Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On the Move

This is my first attempt at transplanting an Acanthus mollis (Bear's breeches).  This one in particular I believe is A. mollis 'Hollard's Gold'.  I tried to make the root ball about the size of Kentucky because I've heard they are impossible to move.  I transplanted it to a place where its foliage blends in more with the foliage of the plants around it.  And after 24 hours, it's not dead yet...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Moment of Zen

Acer palmatum 'Shaina'
Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'
Acer japonicum 'Green Cascade'
Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Betula pendula 'Trost's Dwarf'
Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'
Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'
Acer palmatum dissectum 'Garnet'
Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'
Acer palmatum 'Fireglow'

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nerd Night Nuttiness

The first annual Plant Nerd Night was a flora fest of Portlandian proportions, being based off a similar event held in Portland every year.  In a nutshell, it was a one-night flower show for plant addicts.

When I went to buy tickets for the event two months ago, it had already sold out.  The only way I was able to attend was by volunteering.

I worked here, offering guests free wine before setting them loose to hound and hoard the many rare plants being offered for sale.

The evening was hosted by Ciscoe Morris and featured six 10-minute lectures by some proven plant nerds: Richie Steffen of the Miller Garden, Paul Bonine of Xera Plants, Sue Milliken & Kelly Dodson of Far Reaches Farm, Dan Hinkley of Windcliff, Langley Fine Gardens, and Joy Creek Nursery (I didn't get the names of the last two speakers unfortunately).

A Portlandian choir called the Chorus of the Goddess Flora serenaded us with songs such as "The Bed of Asparagus" (to the tune of The Age of Aquarius) and sang the speakers off the stage when they exceeded their allotted speaking time.

Chorus of the Goddess Flora
In between speakers, or even during, people were able to roam around and buy some amazing plants.  Here are just a few:

Trillium grandiflorum 'Flore Pleno'
I have a feeling Far Reaches Farm didn't want to sell this trillium.  Instead of saying "For Display Only" they simply put a price tag on it for $1500.

Boquila trifoliolata, Evergreen Chilean relative of Akebia vines
Schefflera alpina, reportedly hardy to 5 degrees
Berberis replicata, an evergreen barberry with deep red new growth
Cardamine trifolia, an evergreen mounding perennial
Eryngium bourgatii
Ruscus colchicus, an evergreen shrub
Perfect-looking agaves
I exercised a large amount of restraint and did not buy a single plant...something I'm already starting to regret!  Oh well.  If you didn't go this year be sure to keep an eye out for it next year.  I'm sure they will move to a bigger venue but if not, buy a ticket the day they go on sale!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bloedel Bedlam, Part 2

Here is the "class picture" of the plants from the Bloedel plant sale & Foxglove Greenhouses before they were dispersed out into the garden:

Back row, L to R:
Primula polyantha 'Victoriana Gold Lace' - For the "black & yellow" area of the garden.
Liatris spicata - This closely resembles the NW native bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax) that I've tried numerous times to collect and cultivate without success.
Baptisia australis - Basically a perennial blue sweet pea.
Hosta 'Empress Wu' - The king of all hostas, growing to over 6' tall.
Morina longifolia - Sort of echium-like.
Beesia deltophylla - A plant that has been on my wish list way too long, performing well as an evergreen ground cover they say.
Begonia pedatifida - The plant tag said "exceedingly hardy" but it was also written by Dan Hinkley, so marginally hardy is probably more like it.  At least it can be mulched heavily.

Middle row:
Cyclamen hederifolium - The fall-blooming hardy cyclamen.  The other hardy one is cyclamen coum which blooms in winter.
Primula florindae - I was told this primrose grows to over 3 feet tall.
Potentilla atrosanguinea 'Golden Starlet' - Looks like a strawberry.  I liked the way the tips of the leaves are a silvery white, giving the illusion of frost.
Francoa sonchifolia - This is supposed to be evergreen.
Rheum alexandrae - An exotic rhubarb.
Erythronium 'Pagoda' - An early-spring flowering lily.
Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid' - I've tried growing aloes outside before, always failing miserably.  This aloe does look and feel as though it could be very hardy, so I'm giving it a try.
Podophyllum peltatum - I never really noticed podophyllums until I visited the Miller Garden in October and was blown away by one that measured approximately 3 feet across.  I'm hooked.

Front row:
Aruncus dioicus - I can't remember why I got this!  There has to be something interesting about it but I'm not sure what it is.
Unknown #1- Somehow the plant tag fell out.  I only know two things about this plant: (1) it looks like a kniphofia and (2) it is not a kniphofia.
Filipendula rubra - I got this solely because I had never heard of it and both the foliage and its flowers looked interesting. 
Unknown #2 - I honestly don't remember anything about this plant, but looking at it its easy enough to tell it's in the lily family so I'm sure I'll like it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bloedel Bedlam, Part 1

I've been to a lot of plant sales, and the Bloedel Reserve Plant Sale is among the best.  Dan Hinkley, Far Reaches Farm, Steamboat Island, Desert NW and a lot more...all in one place!  Yikes!

On the way to the Bloedel Reserve we stopped by a nursery called Foxglove Greenhouses.  They are a wholesale nursery specializing in annuals and perennials.  I think they are usually open on Saturdays to the public.

