Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Random5

Ginny Gee Rhododendron/Rhodendron “Ginny Gee” – March

This will be the last of my Random posts.  I could do many more I guess but this’ll be over 5 dozen, and that’s a lot of plants to profile.  This has been a fun exercise for me, and I hope for you too.  In the future I’ll try to keep up with the changes in the garden more as they happen, but I got so far behind this seemed the best way to try to catch us all up.  I don’t make any promises about how often I’ll post tho.  I go by my emotions and they change so often, and sometimes I just can’t bring myself to write anything clever or informative.  We’ll see how it goes as time goes along.  Here are the last Random plants.

This is such a cute little rhode.  It’s smothered in light pink blossoms, with some yellow shading to them.  It grows relatively slowly and will only get to be a 2-3′ ball.  It’s been in our garden for about 4 years and has grown a lot since then.  I had it in a shadier spot and it only put on a few blooms last year.  But I moved it to a sunnier spot and it loves it.  This year it rewarded us with zillions of blooms.  Again, it shows just how much difference the sun makes!

Sango-Kaku Japanese Maple/Acer palatum “Sango-kaku” – now

We planted this tree at the corner of the path to the front steps and the one into the garden.  It’s also known as a Coral Bark Maple.  Its red stems (supposedly) look like a tower of coral rising from the sea in spring when it puts on new growth.  You can’t really see that now because the trunk grays out with age, but it’s brilliant in spring.  It makes a wonderful archway with the Green pine as you walk under it into the garden.  It’s gotten this big in 10 years and will grow to 25′ or 30′ in time.

Ward’s Ruby Azalea/Azalea kurume “Ward’s Ruby” – May

This may be my all time favorite azalea.  I love the deep dark red and the intense effect it creates when it forms a mass of tiny blossoms.  By some wonderful chance I planted it where you can see it directly from the back door of the house straight thru the garden.  It’s so bright it shows up way back there.  It’s been here for 10 years and won’t get much bigger, just fuller.

Wissel’s Saguaro Lawson False Cypress/Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Wissel’s Saguaro” – now

This is one strange looking plant.  It’s named for the Saguaro Cactus of the southwest area of the US because the arms spread out and up like the cactus does.  It’s grown great here – to over 8′ in just 5 years.  No one seems to know just how big it will eventually get.  15′, 20′, ??? – who knows?  I even cut a hole in the maple above it to allow it to grow thru it if it gets big enough to reach that high.  It’s a great plant to have at the front entry to the house.  It gives the impression that perhaps the folks who live here are just a bit eccentric.  Now why would they think that??  Ha ha…

Pacific Fire Vine Maple/Acer circinatum “Pacific Fire” – now

This is a cultivar of our native Vine Maple that grows abundantly all over the Pacific Northwest, and down into California.   In the forest the species of this tree will grow to 30′ as it grows up thru the surrounding trees like a vine.  In less shaded areas it’s only a bush 15 or 20′ tall and wide.  This variety is called Pacific Fire because the new growth is a brilliant red and the stems keep some orangish color in them as they age.  It’s been here for 3 years and has grown this big from a 5′ sapling.

Anna Rose Whitney Rhododendron/Rhododendron “Anna Rose Whitney” – May

The flowers on this rhodie come in trusses of 10 or 12 flowers, and are so abundant the whole plant is just covered in them in spring.  It’s gotten pretty big in the 10 years it’s been here, and will get bigger still.  The only fault I find with this plant is that the blooms only last for 2-3 weeks – not as long as some, and not as long as I’d like.  But they’re so beautiful when they bloom I’m just being picky.  And after all – photos are in bloom forever!

Howard McMinn Manzanita/Arctostaphyllos densiflora “Howard McMinn” – February

I lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California for many years, and the Sierras were my “backyard” as I was growing up.  So manzanitas have been in my life for over 60 years.  Their mahogany brown bark is a defining characteristic of them.  They twist and turn and form amazing shapes as they grow.  Some are as big as small trees, but this one only gets about 6′ x 5′.  It’s been here 10 years.  The flowers are very fragrant and the bees love them.  A bee-keeper friend in the Sierras would bring us manzanita honey sometimes.  It was so fine it set up and crystalized almost immediately.  Yummy!

Underplanting of the Red Pygmy Maple – now

There’s no one plant to focus on here.  You can see the leaves of the Red Pygmy up above and the Treasure Island Cypress at the right.  In the center are 3 nice rhodies – on the left is a Ken Janeck with its new leaves such a soft light green.  Next to it is a Ramapo rhodie which has light purple flowers.  Barely seen behind them is an Impeditum that doesn’t get enough sun to bloom (remember what I said about enough sun??).  The Japanese Tassel fern is on the right and the Japanese Forest Grass is behind the maple’s trunk.  The ground cover is Redwood Sorrel, the plant that grows all under the trees in the Redwood groves on the California coast.  I love it but it’s also a terribly invasive pest.  Gotta go with the love I guess.

Irish Heath/Daboecia cantabrica – now

This is an unusual heath. Most heaths are Ericas, and heathers are Callunas, but this one is a whole different genus.  I got it 10 years ago at the Kruckerberg Botanical Garden in a 2″ pot.  I stuck it in between the heathers in this bed, which have since all frozen off.   I had to move it, but it’s survived all the rest.  It’s full of lush spring growth but I’ll show it off later when it’s in bloom.  It has lovely lavender bell shaped flowers (like all the Ericaceae) that bloom from midsummer to early fall.

Little Heath Lily of the Valley Shrub/Pieris japonica “Little Heath” – now

This got pretty crowded over the 10 years it’s been here, so last fall I decided to prune out the deadwood and open it up to see how it would look.  I was amazed.  A little hint – always take out the dead wood first.  You may find that’s all you need to do to make the plant look spectacular.  At least always start with deadwood before you prune the rest of it.  You can see the intricate form of the branches here now with a few flowers at the top (where it gets sun) and some new pinkish growth on the tips.  In front of it is a small growing Gemstone Hinoki False Cypress.  We just panted it over this last winter.  It’s a dwarf, only growing to about 24″ tall and 18″ wide.  It may take 20 years to get that big.  It’s truly a gem!

Cilpinense Pink Rhodendron/Rhododendron “Cilpinense Pink” – February

One of the earliest rhodies to bloom here.  It has delicate light lavender flowers that contrast nicely with the soft blue of the Snow White Lawson Cypress next to it.  It’s been here for 4 years and has tripled in size in that time.  It’s not super hardy tho and one year the entire set of blooms got hit by a late freeze just as they were blooming.  Since then we cover it with burlap sacks to keep them safe, and it’s worked well.  It also has very lustrous leaves that are a bit downy looking at the margins.

Stockholm Scotch Heather/Calluna vulgaris “Stockholm” – now

A most unusual Heather.  It only grows upright and doesn’t bloom at all, supposedly.  It had a few blossoms on it when we got it 2 years ago, but none since.  It turns a darker purple-brown in the winter.  It fits in well here with the Wild Ginger at the left and the Western Bleeding Heart above it.  To the right is a Nana Dwarf Hinoki Cypress – one of the smallest Hinokis.  I like how heathers and heaths have coniferous looking foliage.  I’ve planted some just for their foliage, knowing that they won’t get enough sun to bloom.  But that’s OK sometimes….

Entrance to the Front Garden – now

This is where you come into the front garden.  You can just see the arch I created with the Japanese Maple on the left and the Oregon Green pine on the right.  The ground drops slightly as you go under the arch so it really feels like you’re walking down into a little glade in the forest.  It’s a charming garden to be in.  I did a post called A Hidden Gem awhile ago that shows it off much more fully.  You can see the Waterfall Maple at the back right, and the Silver Knight heather on the front left.  Our Wildlife Sanctuary sign is just under the Maple by the  heather.  This seems like a good photo to stop with, so I will.

For those of you who have been counting you’ll notice that this is actually the 13th photo in this post, as opposed to only 12 in the previous 4 Random posts.  I guess I had an extra one somewhere.  I decided it was more important to show you all of them than to cut one for the sake of continuity.  I think it was the right decision.  They’re all cool photos.

I’ve really enjoyed putting out all these photos in such quick succession.   I do prefer to do more informative posts, focused on certain plants or collections of plants, but this was cool to do because I didn’t have a focus.  Sometimes Random is the way to go, especially in this chaotic world we live in.  It just seemed natural.  I have no idea when I’ll post again, but I hope it’s not another 5 months like it was this last time.  As I’ve said, my moods determine when I post, and my life in general, so I just hope they give me the impetus to post more often again. Time will tell…

Randomly yours no more,

Steve

 

 

Random4

Oregon Green Pine/Pinus nigra “Oregon Green” – now

I just came in from my usual morning stroll thru the garden.  It was a bit damp with a slight drizzle.  I particularly like to walk in the garden when it’s all wet.  The plants feel incredibly alive!  The rainfall is so nourishing.  It seems like all the plants are rejoicing.  Walking in the garden got me all excited about it so I thought it was a good time to do my next post of miscellaneous photos.  Most are very recent but a few are from Fall or Winter.  I’ll tell you.

I already showed you a photo of this pine from the front so you could see the candles on the outside.  This is the inside.  I pruned it out in February.  My main goal was to open up the center for both sight and air circulation.  I also just felt it was a little crowded inside.  It felt like the energy wasn’t moving thru it properly.   I tried to bring out the inner “flow” to it.   It all radiates out from the main trunk now.  The tree has done most of this itself.   I pruned out the inner part but the tree itself created the sinuous form.  You can’t see it in the photo but it continues to twist and turn as it reaches the top.

3 Fabulous Ferns – now

This is the west end of the fern bed that runs along the north side of the garage.  The 3 ferns here are, from left to right, a Hard Shied Fern (Polystichum aculeatum), and Mackino’s Holly Fern (Polystichum mackinoi” and a Remote Wood Fern (Dryopteris remota).  Underneath them all is a wonderful patch of Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii).  I’ve loved this little plant since we had it growing at my parent’s home in the first landscape I ever did for them.  It brings back good memories.

 

Tomato Seedlings In the Greenhouse – April

I started 9 seeds each of 3 different heirloom varieties.  2 I bought form the Seed Saver’s Exchange, a seed bank/seller I recommend highly.  The other one I planted with seeds I grew last year.  Beam’s Yellow Pears.  Small sweet pear shape yellow fruits kids eat like candy, and so do adults… These were so well developed we could plant them in early May.  They’re good sized now.  I had way too many of course – I only planted 2 of each variety for us.  So I put the others out on the front parking strip and people took them almost immediately.  I love sharing the plants I grow.

Silver Knight Scotch Heather/Calluna vulgaris “Silver Knight” – now

This lovely little heather is at the foot of our front steps.  In late summer it’s covered with light lavender blooms, but I planted it more for the foliage and form than the flower, since that’s what we see most of the year.  We planted it about 5 years ago.

Tenzan Sugi/Cryptomeria japonica “Tenzan” – now

This is the one plant in the garden that I can say with surety is a truly rare plant.  The nursery where I bought it labeled it as such and my reading confirms this to be true.  It’s the smallest form of Cryptomeria there is and valued as such.  Brand new here.  It only grows about 1/4″ a year.  It’s supposed to get about a foot big.  It’s only 8″ now.  It’ll take it years to do that.

Charity Mahonia/Mahonia media “Charity” – now

This one has been here about 9 years.  In that time it’s grown to 12′ x 10′, give or take.  It’s a prickly thing so I had to prune it back quite a bit from the path at its foot.  I pruned up the branches but this year it’s putting back all the foliage I cut off!   Only it’s further back from the front so I won’t have to mess with it, and it won’t mess with us.  I did a post awhile back called Hummer Heaven that shows this in full bloom, covered with brilliant yellow flowers that the bees and hummers love.  On the left below it is a Soft Shield Fern (Polystichum setiferum), also known as Alaska Fern, tho it’s native to Europe.  Go figure.

Graciosa Hinoki False Cypress/Chamaecyparis obtusa “Graciosa” – now

I took this photo from the porch above this plant so you could see the delicate tracery on its branches.  We planted this tree just last year after the snow destroyed the big Arborvitae we had here.  It grows slowly at less than a foot a year.  It’ll get 10′ tall and 8′ wide.  It fits nicely among the rhododendrons, azaleas and kinnickinnick, under the Japanese maple at the right.

Waterfall Dissected Japanese Maple/Acer palmatum dissectum “Waterfall” – now

It does look a bit like a waterfall doesn’t it. The way the leaves overlap one another resembles water flowing down over it.  This tree has been growing here since 2013.  It’s grown from 2′ across to over 8′.  It’s supposed to get even bigger, so I have to prune it back from the lawn every spring.  It puts on 2′ of growth a year so it’s a bit of a job.  It gets harder every year.

Firefly Scotch Heather/Calluna vulgaris “Firefly” – Fall

This is one of the most colorful heathers there is.  In summer it’s orangish green, but the real show is in fall and winter when it turns this deep brick red.  We planted a line of them along the North side of our veggie garden.  It was too weird to watch the South side of the plants turn this great red color, but from the North side, where we stand to look at them, you can’t even tell the South side is red.  Shows you how important it is for plants to get sun, and at the right time, to turn color in fall.

