Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Daphne

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This is the plant most folks think of when they speak of a Daphne. This is the classic Daphne odora “Marginata”, perhaps the most fragrant plant in the garden. When it blooms the whole front yard is filled with an intoxicating fragrance that permeates the air from the driveway to the hedge and up to the front porch as well. It even reaches out into the street at times. It’s truly amazing. I wish I could put a smell-o-meter on this post so you could experience what they smell like. These bloom in late Winter – in February and March when not much else is blooming and certainly nothing as fragrant as this plant. It’s one of my favorites in the whole garden. They’re native to Japan and China, as so many beautiful plants are…

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This little gem is called Daphne “Lawrence Crocker” a hybrid between D. arbuscula and D. collina. It’s native to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. What a treat it must be to find this perfect specimen in the forests of that region. This is special plant that blooms so often it’s got flowers on it early in the spring and then blooms again later in summer. It’s in bloom now in fact and this picture was taken in April. You have to bend down on your knees to really smell this one, tho you can get a whiff of it standing over it sometimes. Here you can see it surrounded by our native Bleeding Heart and Wild Ginger.

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This is the largest growing one I have. It’ll get to be a 4 or 5 foot ball. Its called Daphne transatlantica “Summer Ice” and is a hybrid of garden origin. It’s the one that Really blooms a long time. It starts in early spring with its first flush of flowers and then it begins again in June with another set that will last for weeks. It’ll keep flowers on it for months actually and they smell almost as strong as the Odora.  The two plants are only 5 feet apart on opposite sides of the garden in the front yard so we have a plethora of fragrance in that area for months on end. This plant is only about 3 years old so it grows fast. Next to it is another fragrant plant – a Sarcococca ruscifolia – that blooms even before the Daphne odora in January. We have a Very smelly front yard! 🙂

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This last one isn’t fragrant at all really – maybe just a touch. But that’s not why we grow it. It’s for the lovely foliage and the wonderful mounding  habit it has. It’s called Daphne x Rossetti, a natural hybrid from the Pyrenees Mountains. It’s a bit crowded here with the foxglove that volunteered to grow next to it. I love their flowers so I let them stay, usually. This is a small plant that won’t get more than about 12 inches tall and wide. It’s been here for a couple of years now and has grown wonderfully well. It may not smell but it’s still a beautiful little Daphne.

As you may know Daphne was a figure in Greek Mythology. She was a Naiad, a type of female nymph associated with springs, brooks, wells, fountains and other bodies of fresh water. She was pursued by the god Apollo, whose advances she spurned. He got mad, as those male gods tended to do, and so she had to be rescued by her father, the river god Ladon, who turned her into a laurel tree to save her. Daphne means laurel in Greek and the way it associates with her comes from a plant called a “Laurel Daphne”, or “Spurge Laurel”. Today Laurel is associated with the Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) which is the plant whose leaves crowned the victors of the original Olympic Games, and are so good to cook with.

There are some 50-100 species of Daphne over the world, mostly in Asia, Europe and North Africa. They are known for their fragrance and poisonous berries. Lovely to see and smell, but don’t eat the fruit…!! Now where have I heard That before???

Stop and smell the flowers…

Steve

Nandina

Nandina domestica, also known as Heavenly Bamboo, is a medium sized shrub that grows a bit like bamboo, thus the common name. But it’s actually in the same family as Barberry – the Berberidaceae. It can grow up to 8 feet tall, or more, with a spread of 4-6 feet given room. It grows in a fountain shape and the way you prune it is to lop off the tallest canes from the ground up and let the new ones take over, which they will do rapidly. This is a fast growing plant and this variety – “Moyer’s Red” – turns a lovely reddish shade in the winter.

The red berries follow the flowers you can see in the following pictures. In some you can even see a few berries. They are a common plant and in some areas are considered invasive, but not here in Seattle where we are. This is one of the few plants we have more than one of. Mostly I try not to repeat myself, but a line of them was too attractive to miss, so we did that as you’ll  see below. All the plants you’ll see are almost 8 years old, and are some of the first plants I planted when I moved in with Louie in 2009.

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This is a shot of the front of the yard, as seen from the street. This is the first view people have of our garden. As you can see the Thuja pyramidalis behind the Nandina are about 16 feet tall and make a nice backdrop for them. In between them we planted Oregon Grape, also in the Barberry family. They have small purple berries on them now that are pretty good to eat, but are a bit sour so they’re best for jelly and such.  The Nandina berries are poisonous and even the birds tend to leave them alone.

