Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Hardy Plant Society open garden visit

Although I had originally planned to attend the ANLD tour on Saturday, when I looked at the locations they were all more remote than this city-dweller was really interested in negotiating solo. My sense of direction is limited, and frankly, I doubted my ability to find more than a couple of them within the tour time frame.

I turned instead to the 2013 Open Gardens publication from HPSO. Open Gardens are arguably one of the best benefits of membership in the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. This past weekend, for example, I could have chosen from over ten member open gardens on either Saturday or Sunday, and a smattering on the following Monday evening.
I found the perfect garden to visit that day: I could walk to it, it sounded interestingly eclectic, and, although an expansive suburban garden is a pleasure to explore, I'm always interested to see how and what gardeners can accomplish on the more modest Portland city lot (or two, as in this case.)

It was a warm and sunny day, so I apologize that my pictures are almost uniformly burned out. You may want to put on your sunglasses for the remainder of the tour.
The creators of this lush garden are Peter Eastman and Dayrol Griffin. The home had belonged to Dayrol's parents and he talked a little bit about living behind North Mississippi Street before it became a shopping and dining destination. Suffice it to say, the neighborhood has changed a lot in the twenty years they have lived and gardened here.

Lots of tropical-feeling plants visible from the street dominated the small front garden, including this blooming Melianthus major.

Up the front steps were more tropicals, including a Gunnera, and a burbling fountain that I'm sure helps to dampen the nearby I-5 freeway and Mississippi street noise.

Multiple Trachycarpus fortunei had self-propagated from older palms planted in the back garden, then carefully replanted by the gardeners.

Entering the back garden one was warned to close the gate to prevent two sweet French bulldogs from leaving. Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of the other cute and diminutive residents.

Inside the south gate was a small shady lawn area surrounded by beds, and watched over by a tall cedar. Peter characterized this area as their Northwest garden.

Looking northeast from this area was a colorful trio of fabric flags. Some years ago, the garden lost a large cedar and the resulting vertical space needed filling.

Up closer, you can see how the colors of the pennants echo the colors of the purple clematis winding through a golden ash behind them. There was plenty of golden and chartreuse foliage in this garden, and nice use of contrasting colors everywhere.

I was transfixed by the extraordinary variegation and color of Cornus 'Heronswood Gold'. It was gorgeous!

A big change in focus became evident as I looked east through an arbor into a formal rose garden and central fountain.

Roses, hydrangeas and grasses lined the sides of the paths.

Approaching the rear of the house more tropicals and sun-lovers were massed in and around the slate patio, enjoying the extra heat.
 I believe Peter identified this Mahonia as 'Arthur Menzies'.

Looking west, you can see the beautiful golden-green foliage of the ash I showed earlier. Peter specifically planted this fast grower as a support for the clematis.
Due to a sizable addition to the house in 2001, this part of the garden was more compact. Choice plants were tucked in beside the house and along the patio, where an umbrella added some shade for dining.
Here are the mature palms from which the young ones in the front garden came, along with timber bamboo to help privatize against the expected increase in development on Mississippi behind them.

A last look back to the south across the garden.

In trying to figure out what appeals to me so much about this and other smaller gardens, I concluded that it's the achievable scale of the designs and the sense that these gardeners have many of the same conditions and limitations to deal with as I have. Beautiful small gardens like this allow me to feel that their luxurious and calm spaces are something I can aspire to create in my own garden at Longview Ranch. Just give me twenty years or so.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Superlative gardening

Please forgive me if I get a little over-the-top with excitement sometimes. It's just that I wait all year for the kind of weather and plant intensity that summer brings, and I tend to get carried away with some of the daily developments.

Like my Yucca rostrata: Yesterday, after having looked at the light green topknot it's been sporting for over a month, it suddenly occurred to me that there might be something else going on! Could my young plant actually be getting ready to bloom? There was a hard core at the center of the unfurling leaves. Might that be a potential FLOWER STALK?  I was suddenly dizzy with the thought!

A quick check-in with the Oregon Gardeners group on Facebook seemed to indicate that my plant is pretty young to be blooming, and that other species are doing similar things not related to blooming behavior, as well. But what potential! What excitement!

I bought a fabulously bargain-priced Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' earlier this year at Fry Road Nursery. It was big, but in a very small pot and very pot-bound when I got it out and into the ground. I worried that it might not do well, even with amended drainage and plenty of TLC. Just this week I detected the first of its characteristic red bottlebrush flowers beginning to show color. SUCCESS! I have wanted this plant in my garden for years and it's finally mine - and blooming!

The summer oranges that I adore in my garden are beginning to come on strong.

Here's Kniphofia 'Timothy', adding THE BEST salmony-orange note under the 'Natchez' crape myrtle.

And one of my very favorite summer bloomers, an Agastache that I never see elsewhere, but a color that is PEFECTION in my garden,  A. 'Acapulco Orange'. The florets are a fascinating combination of orange and a dusky pink. It's just beginning to open now, but later in summer, the local bees validate my belief that if you only have one agastache, this is THE ONE.

I'm LOVING my spiky Eryngium forest this time of year. Backing up Zantedeschia 'Flame', starting from the left are,  E. variifolium, E. giganteum, with E. planum 'Jade Frost' just leaning in from the right. As an additional testimonial to their spiny wonderfulness, I haven't seen any neighbor cat activity sullying this part of the garden, either: Win-Win!

This week I have an GORGEOUS PROFUSION of Acanthus blooms, with A. mollis and A. spinosa blooming their little hearts out in the Tropical Fusion area of my back garden. And I love their foliage just as much as I do their stately flower bracts.

