according to the Yucca Do catalog, it is prospering at Peckerwood Garden and has reached a height of 5 ft. there.  For those who don't know, Peckerwood is a famous Texas garden, now under the Garden Conservancy umbrella, I believe.  I have never been there, but have seen many pictures of it, and it is one of the gardens at the top of my list to see.
     Anyway, Sean Hogan, being the Yucca King, had some good looking, albeit small plants of this yucca for sale a few years ago when I stopped at Cistus as I was passing through Portland one day, and so, of course, I bought 5 of them.  These were labeled Yucca linearifolia 'Dusky Blue', which must mean that they are a selection which has bluer foliage than the usual, although that is just a guess.
      I gave one to my sister who lives in Salem, and planted the rest in my garden. One went into the front border and the rest I planted near the lionness sculpture.  That was about 3 years ago, and so the plant you see in the picture is the growth after that time, and you can see that it is advancing at a good rate.  I would guess that they should start showing some trunk in a year or two.  I should add that the one in my sister's garden is significantly bigger than mine, which just illustrates the greater heat available to plants in the Willamette Valley as compared to here.  Most plants in her garden seem to grow at a slightly faster rate than in mine (and she is not secretly fertilizing them).  Indeed, just about the only plants that might do better here are the more cool loving New Zealanders, such as Aciphyllas and Myosotidiums, and  of course, Meconopsis.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yucca Rostrata

Yucca rostrata in my front border with Melianthus major behind it

     I love the spiky plants which one sees everywhere in Palm Springs and Arizona and, happily, I can report to you that many of them will do quite well in our much wetter climate.  Probably my favorite of these, and one which does very well here, is Yucca rostrata, seen in the top picture above.  I have grown quite a few of these over the years.  When I first became aware of these--probably from Sean Hogan-- they weren't very available here in the Pacific Northwest, and the only way I found to get large ones was to order them as trunked plants which were bare root.  In actuality, when I received an order of these bare root plants from some (probably shady) grower in Texas, they had no roots, just bare trunk.  So I put them in soil and waited, and after about a year or two they did indeed regrow their roots.  At least some of them did.  Others eventually died, but some lived and I grew one in a pot on one of my back terraces for more than 15 years.  It never suffered from cold damage in all that time and I never did anything to protect it from the cold. I recently gave it to a friend since I didn't want to move it myself (it was very large) and I was trying to simplify the garden in anticipation of its sale.
     The Yucca rostrata you see in the picture is one I got from Dig Nursery on Vashon.  Dig is one of my favorite nurseries and I have gotten an amazing number of great plants from them over the years. Anyway, the Yucca rostrata I got from them was a relatively small one--it was in a 5 gal. pot and it had no trunk.  I had been under the misapprehension that it would take years and years for it to form a trunk, but, in fact, within 3 years you could see the trunk forming and the plant in the picture with its nice trunk is probably 10 or 12 years later.  So the moral of this story is, you don't need to spend a fortune on large yucca rostratas--they will grow at a gratifying rate so you could, if you wanted, start with smaller plants.  If, on the other hand, you want instant gratification, a number of nurseries in the Pacific Northwest now carry trunked specimens from time to time.  Probably the best nursery I know of for this is Cistus on Sauvie Island.
     A number of years ago Sean Hogan, aka the Yucca King, grew some yucca rostatas from seed, and one of his selections from that seed batch is now widely grown as Yucca Rostrata 'Sapphire Skies'.  This plant was tissue cultured by Terra Nova for a while and they had some nice specimens in their display garden.  It apparently is no longer offered by them, but it is available for purchase from a number of other nurseries which a google search will reveal.  In my new garden I intend to search out Sapphire Skies, and that is the Yucca Rostata form I intend to grow. I will want to plant at least three of these in my new garden.  If I can't find large trunked specimens at a reasonable price I will happily settle for 5 gal. plants. 
     In the picture above, you see part of a Yucca linearifolia in the lower left hand corner, another favorite yucca of mine.  You can also see an Echium amoenum behind the yucca rostrata. I wrote about that plant here.  There is also the green of a Stipa barbata which I recently cut back near the trunk of the yucca.  I will have a future post on this grass. Finally, you can see some of the colchicums which I wrote about in my last post.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Colchicum Season