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This one is right by our front porch. It’s at least 8 feet tall, and there is a legend that if the Heavenly Bamboo gets taller than the door jamb that it protects the home.  This one will do that pretty well I’d say. It has a lot of flowers on it now and a few berries left over from last season. It frames the entrance to the house and provides interest all year round with its various changes.

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This last one is by the door of the garage and is well over the door jamb, so I guess the garage is well protected. I did a little bit of fancy pruning on it to air it out some and give the form a chance to show itself off. You can see a couple of little reddish new shoots coming up thru the neighboring foliage at the bottom. I’ll let them grow and in time they’ll replace the taller canes now growing. It never turns very red because it’s in a north facing area and just doesn’t get much sun at all.  The ones in front do much better at changing color because they get so much more sun.

I’ve known Nandina for some 45 years of gardening and have planted so many of them in landscapes I really couldn’t begin to tell you how many of them I’ve put in the ground. They used them a lot where I grew up in central California and are in fact pretty overused there in places. I almost grew to dislike them when I worked there doing landscapes, but I’ve overcome my prejudices as I’ve gotten older and away from that business end of things. Now I just plant what I like and am happy with them.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these plants in various shapes. They’re nice plants for narrow spaces or for screening, and to provide that Asian flair for the garden. They aren’t hard to find and  there are many varieties, from small mounding shrublets to this tall natural form I’ve shown you. Some turn blazing red in winter, some don’t. All in all it’s a very versatile plant for many gardens.

Happy Growing!

Steve

A Garden of Heathers

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I don’t have many Heathers and I’ve tried to group them into a bed by height and size. For once the labels on them were pretty correct and I was able to put the biggest ones in the middle and the smaller ones at the edges, but I don’t prune these so they all are getting quite big and wild looking. I like the look myself. It reminds me of seeing the Heathers on the moors in Scotland when I was there in my teens.  This shot shows the whole bed from the south with the Metasequoia at  the left side and the Ginkgo in the middle and the Heathers in between them all. I’ll show more with other views of the Heathers.

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This one shows the Ginkgo Jade Butterflies in the middle of the bed, and also you can see the Carmina Heather on the left and the Irish Heath in the middle, as well as the Kerstin on the right edge and the Allegro in the top middle.

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This is  a good shot of the Allegro, the biggest one I have. It’s gotten quite large and is as big as the Baby Blue Pisifera Cypress on the end. It’s in full bloom now.

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This one shows the whole bed from the North side. You can see the Rockspray cotoneaster on the end and the Little Heath Pieris in the center before the heathers. At the right side is the side of the Elegans Cryptomeria, and on the far left is a  glimpse of the Manazanita, with the Veggie garden in the way back part. The tomatoes are Huge!

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This one is of the edge of the bed from the South east. You can see the Baby Blue Cypress quite clearly It’s grown a lot in the last couple of years and may eventually get to the 6 ft it’s supposed to do. We’ll see. On the right you can see the path that winds thru the garden to deeper parts of it. Looks intriguing, eh? 🙂

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This one shows the one Heath in this bed of Heathers. It’s in the front and is a Kramer’s Rote which is covered in deep ruby red flowers in mid winter when all else is bare here. It’s lush green now setting off the flowers of the rest of them. On its right is a H.E. Beale Heather next to the Little Heath Pieris. You can just see the head sculpture next to it on its right. It’s covered up a lot by the growing together of the plants over the years. You can see a clear picture of it on the “Art” page in the permanent archives part of this blog. It’s pretty cool to have art sprinkled around in the garden. It adds a nice new dimension to it all.

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Here’s a shot of the Irish Heath close up. It’s a totally different plant than the other heathers and heaths. It’s a Daboecia cantabrica and has these deep blooms that are the typical bell shape of the Heath Family but much larger than the other heathers and heaths. It was a nice find at a local arboretum sale and has grown well in its tight spot. I keep the other heathers pruned away from it cause it’s so special…

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Here you can see the wildness of the Allegro in the foreground and an Echinacea purpurea in the background. It’s next to the Elgans Cryptomeria. The Little Heath Pieris is on the right. The Gingko is on the left.

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This final shot shows the Kerstin on the front and the Allegro on the back with the Baby Blue Cypress on the right side edge.  You can also see the Ginkgo on the left. And to the right edge is the Sequoia prostrate form I profiled recently. I know this isn’t much of a  formal Heather Garden but it’s what I’ve got and l personally love the wildness of it all. I may prune them some this year I dunno but I hate to do it. It’s so interesting to see how big they actually get and if they’ll stay green throughout or lose their inner leaves as they often do when left like this. It’s a gamble I’ll admit but I think it’s a good one.

