Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A moist but heartfelt Merry Christmas!

So much for a white Christmas this year: it's been raining off and on for about a week, and the temperatures are in the high 30s to 40s. All in all, pretty typical for our zone 8b location.

Our real Christmas tree (we have an aluminum one indoors) the Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), remains sturdily erect against the deluge.

It really is a lovely little tree - slow growing, and somewhat fuller and fluffier than its higher altitude brethren.

This year, I decided against adding the usual silver and red decorations to it, because Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' was putting on such a show behind it.
Mother Nature does a pretty nice job of looking good all by herself.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas - and the best of whatever celebration is dear to your heart!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2014

Like the days as we draw near to the Solstice, this Bloom Day post will be short - there are very few flowers in my garden this month, and just a few indoor blooms.

Flowers in the garden include a blooming stem of prostrate Rosemary that stands out on the otherwise green plant.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' carries the month!

Mahonia nervosa repens is getting ready to bloom - will it be open for January's Bloom Day?

Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths' is also moving toward its bloom phase, but not yet opening.

Indoors, Cyperus involucrata 'Baby Tut' appears to be thriving, if its fluffy, pollen-filled blooms are any indication. Maybe they're the reason I've been sneezing all day. I know most people up here grow Papyrus as an annual, but I just couldn't let it this happy plant die outdoors over winter.

A NOID Streptocarpus (Streptocarpella saxorum, thank you, Rickii) is a reliable bloomer, often for months at a time.

Last, Clivia miniata 'Belgian Hybrid Orange' steals the show indoors.

Despite the paucity of December flowers in my garden, I am ever grateful to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day each month. Click over there to enjoy many more flowers from all over the world.

Happy Bloom Day!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Late to the party: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 2014

I got the pictures taken, but my involvement with multiple local commitments meant my Bloom Day post didn't happen until now. And although many of these flowers aren't out there now (after several sub-freezing nights since I took the pictures) they were lovely on November 15th. For the record, here they are!

This little Rhododendron 'Shamrock' surprised me with a few out of season blooms. They look almost white here but they are actually a very pale green.

Fatsia japonica is doing its Sputnik thing.

Punica granatum was blooming on November 15th, and it's blooming still, albeit with fewer leaves since our arctic cold snap.

A last few blooms from Agastache 'Acapulco Orange', my summer heartthrob.
And the last, slightly ratty blooms of Agastache 'Apricot Sprite'.

What would a late autumn/early winter  Bloom Day post be without Rosemary? I actually overlooked this prostrate Rosemary last month but it's still going strong even after our cold spell.

These few last blossoms on Erigeron glaucus are just a memory this week.

Not so with this Penstemon: I just checked, and today it looks about like it did last week.

Salvia 'Black and Blue' surprised me by holding out this long - well, until last Saturday, anyway.

I have a hard time capturing its color with my little point-and-shoot camera but this photo is pretty true. That blue is electric!

Rosa 'Perl d'Or' lives in a protected container on the deck near the house. It's still blooming now, a week after I took these pictures.
The energetic buds of Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' looked so promising last Saturday. Now they're a just limp reminder that we live in Zone 8b...

My last Bloom Day flowers are those of Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide', ushering in the holiday period. 'Yuletide' lives up to its name both by blooming in December and by being a deep pink trending to a Christmas-y red.

Bloom Day is hosted each moth by May Dreams Gardens. Click over to see what was blooming on November 15th everywhere!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' is my favorite plant in the garden - this week

There's lots of autumn color out there this week and I've been enjoying all of it for the past few dry days. And although the changing color is very short-lived on Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant', it's just one feature that's making it my favorite this week.

You just have to love a leaf this big, bold and buttery yellow!
This is my favorite plant of the week for another reason: the annual race is on to see if its blooms will beat our first freeze.
I've had this plant in the garden since 2011 and this year for the first time, it produced multiple babies. I've dug and given away most of them, but I like the Tetrapanax forest look so I've left two larger, well-placed youngsters.

Winter in Portland typically kills off the top of the main plant, so last spring I cut it back at about seven feet to encourage branching out lower down.

Plant Lust stats on Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant':
Zones:  8a-11
Size:  H:20' W:15'
Soil Needs:  Well-drained, rich
Water Needs:  Even moisture
Sun Exposure:  Part sun, part shade
Flowers:  White (something to look forward to...)
Fruit:  Purple, black (... maybe some year in my future!)