Colchicums with Nolina nelsoniis in my front border

Closeup of colchicum patch
     As I wrote last year here, I have been spreading colchicums around my garden at Froggy Bottom and this year the display has been magnificent. I mentioned in that previous post that one good place to put colchicums is under and around spiky plants such as Nolinas, Dasylirions, and Yuccas.  In the picture above you can see how good they look with the bluish pink of the flower contrasting with the bluish green of the Nolina foliage.  If I were still going to be gardening at Froggy Bottom, I would continue the spreading of these colchicums around these plants so that the entire front border would be a sea of colchicum flowers in late August and early September.  Wouldn't that be a spectacle!
     I have also found that another good companion plant for colchicums is the California Poppy, particularly the orange ones. In another bed where I have both plants growing, the Colchicums appear interlaced with the frothy texture of the Californai poppy while the orange of the bloom makes a nice color combo with the electric pink of the colchicums.  I should mention that these were poppies which had their main bloom period earlier in the spring and which I cut back more than a month ago.  Now they are having a second flush of bloom.  I love that bright orange/electric pink color combo even though I have read books which claim that such a combo is a no-no for "tasteful" gardeners.  Those kind of gardeners are the ones who adore white gardens, so I don't give much credence to their views.
     I should also mention that these colchicums are growing in a part of my garden that (1) is frequented by deer, and (2) is never watered, yet you can see that they do not suffer from either condition.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Amaryllis Belladonna

Closeup of Amaryllis belladonna flower in my garden now

These Amaryllis belladonna flowers are from 3 bulbs which I planted about 10 years ago
     About 10 years ago we visited Mendocino, California in August and it seemed like everywhere we looked there were Amaryllis belladonnas just like the ones in the picture in bloom.  So at the Mendocino Botanical Garden I bought 3 huge bulbs and when I got home, planted them in a fairly dry and inauspicious spot in my front border.  They didn't do very much for several years, but after that I got more and more blooms until the flowering display you see in the pictures was achieved.  Until we cut the Eucalyptus trees in the front border, these bulbs were growing in their shade and so, freed from that gloom, this year they have put on their most magnificent display ever.
     For those who are not familiar with this bulb, it is not the Amaryllis which are grown as seasonal bulbs inside at Christmas. Rather, this is a bulb which is hardy in our climate. It hails from South Africa (where else?) and is sometimes referred to as 'Naked Lady' because it blooms when the foliage is dormant. Just like colchicums, the foliage comes up in spring and goes dormant in mid summer.  Using the term 'Naked Lady' often leads to confusion because both Nerines and Lycoris are sometimes referred to as 'Naked Ladies' also.
    The most commonly found color for this bulb is the one pictured above, but it also comes in colors ranging from white to almost red. I recently found bulbs of those other colors offered by Bill the Bulb Baron and so I ordered some of his reds which he describes as a dark hot pink with some shade of purple which sounds like it is exactly the kind of color I love. I just received these bulbs yesterday--I ordered them last Thursday or Friday, so I think he immediately shipped them upon receipt of my order.  The bulbs arrived in very good condition and I must say they are impressively large. So I would highly recommend ordering from him if you want something other than the run of the mill Amaryllis belladonna.
     On his website, Bill the Bulb Baron (I love saying that) says that these bulbs, which certainly can take summer drought, as they do in my front border, will also do well in areas that get more summer moisture, including in a border or beside a watered lawn.  He also says that their main requirement is not full shade or close to it. Otherwise, anything goes. I wouldn't plant them in a swamp, though. 
     These flowers look very similar to those of Amarcinums, which I have also grown.  These are a cross between Crinums and Amaryllis belladonna, and while their flower is similar to that of the Amaryllis, their foliage is more like that of a Crinum, in that it is pretty much evergreen.  I like the straight Amaryllis belladona better, because, at least in our climate, the foliage of the Amarcrinum can be tatty looking.  The flowers of the Amaryllis belladona look cleaner to my eye because they are coming straight up from the ground with no foliage.
     This also brings up the subject of Crinums.  I have tried growing many of these, but never warmed up to them.  I love them when I see them in Hawaii but in our climate you never get the abundance of blooms that you get with Amaryllis belladonna, and you get this large mound of unkempt looking foliage.  So, I do not grow Crinums and intend to give them a miss in the future.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hedychium 'Tara'

