Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bare root and rhizome time

Each year about this time, the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District has a big sale of native plants. You pre-order through their web site in January, then pick up and pay for the plants about five or six weeks later. It's a great way to get reasonably-priced trees, shrubs, perennials and ferns for your garden.

The MulchMaid picked up her modest selections yesterday: here they are, along with the helenium and trillium she got at the Seattle Garden Show.
She got five Oregon iris, (iris tenax) and three oxalis oregana. The EMSWCD plants had been nicely packed in plastic bags with moist sawdust.

The iris were bare root, and the oxalis were rhizomes.

Although the Mulchmaid only ordered five iris, she got twice as many! She was told they put two plants in each packet, in case one of them fails to grow.

It's important to plant the roots and rhizomes quickly so they don't dry out. Luckily, today was a perfect day for working in the garden.

This picture of iris tenax is from the Pacific Bulb Society.

The irises are ready to grow and are already putting out fresh new leaves.

The oxalis were long rhizomes, with only one leaf among all of them.

The trillium got planted under a cedar tree. The Mulchmaid hopes it will grow: there was no sign of life.

These were both Great Plant Picks. That's a program by the Elizabeth Miller Botanical Garden to promote outstanding choices in plants for maritime Pacific Northwest gardens.

The helenium had already started to sprout in its bag. It was good to get it into the ground today, and a great day to be out in the garden.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who came home with me

I've been to two big garden shows in two weeks and I think I showed remarkable restraint in purchasing plants and bulbs. So what did I buy?
Agave gentryii 'Jaws' begged to come home with me. See the sad, yellowed leaf? He was like the quiet little kitten you just had to adopt because you were afraid no one else would. Even with his yellow leaf, this little guy's spines look like very serious business. I hope I can nurse him back to glossy, green health this summer.

Speaking of little, this petite trio of Haworthias will have to be indoors-only pets. Native to South Africa, most are hardy only to zone 9 or 10. I'll be planting them together in a flat dish so they can live in our sunny breakfast room. From left to right are h. attenuata  'zebra', h. greenii and h. attenuata cv 'lime green'.

Along with a perfectly prosaic culinary thyme plant
(I went all the way to Seattle for that, right?)
I also needed the lime green sedum Angelina (way in the back) as a contrasting ground cover in my garden.

The abutilon is Red Tiger. I was concerned about how it would fare in zone 8 and the grower gave me some great advice: "It will get to about four feet this summer, so just grow it, enjoy it, and then let it go."
At just $6, that didn't seem fiscally irresponsible, so I bought it. The flowers are small, but a beautiful dark orange with yellow veins.

At the front is ceanothus Diamond Heights. I love ceanothus and was swayed by its gorgeous variegation, but it is zone 9, so a pot and protection in winter is in order.

I showed these blossoms for Bloom Day yesterday, but perhaps you're curious to see the whole plant. Here's the Scilla natalensis. Its bulb and unusual leaves are as intriguing to me as the flower spike.

This particular Grevilla juniperina is also known as 'Lava Cascade'. I read it had been sold for quite a few years as  'Low Red', but somebody decided that just wasn't sexy enough, so they began marketing it as 'Lava Cascade.' I kind of like 'Low Red' myself - sounds more Australian.

I also bought a Trillium erectum bulb and a Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty' root, but there's not much to see there!

That's my show booty.
So who's coming home with you this month?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bloom Day, February 15, 2010

It's the 15th of the month, the day garden bloggers share what's blooming in their gardens. Thanks for visiting to see what's blooming in the MulchMaid's garden today.
 Old faithful rosemary. But what a great blue bloom against its sage-green leaves. I never tire of this one.

Several camellia japonicas were here when we bought the house. They are showing lots of color, but not yet opening wide.

I should be grateful for their color at this time of year: it's a huge (some might say overwhelming?) amount of pink when it happens.

The dwarf sarcoccoa is still in bloom, and sending its pungent scent into the garden. This is an excellent small selection: sarcoccoca hookeriana var. humilis.

Archtostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths' is blooming with its characteristic urn-shaped flowers.
I'm cheating with these last two plants, since I bought them just two days ago at the Portland Yard Garden and Patio show. But next year they'll be legitimate February bloomers in my garden, I hope.
Above is grevilla juniperina 'Low Red'. It looks like a rosemary, but those "leaves" are as prickly as a cactus! I love the spiky red flowers. 'Low Red' will grow about five feet wide but only 18 inches high – the perfect ground cover under my olive tree.
This is scilla natalensis. I fell for its fat, bulbous base and the tall bloom spike already starting to color. I'm looking forward to seeing just what emerges!
Happy Bloom Day! Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what else is in bloom around the world today.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The first spring garden show of 2010

I've been slow at posting about the Northwest Flower and Garden Show I attended last Wednesday in Seattle.
First, I've had no time.
Second, I pulled a rank amateur move and ran out of battery power after about a dozen pictures. (So that's what that flashing little red icon was for. I thought it was telling me to use the flash!)

But I figured I'd better get a few impressions committed to "print" before my personal memory chips were dazzled by the next show, the Yard Garden and Patio show beginning tomorrow.

I was particularly taken by one of the display gardens by Susan Calhoun of Plantswoman Design. Her garden was called Swimming a la Naturale. Skinny dipping, right? But no, she had a natural pool filtered by a plant-filled bog, so no chlorine was needed. It's supposed to be good for people and animals alike, and must be better for the plants that surround it. I loved her choice of plants around the pool.
Just look at this little dark reddish-brown conifer and the manzanita species beside it.

The echeveria and the coprosma 'tequila sunrise' made a great warm purple combination.

The pond was supported and surrounded by a gridded iron enclosure containing stones, like the ones you see along the highway when there have been rock slides. I liked the muscular, industrial look of the structure, topped by contrasting gentle foliage.

I think this is rhododendron sinogrande. I know I'd want it around my pond.

Strong color contrasts seemed to be a hallmark of this year's display gardens.

And the gardens were lit very dramatically to enhance the contrasts.

This garden had wonderful rusted steel "batons" that provided great vertical interest and a nice repetitive element. There were a dozen or so and they were about five feet tall. Nice!

More color, but with gentler contrast. Looks like rhododendron PJM with its bronzy-red, small leaves.

These three colorful pots made a fabulous fountain.
The very first plant I saw upon entering the Convention Center was this amazing variegated acanthus. It's 'Tasmanian Angel', and the grower also has one called 'White Water' that's a bit creamier.


Textural contrasts were in good supply, too. I have to say I fell in love with this gorgeous combination of papyrus, rhododendron leaves and (I think) echium.

This beautiful 'Yellow Wave' flax mocked me, as I thought of my poor garden specimens languishing flat on the ground at home. But it was beautiful, surrounded by crinkly purple heuchera.

I finally saw a 'Chief Joseph' pine. What a breathtaking yellow for an evergreen!

A Golden Hinoki cypress (camaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea'). The shades of gold and brown on its scales (technically, they're not leaves) were not to be believed.

I want to leave you with this lively, yet soothingly zen image. In the Pacific Northwest in winter we have lots of we might as well love it!