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.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Saintpaulia Anyone?

With both winter and houseplant sales in full swing, anything in bloom catches the winter-weary eyes of gardeners.  African Violets (Saintpaulia) are ever-blooming plants that, along with Christmas cacti, seemed to appear on every grandma's windowsill. 

Native to Tanzania and Kenya in eastern tropical Africa, these plants were introduced to the U.S. in 1894.   No interesting folklore, just sweet little continually-blooming plants.

I remember growing a few of these in my room under a fluorescent grow light when I was in high school.  I still have that grow light, a Christmas gift from my eldest sister.  However, the African Violets are long gone. 

Picotee-flowered plants always draw my eye for some reason and I was tempted to take some of these home but they don't really like drafty old houses and, unlike cacti and succulents, they don't respond well to weeks of neglect.

Do you grow them? 

For a great deal of good information about these sweet little plants look here

None came home with me but I'll continue to enjoy them at nurseries, grocery stores, and other people's windowsills.

Have a blooming beautiful weekend all!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Visiting Vassey Nursery

The wind and rain have returned but over the weekend we had some absolutely gorgeous, warm and sunny days.  On the way home from work on Sunday, I felt the need to visit a couple of nurseries.  Really, if it wasn't meant to be, they wouldn't be right there on the road home, right?  It's a great idea, if one is lucky enough to have nurseries open year round, to peek at what's looking particularly good this time of year so that our gardens can be full of plants of winter interest. The fact that there are all kinds of sales going on at this time of the year doesn't hurt, either.

Ah, red!  Such a cheerful color which I used to avoid in my garden.  Now I simply can't understand why.

Hardy Cyclamen.  I remember when these were first planted and now they've become a very attractive carpet of winter gorgeousness.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

 H amamelis 'Sunburst'

Aronia melonocarpa 'Autumn Magic'  would be in my garden if there were more space. 

Salix gracilistyla 'Mt. Aso' has charming pink catkins.  

Filled with lovely plants for three seasons and now hosting an arrangement of evergreens.  Potting soil full of roots makes an excellent anchor for such things.

So much evergreen goodness!

Nandina is overused for a reason.  Look how gorgeous that foliage is.

Sheltered camellias are a bit ahead of those in the open garden. 

Leucothoe 'Rainbow' 

70% off on select items.  

One should collect this thing to remind him/her not to collect it?  

More fun stuff.

All ready for spring!

Golden acorns anyone?

These metal walnuts spoke to me.  The detail is really nice as is the finish.  They're some sort of metal poured into a mold. Bonus: they are holiday merchandise and therefore on sale! 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday Vignette - House Plant Sale Time

January is the month during which many nurseries in this area offer discounts on houseplants. After all of the holiday decorations are put away people find that there's space that can be filled in with potted plants. This young shopper was spotted at Watson's recently.  It always makes me happy to see little ones enjoying plants.  It gives me hope for the future of gardening and the enjoyment/appreciation of the natural world to see something other than a cell phone in a child's hands.   
Wednesday vignette is hosted by the wonderful Anna at Flutter and Hum.  Click here to join the party.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Foliage Follow-Up January 2018

Foliage Follow-Up is hosted by the inimitable Pam Penick at Digging on the day after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day each month to remind us of the important role foliage plays in our gardens every day of the year.

Here are some random shots of foliage that caught my eye while wandering through my garden.

This hardy begonia is in a sweet spot outside, still in it's nursery pot, and hasn't died back.  Yet.

Fatsia polycarpa 'Needham's Lace' is looking very happy.  I'd failed a couple of times with this plant before and am elated that there are now two thriving in my garden.

Trevesia aff. palmata, a hardy relative of Trevesia palmata.  It's also still in it's nursery pot.  Must find a place for it in the garden!

Disporum cantoniense 'Moonlight' is an herbaceous perennial.  Please don't tell this specimen as it looks like it wants to be evergreen.  I certainly don't mind.

I never tire of the seemingly endless variation of patterns of cyclamen foliage.

Pelargonum deciding not to die.  

My sister and niece bought me a Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine for my birthday years ago.  It got some sort of insect pest beneath the bark and I thought it was a goner but isolated it in a pot and did a little chemical intervention, and in a couple of years it revived.  Finally got it in the ground last summer and it's now coloring up nicely.

All the other Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon' in the garden are nothing but leafless stems but this one, a division, pulled as a weed and thrown in a shady corner to die, doesn't seem to know it's winter.

A really cool variegated shrub from Cistus (the tag is around here somewhere) along with a cool miniature mondo grass from somewhere.  Please ignore the dead stuff and the now exposed orange pot in the background.

Finally, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Pelt’s Blue' is really very blue.  Now if I can just get Tropaeolum speciosum to grow up all of these in my garden, my life will be complete.
What foliage is thrilling you in your garden this month? 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and In a Vase on Monday

Wow, it's the middle of January already and, while we know it's winter and freezing weather could return at any time, it's felt a bit like spring lately.  The winter fragrances of Lonicera fragrantissima and Sarcococca have been enhancing my comings and goings for the last few sunny and still days.  Chatting with another patron at a nursery on Sunday we both decided that it would be just fine if we've already seen the worst of winter.

Here's most of what's blooming in my zone 8 western Washington garden this month:

Mahonia × media ‘Charity’

The first hellebores of the season.

Some Saxifrage or other.


Arbutus unedo  is covered with blooms.

Not a very good picture of a not very visually impressive flower.  However, the far-wafting fragrance, drought  and deep shade-tolerance and evergreen presence of Sarcocca earn it many places in my garden

Jasminum nudiflorum
Meanwhile, int the greenhouse, Pinguicula 'pirouette' continues to bloom.

The Schlumbergeras are just starting.

Back outside, one cyclamen bloom.

Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Still only buds on Tetrapanax but they don't look totally dead.  Hope springs eternal.

Garrya elliptica 

Lonicera fragrantissima

 There are a few roses here and there.

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Diane'

Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' is one of a few dried blooms in the garden and the sole player in today's vase. 

Joining the vase are mementos of seasons past:  Oak leaves from a late summer walk in the park which have somehow retained their green color all this time, an orange pod from Physalis alkekengi (Chinese Lantern,)  cones that have been sitting around and some sort of metal walnuts from an after-Christmas sale.  Not technically from the garden, they're reminiscent of those from the tree across the alley that the squirrels plant all over my garden.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens on the fifteenth of every month.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Click on the links; join the fun!