Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still Green, Still Kicking

Euphorbia 'Blue Jeans' with Pennisetum 'Hameln'

Well, our first frost has come and gone, and with Portland's typically mild winter temps returning, I ventured out this weekend and took stock of what was going on in the garden. Having previously lived in zone 3-4, I am constantly amazed at what can not only live through the winters here, in Zone 8, but actually keep actively growing! Even so, the with the recent frost, many things have gone to sleep for the year, and I'll look forward to seeing them again in the spring.

Oxalis oregana
I'm not entirely sure if this Oxalis is really evergreen, or if it will crumple later this winter when temps dip into freezing again. Nevertheless, it made it though our first freeze with flying colors and has perked up again.

Schizachyrium 'The Blues' Little Bluestem
I kinda love this grass all year long, it has wonderful color and (when it isn't flopping) a nice form. My favorite time in it's growing season is actually right now, it's coloring is stunning, a mix of red, purple, blue, orange. I have it planted among my Persicaria 'Taurus' and it compliments it beautifully.

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Left: Euphorbia 'Blackbird' Right: Centranthus ruber
Most Portlanders are very familiar with Euphorbia, but they were totally alien to me when I first moved here. I have grown to love them over the years, both for their interesting, evergreen foliage, and their oddly beautiful flowers, which usually occur early in spring. Centranthus may well be considred a noxious weed by some in the NW, it grows and reseeds everywhere! I love it though, it is easy to grow and beautiful, offering and almost unmatched season of interest, both it's foliage and flowers.

Heuchera 'Marmalade'
I haven't quite jumped on the Heuchera bandwagon yet. It's not that I don't love the colors, I just don't have a lot of space to spare for low-growing plants (I know, it's my weird thing). I did, however, make room for a few 'Marmalade' and a purple-leaved variety, whose name I never remember. I didn't realize that they are also semi-evergreen her in PDX...which is a nice bonus, however!

Agastache 'Rupestris'
While the foliage of this Agastache is kaput, it's little crown of basal foliage remains, the promise of what's to come next spring. Interestingly, a few of the Agastaches are still green, including 'Golden Jubilee', 'Blue Fortune' and 'Desert Sunrise'. Granted, they are shedding leaves by the day, but hey, I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Geranium macrorrhizum
Part of the reason I bought this Geranium is for its lovely, divided, evergreen leaves...and I'm glad to see they are fulfilling that role admirably!

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Left: Maidenhair Fern Right: Knautia Macedonica
This delicate little fern I got this summer at Bosky Dell Natives is proving to be a tough little thing! The Knautia not only remains green, but is still blooming! The foliage color is stunning this time of year, it's a bright almost lime green and really stands out!

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' and Muhlenbergia cappilaris
The always dependable 'Powis Castle' is also, happily, evergreen here in our climate. I can count on its low mound of silvery foliage all year. Sadly, it's flopped a bit and is open in the center. Since it's grown to over 6' in diameter, I've decided to chop it back to the ground next spring and let it re-grow. Behind it is the little stand of Pink Muhly Grass, which is also pretty much evergreen in our climate.

Carex buchananii
I finally broke down and bought a Carex this fall. I've come around and instead of finding them merely "intersting" I have started to appreciate their subtle beauty and lovely, warm colors.

Verbena 'Homestead Purple' and Verbena rigida, also, Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
The Verbena are such tough plants, I'm always a little amazed at how they endure through the winter, I always thing of them as semi-tropical. The Sedum is usually completely yellow by now, but must be a bit more sheltered in this location, and it's just starting to turn and is mostly green.

There are a few other things that have remained green that I keep forgetting to snap pics of, the Astrantia, Pennisetum 'Tall Tails', Geranium Rozanne, Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', Sedum 'Autumn Joy', various Monarda, Rudbeckia, Persicaria and Helenium.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Visit From Jack Frost

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' with an icy bonnet.

Well, it finally happened (although it seems earlier than usual for Portland), we got our first real freeze. I woke up this morning and the plants that pulled through the previous night's freezing temps seem to have, for the most part, succumbed to last night's freeze.

Geranium 'Rozanne'

Remember my post a few days ago about 'Rozanne', well, here she is with her frosty veil. The plant definitely looks a little freeze-dried at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if it springs back when temps climb again in the next few days. As you can see below, the leaves aren't blackened and shriveled, like many other plants are...I think their low-growing stature helps shelter them a bit, unlike, say, the Salvias, which are shriveled.

