Archive for July, 2014

Ferns

 

July is a wonderful time for ferns. You’d think the hot weather would dry them up, and it’s true that you have to keep them well watered. But if you do you’re rewarded with some amazing growth and beautiful lacy foliage that offers a different kind of garden. It’s so soft and easy on the eyes and touch. I love to just wander around and look at them and feel their gentle foliage now. They’re so big and full, especially the deciduous ones, of which I only have a few at this point. I’ve decided to go for mostly evergreen ones because I get to enjoy their foliage all year round.

First up here in this tour is a Japanese Tassel Fern, or Polystichum polyblepharum. It’s one I just planted last year and it’s tripled or more in size since then. It seems to like its new home a lot and so do I. It’s in a bed with the second one here, the Korean Rock Fern, or Polystichum tsus-sinensis. I put in 3 of these because they grow so small and I thought they’d form a nice clump, which they’re doing now. This bed looks wonderful with all the green in it.

Next is an Autumn Fern, or Dryopteris erythrosora, a common fern in many of our gardens. The new fronds come out bronze which is how it got its name, tho it does so in spring, not autumn. A lovely and delicate fern that gets about 2-3 feet big. Following that is a Deer Fern, or Blechnum spicant, a native of the Pacific Northwest. It has two forms of fronds -a fertile one and an infertile one that you can see high up. The fertile ones are smaller, or do I have that backwards? I never can remember…

This one is a very different kind of fern in that it looks like something that couldn’t possibly be a fern. But it is. It’s a Harts Tongue Fern, or Asplenium scolopendrium. It’s doubled in size just this year so it’s happy where it is and I am too. The next one is odd looking because I didn’t bother to cut off the dead fronds because I love the colors they turn so much. It’s a Long Eared Holly Fern, or a Polystichum neoloblatum. It gets to about 2 feet tall and has prickly leaves, not the usual soft ones we expect from ferns. But it’s a lovely plant and is still putting on new leaves even as I write this.

Next to it is an Indian Holly Fern, or Arachnioides simplicior “Variegata”. I’ve noticed that for the last few years it only puts on 3 fronds a year but this year it seems to be sending up 4 or even 5 perhaps. They have this lovely yellow stripe down the center of the leaves and look cool with their long stems and tufts of foliage at the ends of them. This next one looks burned, and it is. It’s in too sunny a place for now but in a few years it’ll be in shade because of the tree I planted above it. For now tho this Japanese Painted Fern, or Athyrium nipponicum “Pictum”, will just have to deal with the heat and sun and it’s still doing well so I guess it’s happy enough. I hope so as I love it in the spring when it’s more light colored and mostly got a blue tint to it.

This Alaska Fern, or Polystichum setiferum, is the biggest fern I have. It’s grown so huge I’m totally amazed. It was supposed to get to to 2 feet and it’s way bigger than that now. I love it and it seems to love its place in the garden as well. A beautiful specimen. It’s native to much of Southern Europe. The next one is another PNW native called a Licorice Fern for the taste of the roots which have a licorice flavor. It’s a Polypodium glycyrrhiza and spreads well beneath this Mountain Hemlock you can see above it. A nice native combination of plants here.

The next is a Soft Shield Fern, or Polystichum setiferum “Diversilobum” that is closely related to the Alaska fern. It’s a cultivar of it in fact and grows with a twist to the leaves I find intriguing. It hasn’t gotten too big yet but I have hopes for it in time. The next one is a real favorite of mine. It’s a Ghost Fern, or Athyrium x Ghost, a deciduous fern along with the Japanese Painted Fern to which it’s closely related. In fact the Japanese Painted Fern is one parent of this one along with the Mother fern. It has wonderful pale grey foliage and has gotten quite tall which surprised me with its height. I’m so happy it’s doing well here.

The last row starts with another well known native – the Western Sword Fern, or Polystichum munitum. It can get up to 6 feet tall in its native habitat. I need to move it to a better location where it can get bigger and not be in the way of our ladders when we work on the house. I have a whole row of these under the edge of the north side hedge to create a ferny tunnel there. It’s pretty cool looking as it grows and they get big.

The last two ferns are an embarrassment to me, who is so careful about knowing just what I’m growing and have labeled almost everything in the garden. Well not these two. I can’t find the original labels! What a shock this was to me when it was time to make my botanical plaques I have on all the other plants. I haven’t a clue what these are, so if you recognize them please let me know. I think one may be a Male Fern, or Filix mas, but I’m not sure. I know it’s not the Lady Fern because I have some wild in the garden but none were in good shape to photograph. I like them both and both of them are deciduous for the most part. They create a nice corner of green in the front yard where they are.

