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.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Importance of Yellow

Vignette of my front border with yellow accents provided by Allium moly and yellow dutch iris
     I have previously written about the boost that orange gives to a garden.  Today I want to focus on a similar effect achieved by the use of yellow.  I have in my front border at this time of the year a lot of flowers in the pink, magenta, purple, and blue shades, but not much in the way of yellows.  So I have been consciously trying to add more yellow because I think it adds a great deal of punch to the composition.  Try to imagine this scene without the yellow and I think you will see my point.
     I particularly like lemon yellow as opposed to a more orange yellow, and two plants which meet this criterion, and are also deer resistant and drought tolerant (which they have to be to exist in this border) are Allium moly and yellow dutch irises.  I would highly recommend Allium moly--most bulb suppliers carry it, it is inexpensive and it provides a nice shot of lemon yellow at a time to coincide with the great flower extravaganza in this border.  I have had more mixed results with the dutch irises.  They are also inexpensive bulbs carried by most bulb suppliers, but I have found that they tend to disappear from the garden over time.  I suppose I could remedy this by getting more each year, but I want the plants in this border to be self sustaining over time.
     Other plants in the photo above are Eremurus 'Roford', Allium 'Globemaster', Papaver orientale 'Bolero', Eryngium bourgatii, Echium vulgare, Papaver somniferum, and Nasella (Stipa) tenuissima.  As you may be able to see from the photo, particularly if you click on it and view it large, the flowers of the Eryngium bourgatii are nothing to write home about.
     One plant which would provide a shot of yellow at this time of the year, and that I do not currently grow is any kind of Euphorbia.  I have, in the past, grown every kind of Euphorbia that is hardy in our climate, and I have gradually gotten rid of them for one reason or another, so that I am now Euphorbialess.  The main reason I don't grow them in this front area anymore is that after the bloom time is over the flowers become incredibly ugly and you have to cut off the flowering stalks to keep the garden looking good.  In a garden the size of mine not only is this an onerous chore, but the white sap the cut stems exude can be downright dangerous.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Papaver orientale 'Manhattan"

Papaver orientale 'Manhattan' blooming now in my garden
     I have been very busy lately and so have not had time to process many of my photos.  My garden, especially the front border,  is coming into its peak right now and so I will be posting photos of that soon.  Since this is the only recent photo I have had time to process, here it is; Papaver orientale 'Manhattan'.  For a more in depth discussion of oriental poppies, see my entry from last year here.
     This poppy is in my front border, where it has grown for at least 7 years.  The deer never eat it and I never water it.  This is probably my favorite Oriental poppy.
     This is a focus stacked image meaning it is a combination of 4 shots with different focus points.  This, as I have explained before,  allows the entire flower to be in focus while keeping the background out of focus.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hummingbird Magnet

Eccremocarpus scaber growing on trunk on dead Trachycarpus
     Last year I wrote about Eccremocarpus scaber here, and in that post I had a picture of this vine just starting to grow up a dead Trachycarpus trunk in my garden.  If you compare the picture from that entry with the one here, you will see how much growth this vine has made since last year.  Of course, it was helped by our very mild winter, since the Eccremocarpus never did die all the way back like it sometimes does.  Anyway, this vine has made a great cover up of the dead trunk and the hummingbirds thank it for that!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bearded Irises

Closeup view of Sunrise Elegy

One of the yellow/orange irises I ordered from Schreiner's Iris Gardens last fall

Sunrise Elegy again

Two more of the Schreiner's irises

Yet another of the Schreiner's irises
     As I said I would in a previous entry, I am posting pictures of some of the bearded irises I got from Schreiner's Iris Gardens last fall. As a photographer, I love these flowers! The first image above is of one called Sunrise Elegy, which was a bonus plant they sent me.  It just goes to show you that ones that might not appeal to you in a catalog turn out to be great.