Geranium 'Rozanne' and Nepeta 'Walker's Low' foliage.

Heuchera 'Marmalade'

We get frost so infrequently here in Portland, I forget how interesting it can be on some plants, as seen here in the delicate picotee it bestows on a Heuchera.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Verbena 'Homestead Purple'

I also like how frost can make me look again at plants I've sort of forgotten, or just gotten used to. Here, it brings renewed interest to a late-season combination of Verbena and Sedum.

Ornamental Sweet Potato 'Blackie'

Of course, we can't talk about frost without mourning those we leave behind, as with this once full and voluptuous Sweet Potato vine.

And then there are the surprises, like this little sprite of a mushroom I noticed why photographing the frozen matt of leaves in our parking strip.

Our neighbor's cat, who has adopted us, has the right idea on days like this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rozanne, Belle of the Ball

Geranium 'Rozanne'

I feel like since I mention it in almost every post anyway, it was about time to give Geranium 'Rozanne' it's very own post! Introduced by Blooms on Bressingham in 2000, it was named the Perennial Plant of the Year in 2008. I think remembering reading somewhere that it was called the "Geranium of the Millenium", which may be a little bit of hyperbole, but after this season, I'm not inclined to disagree. It has proven hardy, disease-resistant and extremely vigorous and floriferous. While many of my Geraniums got rust this summer, 'Rozanne' was unscathed. 'Rozanne' also manages to remain full all season, avoiding the spindly growth so common in other Geraniums.

Rozanne copy

I planted 3 'Rozanne' this spring, and they have flowered continuously. I actually planted them in a row (rather unusual for me) interspersed with catmint, all the plants grew together relatively quickly, forming a mounding, trailing band of silvery-green foliage and blue flowers at the front of the north border. It combines beautifully with pretty much everything, and I find myself constantly thinking up new combinations for it. The foliage is such a wonderfully cool presence that it harmonizes well with any other foliage near it. The flower have a wonderfully variable color, depending on the light. For the most part, they are a lovely, cool blue. In morning and afternoon light, however, they are a vibrant, dazzling purple.

I love the growth habit of 'Rozanne', it is vigorous and mounding/trailing. It spreads to about 3' in all directions, weaving into neighboring plants in a most appealing way. Unfortunately, with my bad habit of planting things too closely together, they managed to smother 3 purple Heucheras growing nearby (seen at the left). I'm hoping the Heucheras return next spring, at which time I'll move them and replace them with something that can hold it's own with the Geraniums.
'Rozanne' in combination with a purple Heuchera, whose name escapes me!

Rozanne-fresh as a daisy
'Rozanne' in Summer, a veritable bank of color

This photo shows the range of colors of the leaves, as well as the fact that the plant is still actively (albeit slowly) growing and blooming.

Now that fall is here, their growth and flowering have slowed considerably, but not stopped. They have so far been ignored by the army of voracious slugs in my garden (who demolished the nearby 'Ann Folkard' almost overnight. I was interested to see if the leaves would change color this fall (as some perennial geraniums are apt to do) and they do have the odd red and yellow leaves here and there, but, for the most part, are still green (as are the other Geraniums in my garden).

Here are a few leaves that are showing flaming red coloration at the tips, slowly fading toward the center.

Portland has very long, drawn-out autumns, which just sort of bleed into winter. Even then, our winters are so mild that some plants stay green all year. I'm wondering if 'Rozanne' will be one of those, or, if it will crumple when do actually get some freezing temps (which, may happen later this week). Only time will tell, but, regardless, it's a wonderful plant and deserves to be in every garden :-)

This leaf has darker, more maroon coloring, which seems to be the most common on my 'Rozanne' plants.

Here is a new, bright-green stem that is flowering. There are still a surprising number of flowers appearing and a nice quantity of fresh, green leaves.

These are my favorite leaves on the plant, yellow with some rich, red edging.

And finally, we finish with another dewy blossom.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Autumn Vignette

Miscanthus, Helenium 'Mardi Grass' seedheads, Salvia 'Black & Blue', Eupatorium

Amazing at it seems, we might actually dip into freezing temps tonight...some parts of the PDX metro area are even supposed to get show...we'll see. I wanted to get the bulbs planted this weekend, but just never got around to it, have been feeling slightly lazy :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2 Plants on My Wish-List!

