Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Little Astrantia That Almost Wasn't

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Astrantia 'Abbey Road'
It's nothing unusual to most gardeners, the need to snoop around in early spring, trying to spy the first spring of growth that signals a plant has made it through another winter to grace us, yet again, with it's presence. Sometimes, however, the well-intentioned gardener can unwittingly damage the plants they are fretting over. Such is the case with the above Astrantia.

The related Astrantia major emerged over a month ago...but I still hadn't seen any signs of the hybrid 'Abbey Road'. I waited. I watched. I cautiously pulled back some mulch in a few of the areas I was "pretty sure" I had planted them in. At one point, I even wandered to the top/back of the border (my front garden in on a slope) to check things out. Imagine my surprise, today, after I was looking again (and found signs of life in a few patches!!!) when I looked up and saw a sprout...right the middle of my muddy footprint. Yikes! I guess it's another good lesson that no matter how frail plants seem, they are tougher than we think...and have a will to survive even stronger than our need to control them :-)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hello there, sleepyhead!

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Rheum palmatum tanguticum
Well, just as I had about given up hope that my ornamental rhubarb had made it through the winter, I spotted a little bud emerging from the ground yesterday. I was surprised a few weeks ago when it hadn't emerged yet, almost a month behind schedule...but I needn't have feared, it was just waiting for the right moment. I've learned the best way to make something pop up is to start planning what you're going to replace it with ;-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

I was bad

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Cephalaria gigantea
Well...even though I sorta promised myself I wouldn't buy any plants this year without a certain place to put them, let alone before the backyard is ready to receive plants (right now it looks a bit like a breeding pit for orcs), I may have...ummm...accidentally bought some plants this weekend.

I know, I'm weak, but you all understand, right?!? You know how you occasionally stumble upon a plant you've been looking for...and never could find. Well...there they were, this beautiful trio of Cephalaria could I resist! You know I love big (especially tall) well as blowsy, ephemeral's like the nursery knew I was coming and put it out just to entice me. Now my punishment starts, I have to find a place for them...if only we'd get a few dry days I could start the backyard excavation...sigh.

Also...I'm seeing a strange recurring pattern in the two plant purchases this spring have both been of plants with "gigantea" in their you think I have some sort of "small-garden" complex??? ;-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Progress - March 24, 2011

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Lilium 'Black Beauty'
Well, it's been about a week, so it's time for another update on what's popping up in the garden, as well as a few progress shots. Above is Lilium 'Black Beauty', which just emerged this past week...much to my relief, as I was walking around in the area last week and was afraid I might have stepped on them just as they were about to emerge...eek!

Amsonia Hubrichtii March 20 2011
Amsonia hubrichtii
I'm sure i had this is the last report...these are so slow to get going in the seems like they've been at this stage for at least a month!

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Persicaria 'Red Dragon'
I just wanted to post this in comparison to my previous post about the Lan Su Chinese Garden...look at the difference! Granted, they are in a little walled urban heat island :-) This does bring up one interesting thing I've noticed this year, plants in my garden seem to be a good 1-2 weeks behind where others in my neighborhood are. Some of that could be that the other plantings are a slightly different cultivar...or maybe just the fact that they are, for the most part, more established plantings. Still, it can cause some anxiousness,as I'm always sure my plants are dead, rather than just late to the party ;-)

Euphorbia Dixter March 20 2011
Euphorbia 'Dixter'
Success! I bought this plant at the PDX Yard Garden & Patio show last month, and it's finally broken through...can't wait to see how this one performs!

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Allium 'Purple Sensation'
While I actually prefer to randomly plant the smaller "Drumstick" allium around for burst of spontaneous color, I did plant some of the larger "Purple Sensation" last fall...sadly, only 2 or the 6 seem to have made it through...unless the others are just sleepheads...let's hope!

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Crocosmia 'Orangeade'
While I noticed them a few weeks ago, these are just now big enough to get a decent photo...not that they don't just look like blades of grass! I can't wait to see how big they get during this, their 2nd full season in the garden.

