Sunday, August 7, 2011

Almost a Tropical Paradise

The above picture was taken at eye-level -- and the photographer (me) is 6' tall! These Oriental lilies grow to 8' and taller with the help of a few bamboo poles as support. I use black horticultural cloth to tie the stems of the lilies to the bamboo poles. They are also intensely fragrant and make the entire backyard smell like a slice of heaven. Incidentally, they were supposed to be "Stargazer" lilies, but although I'm glad they are not, I have no idea what kind they are other than some type of Oriental lily! Here's another shot:

The back-lighting is incredible, isn't it?

The very wacky leaves of Manihot grahamii (Hardy tapioca) reach toward the light in this intentionally crowded part of the garden. It adds an artistic touch to an otherwise out of control jungle.

The plant below is Abutilon 'Tiger Eye'. At the time of the picture, there were only about 20 blossoms on it. Now (in late-September), it is absolutely covered in blossoms! This has been one of the most commented-on plants this season. I bought it in February 2010 at the NW Flower & Garden Show as a 1-gallon seedling. It's now taller than me! I kept it in a pot last winter and planted it out in the garden in March. It takes cool weather really well but not subfreezing weather. I'll be digging it out again and storing it in the garage should there be the threat of a hard freeze. It is semi-evergreen to evergreen.

I have to admit I was never impressed with any form of Coleus until this year. Maybe I just never grew them in the right spot before. I picked up two in the spring just to see how they would do and they have gone above and beyond my expectations. I hear they are easy to propagate from more thing for the fall gardening to-do list.

It's nice to see my Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta) starting to put on a bit of bulk. This palm will thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate if given some protection from severe frost. Here's a secret: When cutting off the dead fronds, I cut right below the leaf, leaving the spiky petioles on, because that's what will eventually form the thatched trunk (something you see all over in California).

Although I am not completely sure of the species, I believe this is a Beschorneria yuccoides. It suffered some bud damage during the previous two winters, but always comes back strong. I planted it right up against the south side of the house, so it is in a very protected micro-climate. It is about as hardy as New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax).

More to come soon!!!!

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