Lady Fern/Athyrium filix-femina – now

This lovely fern is a native of the Pacific Northwest.  We never plant them but they come up all over the garden, often in perfect places like this one.  It’s a deciduous fern so it dies back to the ground in fall.  This one is over 5′ tall and got that way because it was growing behind a large Arborvitae that supported it.  Now it tends to flop on the rhodies in front of it.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple/Acer palmatum atropurpureum “Bloodgood” – now

This maple is in the middle of the garden.  When you look at it all from the back deck it really stands out.  It’s been here for 8 years, and is now 14 1/2′ x 11′.  It will eventually get large enough to fill the space it inhabits now. I’ll have to do some pruning as the years go by to encourage the trees to all fit together, as I do so often.  In fall this tree gets much darker red, almost black and burgundy and is truly stunning.  It’s big enough now to feel like it’s a real tree when you’re underneath it.

Primo Eastern Arborvitae/Thuja occidentalis “Isl/Prm Primo” – now

We just got this cute little thing this last winter.  When we bought it it was a darkish brown color.  Now it’s this lovely dark green.  I love how the branches grow upward like some stone formations I’ve seen in the terrain of the inner mountain west. But this is actually from the east coast and has the same parent as the ubiquitous Pyrimidal Arborviate, the columnar tree grown so frequently as a tall fast growing hedge.  By contrast “Primo” only grows an inch a year, if that.

OK, that’s another batch.  I may only have one more set, but I have to count them to see.  I may add a few more too, if I see some more I like.  I keep taking photos so you never know.  I’m really enjoying this casual flowing show of photos.  It’s so much easier to just post them and write a bit about them.  I don’t have to have an overarching theme to follow.  But I imagine I’ll get back to that format now that I’m feeling somewhat caught up.

This blog is partly a chronicle of the timeline of the plants in this garden, so I have to keep posting their pictures as they grow up.  I’ve taken over 9,000 photos of this garden so I never lack for subjects to post.  It’s so interesting to me to show them as they’ve grown.  It’s very educational, and lots of fun.  I’ve learned a lot growing this garden.  Skills I use in my daily life – Patience being the biggest one I suppose.  You absolutely have to be patient to be a gardener (and I have to work at it).  Plants grow on their own schedules, not ours.  The same is true of life.

Acceptance that it is what it is, is the key.

Steve

Random2

Oregon Green Pine/Pinus nigra “Oregon Green” – March

As I said in my last post I’m doing a few posts on how various plants have grown lately.  Most of the photos are from this year  – just a couple of days ago in fact.  A few are from over the winter.  They’re in no particular order.  Off we go….

This tree is right on the edge of the driveway and provides a significant break between it and the garden within.  This is a photo from a few months ago when the candles were still white.  It’s one of the attractions of this tree.  It’s called an Oregon Green pine, but it’s actually an Austrian/European Black pine.  It was found or created at a nursery in Oregon so it got that name too.  It’s a strong grower with very muscular branches.  I pruned out the center to display the amazing structure of this tree.  There will be  photo of that later on in this series of random photos.

Maupin Glow Incense Cedar/Calocedrus decurrens “Maupin Glow” – now

This tree was found near the town of Maupin, Oregon, thus its name.  A man was hiking and saw a brilliant flash of gold and found this tree.  The new foliage is this brilliant striking yellow/gold.  As the foliage grows it turns green, as you can see on the inside.  It has luscious dark reddish bark and the wood smells wonderful, as do the crushed needles.  Too bad it’s sited next to the dilapidated garage next door.  It was the only place I could plant it.

All the websites say this will only get 15′ x 5′ (10 year size).  This tree is about 18′ x 15′ after 7 1/2 years in this spot and 2 years in a pot on the deck before that – just under 10 years.  I don’t really know how big it will get, but there is one old nurseryman who says it will eventually get 40′ or  50 ‘ tall.  I suspect, and hope, he’s right!  It can get that tall where it is without any interference.  I hope I live to see it!

I grew up near the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, and the species of this tree is a major element of the forests there.  I’ve been in love with this tree most of my life.  It’s really wonderful for me to have it here in our garden.  Reminds me of my youth running free in the woods.  I was a real nature boy, living in the mountains and forests.  I learned much wisdom there.

Green Jewel Dragon Sugi/Cryptomeria japonica “Ryokogu coyokyu” – now

One of the several Cryptomeria, or Sugi in Japanese, in the garden. The species of this tree is a large forest tree and is the national tree of Japan.   The wood is prized for building temples and shrines, like the Hinoki.  There are literally hundreds of cultivars of it.  This is one of the smaller ones.  It’s only about 18″ tall x 14″ wide, after 6 growing season here.  It grows very slowly, only 1/8th of an inch a year, maybe. It looks like a craggy little mountain to me, but apparently someone thought it looked like a Dragon, thus its common name in Japan.  Whatever, I love the little conifers like this.

Louie –  the most wonderful man in the world! – Last fall

Ours is an inspirational love story.  We didn’t meet until we were both 57 years old – proving it’s never too late to find your true love, and that’s what we did.  We’ve been living lovingly together for over 12 years now and are quite sure we’ll be together for the rest of our lives.  We plan to live into our 90’s – we have to be able to watch the garden grow after all…!!

Sappho Rhododendron/Rhododendron “Sappho” – 3 weeks ago

This is one of the few plants Louie planted some 30 or more years ago.  It’s an old time favorite of mine from 40 years ago.  It has beautiful lavender buds that open to pure white flowers with deep purple hearts to them.  That’s my study window above the shrub, so I get a wonderful view of it when it’s in bloom.  Named for the ancient Greek poet Sappho, who lived on the island of Lesbos, from which Lesbians get their name.

Dwarf or Reticulated Iris/Iris reticulata – early February

This is a very dwarf form of the well known Iris.  As you can see they bloom very early in the year, which is pleasant when not much else is in bloom.  They’re so dainty, with such deep vibrant colors.  They’re well established after only 3 years here.

Umpqua River Kalmiopsis/Kalmiopsis leachiana “Umpqua form”

This may actually be one of the truly rare plants I have.  Most are either unique and unusual or semi rare.  But this is considered to be the very first member of the Ercaceae family – the Heath and Heather family, that contains everything from Rhododendrons and Azaleas to Blueberries, Cranberries and Huckleberries, and so many more.  It was found in 1930 in high mountains in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Umpqua National Forest in Southern Oregon.  It has lovely little bell shaped flowers, a hallmark of the Ericaceae.  It’s grown well here since I planted it in 8/18.  I feel lucky to have it here in the garden.

Carstens Wintergold Mugo Pine/Pinus mugo “Carstens Wintergold” – Last fall

We saw this little mugo in the winter when it was this glorious golden color.  That’s only two years ago.  I’ve found that many plants that color up in the winter need sun to do that, tho not all of them.  To be sure it would change I set this pot up on this bench last fall where it can get the most sun possible on the deck.   It worked perfectly and you can see the result.

Red Fox Katsura/Cercidiphyllum japonicum “Rot Fuchs” – now

We planted this as a 12′ tree in February 2015.  It’s the tallest tree we’ve ever brought home, and it stuck out the back of the VW van about 2 feet.  In the time it’s been here it’s gotten too tall to measure, and I can go to 21 -1/2 ft with my bamboo measuring sticks.  I pruned back the lower side branches a year ago and last year it put out a few new branches, but not many.  But this year it’s literally covered with new growth.   There are little branches all over it – some 5″ long and some 18″. All this beautiful purple red, which are especially lovely when you see them against the sun.

The name red fox, or rot fuchs in German, comes from a fanciful idea that the foliage looks like a fox’s tail as the branches grow upward on the tree.  Ours isn’t doing that yet, but it looks like it’s going to over the next few years.  I’ve seen photos of it doing that and it looks nice.  But I like this one too.  It’s got a nice gangly look to it that I find attractive.  I love the leaf colors too.  In summer they turn a deep blueish green.  And in fall it turns a golden color.  A very unusual tree.

The Back Garden – now

This is what it looks like from the deck right now.  There is still new growth on the conifers but most of the other plants have already put on their new spring growth.  It’s been an exciting time!  So many things to look at when I take my morning stroll thru the garden.  It’s been warm enough that I’ve been able to do them naked, as I did last year.  (See World Naked Gardening Day last spring).  The Weeping Giant Sequoia on the right has finally gotten taller than the plum tree that’s been here for 50 years.  A few others are getting closer to its size as well.  It really does feel like a little forest when you’re in the middle of it now.  After 10 or 11 years the trees and shrubs really do feel sorta mature.  It’s a nice place to spend time.

Naselle Rhododendron/Rhododendron “Naselle” – May

I’m so psyched by this rhodie.  I had it where it didn’t get much sun and it bloomed poorly.  So when I cleared out this space I moved it here and look at the results!  It’s covered with these magnificent creamy salmon flowers in huge trusses of 8 or 9 flowers.  I’m so happy with it.   It shows why sunlight is good for plants.  It’s in short supply in our garden, so I use it carefully.

PJM Regal Rhododendron/Rhododendron “PJM Regal” – February

This is one of the earliest plants to bloom every year, as you can see.  I moved it to this location a couple of years ago but we’ve been growing it since March 2015. It grows slowly but is always covered with these beautiful magenta blossoms.  This is another one I can see clearly from my study window.  I’m lucky to have such a nice view of the front garden.

OK, I’ve reached the point where my back once again says I’ve done enough for today.  Time to go water the garden.  I have several more of these to do so I don’t wanna abuse myself too much.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this random look at more plants in our garden.  I hope you come back for the next ones too.

Happy (almost) Summer!

Steve

Random1

Our Back Deck –  Now

I haven’t posted in here in some time, so in the next few posts I’m attempting to catch up on what’s been happening in the garden since then.  I’m making no attempt to organize or categorize these.  I may not even say very much about some of them.  But I’ll label them and try to date them somewhat closely.  Many of them were taken yesterday, including this one here.  This is what we see when we go out our back door and look to our left.  You can see the stairs on the right and the garage door.

The plants include, from the left: bay laurel tree, beanpole yew, red dragon dissected Japanese maple, carstens wintergold mugho pine, hino white kurume azalea and a primo arborvitae.  Above the roof of the garage by the door is a nandina, or heavenly bamboo.  They get much taller than I’d imagined.  I’ve heard that when they grow higher than the door they bring good luck on the household.  So far so good…

Rhododendron racemosum “Rock Rose” – February

This poor plant has been thru the wringer.  After I first planted it a family of racoons moved in under the garage here.  They trampled the poor thing.  It was well over 3′ tall and they broke the whole center out.  I had to stake it up and put re-bar stakes all around it to keep it safe.  But in the last 2 years it’s come back wonderfully.  It blooms like crazy!

Snow White Lawson Cypress/Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Snow White” – now

This beautiful cultivar of the Port Orford Cedar is a light blue all year.  Then in spring it’s supposed to put on white edges.  But this is growing in no sun so it only gets this soft yellowish blush to it.  I still find it very beautiful, and it’s so soft to the touch.  It has also gotten quite a bit larger than the 6′ it was going to grow.  It’s 8 1/2′ tall after 8 years.

Entrance to the front garden – now

I planted the Oregon green pine and the Sango Kaku Japanese maple with the intention that they would form an arch to walk under to go into the garden someday.  It’s working perfectly!  I’ve done some pruning to encourage them but mostly they’ve grown just the way I’d planned and hoped for.  You drop slightly in elevation as you enter, so the whole effect is to draw you gently down into the unique little space inside.  I did a post awhile back called A Hidden Gem about this place then.  It’s only gotten better as it’s grown.

The major components of this garden, front and back, are 10 or 11 years old, (or 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – I keep finding spaces for new plants – somehow.  But I digress…)   According to nursery tag labels, which tell you the 10 year height of the tree, and describe that as “mature”, this garden is now mature – and it actually kinda feels like it.  The tallest tree is over 35′ tall and some others are over 20′ or 25′ even. That isn’t tall for a tree, or even these particular trees, but it already feels like you’re in a young forest inside it.  This entire forest resides on a 35′ x 35′ space of land, on our 1/8 of an acre lot.  There are over 150 trees and shrubs in here, and 260 in the entire front and back gardens!  It’s quite a unique collection…

Japanese Tassel Fern – Polystichum polyblepharum – March

This is such a perfect little fern.  The fronds come out so exactly and are so carefully arranged in a whorl out from the center.  I cut it back in late winter.  The new fronds are so delicate and soft, but then they harden off nicely.  It stays lovely and full all year.

Veggie Garden – now

As you can tell we like carrots and onions.  We grow a lot of each.  They both keep wonderfully well. The carrots we store in sand in buckets.  Works great.  The onions in loose open bins in the garage.  We’re still eating the last 15#’s of the  onions now.  The carrots ran out a month and 1/2 ago.  You can also see we like mustard greens, in the right back corner.  I’ve harvested three cuttings so far this year, and there should be many more.  At the left corner is some  over grown Lacinnato Kale, a luscious green.  It’s kinda tough – I’ve found I need to cook it long enough so it melts in your mouth.

Kelly’s Prostrate Coast Redwood – Sequoia sempervirens “Kelly’s Prostrate” – now

We planted this beauty 10 years ago this month.  It was in a 10 gallon can and was obscenely expensive.  But you don’t see many around, so we grabbed it.  At that time it was about 1-1/2′ x 2′ x 6-8″ high.  Now it’s 6′ x 8′ x 3′ tall!  Wow.  It’s got its spring coat on now and is just gorgeous to touch.  So soft.  This is a sport of the tallest tree in the world.  Again – wow.