So that’s the tour. Not too long I hope and full of beauty and plants. I’m happy to be able to grow ferns but I’ve lost several of them over time and didn’t include others that just didn’t look good enough now. I tried several maidenhair ferns before I gave up on them and I have a nice Alpine Water fern that is too burned to show now. But it’s nice next to the fountain and will be good as time allows it space to grow. As I said most of these are evergreen tho they look pretty ratty by the end of the season. Usually I tend to keep the fronds on all year tho because they look cool and I love the foliage to be present. I’ve taken to pruning some of them in early spring tho and others I leave to fill in on their own. How do ferns do in your garden? I hope you are able to grow them and have at least a few to marvel at. I’m so pleased to be able to show you these. They are so cool and shady and nice, even the ones in the sun….

Finding Ferny delights,

Steve

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A Few Little Things

 

I often write about all the small plants I have in this garden. Mostly that means dwarf and naturally small growing plants. But today I’m  going to feature a few of the really little plants I have here – the ground-covers. Some of these have been growing for years and others only a few months but all of them are special to me and provide a really unique aspect to the garden in places. I love seeing them as they spread out and fill the spaces around them and provide a green swath of color and beauty to their spots.

I’m starting off in the front yard with the Elfin Thyme. I just love that name and it sure does fit it well. I planted it about 5 years ago from a 4″ pot, and it’s grown slowly but consistently to fill this spot among the stones that lead to the bird feeder in front. It’s in bloom now and I hope you can see the little purple flowers on it here and there. I haven’t seen it bloom before this year so it’s a treat to see. A very lovely plant that does a fine job of softening the stones and making the spot seem gentle and smooth.

Next to it in both the tour and in the garden is an Irish moss. I only planted this last fall but it’s growing well since then and is in bloom as well as the Thyme. It’s got little white flowers that cover areas of the plant and it looks so lush and bright green like an Irish Moss should. It’ll fill in more and smooth the area between more of the steps to the feeder. A favorite of mine for many years.

And next to them in the garden is a patch of Ajuga “Black Scallop” so named for its dark leaves. It’s not quite in bloom yet but it has spikes of lovely purple flowers about 5 inches high that coves the plant. It grows really fast and I only planted these starts from another spot last fall when I did this whole bed. It’s grown really fast and is covering up the area well. It looks so neat and tidy now and does so for most of the year. I love the dark color of the leaves.

I move into the back yard now and show you the Bunchberry. It’s actually a dogwood if you can believe it! Just a small dwarf plant it only grows to several inches tall and has creamy white dogwood flowers in the spring and covers this area between the mugho pine and the bluestar juniper well. I’ve been fond of this plant for a long time and am happy to have it thriving here in my garden.

The Corsican Mint is probably well known as it’s a staple in many gardens that can’t handle the cold for baby tears which it looks a lot like but is more cold hardy. It smells so strong that if you step on a corner of it the whole area is inundated with aroma and you can touch it and carry the smell on your fingers for hours. Truly one of my favorites. It seems to die off regularly and then comes back again each spring and I dunno why but I like it even so.

The Bearberry, or Kinnickinnick as the Indians called it, is a wonderful ground cover Manzanita in the heath family. It grows pretty wide but so far I’ve kept it from growing onto the path near it. It’s a special plant in the mythology of many native people as they use it in their smoking blend they use in the Sacred Pipe Ceremony. I’ve also used it in a smoking mixture I used to make in my Wildcrafting business I did while I lived in the Okanogan I profiled a couple of posts ago. This is a variety called Vancouver Jade that seems to be more compact than the species and is full and lush here in this back spot in the garden.

The Redwood Sorrel has been a mixed bag for me. I love the plant so I had to plant it, but little did I realize what a pest it can become. It spreads way too well and has covered up much of the space around it and even killed a couple of plants by smothering them. It also broke a branch on my Red Dragon Japanese maple by pulling it down and snapping it. I guess I wasn’t paying as good attention as I should have been but I try now to keep this lovely plant somewhat controlled so it can’t do that anymore. It’s a drag to have to pull it all the time but I keep it off the paths and in a smaller area than it wants to be. In one place I’ve given up and just let it grow. So far so good and it seems the plants there can handle it. It has lovely white flowers on it in spring. I just love it despite its problems. It gets about 8 inches tall and is very full as you can see. It reminds me of the Redwood forests in California where it covers miles of ground.

A friend gave me this Viola and I’m not entirely sure which one it is but she warned me that it was very invasive so I planted it the fern bed so it can’t escape too far and cover too much space. But it does a good job of that in the bed anyway. It fills the whole area around many of the ferns but they can handle it it seems and I pull it back some to keep it from the lawnmower and the different plants in there with it. It not only spreads by roots but by seeds too very easily so it’s truly an invasive and and it’s beautifully full but I’d recommend it be planted like I did in some place where it can’t take over the whole darn garden…

This last one isn’t exactly a ground cover but it’s close to one. It’s a Black Mondo Grass that I’ve loved for ages. I’ve grown it before and they always seem to do well. This one has spread for years to cover this small area near the garage entrance so it’s close up to see it whenever we go to the garage. It’s got little purple flowers on it now and is quite lovely. It only gets about 6-8 inches tall so I included it here as it does cover the ground and spreads slowly so it’s a ground cover to me.

