Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New natives in the Northwest Territory

I've mentioned before that the Mulch Man and I have divided the back garden into his-and-hers realms for plant choices and their arrangement. Whereas I go for a helter-skelter style using sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants, and a carefree zonal-denial attitude, the Mulch Man inclines to a Northwest-influenced, design-trained and quite deliberate approach to his planning and selection. Indeed, a significant amount of real estate in his Northwest Territory has been lying fallow waiting to find just the right plants after some final tweaking of garden beds last summer. Such restraint!

But several plant-buying expeditions this spring have finally added to the NW Territory beds and expanded our range of native perennials there.

After a trip to the Oregon Garden last fall focused his search on Mahonia repens, we now have a total of nine that will fill one area when they expand. M. repens doesn't seem to be as common in gardens as her sisters, M. aquifolium and M. nervosa, so we hope it doesn't mean she'll be hard to keep happy.
She sure looks sweet in the rain right now.

Last year's Penstemon subserratus was a big success, leading the Mulch Man to search out several more native Penstemon species for the garden. This is P. procerus.

A few very tiny flowers are still gracing her fine foliage.

He added three Penstemon serrulatus. Its inflorescence will be a single blue to purple-blue flower cluster at the end of each stem.

Three little mat-forming P. davidsonii v. menzesii are barely visible below a group of Iris x. pacifica 'Meadow Pastels".

When they came home they had a few outsized pinky-purple flowers that dwarfed their tiny leaves.

This last Penstemon, P. cardwellii, will grow into a 24" evergreen subshrub with purple flowers in late spring.

Here's a new baby Lilium columbianum.

It will be joined later this year by two older ones that were temporarily sequestered in the MulchMaid's garden during construction - with luck, you'll see their flowers this coming Bloom Day.

Looking a bit wan, two Camassia quamash joined three in the garden since last spring.

Despite their slightly exhausted appearance, they are showing unmistakable signs of flowering - a surprise, since the older ones took their first year off, bloom-wise.

Though many of these additions look a little underwhelming at this early stage, lovely Vancouveria hexandra started off looking nicely fresh and frothy.

Our final addition is this Heart-leaf Buckwheat, Eriogonum compositum. I look forward to seeing its distinctive cream-colored flowers in summer - hopefully this summer.

And there's still lots of garden space in the Northwest Territory. I know the Mulch Man hates to shop, but those plants aren't going to come to him. Time to get him out to a few more nurseries!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

California Dreaming, Part 3: A visit to the Huntington

A gardener's trip to the Pasadena area would be incomplete without a visit to the Huntington Gardens. Since I was having none of that, the Huntington was on my list of required destinations. In addition, my sister-in-law, Susan, was keen to show me an exhibition currently in the Boone Gallery there. Off we went!

On our way to the gallery, we passed through an education building where we saw a massive seed,

a huge single leaf,

and an upside-down plant that reminded me of my cat Elvis's tail.

The featured exhibition, When They Were Wild - Recapturing California's Wildflower Heritage, was a wonderful collection of paintings and drawings of California wildflowers done primarily in the early years of the twentieth century. It showcased some little-known botanical illustrators - mostly women - who in some cases were only now receiving their due as artists, and as early documentarians of California's wildflower wealth. The art was beautiful and inspiring, and we thoroughly enjoyed each piece. If only I could have photographed inside the gallery!

Outside the exhibition, big, beautiful planters held some examples of the native species that had been illustrated, including Erigeron glaucus 'Sea Breeze', Arctostaphylos sylvicola, Sisyrinchium bellum, Salvia 'Alan Chickering' and Eschscolzia californica 'Mission Bells'.

These planters held Penstemon heterophyllis 'Margarita BOP' with Arctostaphylos edmundsii 'Bert Johnson', Fremontodendron 'California Glory', Arctostaphylos morroensis and Solanum xanti 'Mountain Pride'.

A close up of the Sisyrinchium. I love this plant.

The "little apples" that give Manzanita its common name.

We wandered on to the Classical Chinese Garden. I was curious to see how it had matured since my last visit in 2011, when I believe it had been open less than a year.

It was a lot more filled in. Where Portland designers might use Azaleas and smaller Rhododendrons, Raphiolepis seemed the plant of choice and it was in full bloom. At zone 8-9, it's a bit too tender here to get used a lot.

Also still blooming were lots of Pittosporum (I think).
The size of the Huntington's Chinese garden allows for bigger swaths of plants than those in Portland's Chinese garden, resulting in a different feeling to the spaces.
Cercis? I noticed them used more extensively in California than they seem to be in Portland.

Following our brief tour of the Chinese garden, we continued on to the Desert Gardens via the Jungle Garden.

Clivias. I apologize for the washed-out photos: it was hot and very sunny.

 Ficus auriculata fruit.

Now we've reached the Desert Garden - did you guess?


Double wow. This may be the bloom of Erithrina acanthocarpa, but the signage wasn't clear to me.
Pink ice.

Echeverias in bloom.
An Aeoneum arboreum 'Zwartkop' forest.
I love, love, love these stately cactus.

There weren't huge numbers of cactus in bloom, but the ones that were blooming were beautiful. This is Stenocactus coptonogonus.

One of my favorites in bloom: Echinocactus grusonii, or Golden Barrel Cactus.
And one of my favorite groupings: Echinocactus grusonii with Agave parryi var. truncata.
Color love!

Here, topped by a yellow flower with hints of the wine color from the paddles.

Ferocactus pilosis.
Get ready, 'cause here I come!

As I mentioned earlier, the day was hot and sunny, so at this point Susan and I were thoroughly cooked. With a last look back along the path, we repaired to the shady coffee cart and cooled down with a delicious iced coffee.

It was a perfect visit to the Huntington!