Saturday, May 30, 2015

By George, I think I've got it!

This year's mystery plant.

Over the past few years I've had a few mystery plants in my garden. Usually they're small, but the two pictures below are from several years ago, when I had some kind of thistle, I believe. In true biennial fashion, it grew a lush rosette for the first year, then began to create a flower stem the following year.

Despite submitting it to the Master Gardener forum and getting lots of input from gardeners and bloggers, I never learned what it was. I was warned not to let it set seed, so I didn't. But those wide, hooked leaves were magnificent!
Now there's another large plant in my garden I've been admiring and wondering about. I first noticed it in the garden last summer. Here it's providing an out of focus backdrop to the early blooms of Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'.
I was entranced by the huge, soft, gray-green leaves and allowed them to stay as they nestled around two Lilium columbianum.

Summer turned into fall and the rosette persisted.
 Those fuzzy, upturned leaves pleased me every time I saw them.

I loved the contrast of the leaves with the bright, fresh green of Sedum 'Angelina'.

As winter turned into spring, the bottom leaves got a little chewed up but the plant thrived.

This spring, the plant began to develop a stem. And looking at online resources, I'm pretty sure I have this big guy identified: Verbascum thapsis.

Yes, of course it's a weed, and in some places it's considered invasive. But on the plus side, it does have some medicinal uses.

At this point in its life cycle, the oldest leaves near the bottom of the plant aren't retaining that beautiful fuzziness and gray-green color.

But they more than make up for it in sheer size.

It's giving the Columbia lilies a run for their money: who will win the airspace race?

Judging from online pictures, the bloom is probably going to bump into the underside of the Trachycarpus fortunei leaves as it matures. And then I'll need to be sure it doesn't set seed.
But it's kind of a cool problem to have.

I'm curious - do you allow big mystery plants to stay for a while in your garden?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Put this on your calendar - the Garden Bloggers Bazaar!

Summer fills up fast for a gardener. There are garden tours to go on, nurseries to shop at and plant sales to attend, not to mention working in one's own garden with the renewed energy that comes from the warmer, drier days.

Well, with all the things already on your garden calender, here's one more event I'd like to urge you to consider: the Portland-area Garden Bloggers Bazaar!

The Garden Bloggers Bazaar is the brainchild of our own Danger Garden, mistress of all things pointy, so chances are good there will be a few spiky plants for sale. Seedlings and plant divisions from other Portland-area garden bloggers will entice you to try something different in your garden.

And if you need a pot for your new plants, gently used containers will be available, too. For example, these dark brown pots are great, but they have never been quite the right look for the front porch of my mid-century ranch: off to a new home with them!

Also included will be pre-owned garden accessories, tools and even furniture. Word on the street is there will even be hand-crafted, leaf and nature-themed jewelry from Cascadia Studios, the Etsy shop of  Jenni, The Rainy Day Gardener.

Here's the date: Saturday, June 13, from 9AM to 2PM (you know - gardener's hours!)
Here's the place: the Union Bank parking lot at the corner of NE Fremont and 24th, right across the street from Garden Fever.

I'm looking forward to the fun, and hope to see some of you there - there will be garden bargains galore at the Garden Bloggers Bazaar!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - May 2015

It's a very floriferous Bloom Day at Longview Ranch. After repeatedly telling myself I'm in it for the foliage, I find I am thrilled with all the blooms showing themselves this month. In fact, May may even be vying with September as one of my favorite garden months, at least this year.

So let's explore the sources of my pleasure!
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria' shines this month.
That perfect periwinkle blue!
Ceanothus 'Joan Mirov' graces the hell strip, backed by the tiny flowers of Thymus praecox.

A very different blue is offered by Corydalis flexuosa 'O'Byrne Blue', still going strong from last month.

The wispy magenta blossoms of Lewisia cotyledon var. howellii start off this month's Lewisia parade.

My several L. cotyledon 'Sunset Series' are heavy bloomers.
Typically there has been a nice selection of Lewisias for sale at the annual Rare Plant Research Open House. It's happening this weekend, May 16-17, so if you want some, you can buy them in bloom.

I bought a flowering L. longipetala 'Little Peach' in March from Little Prince, and after settling into the garden it's coming back with a few blossoms for May.

The last of the Cammassia quamash to bloom are these white ones.

I grow Astelia nervosa for its bullet-proof, shade-loving foliage, but then these cute white blooms show up each year in May. They're kind of a nice bonus.

More white: Cistus x obtusifolius.

Rosa 'Sally Holmes' is blooming her way up the chimney bricks. If you want a semi-climbing, soft pink-to-white rose that's pest resistant, easy care and even has a light fragrance, she's your girl.

The small flowers of Abutilon megapotamicum brighten up a shady area. 

Trachycarpus fortunei is in full flower. Too bad my other Trachy isn't old enough to flower yet, or I might get fruit from them - time will tell if they're different sexes.
Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' is still green, but will soon sport its characteristic red bottlebrush flowers.

Closer to actual opening is Callistemon viridiflorus. It's apparently trying to make up for not flowering at all last year.

Acanthus spinosa asserts itself with these prickly flower spikes.

I tend to take the flowers of Gaultheria shallon for granted, since they bloom a lot of the year and we have a number of them in the Northwest Territory. But every now and again, a flower branch arranges itself so charmingly that I have to recognize and feature it.

In the hot, sunny bed, it's a challenge to photograph the flowers: either it's cloudy and the sun-lovers close up, or it's sunny and the exposure is burned out.

Here, the sun came out with predictable exposure issues for Helianthemum 'Henfield Brilliant', H. 'Cheviot', and Halmiocistus wintonensis 'Merrist Woods Cream'.

My mother would have dubbed this one "cheap and cheerful."

A closeup of the luscious flowers on H. wintonensis 'Merrist Woods Cream'.
Here's a literal cheap and cheerful finale to my Bloom Day post. Every year I get the perfect number of volunteers of this Escholzia californica to brighten up and fill in the holes in my garden without overwhelming it.

Bloom Day is sponsored monthly by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. This is her month, so check out the link for more May flowers from all over.

Happy Bloom Day!