Large stand of Hedychium 'Tara' blooming in my garden now
     I have grown lots of hardy gingers in my garden over the years and. by far and away, the best has been Hedychium 'Tara'.  According to the San Marcos website,  this plant was grown from seed collected in Nepal by Tony Schilling of Kew Gardens, and named for his daughter. That website indicates that it was thought to be a form of Hedychium coccineum originally, but has recently been classified as H. gardnerianum. It is also sometimes listed as H. densiflorum.  This can get very confusing, so I just call it Tara and forget about the specific species name. This plant has received an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS, meaning it is a good garden plant for the UK, and that, of course, means it is a good garden plant for us in the maritime Pacific Northwest.
     Over the years I have seen many Hedychiums sold in nurseries here in the Pacific Northwest, many of which have originated in California.  Almost all those hedychiums are destined never to bloom in our cool summer climate. Indeed, I once calculated that if a ginger listed in the Plant Delights catalog (it has an extensive hedychium list) bloomed after June in North Carolina that it simply would not bloom here. While I have had a couple of other gingers bloom a few times, almost none, except Tara, and a smaller one called Stephen, reliably bloom here.
     I got my Tara plant originally from Glenn Withey and Charles Price who visited my garden a long time ago and gave me a large pot of it.  Over the years I have divided it and planted it in many parts of the garden.  The picture you see is the result of placing four or five divisions in this spot and then letting them grow for a number of years.  This is a sunny, rather sandy location, but I have found that Tara is remarkably tolerant of different soil and light conditions.  However, if you want it to do really well, I would plant it in a sunny location and give it lots of water and fertilizer.  That said, I never fertilize my Taras and they seem to do OK.  Also, I have some that grow in relatively dry conditions and they seem to do well there, too.
     I should mention that Tara is such a good, easy plant to grow, and it makes this great dazzling show of color at a time when the garden needs some punch, so it has made the cut and will be going with me to my new garden.  It is available from a number of online sources which are revealed by a google search of Hedychium Tara.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Agave geminiflora

Agave geminiflora
     In my last post which featured Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii" I noted that one of the plants in a pot in front of the banana was Agave geminiflora.  So today I am posting another picture of that agave, taken last year amongst some of my other potted pets.  Most people would not recognize this plant as an agave, since the leaves are rather grass like and not stiff.  I have grown other agaves, such as Agave striata, which also has narrow, grass like leaves, but on that agave they are held much more stiffly and are much more wicked.  I like this one the best of all the agaves I have grown because its bright green color and rubbery pliant leaves make it a star once its gets to a decent size.  I have found that it is quite tolerant of being kept in a pot smaller than the diameter of the rosette, and, in fact, it looks best this way because then the leaves sort of spill over the edges of the pot. 
     I got this plant when it was relatively small from Cistus Nursery.  I think I have had it for about 10 years, although I could be off by a year or two.  I have potted it up to larger pots several times in its life, and I think it will probably require a larger pot in a year or two.  As I have mentioned before, I now pot all my wicked plants in clay pots that I can break with a hammer when I repot.  Otherwise, they are too difficult to remove from the pot.  Nice fancy pots are all well and good until it comes time to repot the plants that are in them, particularly when those plants are agaves or puyas!
     I used to have a huge collection of 'Pets' that I kept in pots, but with our move and the general decluttering of the house and garden that goes along with putting a house on the market, I have gotten rid of most of them.  This agave, however, has made the cut and will be coming to our new house. I should mention that there is really no place to store non-hardy plants over the winter at the new place, but I will think of some way to protect this agave!  Some other plants that have made the cut are my Cussonia and Boophanes.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Red Banana Love!

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' growing in a pot on the terrace
     I wanted to show you this image I recently took of one of the Ensete ventricosum 'Maureliis' I have growing in pots on the terraces at Froggy Bottom.  This is a plant that I got earlier this year from Home Depot for the large sum of ten dollars.  It has grown quite a bit as you can see.  Fertilizer, water, and warm weather will have this effect!  I love how the light glows through the leaves.  As I have said many times, why grow fuschia baskets when you can grow these bananas?
     In the pots in front of the banana is an Ochagavia, which is a hardy bromeliad I got from Sean Hogan, and an Agave geminiflora which I have grown from a small plant to the size you see there.  This is a most unagave -like agave which is one of my favorites.  It is probably not hardy for us, so I have taken it inside every winter I have had it. Behind the banana is Aralia elata 'Aureomarginata', one of my favorite small trees.  I am going to have to find a source for this, because I intend to plant one at my new garden.
     For those of you who might be interested in seeing Froggy Bottom before it is sold, the real estate agent is having an open house on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.  Info can be found here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More Garden Views

