Sunday, November 25, 2012

Now look alive!

As the garden settles into winter mode there are a few plants that are determined to defy the impending hostility brought forth by old man winter, showing no signs of slowing down.  In fact, the plants in this post look more alive now than they did a month ago.

Case in point, the growing season for this plant is the winter.  It goes dormant during the heat of the summer.  I hardly believed that when I bought it, but now that I've seen it, it's true.  It's called Arum italicum 'White Winter' and supposedly makes a great companion plant to hostas since their growth/dormant periods are reversed.

Arum italicum 'White Winter'
New growth like this is typically only seen in the spring...not on November 25th:

Arum italicum 'White Winter'
It's also hardy to Zone 5 (-20F/-29C) so just about anyone can enjoy it.

One genus that has a 99.99% fail rate in Seattle are aloes.  I've tried several "hardy" aloes, giving them perfectly draining soil in a nice sunny spot, only to find a gooey mess after an arctic outbreak.  I bought this aloe, labeled Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid' last spring and was very happy to see it essentially quadruple in size over the summer.  This will be its first winter in the ground and so far so good - it's even starting to bloom!

Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid'
Luckily the aloe is far from the only plant in bloom right now.  This next one actually starts blooming in mid-fall and carries through to at least Christmas.  It is sometimes confusingly referred to as Kaffir lily, but its botanical name is Hesperantha coccinea.  In the background is the venerable Schefflera taiwaniana.  Two outstanding plants...there's a reason they're right by the front door!

Hesperantha coccinea
This Camellia sasanqua 'Apple Blossom' is really starting to grow into a nice espalier and conveys a subtropical look quite well even though it was only a few degrees above freezing when this picture was taken.

Camellia sasanqua 'Apple Blossom'

I believe there's a lifetime supply of bird food on this Pyracantha coccinea (firethorn).

Pyracantha coccinea
And finally...the least hardy of the lot (except perhaps the aloe) but well worth the attempt in Seattle: Dichroa febrifuga.  It's an evergreen hydrangea relative with lavender flowers followed by metallic purple or blue berries.  I'm guessing I need to add some aluminum sulfate to the soil here to acidify it and turn the berries blue as I would for a hydrangea flower.  It's on the to do list for next year...

Dichroa febrifuga


  1. Aren't we lucky to live in such a fabulous climate where all of this growth and beauty are present in the winter garden?

    Love your new potato header!