Well, this past weekend was one of my favorite events of the gardening year...the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's annual Fall Plant Sale! I can never decide which of their sales I like more, the spring one, or the autumn one. The spring one is like a balm to my spirits after a long, rainy winter, but the fall one usually has more plants that I love...especially the grasses, which are just so hard to judge early in the season when they are just a few, tiny blades in a pot.
Any-hoo, it was a great sale, I always enjoy just wandering around and checking out all the booths, there are so many wonderful specialty nurseries, and I love seeing new and interesting plants! I only had 2 plants that I was specifically looking for, some Astrantia and a Vernonia, other than that, I was willing to go where the plant gods willed!
My first purchase happened surprisingly fast. I found 3 Astrantia Major at one of the first booths I stopped at. I bought some A. Major 'Abbey Road' earlier this year from Portland Nursery, but really wanted more in another color to mix in with them. I got these from Collector's Nursery, which is located in Battle Ground, WA. These Astrantia are supposed to have white flowers with a tinge of pink, which should be lovely mixed in with 'Abbey Road'. I'm hoping they do better in this spot than the Echinacea which I really wanted to grow there...but whether I wanted to believe it or not, it's really not full sun, so the Echinacea were decidedly unhappy. After a full year here at the house, I'm finally getting a grasp of the crazy light conditions here. The strange mix of sun/shade/slope continues to pose a challenge.
My next purchase (also from Collector's Nursery) was a trio of Geranium Macrorrhizum. I've been thinking of replacing the Ajuga that grows near the base of the mighty Joe Pye Weed, and upon seeing these beauties, decided they fit the bill, growing well in part shade and spreading over time to form a nice ground cover. They actually had 2 different varieties of Geranium at the booth, this one with white flowers and another with pink flowers. I ended up choosing this one, however, solely because of its foliage. It's soft and velvety and has the most alluring scent. I can't quite describe it, those who've grown them before will know what it is, sort of woodsy, almost like a very light incense.
The last plant I bought was this grass, also known as "Flame Grass", from Out In The Garden Nursery, which is located in Molalla, OR. I've actually been looking for this grass all year, ever since seeing a photo of it growing in a huge colony in some botanical garden (maybe in Chicago, can't quite remember). Anyway, being a sucker for grasses to begin with, but especially for grasses with good autumn color, this one was a no-brainer. I love the rich colors it turns in the fall, and being a Miscanthus, looks good pretty much all year long. It has nice medium-sized blades and a lovely fountain-like form. I popped in in the garden next to an Amsonia, hoping the two will look good together in a few years, when the Amsonia hits it's stride and looks like more than a few spindly stems.
All in all, it was a fun sale! As always, there were many things I could have bought, but both money and space are limiting factors. As much as I'd love to have some of those shrubs, there just isn't room in my teeny-tiny garden. Then again, it sure motivates me to start clearing out the back yard to make room for more plants :-) Oh, and the only Vernonia I saw was in someone else's hands...they got their from the Dancing Oaks booth, but there were sold out...guess I'll be heading down to Salem soon :-)