Front Gate

West Terrace Looking Toward Lionness

West Terrace Patio With Pond

West Terrace Patio Looking North

Long View of West Terrace Looking From Lionness

South Terrace Looking Towards Blue Wall

Garden View of Lawn Sweeping to Pink Chairs

West Terrace
     As I have alluded to in previous blog entries, I have been very busy this summer and now I will tell you what has been keeping me so busy--we are putting our house on the market.  Indeed, it was listed last week and if you are curious about what the inside of the house looks like, you can see pictures of it here.  So today I have posted pictures of the garden that I took a couple of days ago.
     I have to tell you that it was a monumental task getting the house ready for sale, all the while keeping the garden looking in top notch shape.  But now that task is done, and we can just sit back and wait for the offers to roll in!
     You may want to know why we are selling. Well, we are both (my husband and I) reaching retirement age and we decided that we wanted to downsize.  So we are moving to Port Ludlow, Washington, which is a small, master planned community just over the Hood Canal Bridge on the Olympic Peninsula. It is pretty much out in the woods and seems much more rural than Bainbridge Island. You can read more about it here. Port Ludlow is full of walking trails and on my many walks with my dog I have seen the following wildlife: deer, coyotes, bobcat, bear, racoons, rabbits, and eagles.
     We have bought a smaller house in Port Ludlow that is new construction on a half acre lot. The lot has some awful landscaping on it which I propose to eventually replace with better things.  First, though, I will have to improve the soil which is very sandy and not very nutrient rich. In Port Ludlow there are restrictions on what you can do in the way of landscaping on your lot, but I think I can work with those restrictions.  Chief among them is a prohibition on fencing.
     The climate in Port Ludlow is very similar to that on Bainbridge. It is, after all, only an hour's drive from Bainbridge. It is probably a little bit cooler than Bainbridge and a little bit dryer, since it is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains.  Supposedly, it only gets 20 some inches of rain a year. In future posts, I will show pictures of the new place, and will have tales of creating a new garden.  Meanwhile, I will still blog about what is going on in the garden at Froggy Bottom until the place is sold.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Front Border in High Summer

This is a scene from my front border after the eremurus, poppies and alliums have gone by
     One of the big problems with a garden is how to sustain interest year round.  As I have explained before, my front border reaches its peak in June, and so the problem becomes, how to keep it looking good the rest of the summer?  This is particularly a problem in a no water border like this, because typically plants deal with lack of water by going dormant.  So the plants in the picture are ones that I have found are good to provide interest later in the summer.
     One of the chief among this group is this late blooming kniphofia.  This is a very large plant I got from Plant Delights many years ago.  If I remember correctly, it was billed as coming originally from Beth Chatto and was considered to be one of the largest kniphofias around.  Unfortunately, I don't remember its name.  I used to grow a lot of kniphofias, but currently this is the only one I have.  I have made a note to myself, however to add more of them for the purpose of providing this kind of late season color.  When planting kniphofias it is important to pay attention to bloom time because their bloom time can vary widely, depending on which one you plant.
     One reason I do not have that many kniphofias any more is that they have rather sloppy foliage.  In the situation pictured above, however, that does not matter so much because the plant is in the middle of a large bed, surrounded by other foliage, so you do not notice its foliage.
     Other plants that are good in a late summer drought tolerant bed like this are Lobelia tupa and various thistle like plants, such as the scotch thistle in the picture (which I am almost afraid to mention for fear the invasive plant mafia will get after me),  cardoons, and globe thistles (the blue globes in the photo are Echinops ritro ssp. ruthenicus). Some of the eryngiums are still going on now, too, although Eryngium alpinum is done blooming.  I have noticed that Eryngium 'Big Blue' has a very long bloom time, and for a border is actually better than Eryngium alpinum,  although its individual flowers are not as good.  It just has such a long bloom time and such a multitude of electric blue flowers on a good looking plant that you can't beat it. If you look closely you can see some of it in the lower left hand quadrant of the picture.
     Another essential plant for late summer interest is Melianthus major which you can see mounded up behind the Kniphofia.  This plant will keep going strongly well into winter in our climate.  It is the foliage which is the thing with it, and it is glorious at this time of the year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beetle on Cactus

