Saturday, May 31, 2014

Front Border Panorama

Panorama of front border at Froggy Bottom showing various yuccas, dasylirions, and Nolina nelsoniis
     It's difficult to get wide shots of my front border because inevitably there is an ugly car or house or chip pile in view, primarily because this border is sandwiched between the road, a circular driveway, and an empty lot that is home to various chip and compost piles. But by judicious cropping and combining 3 images into this pano, I have managed to give a view of most of the border in one shot (at least from one vantage point).  In this image, the yucca looking plants with thick trunks are Nolina nelsoniis.  The yucca with thinner trunk is Yucca rostrata, and the yucca looking creature to the left is Dasylirion wheeleri.
      I have previously posted about Nolina nelsonii here.  This is a plant that I intend to get for my new garden, but have not managed to find any that are large enough yet.  I don't want to start with a tiny one, because it takes so long for them to reach the size shown in the picture (about 20 years).  I had 2 of these bloom a couple of years ago, and although they are not supposed to, they died after blooming.  Bummer!  I think there might have been something going on with them that caused them to bloom and die.  The other ones at Froggy Bottom are doing just fine and, thus far, have not bloomed.
     To see a larger version of this shot, click on the picture.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More Front Border

Dasylirion wheeleri in a sea of California poppies, with Echium amoenum, and Yucca rostrata

Allium globemaster with California poppies, Verbascum bombyciferum and Nolina 'La Sibirica'

More Allim Globemasters with Papaver orientale 'Bolero' amd Nasella  tenuissima
     Today I am posting more pictures of my front border at Froggy Bottom.  This area is coming into its peak season, and it is looking pretty good, if I do say so myself.  As I have explained many times before, I never water this border, and it is completely deer resistant.  This border has evolved over the years to what it is now--when I first started planting here, I planted more traditional border plants.  But, after many of them were devoured by the deer, and after I saw pictures of Beth Chatto's gravel garden, I decided to do a completely drought tolerant deer resistant border here. What you see is the result of many years of experimentation--it did not just happen overnight.
     The principles on which this border are based boil down to using a few evergreen structural plants, a few grasses, a few perennials and bulbs, and then self seeding biennials or annuals fill in for the rest.  Because so many of the plants in this border self sow, it changes a lot from year to year.  That makes it interesting and different each year.
     The evergreen plants which provide structure include the following: Nolina nelsonii, Nolina 'La Sibirica', Dasylirion texanum, Dasylirion wheeleri, Yucca rostrata, Yucca linearifolia, Rhodocoma capensis, and Rhodocoma gigantea.  I have had previous blog posts on almost all of these.
     The bulbs I use in this border include a lot of alliums, eremurus,  bulbous irises, calochortus (I would like to have more of these), eucomis, and colchicums.  I would also like to have more daffodils in the border, and if I were to continue living at Froggy Bottom, I would add a lot of them to provide early spring color.
     The perennials include many thistle-like plants, since the deer don't eat these.  They include Eryngium Big Blue, Eryngium alpinum, Eryngium bourgatii, Eryngium Sapphire Blue, and Eryngium maritimum, Echinops ritro and ruthenicus, and cardoons,  I also include some perennial poppies, including P. orientale cultivers, and P. spicatum. The deer don't seem to like poppies of any sort.  I also have a number of Echiums, including E. amoenum,  and E. russicum, as well as some biennial ones which I shall discuss presently.  I also have started to use more bearded irises and salvias (mainly Salvia transylvanica and nemerosa) in this border.  I also have a couple of different Zauschnerias, which have spread quite a bit over the years.  Finally, I include one Agastache.  If I were to live there longer, I would probably add more salvias and agastaches.  Other perennials include Lobelia tupa and Melianthus major.
     The grasses in the border are limited to three: Nasella tenuissima, Stipa gigantea, and Stipa barbata.  I explained in a previous post why I don't use any others, even though I have grown many others in the past.
     The self sowing annuals and biennials include millions of Papaver somniferum, Papaver californicum, Verbascum bombyciferum, scotch thistle (don't tell the plant police),  Echium vulgare (again, don't tell the plant police),  Echium 'Mr. Happy', and  Limnanthes douglasii. I am also trying to get some sunflowers going in the border as self sowers.  If I were to live here longer, I would try adding more California native annuals and hope to get them to self sow, much as the Limnanthes has done.  These might include Layias and Clarkias.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dictamnus Albus var. Purpureas Redux

Dictamnus albus var. purpureas blooming in my new garden
     I previously wrote about Dictamnus albus var. purpureas (commonly known as pink burning bush) here.  In that post I talked about the dictamnus I had in my old garden at Froggy Bottom.  These plants in the picture above are at my new garden, but they are the very same plants which I dug up and moved.  As you can see, the move did not bother them at all, even though I dug them up and them left them sitting out of the ground for more than a month before I planted them!  This experience is completely contrary to the oft-repeated maxim that dictamnus do not like to be moved.  I think this is true of a lot of garden lore--much of it has not been scientifically tested, and may not be true. Anyway, this is a great plant, as I wrote previously, and it is a shame that you do not see it more in nurseries.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Front Border Status

Alliums in the front border at Froggy Bottom
     As many of you might know, we are trying to sell our house on Bainbridge Island, and thus far, it seems that gardeners who might appreciate the garden are few and far between.  Indeed, the lack of appreciation for gardening in the general public, and the total misunderstanding of what growing plants do is discouraging.  To wit: the front border in my garden is one of my favorite areas of the garden, principally because I like the wildness of it, and the fact that it is totally deer resistant and drought tolerant is a plus to me.  Yet the nature of a garden like this is that it changes over the course of the year.  It is coming into its prime right now, but in the depths of winter there is not much going on there.  That is, of course, true of many kinds of gardens, including perennial borders or rose gardens.  Despite that fact of nature, it seems that real estate buyers and agents expect a garden which is practically plastic-- i.e., that all the plants look the same all year around.  What is the fun of that?  Anyway, this attitude was illustrated by the recent comments of a real estate agent that this area- the one seen in the picture above- looked like it was just weeds! 
     I will be posting pictures of this area in the next few days with a discussion of what I have going on there.  Meanwhile you can see pictures of this from last year here and here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ptilotus exaltatus 'Joey'

Ptilotus 'Joey' at Froggy Bottom in Sept. 2013
     I am becoming more and more enamored of annuals, particularly those that will thrive with a minimal amount of water and care.  Last year I found this one, with the unpronounceable name of Ptilotus.  As one expert on the internet said, "Just call it Joey".  This is a plant native to the dry central areas of Australia, so, as you might imagine, it is quite drought tolerant.  I planted it in an area of my garden that gets full sun and is quite well drained, and, as you can see from the picture, it did quite well.  I actually bought 5 plants, so that floral display is not from just one.  It performed as pictured above for quite a long time in the garden.  In the Pacific Northwest it seems to go on until Sept. or October.
     Just today I found more plants of this at Bainbridge Gardens, so I bought 9 of them to plant in my new garden.  I do not know yet whether they are deer resistant, since they were planted in the fenced in portion at Froggy Bottom last year.  These plants I purchased were grown by Skagit Gardens.  An internet search reveals several seed sources for this, so the next step I am going to take is to order seed!  I have not detected any self sown seedlings of this at Froggy Bottom.
     By the way, San Marcos Growers indicates that there is a longer lived cultivar of this called 'Platinum Walllaby'.  A google search of that name reveals that Proven Winners carries it.  Usually Proven Winners plants are widely available, so I will be keeping my eye out for it.