It’s so delightful to see the many varieties of heater that I have in this small space. They all have a different look to them, some of them even turn color in the winter which is nice. It’ll be a thick bed as it already is and it’s grown so tremendously in the last 5 years it’s hard to imagine it was all so small so recently. Our peaty soil does wonders for plants like this in the Heath Family. They really love it as you can see. It’s rich and full of moisture even on hot days so water is still required but not a lot of it. I’m very happy with this bed of Heathers and others, and hope it continues to grow well in the future. Thanks for taking the time to visit me here and see them!

Hooray for Heathers!

Steve

Night Scented Tobacco

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I’m ashamed to say I don’t have the correct botanical name for this plant. I planted it in my greenhouse as a seed two years ago and grew it over the winter for two years to get it to where I could plant it out this spring. I had about 1/2 a dozen of them but this is the only one that got to blooming size. It’s a beauty and has really fragrant flowers, even in daytime let alone at night when it really shines. It’s just lovely.

 

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Here it is  in the bed of mostly wild flowers I re-seed every year with some seeds I save and some I get new. You can see the old heads of Phacelia or Bee’s Friend in here, and some Clarkia and of course the old Hollyhock that has been there for 3 or 4 years now. And the poppies of course. I have yet to make poppy seed cookies with the seeds but I’m saving them and replant them every year to great joy. They’re so beautiful.

 

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And finally here’s a shot I took by sticking my camera up under the plant so I could see the underside of the flowers. They’re stars! You get a good sense of how they look from this vantage point. I’m hoping I can save some seeds of this one for next year, or maybe two years if it follows the way it’s grown and takes me two years to get a blooming plant. It’s all worth it and maybe next year my greenhouse heating cable will work right and I won’t lose all my seedlings like I did this year. Ah well, the vagaries of gardening, eh?

Smelling the flowers,

Steve

Shades of Red

 

 

And Pink, and Purple, and some in between colors too, but they all fit in the spectrum of Red. I’m amazed by all the plants I have that have red tones to them. It’s obviously a pretty popular color. I’ve tried to add them to the garden because they add so much interest and I love the varied hues they represent. Some of them are in the leaf and others are in the blooms, but all are in the reddish range and provide some intense color to the garden at most any time of the year. These pictures cover the last few months since things started to bloom and leaf out well, tho they’re not in any particular chronological order.

First up is a Yarrow that just keeps getting better each year. It’s called Paprika and has intense red blooms with yellow flecks in the centers. Then are 3 different red Japanese maples that are even named red, like the Red Dragon and Red Pygmy, and the Bloodgood is considered the most excellent red cultivar of Japanese maples you can find. It’s been in circulation since the 1800’s sometime as I recall.

The weeping beech I planted as a memorial for my brother and it has his ashes underneath it. It’ll get taller eventually but since I stopped staking it up it’s stopped getting taller for now. I’m hoping it’ll mound up on itself as time goes on but it may just get wider I’m not sure. The Red Fox Katsura is hard to see I know but it has deep purple blue green leaves that are even more red at first growth. It hasn’t grown this year at all which concerns me but patience is called for here and I’m trying my best to just allow it to grow on its own pace. It’ll be a lovely tree in time.

The Physocarpus, or Ninebark as they’re called, is a small shrub with deep maroon leaves and light pink flowers that didn’t bloom much this year but it grew well. While the Blue Peter Rhodie has been here for years and always puts on a fine display of flowers. The lavender and the sage are in the Herb bed and I’ve gotten a lot of good food from this bed. I harvested my savory and oregano awhile ago while it was in fresh growth and some rosemary too. I’ll have a good stash for cooking this year.

The Mountain Fire Pieris, or Lily of the Valley shrub, has such fine red tones when it first leafs out that turn to a light mahogany and then to  green as time goes on. Buds will set on it from this fall and it’ll bloom in winter with white blooms. I’m rooting for this one to get bigger so it screens us from the neighbors on the deck. It takes time tho so I have to be patient again. It’s required when you a start a garden mostly from scratch and use smaller plants like we did. It takes time and waiting is hard for me but I do it because what else can one do?

I know the Columbine I showed is more blue than red but it’s so beautiful I had to show it. It’s a self sown seedling that just came up in a bed of them I let happen. I love them so much I just let them grow since they aren’t in the way at all. The Heuchera is in the front yard and adds some nice color to that area there with its delicate blossoms and fine maroon leaves. The Anna Rose Whitney Rhodie is in the back of the whole garden and will be a foundation of the corner of the yard as it gets bigger which is doing well now.

