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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to Playing with Danger

To recap, one day, I drove south for a garden play date with my pal Loree.  On the way, I visited Tsugawa and Marbott's nurseries and finally made it to the Danger Garden.  We had a little time to venture out but  needed to be back for Lila's medication and mid day walk so didn't want to stray too far.  Because of  Chickadee Gardens' recent post, I knew that Xera, once again this year, had Arbutus menziesii, a native tree that I adore but for which I don't really have space.  When has that stopped me before?  You may be familiar with the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle.  You may not know that Magnolia's naming was actually a misnomer.  It was named by Captain George Davidson of the U.S. Coast Survey in 1856, who reportedly mistoook the plentiful madrona (Arbutus menziesii) trees for magnolias.  Anyway, we had to stop at Xera to see if they still had any.  Fortunately they did and I got one!  Hurrah, something more to plant.  Although a native, this thing is notoriously difficult to get started and likes to die just for the hell of it.

Xera's retail space is not huge but it is always packed with such fabulous plants that visiting is always a good idea.

Rosa ‘Radway Sunrise’ "Fantastic shrub rose that is worth seeking out. Single fragrant flowers (4" across) open light yellow with a hint of orange and change to deep carmine over several days. To 7' tall and as wide in full sun, rich soil with regular summer water. Remove spent flowers for fast rebloom. Prune in late February- remove old wood smaller than a pencil. Spectacular simple flowers. VERY good disease resistance. Good container rose. Great garden rose. This lovely thing should be everywhere. Especially where a festive pop of long lasting color is needed."  Tempting but I just got Rosa 'Mutabilis' in the ground.  The first picture is a bloom that recently opened.

This image shows what it looks like after it's been open for a day or so.  Dreamy, right?

Glaucium flavum with cool foliage.  Sorry Horned Poppy, you'd be crowded out in the Outlaw jungle.

Agave 'Cream Spike' is a handsome fellow!

From Xera's website: "Begonia maculata ‘Polka Dot’ Zn10b (35º to 40ºF) If there was a more perfect plant for a Martini lounge I’d like to see it. Arrow shaped leaves are red underneath on the green top there are perfectly round white dots. A cane-type that can grow up to 3’ in a single season. Small pink/white flowers are not the point. A strange aspect of this plant is that the polka-dots may be rubbed off with your finger. Unfortanately, they won’t reappear."

More Agaves.  Aren't they cute?

From time to time, we all wonder what it might be like to garden in a warmer climate, with more space, an unlimited budget, etc.  There are also times when I feel extremely grateful to have landed right were I am - this place where we can have a few agaves growing in the ground and also hostas, fuchsias, and tulips.

In the wishing I had more space category - Taxodium ascendens 'Debonair.'  Gorgeous!   Okay, so it's not going to get to fifty feet in what's left of my lifetime, right?  Most likely whoever lives here once we go will take everything out to make space for lawn anyway.  Almost talked myself into this one.

 Frangula californica 'Eve Case' also looked very appealing. 

Oh those masterfully-planted shady beds.

Tanacetum densum ssp. amani came home with me to fill in a bit of space opened up when I severely cut back my English Laurel hedge.  Who could resist those grey feathery leaves?

While paying for our plants, we admired the work of Kate Blairstone adorning the interior space.  

Not thinking ahead, I didn't ask permission to share images of Ms Blairstone's work here but do click on the link above and check it out. I want several of these as wallpaper in my house! Hope that's not a horribly ignorant blunder but these really appeal to me and I could be happy surrounded by walls covered in them. Oh those begonia leaves on the field of blue with orange blooms.  Dreamy!


  1. You picked some great side trips. With so many options in Portland it would be hard to choose. It's worth giving the madrona a try since they are so striking. Our beautiful native Arbutus xalapensis is also notoriously tough to keep alive in home gardens. Would love to find that Tanacetum around here.

  2. Oh, I love Rosa 'Mutabilis'! Have been drooling over them at work, but I have enough trouble finding room for all my unplanted shrubs as it is, so have abstained - painful as that is. Glad you had time for a roadtrip down here, and sad I didn't get to see you. Are you coming down for FarWest?

  3. I think I am going to be able to get to Xera this fall to shop before the Fall Plant Swap. I hope they still have some interesting plants. Actually, I hope they're still open. Maybe I should ask someone to pick up an Arctostaphylos for me, ahead of time.

  4. Yesterday I had lunch with the talented Kate Blairstone and saw the most gorgeous Tanacetum densum ssp. amani in her garden. I've never seen one in the ground look as good as hers did. Now I need to try it too!

    As for having wallpaper of her designs guess what? It's on her list. Check out this link for photos of a design of her's hanging at Besaw's restaurant: http://www.brettschulz.com/besaws-restaurant/

  5. I love the shady beds and envy the structure above them. So, you got a madrona tree: where will you place it? Will you have to sacrifice something to find a suitable spot?
    By-the-way, I love your choice from Kate Blairstone's collection.

  6. Is there a gardener that doesn't wish they were in a warmer climate? I suppose once you get to the z10 gardens you might just wish for more water...

    Fun stuff! I don't think I've ever had a chance to shop for plants with a gardening friend before (and I don't count the Fling because shipping is not a great option).

  7. I run through those internal dialogues about tall plants too, although mine usually focus on whether the plant will reach over 12 feet during my neighbor's remaining period of residence...

  8. I want that rose 'Radway Sunrise'!!! I have 'Mutabalis' already,

  9. So glad you had the chance to stop and they had what you are looking for. Do let us know the progress of your Arbutus, I would love to grow one some day.

  10. Good luck with your madrone! Sean advised me the best way to get one established in the garden was to sow seeds directly where you want one. I've been keeping an eye on some nearby trees to see when the fruit is ready for harvest.

  11. Kate Blairstone's work really is wonderful! I was not familiar with it.
    We had giant madrone trees here when we first moved onto our property, but most of them are gone, damaged so severely by a December ice storm long ago that we had them taken down. It seems they are always in the process of shedding something - leaves, flowers, bark, or just trying to die, but they are beautiful trees.

  12. Can't wait to see how your madrone will settle into its new home. I saw the most amazing specimens in bloom this April in Victoria, BC. Unfortunately, they won't grow here.

  13. Awww, Glaucium flavum is one of my new favorites... But yes, not one to compete with larger or more vigorous plants

  14. Wonder no more! I garden in a warmer and drier climate (South Australia). There are negatives and positives. I can grow pretty much
    any succulents outside (no frost - but then our yard is pretty
    sheltered) and don't have to overwinter anything. On the other
    hand: no tulips, fruits that require a long chill period,
    lettuce in summer, fuchsias, gardenias etc etc...

  15. I never fancied roses but mutabilis has been calling out to me lately. Got six baby madrones from a native plant sale. One is thriving and wouldn't you know that it is seriously misplaced. Oh well, rather than try to move it, I guess a few other faves will have to go. You and Loree must maske a dynamic duo for plant shopping.

  16. You tempt us with Arbutus and then no picture!


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.