I got news today of two VERY exciting new plants on the horizon (and hopefully MY horizon). The first one I saw when I was paging through a  copy of Horticulture Magazine. They were discussing some new and interesting plants coming out in 2011, something which I'm always keen to hear more about. Being introduced by one of my favorite nurseries, High Country Gardens (this picture is from their blog, I hope they don't mind) is 'Blue Blazes' Agastache. It is apparently a cross between 'Desert Sunrise' (a selection they introduced) and Agastache foeniculatum...two great plants, I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in reality. Supposedly long-blooming and generous in size (3-4' tall, 2' wide). I can't wait for this to become available...I am already planning where this will go in my garden!

The next plant is one that was brought to my attention by Louis Raymond in  a comment to my earlier post on Rudbeckia triloba. He mentioned that Annie's Annuals had a RED version listed, but not available at that time. I didn't waste a moment, but headed over to Annie's website and added it to my wishlist. Well, today I received an email from their website that it was available to order! So much cool news in one day, how can I possibly take it! I'm hesitant to order it now, as I'm not sure if I can safely plant something now and have it survive our winter...has anyone planted this late with success??? In any case, I may bend to tempation now...and if not now, it will be on my order list this spring!
The images are also from the Annie's Annual website...forgive me :-)

This is an quote from the Annie's Annual website:

My favorite new Rudbeckia! This special strain of good ol’ R. triloba has a mixture of reds & rusts that are oh-so autumnal & warm. A butterfly MAGNET, this Midwestern native grows 3-6’ tall by 2’ or more wide & is considered a short-lived perennial, though it self-sows modestly. If you don’t know R. triloba, prepare to be impressed! The flowers are small (2” across) but profuse. At peak bloom (late Summer or Fall) an established plant can produce 100’s of flowers, MORE per plant than any other Rudbeckia I can think of. This seed strain is not 100% consistent, so the shade of red may not be exactly as pictured & there are some yellow & yellow-red bicolors in the mix. But we do so love the little surprises you get from growing things from seed! OK with poor soil, heat & more shade than most Rudbeckias. Great cut flower!

Update! I just got an email from HCG that they are available to order...I put in an order IMMEDIATELY...now I just have to wait for the last week of March, when I've requested they be shipped! What month is it now? ;-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 15, 2010

Salvia guaranitic 'Black and Blue'

Wow, it's that time again! I have to admit, this is only the 2nd time I've managed to get my act together enough to do one of these postings, I know there are a lot of people who post on this, so I'll try to keep things brief and let the pics speak for themselves :-) Above is Salvia 'Black and Blue', which continue to look great until they are cut down by frost (which in Portland, might not happen until after Christmas). I really like this patch of 'Black and Blue' the most, as it's backed by the Miscanthus (I think Malepartus, but it wasn't labeled, if anyone can tell for sure, I'd appreciate it!) which in Autumn turns bright, blazing yellow and really sets off the Salvia nicely. The blue is electric against the yellow.

Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Majesty'
In spite of it's fragile stems which constantly snap, 'Purple Majesty' continues to put on its show. Like its relative above, it is really at it's best in the fall, and will keep pumping out these blooms until frost.

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Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' and Centranthus ruber
The Erysimum are entering their season, they have started to bloom again, albeit lightly, but the fact that they are evergreen makes them doubly valuable. The Centranthus are still blooming, although only a few scattered blossoms here and there. They have started to bulk up at the base and I'm noticed numerous seedlings in their vicinity that seem suspiciously like the work of self-sowing...not that I'm complaining, I'm moving the Rodgersias that are there currently to a more shaded position next spring, and these will fill in their vacant spot.

Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Poor 'Ann' has unfortunately been reduced to mere stems by the ravaging slugs, but bravely, she still manages to throw up a few blossoms. I've been spreading slug repellant continuously for the last week or so, but to no avail, they REALLY want to eat my plants. Strangely, they seem to ignore some geraniums in favor of others. They love 'Ann' and 'Walters Gift' but seem to not bother 'Rozanne' or my Geranium macrorhizum...strange.

Agastache 'Tutti Frutti'
In spite of the fact that it is the floppiest and messiest plant in my garden, this Agastache is also one of the most vigorous and longest blooming. It started in June and is STILL flowering, though not heavily. Next year, I'm moving them all to the sunniest position I can find...and even then, will probably pre-emtively truss them up to keep them from smothering their neighbors again.