The Barberry is a small shrub that has to compete with the Spruce next to it on one side and the Giant Sequoia on the other. It seems  to be holding its own tho so I’m not worried. A little bit of pruning on the spruce and it looks fine. The next azalea is one Louie planted years ago so I don’t know its name but it’s sure lovely isn’t it? Bright and lush it always makes me smile. So does the Ward’s Ruby, one of my favorite azaleas. It’s a kurume so it doesn’t get too big but has loads of blooms when it does so. The Bow Bells and Ken Janeck Rhodies both come on light pink and then one changes to deep pink and the other to white as they age. Both are lovely. The Ken Janeck is a Yak rhodie, a small form with huge leaves that I love. Very cool.

Clearly the Tulips have been here for awhile and it’s amazing that they still come up thru the soil we put there and the plants grow thru them now. They add some bright color to the winter garden when they bloom. The Elephant Ears or Saxifrage, are in the front of the whole garden and provide a soft haven of their flowers with their lush foliage. I love the deep color they have.

The Thrift, the Daphne and the Bleeding Heart are all in the same area and are quite wonderful when they all bloom together. The Daphne is so fragrant too, it’s possible to smell it standing up next to it but if you really want to smell it you have to get down on your knees. It’s wonderful. The Blue Diamond Rhodie has grown a lot this year but only bloomed a bit. It’s so healthy tho I’m happy with it. The currant is blooming well in this picture but hasn’t grown much yet this year, as have so many plants. It seems to be the year of patience for me this year as I’ve said before. Ah well, as long as they keep growing I have faith that they’ll do well in time.

The Racemosum Rhodie is a species Rhodie that has wonderful light pink blooms at an early stage in the season. They come when you’re just tired of winter and need a bit of color in the garden. They provide some wonderful  blooms. The Winter Daphne has wonderfully fragrant flowers in pink and the Ural False Spirea has such cool pinkish tips to its growth I’ve included both which live next to each other in the front yard. You can smell the daphne all over he yard when it blooms.

The Goshiki Kotohime maple means “variegated old harp” in Japanese. It supposedly reminds one of the Koto, a stringed instrument that is endemic to Japan. A lovely plant and a wonderful instrument. This is the new growth that is so very bright and then fades to green as the year progresses. Very lovely. The Heath  is in the Heather garden and adds some blossoms in winter when the heathers are dormant.

The next shot it is of under the starting bed in the greenhouse and has a Persian cyclamen and a Tradescantia which both are doing well this year. They get a bit of water from the bed but we still give them extra to keep them going well. Last is a Moyers Red Nandina in full color with both leaves and berries red as can be. It’s a nice one to finish off this tour of red shades I think.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Red. I’ve done blue before but never red and it seemed like it was time to do so. With all the maples in particular and the other plants now in such fine colors I just had to share them. They brighten up the garden like nothing else and are so varied as you can see that they provide much interest even beside the color. The forms and the textures too add dimensions to the whole interplay of color and style in this garden as they do in so many others.

Red Rules!

Steve

This Year’s Flowers to Date

 

I went back thru my archives to see how many plants I could find that have bloomed so far this year. They all started with the two Pieris, which were blooming in March when I took the first pictures. As we move thru time and space with the rest of these shots you’ll see them in a chronological order as they come into bloom, or as I get the chance to photograph them. I took the last few shots this morning before I wrote this post so it’s pretty current, tho I didn’t really include everything I could have because the list was getting so big. So here they are as they came into bloom. As you can see there have been flowers here for months and months.

After the Pieris, which really started to show themselves with their buds way back in winter, the next things to bloom were the heaths. My Furzy heaths didn’t look so good this year so I didn’t include them but this Kramer’s Rote is lovely and adds flowers to the Heather Garden at a much different time than the heathers, which bloom in summer.  The Little Heath is in there too so the bed is nice at an early date.

The Winter Daphne filled the whole yard with its fragrance for many weeks as it was simply covered with blooms this year. I was amazed and thrilled to see and smell it. Later on I’ll show two more Daphnes -a Summer Ice and a Lawrence Crocker. The first gets to about 4 feet but the other is a dwarf and only gets to about a foot or so but still has an incredible smell to it, if you get down on your knees!, as does the Summer Ice. All 3 Daphnes are wonderful to have here both for their blooms and for their fragrance.