Pink Icicle Camellia – Camellia hybrid “Pink Icicle”

Not only does this cammelia grow fast, it blooms from February until May.  It has large pink flowers with an orange center.  It’s lovely, but trying to keep the dead ones off of it is a pain.  It looks so much better but I have to bend the tall ones as far as I can to reach them.  So far I haven’t broken a branch.  I hope I never do.  Time for the grabby tool…

Soft Shield Fern – Polystichum setiferum

This fern was only supposed to be a 3′ ball.  It’s over 6′ now, tho it is 3′ tall.  I cut this back to a ball bigger than a soccer ball every winter just before the new fiddleheads appear.  Gotta do it at the right time – not too early so it looks bare for too long.  But not too late or you might cut off the new growth.  I’ve learned this by experience.

Looking into the Garden from the South side – Now

There are a lot of plants here.  Not sure I’ll hit all of them.  But: On the left is a Jade Butterflies Ginkgo/Ginkgo biloba “Jade Butterflies”.  Below it is an Irish Heath.  More on it later.  Then a Baby Blue Sawara False Cypress/Chamaecyparis pisifera “Baby Blue”.  Then the Sequoia I showed you already.  Above it is a nice Howard McMinn Manzanita/Arcostaphyllos densiflora “Howard McMinn”.

The main plant I wanted to show off in this photo tho is the large tree in the middle.  It’s a Vanessa Persian Ironwood Tree/Parrotia persica “Vanessa”.   It grows in a large vase shape.  The new growth droops way down as it grows, but in time pulls the whole tree back up tighter together.   You have to be very patient and not try to prune off something that’s in your way, because it may not be when it pulls back up.  Again – experience is the teacher.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce – Picea glauca var. albertiana f. glauca – now

I put these in for 2 reasons.  One is simply that they’re beautiful plants, especially with their new growth on them.  The second reason is that I wanted to show just how big these little trees get.  They sell them at the Holiday Season at the big box stores as 2ft tall tiny trees.   They actually get this big, over 20-30 years anyway.  The tall one is 11′ tall, and the “short” one is 8′.  And they’re each at least 6′ across at the bottom.  Not quite a table to tree in time.

Weeping Purple Copper Beech/Fagus sylvatica “pendular purpurea”

I planted this 10 years ago to commemorate my brother, who died of AIDS in 2009.  I buried some of his ashes underneath it. I think of him every time I see it here.  I expected a tree with a central leader, which this had at first.  But then it fell over and I had to stake it up to this height.  On the right side I trained the big branch over that side a few years ago.  It’s done so well I did it again last year at the top and I’m doing the new top for next year.  It has very supple new branches that you can direct where you want them with a stick like I’ve done.  No stress on the tree at all, but it holds it where I want it.  This new top will now come down over the front of the tree next year and for many years to come.

OK, that’s all I’m doing today.  My back is killing me from sitting at this computer for too long.  I need to go garden and pull weeds or something.  I’m not sure when I’ll do the next set but I’ll do another dozen sometime soon.  I hope you enjoyed this random look at the garden, and that you come back for the next ones!

Thanks for going along for the ride,

Steve

Fresh Ferns

Alaska Fern (Polystichum setiferum)

Sometimes called a Soft Shield fern this one actually comes from Western Europe.  Who knows why they name things like they do? This one is by our garage and has grown more slowly than one I’ll show you soon.  It’s gotten quite large this year.

Alpine Water Fern (Blechnum penna-marina)

This lovely ground cover fern started out as a 4″ pot several years ago.  I wasn’t sure it would make it since it’s native to New Zealand and the South Pacific.  I love the way it’s turned this area into a little grotto.  It’s growing all thru the area now.

Himalayan Maidenhair fern (Adiantum venustum)

I never knew there was hardy evergreen maidenhair fern until I saw this one. It’s so delicate but still able to withstand even 2 feet of snow.  I cut it back to the ground in early spring so this is all new growth.  It’s under a dwarf Dawn Redwood.

Alaska fern (Polystichum setiferum)

This is the same as the first one I showed you, but it’s in the garden proper and has grown Much bigger and faster than its companion. It’s growing over the path now so I have to gently prune it back so we can still walk thru.  It’s 4-5′ across!

Licorice fern (Polypodium glycorrhiza)

This one is native to the west coast of North America. It’s especially prominent in the PNW here where it grows all over the trunks of trees, evenly high up in them.  It’s one of the plants that makes the rain forest so lush and beautiful.

Japanese Tassel fern (Polystichum polyblepharum)

This one grows in SE Asia and Japan.  I’ve been growing it for several years and this one is the best them.  I cut it back in spring, as I do many of these ferns, so all the growth is new and fresh each year.  It’s part of the grotto effect in this area.

The Unknown’s One (Who knows?)

Do you recognize this fern?  If you do please let me know.  It’s an old one here but I somehow lost its tag years ago and have never been able to figure it out.  It dies back to the ground each year and has gotten bigger with each season.

Korean Rock fern (Polystichum tsus-sinensis)

An evergreen fern from Asia that stays lovely all year. I don’t even cut it back because the fronds stay so fresh all year. It went thru some deep cold this winter and did fine.  It’s under a weeping beech and is deeply shaded, but seems to like it.

Ghost fern (Athyrium x Ghost)

Another deciduous fern that dies back to the ground each year.  I don’t have many that do that as I like the evergreen ones better, but some of these are very lovely.  It’s a cross between Lady fern and Japanese Painted fern.  It shines in the shade.

Dwarf Crisped Golden-Scale Male fern (Dryopteris affinis “Crispa-Gracilis”)

A big name for such a small fern!  It’s native to Great Britain.  It loves shady rockeries so it fits in perfectly here.  It’s located right at the edge of the drip from the fountain so it gets plenty of extra water when the fountain is on.  Another grotto fern.

Western Sword fern (Polystichum munitum)

This is our largest fern here in the PNW.  It will get up to 6′ or more in the woods here.  It grows all over and is one of the principal ferns that covers the hills and valleys.  It gives the rain forest a lush look and makes it all so beautiful.

Mackino’s Holly fern (Polystichum mackinoi)

This may look soft and delicate but run your hands over the fronds and it’ll scratch you  You can feel why it’s called a holly fern when you touch it. This is all fresh new growth since I cut it back each year.  It’s only 2 years old here but is quite large.

Robust Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas “Robusta”)

I can hardly believe how fast this fern has grown in the last 2 years it’s been here.  I planted it under a large cryptomeria but it faces away from the deck so to see it you have to be on the path along the fence.  I walk there just to look at it.

Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

From the male fern to the lady fern… This is a deciduous fern that gets very big – as big as the sword fern it seems. This one came up as a volunteer many years ago, and since the big shrub in front of it died it finally has a chance to show off.

Hart’s Tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium)

A most unusual fern this one is.  It looks like no other in the garden with its shiny stiff fronds that stay green for years.  I cut it back after new growth started this year since the old ones were so ratty looking.  It’s come back well.  It’s from Eurasia.

Soft Shield fern (Polystichum setiferum “Diversilobum”)

This is the same species as the Alaska fern but it’s a cultivar that is much smaller and softer.  It has some curled fronds which is the diversilobum part I guess.  It has grown well over many years and comes back nicely after each winter.

Deer fern (Blechnum spicant)

Another PNW native, this covers the floor of the rain forest, along with the sword and the licorice ferns.  It has both sterile and fertile fronds – the taller ones are sterile and the shorter ones fertile (I think..).  It’s evergreen but gets ratty over winter.

Long Eared Holly fern (Polysticum neoloblatum)

Another one you don’t want to touch too strongly.  The fronds are prickly, almost like holly but not as bad.  It’s had a hard life here but is finally in a good spot to grow well.  It will fill in the area here fully in time.  It’s native to SE Asia.

Hard Shield fern (Polystichum aculeatum)

This is closely related to the Alaska and Soft Shield ferns.  I guess its fronds are stiffer then the others and that’s why it’s called hard.  I hope it doesn’t get as big as the Alaskan in the garden.  It’s not supposed to, but you never know!

Remote Wood fern (Dryopteris remota)

I’m not sure why they call this a remote fern.  It’s native to both Europe and Asia so it covers a wide range.  It needs cutting back each spring before it leafs out and that why it looks so perfect and lush.  That’s Baby Tears under it.  Soft and pretty.

I guess that’s it. I didn’t realize just how many fern we have here in our little Nature Sanctuary.  I’m a big fan of them so it’s no surprise but it’s nice to see them all here in one place.  I do these posts both to share my joy of gardening but also to create a chronicle of our garden.  I can look back over the years and see how things have prospered, or failed.  It’s very useful.

You’ve no doubt noticed that most of the ferns I covered were either Polystichum or Dryopteris.  Dryopteris is a genus of about 250 species that range over most of the northern hemisphere, from Europe to Asia and even to the Americas.  They’re commonly called wood ferns and have their highest concentrations in SE Asia.

Polysticuhm is also a large genus with around 260 species covering a similarly large area, also mostly in Asia, with 120 in China alone.  They also grow over large areas of Brazil, with only a few species in North America, Europe and Africa.  The two genera between them contain most of the ferns of the world.

Thanks for visiting us and checking out our ferns.  I hope you have some space to grow some of these wonders yourself!

Loving the lushness,

Steve

World Naked Gardening Day!

Here I am with a flat of tomato seedlings I started from seed in the greenhouse a few weeks ago.  They’ll be ready to plant out next weekend on Mother’s Day.  They should be safe from late frosts by then.  It’s a wonderful time of year to be in out in our little Wildlife Nature Sanctuary and Garden.  And to add to the attraction – today is World Naked Gardening Day!  It was started in 2005 by some “naturists” right here in Seattle as a project of Body Freedom Collaborative.  Since then it has become a world-wide phenomenon in gardens and parks everywhere.  It’s always held on the first Saturday in May, tho the folks “down under” do it in late October.

According to the WNGD.org website:

Why garden naked? First of all, it’s fun! Second only to swimming, gardening is at the top of the list of family-friendly activities people are most ready to consider doing nude. Moreover, our culture needs to move toward a healthy sense of both body acceptance and our relation to the natural environment. Gardening naked is not only a simple joy, it reminds us–even if only for those few sunkissed minutes–that we can be honest with who we are as humans and as part of this planet.

“Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! –ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness then indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Perhaps indeed he or she to whom the free exhilarating ecstasy of nakedness in Nature has never been eligible (and how many thousands there are!) has not really known what purity is–nor what faith or art or health really is.” Walt Whitman, Specimen Day.

Taking a break from edging the lawn.  I always do it by hand so it comes out nice and clean, and I can remove the grass that keeps trying to take over the planting beds.  Yes, I wear sunscreen, at the behest of my dermatologist, who warned me that I’d better be more careful, or I’d end up back at his office with more a serious complaint than a check up!  I generally wear a hat that helps keep my head shaded and cooler.  The sun gets hot when you’re down on your knees like this.  It feels so good to be naked in my own garden.  My neighbors are pretty cool, and we have a lot of privacy, but it’s not a big deal really, as it’s legal to be nude in public here in Seattle, as long as you’re not indecent or obscene, or around kids, of course.  The police don’t really bother with it unless you break the law.  Since I’m in my own yard on my own property I can do it with impunity and not fear any consequences, even if I get “caught”. 😉

“When you’re out there with a gentle breeze on you, every last hair on your body feels it. You feel completely connected with the natural world in a way you just can’t in clothes.”   Barbara Pollard, of Abbey House Gardens

I’m tending some Russian Red Kale we planted late last summer.  Over wintering it gives it such a sweet flavor, thanks to the frosts and cold of winter.  We’ve been eating off this patch for awhile now and can do so for some time yet.  I keep the flower buds trimmed off so it won’t bloom and we can keep getting more leaves to eat.  Yum!  We’ve also got onions and peas growing so far this year, with corn and tomatoes ready to go soon.  We get a lot of good food from our little veggie gardens.  We’re still eating the carrots and onions we grew last year!  We stored the carrots in sand last fall, and they kept perfectly!  This was a new method for us and we’ll do it again this year, as well as keep some in the ground to harvest as we need them.

“The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one’s flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure glow not explainable.”  John Muir, founder of The Sierra Club

Like I said – it gets pretty hot when you’re down close to the ground like this.  I can feel the heat of the sun just baking into my back as I weed the flower bed here.  I’ve planted all sorts of flower seeds here, and most of them are coming up.  I’ll have to do some thinning so they won’t be too crowded.   This bed is always so beautiful as summer progresses and it fills with blooms of all sorts.  I see lots of Bee’s Friend coming up, as well as China Asters, Sunflowers and Opium Poppies (yes, they’re legal to grow, as long as you don’t harvest the sap!).

From the WNGD.org website again:

All that’s involved is getting naked and making the world’s gardens–whatever their size, public or private–healthier and more attractive. WNGD has no political agenda, nor is it owned or organized by any one particular group. Naked individuals and groups are encouraged to adopt the day for themselves.

Events like WNGD can help develop a sense of community among people of every stripe. Taking part in something that is bigger than any one household, naturist group, or gardening club can move gardeners with an au naturel joie de vivre toward becoming a community. And in the case of WNGD, it’s fun, costs no money, runs no unwanted risk, reminds us of our tie to the natural world, and does something good for the environment.