This beetle was sitting on one of my cactus plants the other day
     I thought I would show you a picture of this cool beetle that was sitting on one of my cactus plants the other day.  After googling images of beetles found in the Pacific Northwest, I have tentatively concluded that this is a ten lined June beetle.  According to a Washington State website, this beetle is commonly found in sandy soils west of the Rockies. Adults feed on the leaves of broadleaf trees and some conifers.  The adult can be between 3/4 to 1 and 1/2 inches long.  This particular one was about an inch long.  For those who might want to know, this beetle did not do any damage to the cactus, and it moved on within the day.  This is a good picture to view large if you are not creeped out by insects.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Way To Avoid Staking Delphiniums

Delphinium 'Blue Lace' still upright and unstaked amid Orienpet lilies

Close up of 'Blue Lace'
     I grow a lot of delphiniums in my garden, and I have posted about them previously here and here.  This year I neglected to stake them, and they were all right until we had some rainy and windy weather and then they all splayed every which way onto the ground.  Once they have done that there is nothing you can do but cut them.  There was one bright spot in all this disaster, however.  I have three plants of 'Blue Lace', one of the Dowdeswell delphiniums, planted in a bed surrounded by a number of the well established Orienpet lily 'Satisfaction'.  I wrote about that lily here.  These orienpet lilies, once they are mature, make very thick, sturdy, upright stems.  They are so sturdy, in fact, that if you plant them around a clump of delphiniums they will support them!  How exciting is that?
     I have grown several other orienpets and they all have such sturdy stems that they would serve as delphinium supports equally well.  Other types of lilies that I have grown would not be such good supports.  To adequately support one clump of delphiniums I would estimate that you would need at least 6 lilies to provide adequate support.  That should be no problem as these orienpets can be had relatively inexpensively.  For example, see Brent and Becky's Bulbs where you can get 25 of these for a little over 60 dollars.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tetrapanax Eye Candy

Underside of Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant' leaves
     Although I have previously written about tetrapanax here, I wanted you to get your tetrapanax fix with this HDR image I made of the underside of some tetrapanax leaves growing in my garden.  Because of our mild winter, the tetrapanaxes are very large and impressive this year.  This is a combination of three exposures, necessitated because I was shooting into the sun, making the sky blown out while the underside of the leaves was too dark.  For those who don't know photography jargon, if the sky is blown out that means important details are lost.  In Photoshop, as long as neither the darks or the lights are blown you can recover all detail even though the photograph may not look like much straight out of the camera. I would recommend that you click on the image to view it full screen.  If you do, you may see a little spider on the tetrapanax leaf.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Agastache 'Rasberry Summer'

Agastache 'Raspberry Summer' in my front border with Eremurus 'Lemon Chiffon' behind
     I have grown many agastaches over the years, none of which have been very long lived plants in my garden, but I have always thought I should try more of them because they are drought tolerant, deer resistant, and attractive to hummingbirds and bees.  So last year when I was browsing in one of our local nurseries I saw this relatively new Terra Nova introduction called 'Raspberry Summer' and the color of the flowers said to me "Buy me, buy me" and so I did.  As it turns out, that was a great decision! 
     I planted three of these in my front border and then just basically abandoned them for the rest of the summer.  Two of them made it through the winter and they are now showing their true worth.  I love this color of flower, and if the Terra Nova blurb that accompanied them is to be believed, they will bloom all summer and into the fall. According to that blurb, the foliage is an attractive bright green and aromatic.  The plant is supposed to be easy to grow given full sun and well drained soil.
     This agastache, which I love, by the way, is a product of Terra Nova's breeding program for agastaches.  As indicated in Terra Nova's website, the goals of that breeding are to produce plants that, among other things, have longer lasting flowers, better habit, and better color palette.  This plant certainly succeeds on the color palette criterion.  Hopefully it will also succeed on the others as well.  I haven't grown it long enough to know.
     For those who don't know, Terra Nova is a large wholesale nursery in Canby, Oregon, which specializes in tissue culturing and breeding new cultivars of various plants.  Some of their specialties have been heucheras, pulmonarias, and echinaceas. They are also the nursery which has been producing mass quantities of the 'Winter Jewel' hellebores from the O'Byrnes in Eugene, Oregon.  As I have mentioned before, I think these hellebores are the best on the market.
     A few years ago Will Giles of the Exotic Garden fame from the UK was visiting, and I chauffeured him on a trip to various Oregon nurseries.  He particularly wanted to see Terra Nova, so we got a guided tour of the nursery by Dan Heims.  I must say, the scope of it was quite impressive, and it was interesting to see the tissue culture operation.  You can see pictures of this, as well as an explanation, on the Terra Nova website here.
     The eremurus in the background of the photo above is 'Lemon Chiffon', one that I got from McClure and Zimmerman a few years ago (if I remember correctly).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Salvia Argentea