A final reason this is my favorite plant this week is the perfect view of Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' I get from my big breakfast room window. It's quite an eyeful.
I'm joining with danger garden to share this favorite plant with you. Click over to read the comments and see what other bloggers are enjoying in their gardens this week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mahonia repens is my favorite plant in the garden - this week

It's late October and our Portland rains have returned in full force. Some of you who know me are aware that I suffer this seasonal change with little grace or enthusiasm. But this week my eye has turned to a plant that flourishes in this autumnal wetness. And unlike me, it looks gorgeous splashed all over with raindrops. I give you Mahonia repens.
We have a number of these Northwest natives in the garden here at Longview Ranch. Here, one snuggles in with some Pacific Coast Iris, and a Beach Daisy.

Pine duff shows off their gleaming green foliage perfectly.
I don't get the credit for my favorite plant this week, because they're in the Northwest Territory of our garden, master-planned by the Mulch Man. Their inclusion is his choice and I couldn't be happier about it.

But I'll confess, the first time I saw Mahonia repens, I was less than overwhelmed. A dusty, parched area of the Oregon Garden held a number of PNW natives, and although their M. repens seemed to be surviving, they weren't stellar examples.

But in our much smaller garden, a trickle of summer water and a little judicious pruning has paid off. What's more, these plants are looking like it's spring in the middle of October. And they've put on this beautiful fresh growth all year long.

There's just the faintest blush of red on some of the new growth.

Here's what Plant Lust has to say about Mahonia repens:

Zone: 6a to 9b
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Water: Drought tolerant to regular water
Exposure: Sun to part-shade
Soil: Well-drained

Like most Mahonia, these have the characteristic bunches of small, yellow flowers with blue berries that follow.  Here's a picture of the blossom from this past March. Yes, it was wet then, too.

In several inhospitable locations in the garden, these Northwest natives have been surprisingly unfazed by scorching late afternoon sun. The occasional brilliant red leaf has been the only sign of any stress.
I'm joining with danger garden this week to share this favorite plant. Check the comments there for more plants that are catching garden bloggers' eyes in late October.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2014

I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus, and for the first time in years I even missed last month's GBBD. I'm not sure just what happened -  day after day went by and apparently my garden just wasn't inspiring me enough to blog about in those hot, dry days of September and early October. Or maybe I was just having too much fun in real life.

Anyway, now that the rains have decidedly returned, I plan to be a bit more regular. So I'll start with the few flowers I have for this month's Bloom Day.

Every year Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' looks so wimpy and takes so long to bloom that I swear I'm taking it out. Then along comes that bewitching color combination and I'm enthralled once again. This year it's been particularly striking backed by Pennisetum rubrum.

Punica granatum 'True Dwarf' took a mid-summer break from blooming but came back again in September and has been blooming ever since. Do you suppose that was because I watered it?

Phygelius 'Passionate' feeds the hummingbirds after everything else they love is over. I love its dark orange flowers and reddish leaves so much that I bought another plant when I found it at Windmill Gardens in Sumner, WA, two weekends ago. That 75% reduction in price didn't hurt, either.

Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' is seemingly back from the dead: a happy volunteer seedling from the dear-departed mother plant is now gracing Longview Ranch. I couldn't be happier!

Rosa 'Sally Holmes' is a little rain weary, but I had to include this shot: most of my flowers are small or quiet which makes 'Sally Holmes' the showiest blooms in the garden this month.

Rosa 'Perle d' Or'.

Hakonechloa macra has pretty light red seedheads that match its reddish autumnal stripes.

Erigeron glaucus just blooms on and on.

This Penstemon is on its third bloom phase.

I can't ever get the minute flower/seeds of Persicaria 'Lance Corporal' in focus!

Our new Berberis verruculosa are sending out a few little bright yellow blooms. Check out those handsome thorns, too!

Eucomis pole-evansii gets honorable mention this month for its resolutely upright bloom spike. This one has never been staked and is still standing tall.
Last today is a Streptocarpus I've had for at least twenty years. Re-potting by the Mulch Man and a summer vacation on the patio was the secret to these beautiful, rich blue blooms.

Bloom Day is generously hosted each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens. Click over there to see more October flowers. To participate just visit her site, upload your blog post there, and then add a link to it on your own post.

Happy Bloom Day!