Finally, in some shade in the center of the garden at last!  This area has become so special to me.  It’s like being in a secluded glade in the forest with all the ferns and conifers as well as numerous flowers.  You can see the large leaves of the Wild Ginger at the bottom of the photo, with the Bleeding Heart blooming above it, and the Kelley’s Prostrate Redwood at the left side.  You can also just see the edge of the fountain here too.  When it’s on it fills the whole garden with its gentle gurgling sound, reminiscent of a small brook or stream.  It makes the air feel cooler too, and the birds love to play in the water as they fill the air with their lovely sounds.  It’s a nice place to be naked – you feel so connected to all the plants and the water, and all of Nature.  Without the barriers of clothing you feel like you really belong here.  It’s truly a healthy pastime, good for both your physical and your mental health.  I’ve been a nudist my whole life and lately it’s become a passion for me to garden naked, and I’ve been going outside and doing it as often as I can.  The warming days of Spring provide enough heat to make it not only comfortable, but enticing as well.  It’s so easy to immerse yourself in it and just let your energies flow unimpeded…

Walt says it best:

I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, : I am mad for it to be in contact with me.   Walt Whitman: From Song of Myself (1855)

If you haven’t tried gardening naked I heartily suggest you give it a try.  You may be surprised at how good it can make you feel about yourself to be at one with your garden like this.  It feels like all the plants are in harmony with you and the whole of Nature fills you with an ecstatic joy!  I am mad to merge with it!

Feel the Sun on your beautiful body!

Steve

Japanese Forest Grass

This is one of the last plants in the garden to have great fall color.  I showed you most of our other ones in my last post.  It’s a luscious light green in summer but in fall it turns this spectacular golden shade.  It really stands out in the garden now that all the trees around it have lost their leaves and all we see are their bare branches. It always provides a lush presence in the garden but I especially love it when it gives us this bright spot of color in an otherwise green understory beneath a stark upper landscape and a drab sky.  It’s surrounded by Rhododendrons and ferns and normally blends in well with them all, but now it’s a striking contrast to them.  The leaves hang on for several months as they gently fade in color and eventually meld into the surrounding soil.

I struggled to grow this plant for some time until I finally put it in the right location.  It’s in deep shade underneath our Red Pygmy Japanese maple, as you can see in the first photo, and below the fountain as you can see in the second one.  Once I grew it there it just took off.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?  It’s supposed to grow into a 1′-2′ mound and ours has gotten about that big now.  Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra “All Gold”) has an appropriate varietal name of All Gold based on what we see at this time of year.  I planted it in this spot about 5 years ago, so it’s not particularly fast growing, but it will show off its delicate beauty for years to come.

Happy Autumn!

Steve

Taxodium distichum “Peve Minaret” II

7/9/2011

8/23/2012

9/16/2013

8/13/2014

9/10/2015

7/18/2016

B4iKKBYvSX+CyBwuLw6I8w_thumb_50e3

10/10/2017

7/2/2018

 

I know I’ve done this tree before, (https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/taxodium-distichum-peve-minaret/) but it’s grown so much since then I just had to show it off again.  (That’s what I said last time!  I don’t want to repeat myself too much so if you want to know a lot more about this tree go to the link.)  This is a dwarf version of our native Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), so called because it loses its leaves in the fall.  You wouldn’t know that to look at them would you?  A deciduous conifer is quite a rarity, as there are only a handful in the world.  I have 2 others – a Metasequoia and a Larch. All of them are amazing and unique trees.  

It’s native to the SE portion of the united States and is a magnificent tree that grows to 100-120 feet tall.  The largest one known is 145′ tall and another is 1,620 years old, making it one of the oldest tree species in North America.  It’s also known for putting up “knees” in the swamp water it so often grows in – for support I understand, not oxygen as some have thought.  (like me…).  The wood is very water resistant and lasts for generations so it’s known as “wood eternal”.  It’s needles turn a beautiful orange brown color in the fall, tho I have to say mine isn’t as beautiful as the species I’ve seen.  It was discovered by a nurseryman name Pete Vergeldt in the Netherlands in 1990 as a seedling in his stock.  You never know what you might find among this years crop!

I call it one of my “pettable trees’ because the foliage gets so nice and soft like ferns, and just begs to be touched.  It’s now 11 1/2′ tall, as of this morning, but it started out as only 5′.  So in the 8 years it’s been here it’s put on almost 10” a year, tho it seems much faster.  That’s probably because it’s gotten so incredibly wide.  It’s over 9 feet across!  In any event, it’s large for a dwarf that all the garden sites online predict will be less than 10′ x 4′, tho some have the courtesy to tell you it may get to 20 feet tall, perhaps.  That’d be splendid for us if it doesn’t interfere too much with the giant sequoia next door, and who knows who will win that one?  I have a few such challenging interactions in the garden from ignorant and overzealous planting at times.   So I prune and tie a bit here and there to alleviate the pressure.  It seems to be working so far… 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this latest update on a lovely tree,

Steve

Chamaecyparis obtusa

11/15/08

10/16/10

6/24/11

11/24/12

7/11/13

7/29/15

8/27/16

2/11/17

6/16/18

 

There are literally hundreds of cultivars of this tree, the Hinoki false cypress, but this is the original species from which all the others come.  It’s supposed to be a slow growing tree, but in looking at these pictures it seems to me it’s grown moderately fast.  Not like the ones that grow 3′ a year of course, but well over a foot, maybe a foot and 1/2 per year. That’s not bad.  It’s one of the first trees I planted in this garden, before I actually moved in to live with Louie.  I’m very pleased with how it’s grown.  It’s almost up to the roof line now, and it’s going to get bigger.

Projections for heights of this tree are difficult to ascertain because there are so many different opinions, but it probably will get to around 40′ tall and 15-20 feet wide here in our garden, in 20 or 25 more years that is.  The ones in the wild grow well over 100′ tall, with a trunk of over 3′ in diameter.  It has beautiful reddish brown bark that you can see in the next to last of these photos.  Its specific name is “obtusa” because the ends of the scale like leaves are blunt tipped (obtuse) which you can easily see when you look closely at them, especially on some of the cultivars.

It’s called the Fire Tree in Japan, where it’s native.  Its lemony scented, light brown wood is used to build temples, palaces, shrines and even table tennis blades!  It, along with Sugi (Cryptomeria), is a major cause of hay fever in Japan.  It’s routinely planted in parks and gardens there and elsewhere in temperate climates, including the US and Europe, though the cultivars are planted far more often than this species tree.  In fact I’ve seen very few of this one, tho I’ve seen dozens of the cultivars and have several here in our garden.  The cultivars, and even the species tree, are often chosen for Bonsai, and some beautiful specimens exist that are hundreds of years old.  I’m very fond of all of them that I’ve seen.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about the tree that all the little ones come from,

Steve

 

Rhododendron

Rhododendron Blue Peter

Unknown – Next door

Rhododendron “Curlew”

Rhododendron “Ginny Gee”

Azalea Kurume “Hino Crimson”

Rhododendron “Blue Diamond”

Rhododendron racemosum “Rock Rose”

Rhododendron “Sappho”

Rhododendron “PJM Regal”

Rhododendron yakushimanum “Ken Janeck”

Azalea Kurume “Ward’s Ruby”

Rhododendron “Ramapo”

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron “Anna Rose Whitney”

As you can see, I love Rhododendrons.  You can see a couple of azaleas in here but they’re rhododendrons too so they fit.   I have a few more but didn’t have good pictures of them.  The American Rhododendron Society lists dozens of species and varieties.  You could spend a whole lifetime just collecting rhododendrons, and some people try to.  You could do worse in the choice of plants to collect.  There are so many forms and types – some are only a few inches tall while others are trees towering 30 feet in the air.  They come in all colors, even yellow and blue, as well as the usual pinks and reds and whites.  I’ve tried to gather several forms and types here and a few are species themselves as opposed to varieties.  I cheated on one of them – the huge one that says “Unknown”.  It’s in the neighbor’s yard and I really don’t know what it is, but I’m trying to find out.  It’s so fragrant you can smell it 10 or 15 feet away when it’s in full bloom.

Rhododendrons are in the Ericacea, the Heath and Heather family.  It’s a huge family encompassing some 4250 species and 124 genera, including blueberry, cranberry, rhododendron, azalea, lingonberry, manzanita, huckleberry, mountain laurel, salal, madrone, bog rosemary, enkianthus, wintergreen, leucothoe, sourwood and heaths and heathers (of course), and many more you may or may not be familiar with.  I’ve been a fan of the family for years and have collected a number of them.  They tend to have bell shaped flowers, as you can easily see in the Rhododendrons.

Most members of the family grow in the northern hemisphere in forests where they cover the ground and form dense mats or thickets of plants. They hold the soil together well and most have glorious flowers.  I hope you get the chance to explore this family and the rhododendrons in particular.  Here in the PNW they grow like weeds, but are so beautiful who cares?? They’re all over town and it’s a wonder to see them now.  We have the world’s largest collection of Rhododendrons in the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, just south of Seattle.  I still haven’t been there (shame, shame…) but I intend to go soon.

So there you go.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the flowers here and are as enthused about them as I am.  The individual plants don’t usually don’t last too long in flower but the overall genus blooms for several months so there are plants in bloom for a long time here.  It makes the region a wonderful place to live for plant enthusiasts like me.  I hope you get a chance to come visit us here and see them for yourself.  They’re worth the trip.

Enjoy!

Steve

 

Contrasts

I love this little scene.  I’m always impressed with the way the colors, textures and forms compliment one another and create an interesting tableau. From the left, the plants in this picture are a white and green Winter Creeper (Euonymus fortunei “Emerald Gaiety”) and in the center, all gloriously purple, (even in the shade which I wasn’t sure would happen since so many colored plants lose their color in the shade, especially the deciduous ones – conifers seem to do better…)  is a Helmond’s Pillar, or Columnar, Barberry (Berberis thunbergii “Helmond Pillar”).  In the center the brown grassy thing is a wild looking Toffee Twist Sedge ( Carex flagellifera “Toffee Twist”), that has grown this big from a 4″ pot in just Two Years!  And to the right is a dark green Spreading English Yew (Taxus baccata “Repandens”).  In the back in the center is the trunk of an Italian Plum we harvest each year for its delicious fruit.  We also give a lot away to the City Fruit organization that gives them to food banks around the area.  Way cool…

I’ve tried to arrange my plantings so that the colors contrast nicely or maybe just compliment one another in form and texture, as you can see in this picture.  It’s a harmonious way to arrange things and I have lots of different plants that congregate here in this little Nature Sanctuary.   At the moment I think we have around 220 different cultivars, species or varieties in this garden that is only a few hundred feet square overall.  I just love so many plants that I’ve gone a bit crazy and collected as many of my favorites as possible.  I’ve also found new favorites to add to the pile.  Whew!!  But now I’m just about out of room for anything larger than flowers, so I’m going to concentrate on them in the future.  Bulbs are so mysterious and cool, annuals rock every summer and perennials share their beauty with us year after year.  I’ll have plenty to do…

What a glorious thing a garden is!  So much to see and to marvel at.  It truly nurtures my soul just to see it all from the house, and to walk among the trees and shrubs as they get bigger and bigger each year.  Louie and I both feel so lucky to have even this small space to garden in and to enjoy the freedom to express our personalities through our gardening.  Who could ask for more??  (Well I could, but that’s for my other blog, Naked Nerves, so I won’t go there now… 😉

Creating compelling contrasts,

Steve

Fiddleheads

 

I love  Spring, when all the ferns put on their new fiddleheads.  They soon turn to beautiful fronds, but I don’t think many people think to look at them closely when they’re in this stage.  I find them fascinating.  They look so primeval and ancient – which I guess they are.  Ferns have been around for a long time.  I have several more in the garden but these are the best ones to show the fiddleheads.  If you have ferns, I encourage you to take a look at them now and see how cool they look.  I’m sure you’ll be impressed!  (Click on the first fern and follow the arrows to see bigger pictures in a slide show.)

From fiddleheads to fronds,

Steve

April Flowers

How could I start with anything but Daffodils??  These are called “Tete a Tete” and have multiplied for 3 years now.  So nice at the entrance to the house.

A Goshiki Kotohime Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Goshiki Kotohime”).  The name of this beautiful maple means 5 colored Old Harp for the multi hued leaves as it opens up, and for the Koto, a traditional Japanese instrument that is harp like.  It’s the first Japanese maple to leaf out every spring and has grown in this pot for years now.  I hope it does so for awhile longer cause I can’t figure out how to get it out!!

A PJM Regal Rhododendron (Rhododendron “PJM Regal”). This is a very early Rhodie that is just vibrant with its color.  It adds some bright color into the grey days of Spring and brings some beauty to the front garden.

I wish I could let you smell this one.  It’s a Winter Daphne (Daphne odora “Marginata”) and is one of the most fragrant plants in the garden world.  We can smell it all over the front yard, even when we walk up onto the front porch.  It’s a classic!

This is a Prostrate Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis “Prostratus”).  It’s a weeper that sometimes falls over the edge of the wall here.  But it occasionally freezes back – it’s only mostly hardly.  It’s very fragrant to touch.

This is another Rosemary – one that most people would more easily recognize than the last one.  It’s a Tuscan Blue Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis “Tuscan Blue”).  It’s notable for having been introduced to the plant world by the noted author and traveler Vita Sackville-West.  It’s delightful to brush by this plant and smell it on your hands as you walk away.

This is what’s known as a species Rhododendron.  That means it’s not a cultivar but rather one found in nature, (tho this one is a cultivar of the native (confused yet?).  It’s a Rock Rose Rhododendron (Rhododendron racemosum “Rock Rose”). I’ve tried to grow this plant for several years, but they keep dying on me.  This one was trashed by the raccoons that ran over it from the old garage next door.  I put re-bar around it and that solved the problem, but I still sorta wanted to eat raccoon for dinner that night!  (Not really….!)