Salvia argentea foliage last summer

Salvia argentea in bloom now with Salvia sclarea 'Piemont' in front and Papaver 'Lauren's Grape'
     While I am on the subject of the new plantings in the bed by my front door, I want to show you Salvia argentea.  Although I have tried to grow this plant in the past, I never had much luck with it.  This time, however, I was successful.  This salvia is a biennial, like Salvia sclarea 'Piemont' which I described a few days ago.  The problem I have had with it is that it is liable to rot over the winter time in our rainy cold winters.  So this time I planted it on the sloping side of this new bed.  As I mentioned previously,  I added 10 yards of sandy loam to the bed which raised it somewhat and created the slope that I planted the salvias on.  Also, the fact that the loam was sandy increased the drainage capabilities of the bed.
      I planted three of these salvias, which I got from Bainbridge Gardens, one of our local retail nurseries.  I have noticed Salvia argentea is widely available this year in local nurseries. Two of the three plants were on the most sloping part of the bed, while the third was on a less sloped area.  Interestingly, the plants on the greatest slope did the best over the winter, even though all of them survived.  The moral of this story is that if you want these plants to live over the winter in this climate, remember drainage, drainage, drainage!
     I have read that many people grow these plants as annuals because the foliage is so great that it doesn't matter if they ever bloom.  Indeed, I have seen it recommended that you cut off the flower spikes as they come up to maintain the foliage and to prevent them from blooming.   This, it is said, will keep them living longer.  I have never tried this so don't know if it works.
     Of all the furry grey leaved plants I have grown over the years, I must say that Salvia argentea has the most furry tactile leaves of all.  Just remember, if you want to grow it, give it good drainage, full sun, and do not let it get overshadowed by other plants.

Monday, June 24, 2013

More Eryngium Eye Candy

Eryngium alpinum with Salvia nemerosa
     For my last two posts I have been talking about the newly planted bed by my front door.  I say newly planted because all the plants there now were put in last summer.  Anyway, in addition to the Echium wildpretii shown in my last post, and the Salvia sclarea 'Piemont' in the one before that, I also planted some Eryngium alpinums I got from Dancing Oaks Nursery.  These were very good looking well grown plants, and the picture you see above is one of them blooming now.  These flowers look very much the same as the flowers of Eryngium 'Blue Jackpot' which I wrote about here and here.  They look slightly different from my oldest Eryngium alpinum which I got from Heronswood many years ago.  That plant is pictured here.  I have read that there is some variation in Eryngium alpinum flowers grown from seed, and indeed, there are several strains of Eryngium alpinum on the market.  The bottom line, though, is that these plants from Dancing Oaks are great and I would highly recommend them.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Echium Wildpretii

Echium wildpretii with Salvia sclarea 'Piemont', Salvia argentea, and Papaver 'Lauren's Grape'
     Another plant I got from Annie's Annuals last year for the newly planted bed near our front door was Echium wildpretii.  I have grown this echium many times over the years, and I have rarely gotten it to bloom.  Usually it dies over the winter.  This plant, for those new to it, is a biennial which is only supposed to be hardy to zone 9, but it is so striking, both in and out of flower, that I often plant it in hopes of it making it through the winter.  This last winter was very mild here--essentially a zone 9 winter-- so these echiums pictured above made it through.  However, they were not unscathed.  The main central growing point on each plant rotted, leaving side shoots to take over this spring.  That meant that the striking tower that makes these plants so great did not occur.  Instead, these flowers ensued, more like those of Echium russicum.  They are not bad looking, just not as spectacular as they would have been had the center not rotted.  Anyway, hopefully they will produce lots of seedlings.
     Other plants in the picture above are Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape' which is a self sown seedling (I have mass quantities of self sown poppies all over my garden); Salvia Sclarea 'Piemont' which I wrote about yesterday; and the white flower is Salvia argentea which I will have a post about in the future.  Although I don't usually go in for white flowers, I think the white actually looks good in this situation.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Salvia Sclarea 'Piemont'

