Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' is my favorite plant in the garden - this week

There's lots of autumn color out there this week and I've been enjoying all of it for the past few dry days. And although the changing color is very short-lived on Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant', it's just one feature that's making it my favorite this week.

You just have to love a leaf this big, bold and buttery yellow!
This is my favorite plant of the week for another reason: the annual race is on to see if its blooms will beat our first freeze.
I've had this plant in the garden since 2011 and this year for the first time, it produced multiple babies. I've dug and given away most of them, but I like the Tetrapanax forest look so I've left two larger, well-placed youngsters.

Winter in Portland typically kills off the top of the main plant, so last spring I cut it back at about seven feet to encourage branching out lower down.

Plant Lust stats on Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant':
Zones:  8a-11
Size:  H:20' W:15'
Soil Needs:  Well-drained, rich
Water Needs:  Even moisture
Sun Exposure:  Part sun, part shade
Flowers:  White (something to look forward to...)
Fruit:  Purple, black (... maybe some year in my future!)

A final reason this is my favorite plant this week is the perfect view of Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' I get from my big breakfast room window. It's quite an eyeful.
I'm joining with danger garden to share this favorite plant with you. Click over to read the comments and see what other bloggers are enjoying in their gardens this week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mahonia repens is my favorite plant in the garden - this week

It's late October and our Portland rains have returned in full force. Some of you who know me are aware that I suffer this seasonal change with little grace or enthusiasm. But this week my eye has turned to a plant that flourishes in this autumnal wetness. And unlike me, it looks gorgeous splashed all over with raindrops. I give you Mahonia repens.
We have a number of these Northwest natives in the garden here at Longview Ranch. Here, one snuggles in with some Pacific Coast Iris, and a Beach Daisy.

Pine duff shows off their gleaming green foliage perfectly.
I don't get the credit for my favorite plant this week, because they're in the Northwest Territory of our garden, master-planned by the Mulch Man. Their inclusion is his choice and I couldn't be happier about it.

But I'll confess, the first time I saw Mahonia repens, I was less than overwhelmed. A dusty, parched area of the Oregon Garden held a number of PNW natives, and although their M. repens seemed to be surviving, they weren't stellar examples.

But in our much smaller garden, a trickle of summer water and a little judicious pruning has paid off. What's more, these plants are looking like it's spring in the middle of October. And they've put on this beautiful fresh growth all year long.

There's just the faintest blush of red on some of the new growth.

Here's what Plant Lust has to say about Mahonia repens:

Zone: 6a to 9b
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Water: Drought tolerant to regular water
Exposure: Sun to part-shade
Soil: Well-drained

Like most Mahonia, these have the characteristic bunches of small, yellow flowers with blue berries that follow.  Here's a picture of the blossom from this past March. Yes, it was wet then, too.

In several inhospitable locations in the garden, these Northwest natives have been surprisingly unfazed by scorching late afternoon sun. The occasional brilliant red leaf has been the only sign of any stress.
I'm joining with danger garden this week to share this favorite plant. Check the comments there for more plants that are catching garden bloggers' eyes in late October.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2014

I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, and for the first time in years I even missed last month's GBBD. I'm not sure just what happened -  day after day went by and apparently my garden just wasn't inspiring me enough to blog about in those hot, dry days of September and early October. Or maybe I was just having too much fun in real life.

Anyway, now that the rains have decidedly returned, I plan to be a bit more regular. So I'll start with the few flowers I have for this month's Bloom Day.

Every year Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' looks so wimpy and takes so long to bloom that I swear I'm taking it out. Then along comes that bewitching color combination and I'm enthralled once again. This year it's been particularly striking backed by Pennisetum rubrum.

Punica granatum 'True Dwarf' took a mid-summer break from blooming but came back again in September and has been blooming ever since. Do you suppose that was because I watered it?

Phygelius 'Passionate' feeds the hummingbirds after everything else they love is over. I love its dark orange flowers and reddish leaves so much that I bought another plant when I found it at Windmill Gardens in Sumner, WA, two weekends ago. That 75% reduction in price didn't hurt, either.

Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' is seemingly back from the dead: a happy volunteer seedling from the dear-departed mother plant is now gracing Longview Ranch. I couldn't be happier!

Rosa 'Sally Holmes' is a little rain weary, but I had to include this shot: most of my flowers are small or quiet which makes 'Sally Holmes' the showiest blooms in the garden this month.

Rosa 'Perle d' Or'.

Hakonechloa macra has pretty light red seedheads that match its reddish autumnal stripes.

Erigeron glaucus just blooms on and on.

This Penstemon is on its third bloom phase.

I can't ever get the minute flower/seeds of Persicaria 'Lance Corporal' in focus!

Our new Berberis verruculosa are sending out a few little bright yellow blooms. Check out those handsome thorns, too!