Foxglove Greenhouses
We explored around a little bit, and then met up with the owner, David, who very generously took us on a tour of his greenhouses.  He spent half an hour showing us all kinds of interesting and unusual perennials he's growing, about a dozen of which ended up coming back with us (he's a great salesman).  He orders many of his seeds from the Jelitto seed company in Germany.  I will be checking out their catalog and I will most definietley be back to Foxglove Greenhouses in the very near future.

The Bloedel Reserve Gatehouse
Alright, back to the main event.  The Bloedel Reserve is an hour (including a 35-minute ferry ride) away from Seattle, located on Bainbridge Island.  This is one of best botanical gardens in the area.  So it is worth going to, but when you throw in a plant sale of Dan Hinkley and Far Reaches Farm proportions, it is definitely worth going to.

Drimys winteri
Don't you hate it when you buy a rare plant, such as a Drimys winteri, a Dan Hinkley collection, and then see the same thing planted right at the entrance of the Bloedel Reserve for everyone to see?  Suddenly, the rare has become commonplace.  I guess that's why people go to botanical gardens though.

I didn't catch the cultivar name of this hepatica, but I'm sure it's incredibly expensive so it probably doesn't matter anyway.  (Update: It's Hepatica 'Cremar', thanks to Riz Reyes & Andy Navage)

Giant expensive-looking trilliums.

Is this a Paris polyphylla? (Update: Nope. It's a Lilium hansonii.  Thanks again to Riz Reyes & Andy Navage for the clarification)

Impatiens omeiana
Impatiens omeiana shoots up very quickly in the spring and is supposedly hardy to zone 6 (min. -10).

Schefflera taiwaniana
What would a botanical garden be without a few hardy scheffleras?

Now, you want to know which plants I bought at the plant sale, right?  Well, you're going to have to wait until tomorrow :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Tale of Two Palm Trees

Here is a great demonstration of why the idea of micro-climate is so important.  These two pictures show two different specimens of the same species, Washingtonia robusta (Mexican Fan Palm), growing 20 feet away from each other.  The one on top is growing adjacent to the south side of the house.  The one on the bottom is growing in about the same amount of sun, but with nothing like the side of the house to help moderate the temperature during freezing nights.  Although the one on the bottom defoliated, I expect it to fully recover, probably growing at a slower pace than the one on the top.

Note: I cut off the dead fronds from the palm on the bottom, but left the spiky petioles in tact because they will eventually form the "woven" thatch on the trunk.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Things Are Looking Up!

Polypodium glycyrrhiza (Licorice fern) growing on Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood)
Tetrapanax papyrifer (Rice paper plant)
Now that the days are finally warming up a bit and the nighttime lows are above freezing, I've been taking a few of the subtropical plants out of the greenhouse and setting them out in the garden.  It has become an annual ritual to plant a red banana (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii') in the front corner by the sidewalk so all the neighbors can stand in awe of a real, living banana growing in their neighborhood (OK, not technically a banana).

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'
Below, some succulents are basking in the intensity of some full sunshine for the first time this year.

This 3-year old Sabal minor is looking happy.

Sabal minor
The winter was mild, the soil is nice and wet, the mountains have plenty of snow so no worries of drought this summer...I think we are primed for a great growing season.

Camellia japonica covered in blooms

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Four Years Later...

It took me four years, 18 tons of concrete, 1,000 linear feet of rebar, and several hundred rocks to build the 3,000 gallon koi pond in the backyard.  If there were a makeover TV show for backyards, this would be the extreme version of it.  Here are just a few before and after shots of the project:

Before: May 2008; After: April 2012

Before: July 2008; After: April 2012

Before: November 2008; After: April 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Exciting News!

If you live in the Normandy Park area, be sure to save the date of Saturday, July 7th, 2012.  My parents and I will be hosting a "Garden Festival & Plant Sale" at their house in Normandy Park.  Special guest Dan Hinkley will be giving a talk at 1:30pm and he will even be bringing some of his own plants to sell as well (yippee!).  Of course, you'll be able to roam around the garden to your heart's content while munching on a few light refreshments.  This event is free and open to the public.

If you would like to RSVP, you can e-mail me at:

More info on this to come soon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Little Season That Could

Today's post is brought to you by the number five.  That's how many degrees below and inches of rain above normal it was for the month of March.  April is looking to be slightly less ornery, but let's not get our hopes up. 

Melianthus major (Honey Bush)
At the NW Flower & Garden Show in February, one of the speakers (an executive from Monrovia I believe) said he had yet to see a Melianthus major go to flower in the Northwest.  Well, have I got news for him.  Not only did mine bloom last summer, but it's about to bloom again!

One thing that has been growing incredibly fast lately is the kale in the garden.  This couldn't have been a better winter for cole crops - cool, rainy, and mild.

Hepatica nobilis can something so pristine emerge out of soil that's so wet and murky?

Some radishes, on the left, are off to a great start and should be ready to eat in a couple weeks.  The peas, on the other hand, are not.  Only two peas emerged from the soil.  I dug through to see what the problem was, and they were all gone!  Something's eating clue what though.

Berberis darwinii (Darwin Barberry)
Thanks to a mild winter, this evergreen barberry has been in bloom since November and doesn't show any sign of stopping.

Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)