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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Another of those Random Posts

First, what I got at the Heronswood spring sale in addition to the three begonias from yesterday:

Helleborus multifidus var. hercegovinus  which I first saw and fell in love with at Heronswood years ago but was unable to find except at Pine Knot Farms in Virginia and never got around to ordering it. To me the foliage resembles Syneilesis aconitifolia (Shredded Umbrella Plant) but this is evergreen, slugs don't like it, and it blooms in the winter.  You need this plant! 

One of my very favorite foliage plants for winter, meconopsis paniculata forms a large basil rosette (if it's happy - deep rich soil!) of this amazing gold-haired foliage that glows in the low winter sun and holds droplets of water like jewels.  Unfortunately, it's monocarpic (grows for a time before blooming and dying.)  If the gorgeous foliage isn't enough, the floral display is spectacular! A hirsute multi-branched three to five foot candleabra bearing plump furry little flames arises from the rosette. These each burst open to reveal a red, pink, white, or yellow flower creating a show worthy of Liberace.  Even the seed pods are covered in this golden fur and are gorgeous.  I've never been successful scattering the seed on the ground but when these bloom some year, I'll collect seed and try starting them in pots.

 Geranium palmatum. I've had this several times in my garden.  It seeds politely about after it's magnificent bloom but in a past harsh winter, I lost mine so will bring it back for more fun.

Aciphylla glaucescens is a dangerous plant that enjoys poking people with it's sharp ends.  Perhaps this needs to go live in Portland.

I finally decided to get one of the pink Cardiocrinum giganteums from Far Reaches Farm.  (Mostly because Alison got one last year and we like to copy each other!)

Other developments in the garden:

The tulips are changing from that pink color to orange and looked great just in time for a few days of wind to knock them over. 
 Speaking of tulips, I've never had anything like this happen to tulips before.  It looks as if much of them have been eaten befor they emerged from the ground.  Have you any idea what might have been eating them?  This only happened to one variety of the several I put in and they're planted in different parts of the garden.

I was out moving some things around and found a random plant tag in a bed.  Turns out it belongs to this plant, Strobilanthes gossypinus,  that Rickii liked in an earlier post.  I knew that tag would show up!

Scadoxis puniceus bud is opening!
 Yes, they're sort of novelties but also kind of cute.  Lithops species  and Pleiospilos.  Let's see if I get the watering right!

The Begonia experiment continues - The begonias ordered from Breck's on the same day, February 22, arrived a month later than those ordered from Blackmore and Langdon so they just got planted. However, the others haven't sprouted yet.  I tipped one out of it's pot to see if anything was happening and sure enough there were roots!  Meanwhile, the ones that I overwintered in their pots as I have for years are already putting on growth.  So, the newest begonias added are the row on the left.  Also started is a basket of "fragrant" tuberous begonias.  We shall see!

I often buy basil in the store during the winter that comes in a plastic bag and looks like it may have been grown hydroponically.  At the bottom are those little cell thingies with roots coming out.  Just about to get rid of the last of this, I decided to throw it in a pot with soil instead.  Have you tried this? Did it work?  If not, no loss but if so, free basil plants.

I'm seeing people carrying gallon-sized tomatoes out of the nurseries.  It's still way to early to plant them out here but those big plants sure look nice.  Will my seedlings catch up in time?  Of course, I'll be growing them in the greenhouse so they can keep going as long as they want!

Love the brilliant spring color of this Acer palmatum. 


Happy April Fools' Day!  Was going to try and trick you in some way but y'all are far too smart for that!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Heronswood Early Spring Sale 2015



Thinking that there were already too many plants waiting in my pot ghetto to squeeze into my already crowded garden, I was tempted to skip this sale but Alison and I had made plans for the rest of the day so I went. Somehow the car got filled with plants by the end of the day but that's another story. There are obviously a lot of other plant crazed folks around as I got to the sale before the opening time and there was already a crowd of eager shoppers there. 

This cool gold-colored succulent is not a sempervivum according to the grower but as the tag only says 'Gold Bug' I don't remember what it is but a couple of them came home with me.

Hardy orchids in bloom are always a hit at these sales. 

There was a lot of plant tag reading going on!

A lovely peony from Far Reaches garnered a lot of attention. 

 I posted a while ago about a new Rhododendron Hybrid whose foliage I am crazy about.  Here is R. 'Wine and Roses' in bloom.  The blossoms go beautifully with the red undersides of the leaves.

Judith Jones (Fancy Fronds Nursery)  was told not to keep so much cash in her change box.  This was bound to happen sooner or later.  She was last heard saying "Do whatever you will with me but protect the ferns!"