This is a unique plant.  It’s called a Zig Zag Camellia (Camellia japonica “Unryu”).  The name means “Dragon in the Clouds”.  The branches all grow at 45 degree angles to each other.  It’s very interesting to watch it become itself.  Lovely flowers too.

A lovely specimen of Lily of the Valley shrub (Pieris japonica Mountain Fire”).  The new growth is fiery red and looks like flowers it’s so bright.   The flowers are fragrant and are bell shaped – the hallmark of plants in the Ericaceae – the Heath and Heather family, which also includes blueberries and rhododendrons as well as many other familiar plants.

Near the Pieris is this lovely Blue Diamond Rhododendron (Rhododendron “Blue Diamond”), another early blooming one.  There aren’t a lot of Rhodies that are this kind of blue or purple, so it’s unique for us here.  It stays small.

Next to the Rhodie is this Pink Icicle Camellia (Camellia hybrid “Pink Icicle”).  We got this as a large plant and it’s put on several more feet of growth in the last few years.  It blooms early and has lovely pink blossoms with orange centers.

This one is subtle, but I wanted to include it because it’s a wonderful plant.  It shows how the color develops first on the buds.  It’s a Hino Crimson Azalea (Azalea kurume “Hino Crimson”).  It’s a brilliant scarlet red when it blooms and is covered almost totally with tiny bright red flowers.

No flowers here.  This is a Crimson Pygmy Barberry (Berberis thunbergii “Atropurpurea Nana”).  I’m showing it for the purple new growth.  It leafs out early and looks very nice next to the rock path beside it.

I love this one.  It’s a Howard McMinn Manzanita (Arctostaphyllos densiflora “Howard McMinn”). It has wonderful brownish red bark that I’ve exposed by pruning up the branches.  This smells so sweet and is prized by the bees and hummers, and by people too!!  Manzanita means “little apple” in Spanish and some of the species have small red orbs after the flowers leave, but not this one.  Too bad…

This is a big one, and again no flowers.  It’s a Diana Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi “Diana”).  I’m showing it for the light green needles it’s rapidly covering itself with.  They look so delicate but this tree is very hardy.  It’s put on some 13 feet in the last 3 years alone!  I can’t wait to see what it becomes!

This tree is the first to leaf out in the whole garden.  It’s a Korean Butterfly Maple (Acer tschnoskii ssp. “Koreanum”.)  It’s another fast grower and has gotten to this size in only 4-5 years.  It turns a striking color of reddish orange in early fall.

Here’s the last one – an Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifoloium).  It has these wonderfully bright yellow flowers in early spring, then they turn into edible blue berries.  Even people eat the fruit but it’s the birds who love them.  But they’re a bit dangerous to be around – they’re prickly – and Louie keeps threatening to blow them up with dynamite cause they scratch him when he mows the lawn.  But I won’t let him…  Obviously…

This is just the beginning of the flowers to come, but I wanted to give you a taste of what it looks like around here this time of year.  After a dull grey Seattle winter with little color, it’s so exciting to see all these flowers and leaf colors now, and it’s just glorious.  Everyone loves flowers don’t they?  I hope you do!!

Happy Spring!!

Steve

Cryptomeria “Radicans”

Cryptomeria japonica “Radicans”, or Radicans Sugi as it’s called in Japan, is one of my favorite trees in our little nature sanctuary, and one of the two tallest growing trees we have.  This one will eventually get to 45 or 50 feet tall in time, and not too long a time really,  as you can see in the following  pictures.  It grows very fast and loves the wet peat soil we have here in our garden.  We got this tree in a big box from a nursery in Oklahoma.  I couldn’t find it locally so I went on the web. It was 4’11” tall in this tiny pot it came in.  It’s gotten a lot bigger since then.  It’s one of the larger growing of the several hundred cultivars of Cryptomeria.

Cryptomeria, or Sugi, is the national tree of Japan, and grows well over 150 feet tall in its native habitats.  One story of it I like is that of a feudal vassal who wanted to honor his Lord, but didn’t have the funds to do it the way he wanted to.  So he planted an avenue of these trees that was several miles long.  Today it’s a prized site of huge trees for visitors to marvel at.  This tree is quite unique – the only species of its genus (maybe – there’s some disagreement among botanists).  It used to be in the same family as the Redwoods, which it resembles – especially the Giant Sequoia.  In fact it still is, but now it’s the Cupressaceae, instead of the more descriptive one of Taxodiaceae (my bias.)  They use the bark to side temples and shrines, as well as using the wood for all sorts of construction.

This is taken shortly after we planted it in June of 2013.  It looks so tiny there now but even in its first year it grew well over a foot and 1/2, not bad for a new planting.  It replaced an old cherry tree that died on us, a very sad event, so we wanted a fast grower to fill the spot left by the cherries absence.

This was taken in November of the same year, 2013, and shows the growth it put on in that time.  I left all the lower branches on at first to give the tree as much sunshine as it could get in its first year.

This is February 2014, after I pruned it up to begin the process of raising the skirt so we could eventually walk under it.  I haven’t had to prune is since then, but will surely have to at some point in the next few years.

This was taken in July of the same year – 2014 – and you can see how much it’s grown.  It actually put on 3 feet of growth that year.  It totally amazed and thrilled me, as you can imagine.  It’s living up to its reputation as a fast growing tree.

This is in the same year, but in October, after it’s put on even more top growth.  It’s about 9 1/2 feet tall now.

I  took this picture in May of 2015 – the year after the previous photo.  It’s beginning to put on the seasons growth.  It’s getting wider now and filling out more, and the skirt is still the same height as when I first pruned it up.

It’s much fuller now in August of 2015.  Amazing how much it’s grown in just 3 months isn’t it?  It’s beginning to look  more like a real tree.

This is taken in late winter, February of 2016.  It hasn’t grown much since the last photo but you can see the trunk better.  It’s still pretty skinny for such a tall tree, but it’s getting thicker every year.

A few more months and it’s added more growth by the time this photo was taken in July of 2016.  Look at it next to the light post and you can see it grow as the photos go on.

See what I mean about the post?   This is just 2 months more growth in September of 2016.  It’s starting to look a lot fuller now and the whole area is filling out along with it.

This is taken from a different angle and shows the undergrowth well.  This is in July of 2017, just over a year or so ago.  I’m being continually amazed by the growth this tree is putting on.  It’s getting way too big for me to measure it with my measuring stick anymore, but I’d guess it’s at least 16 or 17 feet tall by now.

By October of 2017 it’s even taller – probably 18 or 20 feet now.  That means it’s grown an average of 3 feet a year for it’s 5 years of life here in our garden.  Wow…  When I stand next to it and look up it’s starting to feel like the top is really far away now.

Here it is last month – February 2018.  It hasn’t really grown much since the last photo but it has all sorts of pollen on it that scattered all over the place during the winter.  In Japan it’s a prime source of allergies, so I hope it doesn’t do that too badly to us.  Both of us have allergies to things like this, but that’s the price you pay for such sylvan beauty!

No, this isn’t our tree.   It’s a specimen of the actual species of Cryptomeria japonica that’s growing in the lawn of the Quinalt Lodge in the Quinalt Rain Forest on the central coast of Washington.  We were there just last week and of course I had to take a picture of this tree.  The Lodge was built in 1926 and the tree was planted soon after, so it’s about 90 years old now.  We figure it’s about 80 or 90 feet tall, maybe more.  Not quite as tall as the native spruces and Douglas firs, or even the redwoods they also planted, but it’s still magnificent.  Ours won’t ever get this big, more like half of it, I hope…

So that’s some of the story of this beautiful tree.  I’m continually impressed with the beauty of it and how fast it’s taken its place in our landscape.  The cherry was a big loss and now this tree is slowly filling that gap.  It’s not that big yet but it will get even bigger than the cherry was so it’ll do it quite well in time.  It’s only supposed to get 15-20 feet wide, and I hope that’s true, but it’ll probably get wider.  You just can’t trust the labels, or even the descriptions on the websites.  Not a problem tho.  It’ll get the size it’ll get and that’s just the way it is.  Might as well love it…

Some day I’ll do a post on all the Cryptomerias I have here in our little Nature Sanctuary –  a dozen or so of them now – and show how varied they can really be.  But this will do for now.  Thank you for visiting me and I hope you enjoyed this exploration as much as I enjoyed presenting it.

For all the Sugis everywhere,

Steve

Good Luck Charm

I’ve heard that in Japan it is considered  good luck if you plant a Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) like this one next to  your  doorway and it grows up above the top of your door frame.  This bamboo –  (not a real bamboo – it’s in the Barberry family, with Oregon Grape, Barberries and other Mahonias) –  is 11 feet tall, one of the tallest I’ve ever seen.  The door is on a porch that is 4 feet high – so the plant is 7 feet tall at the porch level and is just above the doorway.   Since we have such good luck here in this home we figure this may be a true thing.  Might as well be, eh?  Good luck is always welcome…

However lucky they are, the berries are unfortunately not good luck for the birds.  They’re poisonous to them, and to us as well, so don’t eat them or expect the birds to.  They know what they doing!   They’re so pretty on the plant anyway, who would want to remove them?  Except maybe to bring them indoors to brighten up your living room with a floral display!

Good luck to you and yours,

Steve

Beneath the Leaves

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana “Contorta)

I usually like to showcase lush green gardens or individual plants in this blog, with some miscellaneous posts here and there.  But it’s Winter and there isn’t much lushness around now.  So I thought I’d do something different.  It’s always fascinated me to look at the trees in the fall and winter when they’re bare of leaves.  You can finally see the structure of them.  They look so different without their clothes on and you can really see how the buds look and the ways they grow.  I’ll show you a few of the deciduous trees in our garden so you can see this structure and appreciate the trees from a whole new perspective.  They’re still beautiful to look at now, and you can see how I’ve pruned them to attain their current shapes.  It’s something that’s so much harder to see when they’re in full leaf.  Hope you enjoy the tour…

Jade Butterflies Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba “Jade Butterflies”)

Vanessa Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica “Vanessa”)

Red Pygmy Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Red Pygmy”)

Diana Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi “Diana”)

Eddie’s White Wonder Dogwood (Cornus florida x nuttallii)

Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Sango-Kaku”)

Korean Butterfly Maple (Acer tschnoskii ssp. “Koreanum”)

Waterfall Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum “Waterfall”)

Dwarf Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum “Peve Minaret”)

Bloodgood Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Bloodgood”)

Miss Grace Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides “Miss Grace”)

Weeping Purple Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica “Purpurea Pendula”)

Red Fox Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum “Rot Fuchs”)

I hope this little story has given you a different idea of a new way to look at trees when they don’t have their leaves on them.  It’s a true art to learn to identify them by their buds and growth habits, without the leaves to guide us.  It takes practice, and I’ve personally found that the aspect is an easier way to identify them then the buds are, but that’s just because I haven’t learned the buds as well.  It’s a lot harder to do, but totally worthwhile to try to learn them.   There’s so much more going on beneath the leaves…

Seeing thru them,

Steve

NW Flower and Garden Festival

As I mentioned in my last post Louie and I spent several hours the other day at the NW Flower and Garden Festival.  It’s celebrating its 30th year as America’s largest family-owned garden themed show.  It’s truly amazing!   There are a number of of demonstration gardens, which are what I’ll be showing you here.  But there’s also a huge marketplace with hundreds of vendors selling all manner of garden products, as well as miscellaneous show type stuff.   There’s also a large plant market with a number of specialty nurseries who offer miniature conifers, bulbs and tubers, even Japanese maples.  I could only handle it for a few hours before sensory overload hit and we had to leave.  But I got a lot of good pictures and I want to share them with you here.

All of these gardens were created by dedicated teams of volunteers in just the 72 hours preceding the show!  Incredible!  Of course none of them would make it outdoors as planted – they’re not meant as literal gardens themselves and their job is to showcase various themes and styles rather than an actual garden design.  They move in literally tons of rock, soil, mulch and of course hundreds of plants, ranging from a few inches to 20 feet or more tall.  I always get a lot of ideas for my own garden, but of course it’s already so over-planted I don’t really have room for more.  But next year I’ll plan ahead better and get some bulbs at least.  But then the reason we go is just to enjoy the sights.  I hope you do too!

OK, thats about it.  It’d be nice if I’d been able to remember each display, but I didn’t have writing materials and it would have been too hard to remember each one anyway.  But I hope that just the designs themselves will be satisfying for you, as it was for me.  If you have a garden show in your area please do find time to go to it.  You’ll be supporting a good cause and be able to see some amazing garden displays and get your own ideas for your garden at home.  It’s worth the trip.

Happy Viewing,

Steve

Winter Foliage

There aren’t many flowers blooming in the garden in Winter, so we look to the ones with colored foliage to give us some interest in the garden this time of year.  A couple of these change color with the cold during the change of seasons, but most of them are colored all year long.  But they’re especially valued in this otherwise rather drab season.

This Cryptomeria elegans is one that changes from a lush green in summer to this lovey purple in winter.  It’s one of the fastest growers in the garden.  It’s only 8 years old and has grown over 20 feet in that time.  The bark is a beautiful reddish brown that adds even more color to it.  It’s one of my favorite plants in the garden all year, but it’s especially nice now.