Eucomis pole-evansii gets honorable mention this month for its resolutely upright bloom spike. This one has never been staked and is still standing tall.
Last today is a Streptocarpus I've had for at least twenty years. Re-potting by the Mulch Man and a summer vacation on the patio was the secret to these beautiful, rich blue blooms.

Bloom Day is generously hosted each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens. Click over there to see more October flowers. To participate just visit her site, upload your blog post there, and then add a link to it on your own post.

Happy Bloom Day!

Monday, August 25, 2014

I deleted my August Luck blog post!

I accidentally deleted this blog post. I'm trying to recover it, but not yet having much luck.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August luck, and musings on Mother Nature

If I do say so myself, I am a humble gardener. When things go right in my garden, I generally don't think it's my doing. What I usually think is that I got lucky. Lucky gardening and the beneficence of Mother Nature in my garden have been on my mind this week. Let me explain.

Last year I lost my huge and very favorite Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' to winter. Multiple web searches turned up no stock anywhere to replace it. Then a month or so ago, I spied a tiny seedling in the garden that looked like young Agastache foliage. I hardly dared to hope, but it now seems irrefutably to be growing into exactly that plant. I had assumed it was a sterile hybrid, but I got lucky.

I stopped by a Fred Meyer in Vancouver last week and found this four-foot Musa basjoo plant for the lofty sum of $4.99. Lucky, right?

I bought this Abutilon megapotamicum at Cracked Pots last year and I was sure I lost it over winter. The little sticks of its remaining branches were dry and sad looking.
It's lucky I didn't give up on it earlier, because now, not only is it most definitely alive, it is finally beginning to flower.

Ceanothus 'Victoria' blooms profusely in May. Then in August, when the last thing on my mind is its flowers, comes this: a single, sweet reminder of one of my all-time favorite spring blossoms. Thank you, Mother Nature!
This piece of August luck came in the form of a mystery: I have almost no idea what this is, nor do I know from whence it came, but I love its big, dusty gray leaves sprouting from the point where a patch of Lilium columbianum had lately bloomed. I'll hazard a guess this is a volunteer Verbascum of some kind. Time will tell the answer and meanwhile I'll enjoy the surprise.
Lewisia columbiana var. walloensis has been a non-stop summer bloomer in a gravelly part of the Northwest Territory. It's winding down now, but not without leaving a little present.
I recently discovered a little seedling of the Lewisia going for broke just in front of the Eriogonum compositum. It's just delightful when the plants you really love are the ones that really love your garden.

So is it luck, or is Mother Nature working extra hard on my behalf this month?
I'll take it, whichever it is!


  1. You're also pretty good at what you do, making your garden hospitable to surprise gifts.


    1. I tend to call it benign neglect. ;-)
  2. "It's just delightful when the plants you really love are the ones that really love your garden." Well-said! It makes all the inexplicable losses worth while! Exciting to see someone else growing Eriogonum. Yes!!!! One of my favorites, for so many reasons. PS Your banner photo is glorious.


    1. I love that Heartleaf Buckwheat, Kate. I might get som more. The white under the leaves is fabulous.
  3. It's both so give yourself some credit. My lewisia needs less soil and more gravel. Off to garden in the dark. :o)


    1. Gardening with a flashlight - you're dedicated!
  4. I'm pretty sure anything good happening in my garden right now is down to pure dumb luck. Hooray for all the good things happening there!


    1. Not dumb luck, Alison - it's GOOD luck!
  5. Such lovely surprises, and I agree with Miss Heather and Casa ...there's talent at work here, too :)


    1. Garden surprises are the best!
  6. "Fortune favors the prepared [gardener]" :-)


    1. Prepared, me? ...hmmm, not so much!
  7. Uncommon volunteers are one of the best surprises in the garden I think.

    Basjoo for $5?! Stick that thing into the ground and get the party started! (A single banana is a little sad -- you want a clump!)

    I also have a Verbascum volunteer that arrived out of nowhere. It's actually in a good spot too!


    1. I don't know about in the ground, Alan. I lost one a few years ago and haven't dared since. This point in the year seems a bit tricky for planting a tropical.
  8. Yay for the happy surprises! I always find the best way to get a plant to re-appear is to buy it's every time ;-)


    1. Now THAT is definitely Mom Nature at work!
  9. This is one of the cheeriest end-of-August garden posts I've read. You must be doing something right to be this humble and wise in August!


    1. I guess calling myself humble means I'm not. I'm reminding myself of Uriah Heep in David Copperfield...
  10. I share all the above sentiments and will add that this bit of gardening luck couldn't happen to a nicer gardener.


    1. Aww, Jenni, thank you! Same back atcha!
Thank you in advance for jumping through the annoying but necessary word verification hoop to leave your thoughts!