I imagine most folks know the Lenten Rose and the Elephant Ears. Both bloom early and then put on lovely foliage to show us later on so they stay nice for the year. Next is a species Rhodie called Rock Rose Rhododendron that bloomed wonderfully then froze so it’s not looking so nice right now but it’s coming back slowly. This was a hard winter and I lost several plants altogether as well as a lot of burning on others. I’m lucky that so many survived as well as they did I suppose but I always feel bad when things die on me. Oh well, such is life, eh?

I’ve shown the Dutchman’s Pipe and the Wild Ginger before so I won’t go into them again but I wanted to include them as they were in bloom at this time. The next two are natives. One is a Trillium I collected near the road when we were in the mountains, ( I did it right so don’t worry about mal-harvesting… ) and the Red Flowering currant grows in the Cascades and in other woods. It’ll get to about 6-8 feet tall in time and have currants on it at some point, I hope….

The next two are Rhodies that bloom mid season. The Blue Diamond gets about 4 feet tall and the Patty Bee is a clear yellow, unusual in Rhodies and bred in Ireland so the name fits it well. Next is another Heath family member called a Bog Rosemary or Andromeda. I have another form of it too but it didn’t flower too well this year so I didn’t include it but it is quite nice as well, with larger flowers.

Next is one of the Daphnes I talked about earlier, the dwarf form. Next to it is a small Thrift which has such lovely pink flowers and is small at the foot of the fountain where it gets plenty of over splash of water and grows very well. Following them are two Rhoodies. One is the white-with-a-splotch Dora Amateis which is a 3 foot dwarf and the next is an even smaller dwarf with a clear yellow color called Curlew, another species Rhodie. Both are early and lovely.

The Candytuft surrounds our mailbox out front and is visible to all who drive by and see it. It blooms for a long time. I only have one of the David’s Viburnum so I don’t get berries but I love the plant and the flowers it puts on. Later on I’ll show another Viburnum, the Rhytidophyllum, or Leatherleaf Viburnum, that gets 12 feet tall and will require some work to keep it in place as it grows I’m afraid. It’s doing well now tho it went thru some hard times last year before it came out of it.

The Pt Reyes Ceanothus, or California Lilac, has a nice smell to it and attracts lots of bees when it’s blooming tho it’s still early when it does so. The Ken Janeck Rhodie starts out pink and then turns a clear white as it opens fully. The flowers stay on the plant for a long time.

The Aronia is the new super food I’ve found out. It’s super high in those purple/red Phyto Nutrients that help our bodies heal and grow and I intend to make juice out of them this year as it put on tons of flowers and will have lots of berries. They are a bit tart so the juice is good mixed with a sweeter type or some sugar or honey I’ve heard. I’m excited to see how the juice turns out this year. A lucky coincidence, as I didn’t know its attributes when I planted it. I did it because it likes wet soils and it’s very wet where it is…

The Ward’s Ruby is a Kurume Azalea and is covered with small blossoms when it blooms. I love the deep red of it and you can see it from many vantage points it the garden it stands out so well. The Bow Bells is at the foot of the fountain and seems to like it there a lot. It’ll get up to the edge of the fountain someday but it’ll take awhile to do so. Next is the Viburnum I talked about a bit ago that gets so large. It bloomed well this year.

The Azalea is one Louie planted years ago and I don’t know the name of it but it sure is a stand out in the front yard. Very nice. Next is the Daphne Summer Ice I mentioned above and following that are shots of two forms of Columbine that grow in the garden. I love these airy plants that add such an element of grace to the garden. The one set came up all by itself from plants I planted years ago. Amazing!

Next are 3 Rhodies – the Anna Rose Whitney in the back  corner of the garden, the Western Azalea, the native that grows in the western mountains and is a parent of the Exbury and Mollis hybrids from England that all smell so sweet. They get that smell from this plant. The last is a Sappho that Louie planted a long time ago. It’s so incredible in the front yard and is dominant there now.

The last row starts out with a Common Sage that has amazing purple flowers that the bees love now. As they do the French Lavender flowers that are coming on strong now. The last is a large purple rhodie, a Blue Peter, that Louie planted and has become a big part of the back drop to the whole back garden. I love the purple flowers with their darker splotches of purple in their centers. It’s probably the largest rhodie we have but some get Much bigger. Some are even trees! I wish I could plant one of them but we just don’t have the room.

Still I’m very content with this amazing garden we have here now. There are almost always things blooming somewhere all year long and if not flowers then the foliage gives us many colors to view and textures and structures that make the whole thing work well. I hope this hasn’t been too long a tour. I kinda got carried away when I started to put out all the things that have bloomed so far this year. I found that it’s quite a lot when I did it. I hope you still enjoyed it all. 🙂

Flowers Rule! (sometimes…)

Steve

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