From one of the tallest plants in the garden to one of  the smallest.   This is a small patch of Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogan planiscapus “Nigrescens”).  It’s this lovely black all year long, one of only a few black plants I know of.  This clump is by the back gate and under a weeping purple beech.  You can’t see them much in the summer, tho what you can see goes well with the purple beech.  So this is their time to shine.  The silver globe is an old cannon ball we painted,  just for fun.  Art is everywhere…

Here’s’ a large one that is easily recognizable  – a Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens “Glauca”).  A common enough plant but its blue is so beautiful all year it’s a treat to have all the time.  It’s in the front yard and provides a nice focal point to the corner of the garden.  It gets big and it’s very prickly – the specific name “pungens” mean sharp, so I’ll have to prune it carefully so we can walk by it safely.

This is another small one – a Morgan’s Chinese arborvitae (Thuja orientalis “Morgan”).  I didn’t even know there were arborvitae in Asia so this was a treat to find in a nursery when I was looking for a yellow plant to provide some bright color in the front yard.  It won’t grow to be more than 3′ x 2′ and it’ll take it years to get that big.  That’s OK because I love dwarf conifers and have a lot of them.

This is another one that changes color with the colder weather.  It’s a Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica “Moyer’s Red”), and not only offers us a beautiful color change but also these lovely bright red berries.  Unfortunately they’re not good bird food but they sure are nice eye candy.  This is at the corner of the entrance to the yard so it gets viewed all the time by passers by.  You can see it a block away.

This one shows two plants in one shot, really three if you count the tiny Iris reticulata by the Blue star Juniper (Juniperus squamata “Blue Star”) at the top of the picture.  The juniper is always this nice blue but the one in the front is the really cool one to me.  It’s a Toffee Twist Sedge (Carex flagillifera “Toffee Twist”) and it’s gotten to this size in one year from a 4″ pot!  We step on its leaves all the time so it stays “trimmed”, and that seems to work OK.

Here’s another nice blue one.  It’s a Snow White Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Snow White”).  It’s a nice columnar plant and it works well at the corner of the yard by the gate.  It grows very slowly and will only get 6′ tall they say, and it’s almost that tall now, so I think it may get bigger.  It’s also blue all year, even in the shade where most colored plants won’t color well.  It’s very soft to the touch and has upright branching, as opposed to the shaggy downward branching of the species.

This is another one that changes color in the fall and winter.  It’s a PJM Regal Rhododendron (Rhododendron “PJM Regal”) and turns this nice purple in winter.  It’s an early bloomer and will be in bloom in the not too distant future.  It has wonderful bright pinkish purple flowers that stand out nicely against the dark green of the pyramidal arborvitae behind it. It’ll get 5′ tall in time.

One of the few golden plant we have, this is a Daniellow Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata “Golden Spire”).  It grows a foot and a half a year and will get to 20′ in time.  It’s a cultivar of the most useful tree of the Pacific Northwest, as far as the native people were concerned.  It’s their “Buffalo” as far as the many uses they had for it.  The species is a huge tree and covers miles of land in this area of the world.  It’s very cool to have this as a reminder of the big ones.

One last blue one.  This is a Sawara False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera “Baby Blue”) and will get to about 6 feet tall, which it almost is now, so it may get bigger.  It’s at the corner of what I used to call the Heather bed, but the heathers mostly died in the big freeze of last winter so I dunno what to call it now.  Just a nice planting bed I guess.  Some spider mites or something bad got into it last year and we lost the back half of it, but I was able to cover it up with other branches.  A sweet, soft little plant.

So that’s it for now.  I have more but they aren’t big enough to show off yet.  Maybe in a few years I’ll do this again.  Probably.  It’s so nice to have these colorful creatures in the garden now to bring some winter cheer into our lives when we walk in the garden during these days of grey and overcast skies.   I hope you enjoyed seeing them and that I gave you some ideas of how to color up your own winter garden!

Colorfully good wishes,  Steve

Welcome to Our Home

I really did mean to publish this when I took it back in October.  But life was too busy then and I just never got around to it.   But it’s a nice image of the entrance to our house and I wanted to put it into the blog, so here it is, a bit late but still beautiful.

From the left the plants here are:  the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum Sango-Kaku), turning its lovely golden fall colors here.  It’s only about 7 1/2 years old and has grown really fast.  I trained it to be narrow at the bottom so we could still walk past it to the steps and into the garden to its right.  It forms a nice arch to enter beneath.

Next to it is a cultivar of the Austrian Black Pine called an Oregon Green Pine.  It’s been here for 8 years and is expected to get twice its present size.  It has beautiful white candles on it in the spring.  It forms the other half of the arch to walk under to get into the garden.

The tree in the back is a Korean Butterfly Maple (Acer tschonoskii ssp. Koreanum).  It’s only been here for 3 1/2 years and has grown about 8 feet in that time.  It turns this beautiful reddish orange fall color and is the first tree to change color.  It’s also the first tree to leaf out in the spring and the first to lose it leaves in the fall as well.  Balance I guess.

Below it is a gray green Pfitzer Juniper (Juniperus chinensis “pfitzeriana”).  It’s one that Louie planted over 30 years ago.  It’d be huge now but I keep it cut back so we can walk the path and drive into the driveway.  Louie wants to dynamite it but I’ve got him to hold off so far with some selective pruning.  They do get large tho, and it’s going to be a constant chore as time goes on.

Above the juniper is a hedge of Pyramidal Arborvitae (Thuja occidentals “Pyrimadalis”).   Louie planted these over 30 years ago as well and they were only in gallon cans then.  They form a dense screen across the front of the garden so that it’s very private inside it all.  It’s a peaceful place to hang out in any time in the year.

The ones at the far right are a line of Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica “Moyer’s Red”).   They’re interspersed with Oregon grape across the front of the garden and were some of the first plants I planted here in 2008.  The nandinas turn this amazing purple red in the fall and winter and you can see the colors from way down the block as you drive towards us. They have brilliant red berries on them in winter but they aren’t edible, even by the birds.  Go figure…

That’s the entrance to our home.  We hope to see you coming up the walk one of these days to visit.  You’ll be very welcome here.  Cheers!

Hummer Heaven

This is a Mahonia x media “Charity” and it’s a haven for the hummingbirds.  In the middle of Winter it’s hard for the little guys to find good food, but this is one place they can always get it.  It’s not uncommon to see several of them at one time on this bush.  Later on the flowers will turn into blue berries that are treats for other birds. All in all it’s a good plant for the bird lovers among us, tho it’s not so friendly to people.  It lives along a path to the greenhouse with the ferns and you have to be careful or it’ll stick you badly.  Still it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the risk.  It grows pretty fast too.  It’s been in the yard for about 6 years and is 8′ tall.  It’s in the Berberidaceae family, and is related to the barberries, various Oregon grapes and the nandinas.  It’s a cool family with lots of colorful plants and many of them have good food for the birds as well.  Check it out and enjoy!

A Bit Of A Garden Tour

Entering the Front Garden under a Japanese Maple & Oregon Green PineThe Maple you enter under – Sango-Kaku, Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress to the left

In the middle of the front garden – Dwarf Hinoki Cypress, Red Fox KatsuraMoving along – Waterfall Maple, SarcococcaAt the end of it – Korean Butterfly Maple, Blue SpruceHeading into the Back Yard – Eddie’s White Wonder DogwoodThe whole thing

4 year old SweetBay Magnolia, Blueberries in color

The north side – Pine, Golden cedar, Black Dragon Sugi, Rasen Sugi, Taxodium, SequoiadendronIn the back corner – Japanese Umbrella Pine, Alberta SpruceJapanese Larch “Diana”Elegans SugiFrom the other side – Jade Butterflies Ginkgo in frontBack thru the garden – Baby Blue Cypress, Howard McMinn ManzanitaA dwarf Sequoia – Kelley’s ProstrateThe Persian Ironwood above it – VanessaThe Inner Glade – the FountainExiting the garden and returning to the real world. Bye, Steve

Deciduous Conifers

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Of the few deciduous conifers that exist on this planet the Larch, or Larix, is probably the best known.  There are some 11 species of it that grow from the Western US across the to the Atlantic seaboard and others that grow across Europe to Siberia and into the Himalayas and beyond to China and Japan.  The one I’m showing you here is a form of the Japanese Larch, Larix kaempferi, called “Diana”.  It’s a uniquely contorted form that bends and twists as it grows fast to a small tree of maybe 30 feet tall, in not much time, given that it’s grown 3 – 3 1/2 feet for the last two years I’ve had it and it’s still growing this year.  It turns an amazing golden yellow in fall and can be seen from the house it’s so bright and clear in its color.

We won’t get much shade from this tree but its form and texture makes up for that quite well.   This tree is in the Pinaceae, or Pine family, along with another of these deciduous conifers called the Pseudolarix, or Golden larch.  It’s not a true larch but sure does look like one. Another great tree for fall color too.  It goes bare in the fall too.  So don’t be shocked when that lovely conifer you have in the front yard loses its leaves in the autumn.  They’ll come back in the spring all feathery and bright green and new.

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This tree in the Cypress family, or Cupressaceae, is well know in the south eastern parts of the US.  It’s a variety of the  Swamp Cypress that inhabits the swamps and wetlands of that area. This is the Taxodium distichum variety called a “Peve Minaret” for the developer of it in Holland.   This is a dwarf form of the tree that will only grow to 10-20 feet tall, depending on which web site you read.  I’ve only seen them get to 10 feet or so myself so we’ll see how it goes. The species tree grows to 100 -150 feet and is a valuable timber tree for commerce in its native habitat.  The wood is known for its ability to withstand rot, as is true with many plants in the Cypress family.  Not surprising, as it grows in water.  It also develops “knees”, or roots that come up above the water line.  Very cool…

This tree turns a lovely shade of orangish brown before it drops its needles in late fall.  It’s late to leaf out in the spring too but the foliage is such a treat it’s well worth the wait.  It’s one of my “pettable” trees because it’s so soft to the touch and easy to be around.  Not prickly like so many conifers are.  This tree is only 5 years old from a 5 ft tree, and it’s now over 10 feet tall and 7 feet across so it’s going to get much bigger in time.  Maybe  it’ll get to that 20 ft. mark.  I’d like that, but since it only puts on about a foot each year, as is typical for many mid sized dwarf trees, it’ll take another 1o years or more to get there.  I can wait…

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This one is perhaps my favorite tree in the garden.  Maybe.  I have so many I love.  This is a variety of the famous Dawn Redwood, or Metasequoia glyptostroboides.  This variety is called “Miss Grace” and it’s a weeper that I had to train up to get it to its current height of 9 feet.  Though it’s the smallest of the redwoods, the species will grow to over 200 feet tall in central China where it was just “discovered” in the early 1940’s.  It was found in the fossil record just before then and was a surprise to be found living still in its native habitat.  Its’s endangered there but its seeds have been sent to arboreta and nurseries all over the world.  I planted my first one for my folks back in the early 70’s and I sure would like to see it now.  It must be close to 80 feet by now I’d guess.  Wow!  I wish my folks had been able to keep that home…. ah well.  But I digress…

The story of this particular cultivar, “Miss Grace”, is that the nurseryman that found it thought it was going to be a weeper and trail along the ground.  But overnight the nursery workers tied it up to be a tree, so that’s what happened.  I worked hard to get mine this tall but it wouldn’t stay put when I tried it to get it to 10 feet and it fell over about 2 months after I took off the training stakes.  So now it weeps down all over itself.  It’s another one of my “pettables” because it’s so incredibly soft to the touch.  It turns a lovely shade of orangish brown, like the Taxodium, in the fall before it loses its needles.  It grows a little slower than the other ones, at several inches a year, so it’ll be a treat to see how big it will get in time.  I’m excited to see how it does.

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Some folks will say I’m cheating with this one.  Many people call this a conifer but it’s not really one.  It’s clearly related it’s true, but it’s not truly a cone bearing tree like the confers.  It’s a Gymnosperm tho like confers but is closer to the cycads (like Sago Palms…) than the conifers.  But I’m including it anyway because so many people call it one, including the  American Conifer Society.  So I’m fine with putting it in this list.  This is a Ginkgo biloba variety called “Jade Butterflies”.  It’s a relatively small dwarf tree that will grow to the usual 10-20 feet tall, but so far it’s only gotten to about 8 feet in my garden.  It’s grown about a foot a year tho so it won’t take it long to get to full size.  The leaves look like small butterflies which is why it’s named for them.  I can see it, but it’s a  fanciful name, as so many botanical names are.  That’s OK, it suits it.

This is a unique tree, being the only member of its family -the Ginkgoaceae – and has been around for over 270 million years in its current form.  It’s called a living fossil and it truly is.  Here in Washington State we have a State Park called the Ginkgo Petrified Forest and we visited it last year on a trip across the country.  It was amazing to see the little leaves in the rocks and to imagine this tree being around way before the dinosaurs and humans by ages.  It’s truly a piece of living history.  There are some giant trees of this type growing all over the world now so it’s a treat to have a small one here in our small garden.

Well, that’s a tour of  some deciduous conifers.  The only one I didn’t mention was the Chinese Swamp Cypress (Glypstrobus – like the Metasequoia glyptostroboides which was named for it.)  I feel privileged to have at least 3 ( maybe 4) of the 5 (maybe  6) deciduous conifers on the planet.  I try to have a great variety of plants in this garden and now have over 200 different varieties or cultivars.   It’s a lot of why we call this a Sanctuary, and sometimes a mini Botanical Garden.  I purposefully sought out these deciduous conifers for their unique status and their wonderful habits of growth.  I like it that they lose their leaves and die back each year.  It’s nice to provide a different option for the garden instead of a dark heavy conifer.  These are all much lighter feeling and the loss of leaves makes them look delicate and fine.  Just my opinion, but I find them fascinating.  I hope you do too.

