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!


  1. I'm so very tempted by Penstemons whenever I see them in bloom in nurseries...especially those rich grapey-purple ones (yes, I know, more purple), but for some reason, fear they wouldn't like my garden :-( I will be very interested to see how the Buckwheat does...I've wanted to add some for years. The Mulch Man is so disciplined...I see even a hint of bare dirt and I'm off shopping for more plants :-D

  2. You should take the MulchMan northward, to Dragonfly and Far Reaches! Wouldn't that be a fun trip? I love my Vancouveria, but mine doesn't flower as much as I'd like. I also have an enormous Columbia lily, which I should probably dig and divide soon. But I'm afraid to, afraid it won't survive my awkward ministrations. Sounds like you've moved yours, and it's still thriving, so that gives me hope.

  3. I like Alison's idea of a trek north! Maybe a carefully worded threat (said while smiling of course) that if the ground stays bare much longer you'll be forced to start planting in it?

  4. I like your style (reckless abandon) better but the northwest territory looks beautiful. I love how you've used river rock to create some height.

  5. I'm afraid your approach would lead to costant border wars in our garden. Some plants would meet unfortunate "accidents" and be mysteriously replaced. Also, impressed that he is immune from mind control waves exuded by bare ground that force the purchase of new plants.

  6. We try to keep our very different tastes and strategies constrained to our allotted plots, but our opinionated (some might say bossy) ways keep undermining our resolve. You set a fine example to aim for...and the mulchman's domain is looking mighty fine.

  7. I probably couldn't help myself, but I would slowly but surely encroach on MulchMan's territory - little by little. He would one day wonder why in the world his lovely dark mulch backdrop suddenly seemed to be filling out, seemed less and less prominent... Looking forward to see your beautiful garden again in July! Speaking of which - when do you want to get together so I can give you your plants?

  8. My husband doesn't garden, I've often thought about what dynamics happen in a family with 2 gardeners, conflicts, differences of opinion, etc. It's great you have solved that problem and can let the other person have their territory. Very cool.

  9. I like all the Mulch man's plant choices ...look forward to seeing them in July.


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