Saturday, November 30, 2013

Farewell, my pretties?

It's been cold at Longview Ranch, and it's about to get colder. Forecasts for this coming week in Portland are all over the map, but the consensus seems to be record lows for this time of year arriving by Monday or Tuesday.

Since it will be colder than it has been for several years, I spent time these past two days moving pots of tender and some not-so-tender plants into my garden shed. I mulched a few things and even covered a large potted Agave bracteosa that's too big to move indoors. And I wandered around the garden wondering which of my marginally hardy plants I am seeing the last of.

Like this Phormium tenax 'Wings of Gold'. It's been in a pot for years but I planted it in the ground this past summer. In retrospect, that was some unfortunate timing.

Another flax, P. tenax 'Rubrum', is one of three I planted in the garden in 2008. It limped through a few tough winters early on, and had come back to a nice, dark lushness and some height this year. We'll see what it thinks of the coming weather event.

For some reason, Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink' seems more tender to me than I guess it really is. Even if the tips get damaged, I think it will generally be okay with sub-freezing weather.  I hope.

For the first few years we had Trachelospermum jasminoides, they suffered terribly in winter. Several times I almost gave up and yanked the poor things, they looked so sad. Having had several clement winters to get better established, I hope our two will survive the arctic weather this week. Even if we have to do some heavy pruning to clean them up, I look forward to their lovely scent in summer.

I hold out little hope for Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' making it through. This is a plant that has worked its way deep into my heart this year. I just love its lush, silvery-blue, serrated foliage and the way the leaves hold raindrops. By mulching it well and piling leaves around its base, I hope to at least keep the base alive. I may find myself giving it a slightly tearful farewell come spring though.

I hope to be able to report positively next spring on all these lovely plants, but if the weather goddess has her way with them, I'll be searching out replacements next year. And although I'll be sad to lose any of them, I'll try to embrace the loss as an opportunity for change.

Are you preparing for this weather event? Well fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2013, departmentalized

This month's Bloom Day post is the Department Edition.  You'll see what I mean as we move through the blooms that November has to offer here at Longview Ranch.

Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' falls squarely in the "I-Can't-Believe-It's-Still-Blooming" Department. Yes, it may not be quite the spectacle it was in midsummer, but I even spotted a hummingbird stopping for a drink just a couple of days ago.

Also in this department is Rudbeckia triloba, a fading member of the hot bed that still has a little of that sunny, star quality to offer this month.
A place of honor in the "Ever-Blooming" Department of the Mulch Man's Northwest Territory is accorded Sidalcea oregana, Oregon Checker Mallow.

And Erigeron glaucas continues to show its appreciation for the cooler, wetter days of autumn. I see it satisfying random pollinators, too.

Back in the MulchMaid's garden area, another stalwart of the summer garden is still earning its place in the "Ever-Blooming" Department. Abutilon 'Tangerine' simply will not give up.

In the "I-Didn't-Know-They-Looked-Like-That" Department we find the cute little flowers of Seneceo mandraliscae (Blue Chalk Sticks). I love the long, blue stems with white twiddly explosions at their ends.

The "Random-Flowering-To-Keep-You-On-You-Toes" Department sports this lone Cistus bloom.

And keeping it company is Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink'. It has been spurting a few small blossoms for months without actually putting on what I'd call a "bloom" period.

In the "We're-Happy-To-See-You-Whenever-You-Decide-To-Show-Up" Department we include the tiny blossoms of Salal, Gaultheria shallon. They are such a pretty contrast to the leathery green foliage.

Also included here is the Giant Toad Lily, Tricyrtis formosana var. grandiflora 'Wa-Ho-Ping Toad'. It belongs in the "Whenever" Department by virtue of having bloomed twice already this year.

The "Right-On-Time" Department holds Cortaderia selloana whose plumes opened in late October to see me through winter.

And Fatsia japonica is a reliable November bloomer whose flowers often persist into the New Year. I adore these sputnik flower trusses that attract all manner of pollinators.

 In our last entry, the "Will-They-Make-It?" Department, the cool, furry flower buds of Tetrapanax paperifer 'Steroidal Giant' are in a race against the frost clock. Go, go, go!

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Hop over there to see what else is happening in our blooming world in mid-November.

Happy Bloom Day!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lagerstroemia x 'Natchez' - my favorite plant in the garden this week

The gold and orange charms of fall foliage go a good way to assuaging my sorrow over impending winter's cold and damp. And a standout foliage fix is being handed to me by my favorite plant this week, Lagerstroemia x 'Natchez' (Natchez Crape Myrtle).
Its range of autumn color is glorious, from bright green through yellow and gold to orange and russet.
My plant has lived a peripatetic lifestyle in its four-year history at Longview Ranch. It spent two years in a pot in various locations after I acquired it, was planted one year in the front garden, and then was moved to the back garden early this spring. Nothing seemed to faze it.
Of course most people grow Crape Myrtles for their beautiful, late-summer bloom trusses, and I'm no exception. 'Natchez' has lovely white flowers with golden centers beginning in August.
And believe it or not, mine is still working on a few blooms as I write this in early November.

Another reason people grow Lagerstroemia species is for their peeling patterned bark. 'Natchez' bark is reputed to be a particularly showy cinnamon color but mine will need to put on a few more years before it displays that feature. I'll settle for its lovely foliage for now.

The stats on Lagerstroemia x 'Natchez':

• Deciduous, large, vase-shaped shrub or small tree
• 20' to 30' high, 5' to 20' wide
• Zone 6a to 9b
• Full sun, regular water
• Adaptable, but prefers well-drained soil
• White flowers in late summer, and showy, peeling bark

"My favorite plant in the garden" is hosted by danger garden each week: Check out the comments to see what other garden bloggers are loving in their gardens this week.