No, they aren’t dead! 🙂

Steve

 

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

The Path

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Going into the Front Yard

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Going towards the Back Yard

This path runs along the north side of the house. It’s shady and grass won’t grow here, and it was all slanted away from the house and muddy in the rains. So we decided to redo it.  We leveled the area and brought in several bags of walk-on bark to create a nice walk along the house. Then we tackled the front area which was another muddy spot which sloped to the lawn. We got some nice stones and laid them in a rising pattern going into the back and planted Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii), a lovely ground cover that smells divinely of fresh mint when you bruise it as you walk past. It’s made an ugly eye-sore into a pleasing path from front to back. It ties the whole garden together so we can walk around the house to see everything. Not much work for a nice return…

Walking gently,

Steve

Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku”

I wanted a nice tree to walk in under as we came up to our front porch. I didn’t have the room to plant a big tree so I planted a smaller one that gets maybe 25-30 feet tall – big enough for my purposes for sure. In the following pictures I’ll show you how it’s grown so well over the last few years. It was small when we got it and I had to pick one that would allow me to train it so that it wouldn’t block the paths and stairs around it. I did a lot of work to accomplish that, including at one point tying it up so that it was straight, more or less. I dunno if that was really necessary but it worked and now it’s full and big and does the job I wanted it to do. See for yourself!

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April 2010 – shortly after planting

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October 2010 – with some nice fall color

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May 2011 – after a year’s growth

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August 2011 – getting a bit sprawly

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January 2012 – in a little bit of snow – why’s it leaning?

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August 2012 – much fuller now – getting big

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May 2013- nice spring growth

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November 2013 – bare after leaf drop. See how skinny it is?

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May 2014  – lots of growth!

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November 2014 – Fall color – see how the tips are going last? Last to grow – last to turn…

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July 2015 – still skinny

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October 2015 – gentle fall color – it gets brighter!

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March 2016 – just starting to grow – see how red the new growth is?

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April 2016 – in the rain – makes it look huge and cool-looking!

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June 2016 – today – big enough to be a real tree to walk under now – finally!

It’s a bit hard to believe that this tree grew from a few sticks in 2010 to this 20 ft tree in about 7 years of growth. It’s still growing as I write this so I know it’ll get even bigger this year -and it’s still a baby in tree years. I did manage to accomplish my goal of keeping it very narrow so that we can walk up the stairs and into the garden without hitting our heads on the branches.

It’ll get a lot wider and still another 10 feet of of height perhaps and pictures I’ve seen of big ones make me kind of shudder – it’s going to be a big tree here, despite it’s being classified as a “small tree” in my books. It doesn’t get quite as big as the straight species which will get over 40 feet – even 50 for a really big, old one.

This one will do for us. It’s also known as the Coral Bark Maple for the bright red stems it puts on when they first come out. It’s supposed to resemble a tower of sea corral in Japanese, thus the name – “Sango Kaku”. Its lovely in winter, especially with a bit of snow on the ground around it. As they age the limbs turn an undistinguished brown but I still like it fine.

It’s pretty common in nurseries and even the big box stores (where I got mine! – eek!), so if you like this you’ll probably be able to find it somewhere in your area, depending on where you live of course. But common doesn’t mean it’s not great ya know – just that a lot of us like it… 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip thru memory lane with this wonderful tree. I only had a couple of good shots of the really excellent fall colors it turns – from the yellow I did show to a striking reddish orange that you can see from up the street. It’s a beautiful tree and I’m happy to have it to walk in under when I come home. Maybe you could do this too…

Rising from the sea…

Steve

Sorbaria sorbifolia “Sem”

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It’s a little hard to see what’s what here but the plant I’m focusing on is the little one in the lower middle of the screen, to the left of the Daphne and the right of the Globosa Thuja. It’s a little thing now and it was so pretty with its many colored foliage when we got it. This is taken in October of 2010, a couple of months after it was planted. It’s common name is Ural False Spirea and it’s native to Russia, Kazahkistan and  Siberia. It’s Very hardy and is one of the first plants to leaf  out in late winter. I’ll show you how it’s grown over the last few years in the following pictures.

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This is the next winter as it starts to leaf out in February 2011

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By May 2011 it’s gotten quite large already, and you can see the many colors of the leaves here. Just a hint of things to come!

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Here it is in July of 2011, all green now

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March of 2012 – leafing out nicely

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Just a month later in April 2012

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Late March 2013 – getting wider

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Lots of growth by July 2013 – all green and big now

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Late November 2013 – Looks so much smaller when it’s bare doesn’t it?

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Leafing out in March 2014

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Lots of color by April 2014

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May 2014 – a bit bigger…

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February 2015 – just leafing out ( Daphne in bloom next to it…)

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March 2015 – good growth now

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April 2015 – so much bigger in a month!

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Early February 2016

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April 2016 – getting big now, with great spring colors

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June  2016 – Wow! This shows how it looks now

I hope you’ve enjoyed the profile of this unique plant. I see many of them in nurseries looking so sweet and tiny and fluffy and soft.  Like a big fern. They look like you could put them anywhere. But watch out!  They sucker like crazy. This started out with only a few stems and now it’s got dozens and spreads over some 4-5 feet of ground and is over 6′ tall and wide. You can see the remnants of the flowers on this one too. They look like a spirea which is why it’s called a False Spirea I assume. It’s a beautiful plant if you have the room for it. Just make sure you do or it’ll be a monster! But a pretty one at least… 🙂

Happy Summer Solstice!

Steve

 

Elegant Elegans

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At planting in fall color in October 2010, pretty small – 18″ maybe

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Early February 2011 – no growth yet, but good color all winter

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After one seasons growth – December 2011

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Next summer – June 2012 – lots of growth

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July 2012 – strong tip growth

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November 2012 – Tons of new growth!

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May 2013 – Beginning new growth

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October 2013 – Very big now…

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November 2013 – Wow…

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April 2014 – pruned up some for walkway

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May 2014 – full growth

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November 2014 – Fall color beginning

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March 2015 – Green again

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July 2015

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November 2015 – Good Fall color

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February 2016 – Coming out of  Winter

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February 2016  – Getting tall now

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June 2016 – Yesterday

I know this is kind of a long strange post, but it seemed like the best way to show off the growth of this amazing tree. It’s got to be one of the fastest growing trees I’ve ever come across. As you can see it sometimes put on 3-4 ft of growth in one year. I’ve seen Coast Redwoods do 5-6ft but that’s in their habitat. This one really likes it here in our Sanctuary and I’m so pleased to have it.  The botanical name is Cryptomeria japonica “Elegans” and it’s better known as a Sugi in Japan.

It’s one of my “pettable” trees, perhaps the finest, with it’s elegant soft needles that don’t ever prick you, as so many conifers do. It’s billowing branches lift and drop in the breeze to create a delicate show of foliage that intrigues and softens the landscape. I love that it turns such strong colors in the fall and winter as well.

All in all one lovely tree, and just one of many (over 2-300) cultivars of this amazing Cryptomeria, the National Tree of Japan. It clearly likes it here in our peat bog in Seattle too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this retrospective of this beautiful tree.

Thanks for visiting our Garden,

Steve

Red Fox Katsura

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This is a selection of the Japanese Katsura tree known as Red Fox, or botanically as Cercidiphyllum japonicum Rot Fuchs, which means red fox in German. The name is pronounced as CAHT-soo -ra, not caht-SOO-ra as most folks say. Just being picky, but why  not get it right and be culturally sensitive all at once? It’s called Red fox because the branches are supposed to look like a red fox tail. Maybe…

I tried to grow this tree a few years ago in a different location but the wind snapped it off at 4′ and ruined it. I would have tried to let it grow but it was rotten inside, which is no doubt why it broke. But it’d been too long from the nursery so we had to eat it and in time we found a new spot for one and a new tree to fill it.

We planted it in the middle of the surrounding shrubs in February of last year, and it surprised me greatly by growing well over a foot and a half. I’d been led to believe it was a slow grower. Not so. It’s growing well again this year so far and I think it’ll do as well or better than last year. That pleases me.

This tree comes on with deep reddish foliage you can perhaps see at the tips of the branches, if you’re lucky. If not just trust me. 🙂 As summer comes on it turns a deep purple blue color that fades to bluish green towards summer’s end. Then it goes wild and turns gold with reddish tints and has a smell of cotton candy. Lovely!

It’s supposed to be a smaller tree than the species, which gets to 60ft all around in gardens and much larger in the wild. It’s an important timber tree in Japan and is logged commercially there for many uses. This tree will only get to 20-40ft tall and 15-20ft wide, so they say. We’ll see how it goes in time.

This is an unusual tree and I’ve frankly never seen a full grown one except in pictures. I put a lot of faith in those pictures and hope it will grow well and proportionately in my garden. I think it will but it will require some pruning at times I’m sure. Still, it’s a lovely tree and I’m so happy we found it. It looks great to me. I hope you agree.

Lovin’ the purple…

Steve

Evolution of a Garden

I love going thru my photo album and looking back at the garden as it’s grown. I have almost 4,500 pictures so far, dating from 2007 to the present. I’ve been wanting to do a retrospective for some time to show how things have grown over time. So I’ve arranged 3 particular shots over the years in chronological order so we can see each section of the garden and how it’s grown over the years.

Except for the first row where there is no garden, the shots are arranged to show first the front of the garden, then a side view, and finally a back sort of view. Not all these are the same shot of course, but I managed to find ones that seemed to show what I wanted pretty well. Over the time these shots encompass we go from a simple lawn with a few foundation shrubs at the back and some fruit trees to a dense garden full of plants. Unfortunately we lost both of the big Cherries and a large rhododendron. So this garden has a mixture of styles and formats due to the changing of the canopy and other factors.

I might have done things differently if I’d known the trees would die, but who can know those things? I’ve tried to replace them with other trees that will be nice, but there will never be a canopy over it again. That’s OK tho,  because there will be a different look to it as the conifers at the back and sides get bigger and provide an enclosure for the garden on 2 sides. Somehow I managed to have all deciduous trees in the middle of everything so in the winter the center of the garden is bare but the sides stay green, and the underplantings stay green too. It’s a nice effect.

If you scroll down each line you can get a sort of slide show effect and see how each area has grown each year. Or you can click on the first one and go thru them that way so you see more. In fact I recommend you do that to see the full pictures.

I took the last set just a couple of days ago so they’re recent.  This is how it looks today, tho it’ll be different in a few months after the conifers grow more. It’ll take many years for this garden to mature, and we’ll never get to see it all, but I’m amazed at how much it’s grown in such a short time, so who knows? We’re planting trees we’ll probably never live to sit in the shade of, but other folks will get to. Planning for a future of green…

I hope you enjoyed this look back in time,

Steve

9 Fine Maples

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I have a small garden. So I have to be selective in my choosing of plants. One plant I truly love is the Japanese Maple. It comes in several hundred cultivars and varieties and I have only 9 of them, but I love them all. They’re all unique and none is similar to the others, tho all are Acer palmatums. This first one is a Bloodgood and is considered one of the finest full size Red maples there is. It’s been in cultivation for a long time but it still has admirers. The botanical name is Acer palmatum atropurpureum Bloodgood.

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This one is a dwarf and only gets to 4-6 feet tall. It’ll stay in this pot for as many years as I can keep it there. Its called a Goshiki Kotohime, which means Variegated Old Harp. It’s a choice little plant and has several colors in the leaves, thus the name Goshiki, which means 5-colored. The Kotohime means Old Harp, or Koto as most folks know it. A lovely small tree.

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This is the first Japanese maple I ever bought for my folks back in the early 70’s ( boy does that date me, eh?). It’s called Kagiri Nishiki, or Roseo Marginatum, which is the name I first learned it by. Its unique in that all the leaves are different and are sickle shaped with beautiful variegation in them, from creamy white to a cool bluish green. It’ll get to about 15 ft tall and wide.

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This is another small form that only gets about 8 ft tall and 4-6 wide. It’s considered the best red dissectum there is. It’s called a Red Dragon, as the leaves apparently resemble a dragon’s claws. Very slow growing. I’ve had it for years and it hasn’t grown hardly at all. Oh well, I still love it…

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Here’s another red one ( I seem to like colors don’t I?). It’s a Red Pygmy and gets up to maybe 15 ft in time tho it’s only about 7′ now. It has deeply cut leaves that make it look almost like a weeping willow when it leafs out. It turns a luscious golden yellow in the fall. It’s grown fast  so far. Beautiful!

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This is a well know maple – the Coral Bark or Sango Kaku maple. So called because the red stems look like towers of sea collar rising out of the ocean. It’s a full size one that will get to 25 or 30 ft tall in time. It turns a deep gold with reddish tints in the fall.

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This is my newest acquisition. It’s called Shiraz and has incredible variegation in the leaves of a light red darkening to a darker red on the margins. It’s supposed to stay this way for awhile but I just planted it this spring so I don’t know what will happen next. I expect great things from it.