All in all, this time of year in the garden is made for superlatives. And, yes, you are completely forgiven if you also find yourself using them to describe thrilling new developments in your garden. Because given our perfect climate, amazing plant options, fascinating nurseries, and superb gardening conditions, I can't understand how you could do ANYTHING else.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp. debeuzevilli: my favorite plant in the garden this week

Riffing on the meme over at danger garden, I'm excited to share this stately Eucalyptus with you this week. As we sat in the garden on Father's Day with our family and guests, I realized we were finally in the welcome filtered shade of our five-year-old Jounama Snow Gum.

I love its powdery blue-gray leaves.

They look spectacular combined with the red of Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in this shot from last summer.

The young bark is beautifully mottled in green, gray, brown and even white, while the older bark is wrapped with color bands and fissures.

Even the oldest bark adds interest as it peels off.

Both the new leaves and the dying leaves are a warm, cinnamon-orange and they look great punctuating the wealth of gray-green foliage.

I chose this particular species because of its reputed cold-hardiness, and it has sailed through some severely cold Portland winters over the five years it has been in. I also wanted a tree that was fairly open and wouldn't add too much shade to my sunny back garden area.

The stats on Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp. debeuzevilli:

   • Hardy in zones 8a to 9b. One of the best adapted Eucs for the Pacific Northwest - can even stand
      sub-freezing wind
   • 20 to 30 feet tall, with an open, umbrella-shaped canopy. Up to 70 feet in Australia - yikes!
   • Sun and well-drained soil
   • Water only until established, then no supplemental water

Some sources recommend cutting it back by one third in its second year to establish a strong root system. I couldn't bring myself to do it, and lived to regret my pruning timidity after the tree leaned increasingly over the next two winters.

Last year I removed a main branch fairly low on the trunk to restore the Euc's balance. It seems to be working, and luckily, the cut isn't very evident.

I know that Eucalyptus trees have a bad reputation in California, but I grew up with them and have always loved their slim, graceful stature and dusky foliage. I'm really happy to have this memory of my childhood embodied in a lovely and thriving tree in my own Portland garden.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bloom Day, June 2013

Although I am typically more focused on foliage and form in the plants here at Longview Ranch, June is a month when I enjoy a garden full of flowers. I have so many blossoms to share today that I'm revisiting last year's color-wheel convention to organize them for you.

Grevillea juniperina 'Lava Cascade'. After taking a full year off after being planted, it has decided to join the bloom party.

Delosperma 'Jewel of the Desert Garnet'.
Aeoneum species. Not strictly a flower, but flower-like to be sure!

I absolutely adore this plant: Clivia miniata 'Belgian Hybrid Orange' is blooming for the third time this year. It's easily worth dragging the pot indoors over winter to enjoy these intense orange blooms in spring.
 Abutilon 'Tangerine'.
Kniphofia 'Timothy' is just getting underway. When fully open, the blooms are an unique salmon color.

Helianthemum 'Ben Nevis'.
Lilium columbianum, our native tiger lily.

Finishing up orange and leading us into yellow is Kniphofia northiae.

A NOID Kniphofia species.

The first of many blooms on Zantedeschia 'Flame'.

Halimium ocymoides, loving the heat in my hell strip.

A bullet-proof, NOID yellow rose that puts up with my indifferent attention to it.

Sedum (pachyclados?)
I've been waiting over a month for the blooms on this hybrid Syneilesis to open. Maybe they never will, so I'm calling them green and showing them here now!

Juncus effusus 'Bay Blue' is a recent acquisition from the new Xera Plants retail shop.

Just one blue flower here: The seemingly inexhaustible Ceanothus 'Victoria' bloom show continues.

A native Penstemon species, keeping the Castilleja miniata on the right company. Indian Paintbrush needs to be planted with a companion plant to share nutrients as it intertwines the plant's roots.
Another native, Erigeron glaucus, Arthur Menzies Beach Daisy.

Acanthus spinosa. Its name is a clue to the fact that this is one sharp plant!

Sooner or later several of these place-keeper lavenders will make way for new species on my hell strip. For now, I'm loving their look and smell along the sidewalk.
Cistus 'Sunset'. I love the big crinkly petals on this one.

Geranium cinereum 'Subcaulescens'. This tiny plant has been pumping out one or two blooms at a time for months.

As I've noted before, I have more white-flowering plants than any other color. Maybe it's my fear of color clashes: White goes with everything, right? In any case, I do love the glow of white at dusk.

Our lovely new native shrub has an equally intoxicating scent. Philadelphus lewisii shines against the neighbor's chocolate-brown garage.

Also new this year, Abutilon vitifolium 'Tennant's White' is an unusual size and shape for an abutilon. The flowers look more like those of a cistus to me.

Trachelospermum jasminoides is doing a nice job of covering the fence. The flowers have a lovely scent and I appreciate its evergreen foliage through winter.

The amazing airy blooms on a new Saxifrage, Saxifraga stolonifera 'Maroon Beauty'.

The ever-reliable small blooms on Potentilla fruticosa 'McKay's White'.

Delicate, pure-white blossoms on Libertia peregrinans 'Bronze Sword'.

Acanthus mollis has more white parts than A. spinosa, so I decided it belonged in this group. What do you think?

Last year, the tiny blossoms on my Arbequina olive sapling resulted in exactly 5 olives. Although so far this little tree has been a very slow grower, I am cozening it in hopes of a useable olive harvest - maybe circa 2050?
My last white flower is a blossom truss on Rosa 'Darlow's Enigma'. It's crammed between the ever-widening Pampas grass and a Trachycarpus palm but manages to grace the garden and hide the fence nicely each summer.

Bloom Day is graciously hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Click over to see what else is blooming on this sunny June day!