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.


  1. Great post. I love the Carex buchananii, it is really beautiful.

  2. My Artemesia is quite large now, too. It is starting to divide and getting leggy at the base. I am going to cut it back as well.
    You have a lot of pretty, various colors in your garden! Always like to look at your blog.

  3. I am so darn full of zone 9 and 10 envy that I forget sometimes how good we really do have it here in zone 8, thank you for the reminder. I shall follow in your footsteps sometime soon and post about the tough fellows in my garden who are still looking great with not a care in the world.

  4. regarding Powis Castle: You've got the right idea on triming back in the Spring. I've heard that this plant should only be pruned in the Spring. I've got one that's fallen over and it's tempting to cut it back, or even to trim out the dead foliage in the middle now but wait till Spring! Last Fall mine was small but all the inner foliage was dead. I waited till Spring and trimmed off the dead foliage and it really responded well and and became big and beautiful.

    It's nice to see your Schizachyrium in a mass, I bought one tiny clump Summer and can't wait for it to spread!

  5. You do have a lot going on - I especially love that carex with all the curling blades - very cool! I buy that artemisia every year as an annual - it doesn't like the winters here...

  6. Dear Scott, While I am glad to have some 'down time' while my Zone 5 garden sleeps, I must admit I full of envy of your 'oh, so green' space. Pam

  7. Seeing how good your garden looks makes me wish we hadn't had such cold weather last week. Knautia and Centranthus are two favorites of mine, I love that they both reseed and bloom for so long. I've been meaning to add some of the Geranium macrorrhizum. Is that the one that smells kind of like soap?

  8. You have some tough plants in your garden. It's amazing that you and I are in the same zone and our climate can be quite different. I guess I don't really grasp how 'they' determine the zones. I wonder if maidenhair fern would survive here outside? I'm in North Florida. Oh I dropped by from Danger Garden. I've been checking back to read comments on Why Do You Blog?

  9. Scott, I think you may have gotten hit with a storm that's headed this way. Good to see these survivors are looking well. Hope you don't have a winter like last year.
    (Alice ...
    aka Bay Area Tendrils)

  10. Hi Scott, You've got a lot going on in your garden. I love Little Bluestem too! And the Oxalis is evergreen here, however, I find that the following spring the wintered-over foliage can get a lot of rust. I take it off and new foliage quickly replaces it. Maybe this is just my garden... who knows? Anyway, great shots!

  11. What a great garden you have - so many forms and textures. Even during this season you have so much interest and beauty. An inspiration!

  12. Hello Scott

    I love running my fingers through Powis Castle and I love the curly little bits to the carex. The carex seeds all over my garden - for some it's an acquired taste but I really like those grasses. My marmalade heuchera had wonderful autumnal colours last week but now there is 18 inches of snow sitting on top of it as it's still white and I'm still slipping!

  13. In a state where grass lovers are few and far between, it's nice to see fellow devotees do exist. I do at least one Carex b. every summer in a container as the color is too fun to pass up at the nursery. Obviously it doesn't winter over at my place, but I envy those that can grow it year 'round.

    Christine in Alaska, under snow

  14. I am a big fan of Little Bluestem too. I planted it in a large portion of my front yard.

    Your yard looks great!