Salvia sclarea 'Piemont' blooming now in my garden with Verbascum bombyciferum and Echium wildpretii

Closeup of Salvia sclarea 'Piemont' flower
     I have an area in front of my house that is by the front door.  This is a different area from my front border that I have been writing about recently.  However, since it is in front of my house, it is subject to being eaten by deer, so everything I plant here must be deer resistant.  For many years there were three birch trees in this spot, but we took them out a few years ago because they were too close to the house and because they were subject to infestations of tent caterpillars.  After we took the trees out, I had the border completely emptied of its other plants, and 10 yards of sandy loam added to make a nice raised bed that gets sun all morning.
     I finally got around to planting this bed last year, and one of the plants I chose for this spot was Salvia sclarea 'Piemont' which I got from Annies Annuals.  I planted three of these last summer.  Only one of them made it through the winter, and the pictures above show what it looks like.  This is supposed to be a biennial which sets copious amounts of seed, so I am hoping for lots of little baby salvias.  Anyway, I think this plant will make a nice addition to my repertoire of deer resistant, drought tolerant plants.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More Front Border Glory

Front Border from the back with Agastache Rasberry Summer at the bottom

Front border with Yucca rostrata and Stipa barbata

Front border with various dasylirions and Echium vulgare
     As I promised yesterday, I am posting more pictures of my front border which is in its prime right now.  One thing I like about this border is that it seems to arise from almost nothing earlier in the year to attain this crescendo of glory right now.  Some people, me included, like gardens that contain interest the whole year around.  While I still aspire to that goal,  and my garden has enough evergreen structure to accomplish that, I no longer think it is important that every part of the garden contain interest at every part of the year.  The arising of the garden from the ground up each year and the way different plants take over in different seasons is what I find interesting at this stage in my gardening career.  Certainly if this front border were planted in evergreen shrubs it could look good all year round, but you would miss this spectacular show.
     This is not to say this border is empty in the winter time.  It relies on the various spiky plants--the dasylirions, yuccas and nolinas-- as well as the restios for winter interest.  Now that the Eucalyptus which used to live in this border are gone (see this post), I probably need to add more of these evergreen kinds of plants.  It is just that I do not feel the need to have every space of ground covered at all times of the year.
     I should also stress, as I have many times, that this border is never watered and it is not protected from the deer.  Bainbridge Island is deer central and the south part of the island where we live is even more so.  Yet it is still possible to have a beautiful garden consisting only of deer resistant plants.  I often find deer droppings in the middle of this border, yet thus far this year I have seen no evidence of their grazing on any of these plants.
     Although I call this a border, it really is a bed which can be viewed from all sides.  It doesn't really border anything except grass.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Front Border In Its Glory

Panorama Shot of my front border
     I am posting a panorama shot of my front border as it looked yesterday.  This is a two shot pano which means I merged two shots in Photoshop to make this one wide image. This is most, but not all, of the front border as seen from the road.  The foreshortening created by the lens makes the house appear closer to the bed than it actually is.  I will be posting more pictures of this bed in the next few days, since it is at its prime right now.  I would recommend that you click on the picture to see it full frame.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Salpiglossis 'Kew Blue"

Salpiglossis 'Kew Blue" Blooming now in my garden
     Last year I had a post about the square planting bed on my south terrace which I was planting with annuals.  The goal was to have a mixture of various annuals, mostly from Annie's Annuals and planted in the style shown on their website.  One plant which I planted there last summer was Salpiglossis, which is an annual native to Chile which has very striking flowers. I liked that whole bed so much last summer that I am planting that bed again with annuals this summer.  There have been some self sown seedlings left from last summer, but I have supplemented these with new purchases this year.  One of these new purchases was the flower pictured above--Salpiglossis Kew Beauty which is a supposedly blue flowered Salpiglossis, but which looks more dark purple to my eye.   Anyway, this annual has very striking flowers as you can see.  Last summer my Salpiglossises (?) flowered most of the summer.  I will be having more posts about this style of planting soon, but suffice it to say it is my latest obsession!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tropaeolum Polyphyllum Update