 Rheum tibeticum's big beautiful rounded leaves caught my eye!

Rheum australe

Many varieties of Arisaemas were available.


More milling about.

Impatiens omeana 'Ice Storm' has cool foliage!

Teddy, who I've visited with  at a couple of plant sales, is with the folks from Keeping it Green Nursery.  He's a very friendly and sweet boy who looks very much like one of my kids!  I tried to talk them into letting him come home with me but they're pretty attached to him.

 Lots of cool vendors and lots of great plants!  So, what did I get?  We'll save the whole haul for another post but here's a three begonia teaser.  All three are from Windcliff Plants.

Begonia aff. palmata  collected in 2013 in Myanmar.  Untested here, it may or may not be hardy.

"Exceedingly hardy" Begonia pedatifida.


Begonia aff. Sizemorea from Vietnam.  Also of unknown hardiness but this furry fellow can have a place in the greenhouse for the winter.
Wow, it's brown and looks dead.  Gotta have it!


Monday, March 30, 2015

Springing Over to the Rhododendron Garden Nursery

I've visited The Rhododendron Garden Nursery a few times before (See previous posts here.) but never this early in the season.  Diane Bell, a former teacher, is the one woman dynamo who has run this specialty nursery in a park-like seven acre setting for over twenty years now.  There is a great article in the Seattle times about Diane and her nursery here.


There is a story behind most of the plants that Diane chooses to propagate and offer for sale.   She got hooked on rhododendrons when a rhodie hybridizer friend of her father was allowed to use their acreage to plant and grow on his creations. As a girl she couldn't wait to run out and see if buds had opened.  They were the first to see many new hybrids bloom for the first time.
 One of the hybrids had an exceptionally lovely magenta-colored bloom.  When the hybridizer saw it, he just shook his head; he had been working to create a yellow.  Diane has since named this one after her father.  I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to see it in bloom as the image she showed me is stunning.

Erythronium in bloom.

The buds of this one really are this screaming pink color!



 You'll see later large swaths of daffodils, a favorite flower of Diane's mother.  When you visit the nursery, you may be given a bouquet of daffodils!

 Diane is a native of Puyallup, a community and valley east of Tacoma, which used to be a major daffodil producing area.  There is still a daffodil festival each spring complete with parades and daffodil princesses. Alas, the last of the daffodil farms closed recently and much of the  beautiful, deep, fertile soil in the valley, which cradles several communities, is being covered with asphalt, industrial buildings, apartments.  

They call it progress but I sure miss driving to work  through that farmland, watching the crops that I'd soon buy at the produce stands growing and ripening.

My first bee sighting of the spring!

 R. Daphnoides.  You can see where this got it's name!


It's a bit early for the all out carnival of color that is the height of the rhodie season but the show is definitely starting!




During a windstorm this winter, several huge Douglas Firs fell and Diane says she feels very far behind this season. 


A few of the aforementioned daffodils.  The bushes you see beneath the trees are the edge of  a forest of hydrangeas, another specialty of this nursery.

 Leucojum aestivum?


 Rhododendron stenopetalum 'Linearifolium'  I think.  Didn't look at the tag.  Oops.

R. President Roosavelt (except that one on the lower right.)

Who says that Rhododendrons have boring foliage?

More  neon buds!

So much beauty beneath that plastic!

The place just goes on and on!


 Adiantum venustum (Himalayan Maidenhair Fern) is evergreen in our climate but I understand that in hot summer areas, it requires ample irrigation.  A lovely, tough, and easy to grow ground cover for the forest floor.

A native trillium. 

Sweet!



Some neon buds open to reveal neon flowers, others reveal that they have a more demure interior. 


And then there's Pres. Roosavelt which doesn't know the meaning of the word subtle. 

Great things to come.  I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to see even more of these beauties in bloom!

If you're from the pacific northwest, you probably take rhododendrons for granted as they're so popular here and planted everywhere. I still remember the first time my family came from Alaska to visit this area during the winter (o.k. so it was still winter there) and there were huge trusses of brightly-colored flowers on plants with huge green leaves.  It seemed like the tropics to my eyes.


I love the design of this structure which was made so that the plastic panels create a greenhouse in the winter and can be removed in the summer leaving a lovely bright covered sales area.

Because Diane grows what she sells, prices are low and the plants are healthy and beautiful.  It's definitely worth finding this out of the way gem!  In addition, it's not far from the Rhododendron Species Garden so you can make a day of visiting both!
Happy new week!