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This one has confused me all along. It never has grown more than a few inches each year, and tho it’s gotten much fuller it’s still very small and looks like it’ll be a shrub forever. It’s a lovely form called Ukigumo, or the Floating Cloud Maple. It’s supposed to look like clouds in the sky, and it does against a darker background, which I don’t have. Turns lovely shades of pink in the fall. Behind it is a large Blue Peter Rhodie that has been here for 30 some years. A nice background for this picture…

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This is the last one I have. It’s another dissectum called Waterfall. It turns a spectacular golden yellow orange in the fall and is supposed to get to 10 ft tall and 12 ft wide!! Wow! Another time of not reading about the full size till I got home. It’s growing a foot or more a year and I have to prune most of it off because it’s in the wrong place. It’s a beautiful plant still. I’ll get it to fit, just wait…

So that’s the tour. I decided to keep it to mostly pictures this time since I wrote so much last time. I try to balance things out  some… I’m glad you could come along on this walk. More pretty pictures to come. 🙂

Thanks for visiting,

Steve

Still Growing

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I started this blog to showcase the new garden my partner Louie and I planted around our home beginning in 2008 and 2009 and  continuing to today. There were some foundation plants here to begin with but we added the bulk of the plants I’ve shown you and will continue to show you in the future, as long as I continue to write this blog anyway. It’s been almost 2 years since I posted to this blog and I figure it’s time to start again, slowly… So, to begin with is some of a retrospective of changes we’ve made since I last posted in 2014. The top picture here is a scene of the whole garden as it exists today. It’s changed quite a bit in 2 years but is still the same as well. I hope you enjoy this tour of what’s new and what’s still growing good. Here we go.

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This is a closer view of the picture we just saw. It’s more of an internal view. Since I last posted here we lost a big cherry tree in the center of the yard. It was next to the fountain here and if you look back a few posts you’ll see it and how it looked then. After the tree was removed we planted a new Parrotia persica “Vanessa”, a cultivar of the Persian Ironwood tree that is more columnar and upright in growth so it should fit here well as it grows. It’s chief merit is the amazing colors it turns in fall. It begins in August and continues thru October with colors ranging from deep red to a golden yellow. A very lovely tree, tho it will never provide the garden with the canopy over it as it used to have, but it’ll still be wonderful.

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This is a view of the same inner part of the garden from the side area of the lawn. You can see the new Helmond’s Pillar Barberry at the right – an upright growing form of the Japanese Barberry that is purple and columnar and grows to about 4-5ft. In front of it is a Repandens English yew that is beautiful and large. Behind it is the Bloodgood Japanese maple that has gotten quite a lot bigger in the last 2 years. The left side shows the Sequoia Sempervirens “Kelley’s Prostrate” that is now some 8 ft across and about 1 1/2 ft tall. Not as big as they normally get at 379ft or so! This dwarf is still small but it’ll no doubt get bigger in tim, tho I don’t know where it’ll grow since it’s in the paths already. Above it is the Parrotia again. It’s big and floppy from its new growth and still growing but it’ll stand up straighter once the limbs harden off, I hope…

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This is another side view farther back showing the “Jade Butterflies” Ginkgo very well. It’s about 7 ft tall now and heading to the 10+ ft it’s supposed to get, tho some say it gets to 20 ft. Who can tell with reading the web sites? They all say different things. I can hardly wait till it gets that big. The little Baby Blue Chamaecyparis pisifera on the right has grown into a 4ft cone now and is getting  towards  its 6 ft size as well. Still very full and bright blue, it’s a stand out in the garden.

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Going around the corner on the path to the left of both of the last pictures leads us to a new plant I just put in last year. It’s a “Diana” Japanese Larch -a deciduous conifer that looses its leaves in the fall after they turn a golden yellow that can be seen from the house. It was planted in the spring of last year and still it grew about 3 1/2 feet the first year! I was amazed with it. It’s grown out to 14 inches already this year so I have high hopes it’ll do well again.

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This tree was planted in 2013 to replace the first cherry we lost, and it was only 5′ tall then. In the 3 years it’s grown now it’s up to 13 ft tall. It’s a variety of Cryptomeria, or Sugi as it’s known in Japan, called Radicans, similar to the better know Yoshino but it doesn’t bronze in the winter like the Yoshino does. It’s a real presence in the garden now and tho it will never replace the cherry it was planted for it will still be able to grow to 50 ft here. Next to it is a new Camellia called “Pink Icicle” that was just covered with pink blooms with yellow centers from January thru March. It gets to about 8-12 ft they say.

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Moving along the north side of the garden: On the left is the Pendulous Giant Sequoia and next to it is the “Peve Minaret” Taxodium I profiled a little bit ago. You can see it’s grown a lot since the last profile of it. Next to it used to be a Bailey’s Creek Dogwood, but it got way too big so I had to remove it. I replaced it with another Cryptomeria, (I love them…) called Rasen which means barber pole in Japanese. It has rings around all parts of the tree – the leaves curl around the stems and the stems curl around the tree and the bark even has this distinctive swirl to it. Fascinating! It’ll grow to some 20 – 40 ft tall in time and likely will be a bit wonky but most unique. I’ll profile it soon. To its right is another Sugi called  “Black Dragon” and next to it is a “Nero” black choke cherry that is the new super fruit called Aronia and is very high in anthocyanins like blueberries, only more so. By it is a fastigiate “Inverleith” Scots Pine that is certainly larger than the 10ft the label said it would be. So much for labels, eh?

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I’m jumping to the front yard with a Japanese Katsura tree called Rot Fuchs or Red Fox, for its beautiful reddish blue green color. It’s another fastigiate that will get to 20-40 ft and will grow well here. It contrasts nicely with the  Cornus Bailhalo ‘Ivory Halo’ in the back corner (the white one) and the Gracilis Nana Hinoki cypress at its feet in front of it.  It’s leaves smell of cotton candy in the fall and turn a luscious golden yellow with reddish tints. Lovely!

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Backing up a bit again now to this Japanese maple called Sango Kaku or Coral Bark maple. Can you believe this tree has only grown here for 6 years so far? This will be its 7th year in the garden and it’s grown from a 6 ft tree to a 16 ft one, or more, since it’s really too high to measure it now. It’s so nice to be able to walk under it as you enter the house. Next to it is the Oregon Green Pine variety of the Austrian Black Pine. I’ll show you a picture of it next.

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This is the Green Pine with its new candles on it.   They look so classy with their bright white color against the dark green of the tree itself. I can hardly believe how big this has gotten in its 7 years there. It provides good cover for the birds and a screen to enclose the garden in front now and makes it all feel like a sanctuary there. It’ll get up to 20 ft tall and wide and it’s about 10 1/2 ft tall now. Not bad for a 4 ft shrub a few years ago…

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This is another new tree from a year and 1/2 ago. It’s a truly rare and unique tree – the first rare tree in America. It’s a Franklinia Alatamaha or Franklin tree, named for Ben Franklin himself by the friends of his – the Bartram brothers, botanists to King George III, who discovered it in 1865 along the Altamaha river in Georgia. They couldn’t find it again after 1803 and it’s never been seen in the wild since. All the existing trees come from the ones the Bartrams collected in the 1800’s. It has lovely white camellia like flowers (it’s in the Theacea with camellias) and turns a brilliant shade of reddish purple in the fall. I’ll profile it someday soon too.

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While we’re still in front I’ll show another rare tree. It’s an Acer Tschonoskii ssp Koreanum or Korean Butterfly Maple. It grew 4 feet last year and blew me away totally. It’s too huge now to measure of course but it’s huge. It turns a lovely reddish orange in the fall and is the very first maple to leaf out in mid February, before anything else is moving. It also loses its leaves early, so it balances itself out I guess. A unique specimen and a lovely place to sit on the bench to read or relax.

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I’m going to end today with a new garden area we planted this year. In it is a “Teddy Bear” Southern Magnolia. It’ll grow to about 20 ft tall and not very wide. This space used to be a hedge, which you can still see in the back. But we took out about 12 ft and turned it into a tiny garden. This magnolia is going to be blooming soon as you can see with its huge buds and new growth just starting.

So that’s it. I’ve enjoyed showing you some pictures of how the garden has grown. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. I also hope I can keep up these posts this time but I have some health problems that make that difficult at times. The garden helps me so much with that.

Thanks for reading and happy gardening to you always. It’s nice to be back…

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

Maples in the Sun

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We’ve been lucky to get some sunshine lately and I happened to be out in the back yard the other day when I saw this shot. So I went in and grabbed my camera and took a few photos. (You can click on them to get a larger size shot). I was struck by how beautiful the Japanese Maples look in this picture. From the left is a small dark red one called Red Dragon. It’s a Dissectum type maple and is supposed to be “the best red dissectum”. I’m leery of superlatives but I will say it’s quite beautiful tho it hasn’t grown much in the 4 years it’s been here. But I like it just fine as it stays this dark red all summer long.

The one in the middle is called Red Pygmy and is a Linearlobum type maple. It has strap like leaves that are deeply cut, almost like a dissectum but not as much so. This tree looks almost bronzy golden in the sun but its leaves are actually a light burgundy and look lovely. This tree has grown immensely from a small stick to over 6 feet by 7 or 8 wide. It turns a spectacular golden in the fall.

The third one on the right is a classic Palmatum type of maple called the Bloodgood. It’s an Old standard that has been in cultivation in this country since the Civil War and is named for the Bloodgood Nursery on Long Island in the late 1700’s. It gets to 20 feet tall as opposed to 10′ for the Red Pygmy so it’ll get larger here and fill the space it has to grow into fine.

You can see several other plants in this shot. On the far right is a newish favorite of mine from just a year ago. In that time it’s grown 4 feet and is amazing. It’s a Cryptomeria called Radicans. I have several of the Cryptomerias and I love them all. All are unique and interesting. On the far left is a spreading yew, or Taxus repandens. It’s grown quite a lot in its years here and is a low dark green presence at the corner of the yard. Next to it on the right is a Wintercreeper called Gaiety, or Eunoymus fortunei. It’s trying to grow up the Plum but I’m not letting it do so.

To the left of the Plum is a Manzanita called Howard McMinn that shows off its reddish bark for you tho it’s a bit hard to see. I’ll do a full shot of it soon and show a bit more of it. In the center of this shot is a Leucothoe fontanesiana called Rainbow that turns lovely purples and reds in the fall, tho not as much as I expected. I love the fountain like display it puts on. It loves the water it gets when we clean the fountain too.

 

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In this next shot of the garden a few steps closer, you can see the maples better and also the Blue Star juniper in the middle of the front row. Next to it is a Mugho Pine called Pumilio. It’s done well so far but not gotten too big which is fine with me. It holds down the corner of the garden there near the path. I should mention the two big trees you can see as trunks are an Italian Plum on the left that feeds many of the food bank folks we give the plums to. We like to eat them too but we get so many it’s good we can share them with others. The other tree trunk is a Queen Anne cherry that gives a lot of fruit to the birds but we rarely get any of them. Oh well, it’s a lovely tree and gives some shade to the otherwise open garden.

 

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This is the closest picture of the garden and in it you can see the Heather blooming in the left of the shot, and next to it is another Cryptomeria called Elegans, for its elegant look and soft quality of its leaves. I’ve profiled it before and it’s one of my “Petable” trees. It’s grown from about 1 foot and 1/2 to over 9 feet in 5 years. Wow! I’m impressed. Also here are on the right side you can see the Variegated Sea Holly with its purple cast of blooms near the white picket fence. It’s the most bee friendly plant I have in that it attracts several varieties of bees and is covered in them at times in the sun. What spectacular sights to see and it holds its color for several months quite nicely. Also in the middle of the shot is the Coast Redwood I profiled a week ago – the Kelly’s Prostrate. It’s just to the left of the Red Dragon maple in front of the Heather.

So that’s the pictures of the garden in the sun. It’s so lovely when it shines thru things like it does now. I like how it illuminates them from behind like this. I was lucky to catch it when I did as we haven’t had much sun since this happened a couple of days ago. It’s still been in the 90’s tho, which is very hot for us here in Seattle. We’re melting…. 🙂

Japanese Maples rock!

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

Sequoia sempervirens “Kelley’s Prostrate”

 

I love the Redwoods. But we just don’t have space to plant the tallest tree in the world here on our 1/8 of an acre lot. So I’ve done the next best thing. I found a dwarf variety of the plant. I know it sounds impossible but this one was supposed to get to some 4 feet across and about 8″ tall. Well after less than 4 years it’s now probably 6-7 feet across and over a foot tall. Still not very big but huge compared to what it started out as. It was in a 10 gal. can when I planted it and was about 3 feet by 8″. So it’s grown a  lot!

I’ve arranged these pictures in chronological order with dates so you can see how fast and full it’s grown. It got hit bad by a freeze back in 2011 as you can see by the burned leaves on that shot. But it came back and even tho it did the same again this last winter it came back again full and lush and now you can’t even tell it was damaged at all. It’s so big and full it takes up all the space I’d allotted to it and now I have to gently prune it along the paths so we can still walk thru them.

The foliage is the same as the regular species and has that lovely ferny look to it. In fact one friend asked if it was a large fern of some sort. I can see why he made that mistake because it does look very ferny, a nice following to my last post I think. I dunno how big this will get in time but I suspect it’s just gonna keep getting larger. I hope it goes up a bit and not so wide but then I can’t control that exactly by pruning and I’m loathe to do much of that anyway.

So I’ll just enjoy this bit of low skyline tree that keeps its small size and gives me the sense of having a little redwood forest in my back yard when I get close to it and smell the foliage and see the way it branches out so laterally and low to the ground. It’s so different it’s like a totally different plant, but then it isn’t either. It’s still a Redwood and I’m happy to have it growing here in my garden. It’s a wonderful and a unique plant. I hope it grows as long as its parents do, tho I’ll never live to see that!

Redwoods rule, even the little ones!

Steve

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

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

Shades of Red