So that’s the tour. It’s a short one but I don’t have that many of these tiny tiny plants. Someday I’ll cover the miniature conifers I have that are one step up from these ground covers. But this time I wanted to stay small and give you a few pictures of what is under the other plants and fills so many areas with color and green.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of little things. Some time it’s nice to honor the smallest things among us and reflect on how much joy they can bring even tho they are so small and tiny. I’m fond of all of these plants and they all occupy a unique place in my heart. I hope you like them and that even if you’ve seen them before they still please you to see them again….

For the little ones,

Steve

Taxodium distichum “Peve Minaret”

 

I wrote a profile of this plant a year and 1/2 ago, but it’s grown so much since then and all I posted then was a single shot, so I thought I’d do a pictorial journey thru this plant’s life here in our garden. We planted it in early April 2011 so it’s only been growing for 3 years and a bit. It grows pretty fast for a dwarf. This is a cultivar from Holland of the Swamp Cypress that grows all over the Southeast of the US and is endemic to the swamps and wet places of the region.

As a tree it gets quite big, but this little dwarf will only get to some 10 feet by 3-4 feet , or so they say. It’s already that wide or wider but only about 6-7 feet tall so far, tho it’ll be taller in a couple of months as the top grows. I’ve noticed an interesting thing about this tree, and several other conifers, that intrigues me. It starts to put on growth at the bottom of the tree first and then works its way up to the top after several weeks of growth. It’s in that stage now where it’ll put on a new top, and it should put on a foot of growth there if it does what it did last year, which is no definite indication but hopefully it will do so. It also tends to put on several tops and then reduce them to just one. I’d heard that you had to prune the extra ones out, but that’s not true. The trees know what to do I’ve noticed so I just let them do it. Sometimes it’s best Not to prune…

I did a lot of research on this tree, as I outlined in my previous post I did on it here: https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-persistence-of-greenery/. I’ll try not to repeat too much of that post but I want to talk about it a bit. It’s a unique plant in that it’s one of only a few conifers that lose their leaves in the fall and renew them in spring. The others are the Larix, or Larch, the Metasequoia, or Dawn Redwood, and the Ginkgo, or Maidenhair tree. There’s some debate about whether or not the Ginkgo is really a conifer right now but I like i that way so I’ll include it anyway. I have a Metasequoia and the Ginkgo in the garden as dwarfs but no Larix, yet… I haven’t found a dwarf of it and I wouldn’t have space to put it anyway so it may not be in my agenda. But we’ll see.

This plant loves wet places to grow as I mentioned and that’s the primary reason I planted it here. This is a really wet spot in this peat bog we garden in, and we lost a few other nice plants here before I did the research to find this one that loves having its feet wet. It’s thriving where it is so I think I made the right choice. I also planted a creek dogwood and a choke cherry along this fence line as they also love the wet soil, as do the dwarf Cryptomerias along the edge of the bed. The only original plant I put in here that survived is the Inverleith Scotch Pine and I’ve read that Scotch pine like it a bit wet too so that makes sense. It’s doing great too and it is now over 10 feet tall, it’s supposed height, tho some say it gets much bigger. I assume it will.

This plant is one of my “pettable” trees because it has such gloriously soft foliage and is so nice to touch and stroke. The others are the Metasequoia and the Cryptomeria elegans that both have very soft foliage and don’t feel like most conifers at all. I’m fond of touching the plants I grow just to get a”feel” of them and so I notice little things like soft foliage on conifers. It’s a treat to feel them. I have a few really prickly plants too, like the Oregon grape and Mahonia charity and even the Osmanthus goshiki, so it’s nice to have others that you can actually touch, tho the others are so soft when they put on their new growth it’s hard to imagine how tough they will become.

I’ve arranged these pictures in chronological order so you can get a sense of how fast this tree really does grow. I’m really amazed by this and it’s good for me as I’m pretty impatient at times and it’s hard to wait to watch plants grow slowly when you want them to get big fast. It’s a trap of course and it’s a joy to watch the Chamaecyparis obtusa Nana only putting on about a 1/16″ of growth a year. You can just see it on the tips of the branches. The same is true of many other dwarf confers, like the Cryptomerias Tansu, Pygmaea and Vilmoriana. They all just barely let you know they’re growing and it’s so cool to know they are and yet don’t show it much. Slow has it’s place just as fast does.

So I hope you found this enjoyable to see how this lovely tree grows so nicely and fills out so well as time goes on. If it does grow this much in only 3 years it’ll become a larger tree in time I think, despite the things they tell you on various websites when you look them up. I’d love it if it did get bigger than its supposed 10 feet but if it doesn’t do that I’ll be happy too of course. I just have to keep the creek dogwood next to it away from its top so it can get there. I have to do a bit of pruning to keep all the plants in their spaces and be cool with one another in their growth habits. It’s a nice challenge to grow this garden and I’m so glad you stopped by to see some of it.

Good growing to you!

Steve

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