Helenium 'Mardi Gras'
The lovely Helenium continues to toss up the occasional blossom, making it another winner for long-season bloom. They may be floppy and somewhat prone to collapse, but they are so care-free and floriferous, I'll keep growing them happily!

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
I can never quite tell the moment when the Sedum stop actually flowering and just enter their 'seedy' phase. It doesn't really matter, they are lovely in all stages of their blooms.

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Persicaria 'Red Dragon' and Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'
My wondrous 'Red Dragon' keep throwing up sprays of dainty, white flowers, which, while not extremely showy, have a delicate charm that I find endearing. 'Red Dragon' is one of the plants that seems to really hit its stride right now, while other plants are slowing down or going to sleep, it's like a crazy club kid, it just keep growing! Agastache 'Acapulco Orange' has been a real trooper this year, and is still blooming lightly, but sporadically.

I can't remember which Origanum this one is, but it's flowers and colorful bracts continue to add a subtle beauty to the garden.

Geranium 'Rozanne'
The superstar of the garden, 'Rozanne' just keeps going and going. It's foliage is starting to look slightly tattered, but compared to so many other plants, it's fresh as a daisy. It continues to bloom and bloom, not as heavily as in the summer, but any flower is welcome. Here it is pictured with one of the Amsonias I planted this spring.

Muhlenbergia capillaris and Amsonia hubrichtii
Above is another Amsonia, this one planted last fall (right around this time, if I remember) and by far the larges of my Amsonias (although still tiny in comparison to many I've seen). It is backed by the frothy pink cloud of Pink Muhly Grass. I have to admit, I stole this combo from Nancy Ondra in her book Fallscaping, which I absolutely ADORE! I'm hoping someday it will come close to the beauty of the planting that inspired it :-)

Verbena rigida
This Verbena is really late to emerge in the spring, and I honestly thought it had died over the winter. However, once it pops up, it grows at amazing speed and is a great filler throughout the garden, issuing its lovely pink-purple blooms all summer and fall until the first frost.

Rudbecia triloba
A true superstar, my poor Rudbecia triloba pretty much collapsed on itself earlier this month, under the burden of heavy rains and its blooms.

Persicaria 'Taurus'
Lovely Persicaria, just keeps growing and blooming, slugs keep attacking it, and it keeps growing new leaves. I love this plant.

Geranium 'Rozanne'
Oops, I guess I am posting this one twice...well, it's that good :-)

Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'
This lovely Joe Pye relative is grown primarily for it's wonderful dark foliage, which looks amazing all spring and summer. Right about the time it blooms, most of the leaves of mine are pretty much green with a dark tinting. Even so, the flowers are lovely, white and frothy.

Pennisetum 'Tall Tails'
A Pennisetum apart from all the others I've known. Unlike the others which seem to thrive during the warmer parts of the year, this one doesn't seem to really get going until autumn arrives. It is growing taller and putting out more and more blossoms, which seems so strange, not that I'm complaining. It's a bit floppy (but in my garden, that's the rule, not the exception) but extremely vigorous. It's funny to remember back in the spring when it seemed to be so far behind the other grasses, had I only known it was just a late bloomer, so to speak ;-)

Knautia macedonica
Another plant that just keeps blooming and blooming. I don't think its stopped once since I planted it in July...just amazing!

Agastache 'Summer Sky'
Ok, yeah, it's barely blooming, but hey, I'm going to eek out whatever I can this month!

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Pennisetum 'Hameln' and Sildacea oregana (Oregon Checker Mallow)
One of my favorite grasses, in spite of it ubiquity in shopping center parking lot plantings. I love it's fuzzy flowers and the lovely, buttery shade of yellow it turns in the fall. The Checker Mallow I got this spring at a native plant sale. It's pretty small still, but has been blooming lightly for months, I'm interested to see what it will do next year.

Rudbeckai hiirta 'Goldsturm'
Strangely, while most Rudbeckia seemed to be done months ago, including those on the other side of my house, these are still blooming, and quite vigorously, in spite of the constant onslaught of slug attacks.

And here it is, the garden in all it's glory, a bit bedraggled, sodden and tired, but it marches on until the inevitable killing frosts. Of course, I'm not done, I still have bags of bulbs and a few remaining Astrantias to pop in the ground :-)