Monday, April 19, 2010

Some women shop for shoes...

Okay I do that, too, but is there a better time than spring to indulge in shopping for plants? Well, maybe fall, when you've seen amazing and desirable specimens in gardens and online throughout summer. But for sheer exuberance and seasonal potential, I vote for spring plant shopping, hands down.

I shopped conservatively at the Lan Su (Chinese Garden) sale a month ago, then lost most of my restraint at the Hardy Plant Society sale this weekend. Blame it on the weather: it was sunny and warm here in Portland this weekend!
At Lan Su I bought euphorbia 'Bonfire'. I've been reluctant to grow euphorbia (an early bad experience with a prolific spreader scarred me) but recent gorgeous examples have tempted me and have gotten me over the hump. Bonfire is supposed to stay small and well behaved. Let's hope so.
From the Gossler Farms booth at Lan Su, I got a Trachycarpus wagneriensis. I'd been concerned about the smaller of my two Trachycarpus fortuneii that was looking pretty sad after our hard winter, so I wanted to hedge my bets.

Good thing I did: today I discovered the poor little thing had completely rotted in the middle. There's no saving it at that point, so wagneriensis will take its place. It's even more cold tolerant than fortuneii, so if bad things (and winters) come in threes, I'm better prepared.
This little darling is eryngium 'Jade Frost'. Cute, no? I have always loved eryngiums, and this pink-tinged one is perfect to replace last winter's cold-weather victim.
This Syneilesis hybrid is so cool. Just look at the fuzzy hairy tops to these little umbrellas.
Megan of nest maker called it the must-have plant of the Lan Su sale.
She was right.

Here's a sad sight. Multiply it by two to get the number of young arbequina olive trees I lost this winter. I needed at least one replacement and it needed to be big. What better place to find it than at the Hardy Plant Society sale?
Since deferred gratification is not my strong suite, I splashed out for the big, 2-gallon olive from One Green World. It will go into the front hot bed and I hope it will be well-enough established to weather whatever the winter of 10-11 can throw at it.
Mr. MulchMaid asked for some additional huckleberries (vaccinium ovatum) for the Northwest native part of our garden. Buying plants on request? No problem! These are a variety from the UBC Botanical Garden called 'Thunderbird'. There's everything to like about huckleberries, including...mmm, berries!
 I fell for another pretty Lewisia cotyledon from Rare Plant Research:  I thought the one I bought last year was looking lonely this spring.
This Northwest native is Menzie's Penstemon, Penstemon davidsonii v menziesii. It's a mat-forming evergreen that won't get much bigger than about 10", but has (according to the picture I saw) a pretty purple flower in summer. Just perfect for the slope below the pinus contorta.
Sedum kamtschaticum f. 'Variegata' from Joy Creek Nursery is just what we need for some attractive ground covering in the hot bed. I had hoped Joy Creek would bring rudbeckias to the sale, since all mine died and so far, show no sign of reseeding. Since they didn't have them at the sale, it looks like a trip to Scappoose is in my future.
Last, my favorite new discovery: Callistemon viridiflorus. This reputedly cold-hardy shrub (zone 7a) from Xera will get to 8 feet tall and five feet wide in five years. As it gets bigger, it gets white, corky bark. In May and June it should have chartreuse/yellow bottlebrush flowers "in profusion."  Minus flowers, the plant is already wonderful with its fuzzy, fine texture and unusual form. It's the newest in a series of  "privacy" plant attempts, and I really want this one to succeed.


  1. Lordy! You did well. Had I saw that Euphorbia 'Bonfire' I couldn't have resisted. Love the colors!

    I am sorry to hear about your Trachycarpus ...this is the first I have ever heard of the weather getting one of these. Ours is coming out of the container and going into the ground next weekend so I will be extra careful to watch it next winter. Did you pick up a flyer for the Rare Plant Research sale in May? Good stuff!

  2. I'm so glad you got the Syneilesis. They were all gone shortly after you got yours. In part because I got a few, but there was a bit of a competition at the end when they were down to the last one.

    I didn't know we had an option for a cold hardy Callistemon with chartreuse flowers. I wasn't paying close enough attention, or I would have bought one.

    I'll have to put shoe shopping on hold for a while after all these recent plant splurges. I got a bunch of good stuff Saturday, then went back Sunday for a few more. Good sale this year, and not as crazy busy as last year's spring sale.

  3. Good luck with that Calistemmon. I don't know why success eludes me. They seem to do well in other gardens. Nice selection of plants you found, but the only one I covet is that Cali (along with the skill to make it flourish).

  4. Loree, unfortunately we'll be away the weekend of the RPR sale. I was bummed when I discovered that earlier this year, but maybe I can get to their summer party. I signed up for their email list to be notified.

    Megan, I was one of those competitive ones who got a last syneilesis!

    Megan and Ricki, I'm beginning to wonder about how cold-tolerant the c. viridiflorus is: I read on the Las Pilitas website that it's zone 9 or 10! Xera's site says all sorts of positive things, so I hope their experience isn't an anomaly.

  5. All my Portland garden buddies... you're all such great plant hunters. I love your acquisitions, Jane. Your 'Jade Frost' looks better than the ones I photographed at the nursery. Also at that nursery was a heavenly one gallons specimen of Syneilesis. At $35.00 I had to pass it up. ... I should have made the trek north.

  6. Jane...just thought I would mention that I bought one of those same Calistemmon from Xera when I was at Joy Creek. It already has big fat buds on it so I am looking forward to flowers this year at least. Since I had 2 Calistemmon (Clemson and Woodlander's Red both Xera babies) sail through last winter (their first) I'm feeling pretty good about the viridiflorus. I love the fuzzy look of yours...mine is already to the "corky" stage and not nearly so kitten-like!

  7. Loree, thanks for the good news! That makes me feel much more hopeful for its survival chances and my eventual privacy screen. And I thought Clemson was more tender...good for you and your gardening skills!


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