Tropaeolum polyphyllum with pink California poppies

Closeup of Tropaeolum polyphyllum

Wide view of bed near lionness sculpture
     For some reason I am obsessed with Tropaeolum polyphyllum.  I just love it and it is in its full glory now.  I have previously written about this plant here and here.  In that second entry I described a planting scheme I was working on for the bed the Tropaeolum lives in, which is a small sort of circular bed by the lionness sculpture.  That scheme involved Scilla peruviana and pink California poppies.  As I explained a couple of days ago, the scilla's peak bloom was a little bit earlier than the tropaeolum's this year, but the pink California poppies are blooming now to coincide with the tropaeolum.  Hallelujah!
     In the background of the wide shot above you can see my one remaining Chamaerops humilus var. cerifera that I have in the garden.  I used to have a number of these, but they all died in one winter or another.  This particular one is doing well just now and looking good because we have had two mild winters in a row.  The main growing crown was killed one cold winter a few years ago, but Chamaerops send up new growth around the main crown, and those have since taken over.  It takes several years for these palms to start looking good after they have been damaged like this one was.
     Also in this bed are some self sown alstroemerias which will probably completely take over this bed some day if I am not careful!
     Finally, if you click on the wide shot and view it large, you will see rising above the palm what looks like the flowers of a dandelion.  Although I do have dandelions in my garden, this is not one of them.  Rather, those are the flowers of a self sown Ranunculus baurii whcih I previously wrote about here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nomacharis pardanthina

Nomacharis pardanthina blooming in my garden now
     One of the choicest bulbs in my garden is blooming now--Nomacharis pardanthina.  I have previously written about Nomacharis here, but the only pictures I had for that entry were of Nomacharis aperta.  I got both species of Nomacharis from Far Reaches Farm but unfortunately, they are out of stock of both right now.  Their website indicates that N. pardanthina will be available in the fall.  Paul Christian, a UK rare bulb dealer which ships to the U.S.,  currently lists Nomacharis finlayorum for sale. I just might have to order it!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Scilla Peruviana with Lionness

Lionness sculpture with Scilla peruviana in bloom in front
     Last year I wrote about a planting scheme I had in mind for the bed by the lionness sculpture in my garden here.  I had moved some Scilla peruvianas there from my front border because the deer had been eating them, and I also have some pink California poppies and Tropaeolum polyphyllum in this bed, among other things.  So today I wanted to show you the bloom of the scillas after having established themselves after the move.  I will be posting some more pictures of this bed with views of the tropaeolum soon.  Unfortunately, as planting schemes which are predicated on different plants blooming together are wont to do, things don't always work out perfectly, and the prime bloom of the scillas was a little bit earlier than the prime bloom of the tropaeolum.  Such is the life of a garden planner!
     The bamboo in the background of the picture is Fargesia robusta which I wrote about here.  In the top left of the picture you can see the foliage of Nothopanax (or Metapanax) delavayi which is discussed here.  The bright green foliage in the center left is the unnamed alsroemeria I previously wrote about here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Verbascum Bombyciferum

Self sown Verbascum bombyciferum in my front border
     In my last post I commented on the importance of yellow to give a garden composition some punch.  Verbascum bombyciferum is certainly a plant which can add drama to a garden, not only because its flowers are in the all important lemon shade of yellow, but because its foliage is such a lovely furry gray and its form is so striking.  Indeed, even if it never bloomed it would be a good addition to the garden because of the pettable gray rosette it presents.
     A few years ago I planted 3 plants of this verbascum in about the spot you see above in the picture.  They have since self sowed prolifically, and some of their offspring, from several generations, are what you see.  In the first couple of years the seedlings pretty much stayed in the same location that the mother plants were, but this year I have noticed that they are getting around the border in a gratifying manner.  I would like for them to be scattered more evenly throughout the border.
     For those who are unfamiliar with this plant, it is a biennial, meaning that the rosette forms the first year of its life, blooms the second year, and then dies, leaving its progeny to live on.  Like all verbascums, this one is deer resistant and drought tolerant.  Indeed, it will not do well in a very moist situation.  Also, like most gray leaved plants, it requires full sun.
     Other plants you can see in the picture above are Stipa gigantea (in the background), Lychnis coronaria (a weed!), and Callistemon 'Woodlander's Red'.  I will have a future post on Callistemon, of which I have grown many with mixed succes.