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Sanguisorbia 'Pink Elephant'
The Sanguisorbia continue to unfurl and their odd, crimped foliage.

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Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eye Sumac'
While some people have trouble with their sumac being a bit too aggressive, this one has struggled in my garden for the past year...I'm thinking it may really not like my heavy, HEAVY, HEAVY clay soil (did you know my soil is really heavy?) Nevertheless, it looks like the little buds are fattening up, so hopefully this is the year it settles in and really takes off.

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Anemone 'Honorie Jobert'
This little thing has been up and growing for quite a seems to be happy in its location.

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Astrantia major
The Astrantias continue to grow, albeit slowly, although none of the 'Abbey Road' has really popped up yet, I could swear I saw a spot of green the other day...I'm not giving up on them yet!

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Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Love these, they grow faster than anything else in my garden...they are already starting to turn yellow...with the newest growth still stained purple.

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Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'
Agastache as such variable creatures...these "Southwestern" types typically keep a small amount of basal foliage during the winter (and if they don't, they don't seem to do as well the following season). The eastern types (Like Honey Bee Blue, Blue Fortune, and Black Adder) die back completely and don't usually emerge until quite a bit later in the spring. As such, I'm still waiting for any of the eastern types (except for the previously-mentioned 'Golden Jubilee', which is an exception to the rule) to emerge.

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Geranium 'Blogold', aka 'Blue Sunrise'
Last, but certainly not least, is Geranium 'Blogold', another plant I bought at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show this spring. I was a little worried that no growth had yet emerged, but alas, yesterday after work I finally spotted the first few sprigs of growth! Ah, gardening, each little sprout is a victory of sorts!

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Oh more thing!!! I have a bunch of these mystery seedlings all around a section of the garden...I'm still waiting on the first set of true leaves to ID it accurately, but an thinking it may be a nearby Echinops bannaticus...I hope that's the case, as I'd love more to spread around the garden.

How about the rest of you...what's up and growing in your garden...have you had a chance to take stock of any losses over the winter? I'm pretty sure at this point that my Ornamental Rhubarb has passed on to a better it really should have shown up by now...then again, you never might just surprise me yet!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Portland Chinese Garden Plant Sale

chaenomoles japonica closeup
Chaenomoles japonica
This weekend was the annual Spring Plant Sale at the Lan Su Chinese Garden. I've meant to go for the past few years, but always miss it somehow. This year, thanks to MulchMaid and her recent post promoting the event I finally made it!

Epimedium wushanense
Epimedium wushanense
This was THE plant I wanted...isn't it lovely...beautiful, shiny burgundy leaves lined with little spines. I snatched it up, so excited with my discover...then discovered it was $30 per plant. GULP. Somewhat deflated, I put it back and sadly parted ways.

tetrapanax chinese garden sale
Ahhh....if I had an acre of land, I'd gladly give these babies a spot there :-)

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Chief Joseph Pine Rusty Metal Screen
I really, really, really want one of these, but as you can see by the price tag...even a tiny 6" sprout is crazy-expensive. If I win the lottery, I'm totally getting one...until dice. Also, I kinda fell in like with this rusty metal screen. What is it with me and rusty metal?

Well...the sale had some great things, but I was feeling a bit non-committal, so Norm and I decided to head to the Garden to look around. I haven't been there very often, so there is still an air of discovery when I do go. Following are a few photos of the Garden itself...I'll spare you too much jabberin...especially since I'm not terribly knowledgeable about many of the plants!

Mystery Shrub




pink camelia


weeping willow
Weeping Willow

camelia on rock
Camelia on rock

lorapetalum & rhododendron
Lorapetalum & Rhododendron foliage

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Climbing Hydrangea Clematis

Podophyllum (Chinese Mayapple)


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Mystery Thorny Bush Rubus - love that pleated foliage

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Pebble Path with Moss - Because moss makes everything better!

pebble path 1 rhododendron
Pebble path Rhododendron

tree peony 1
Tree Peony Foliage

cherry tre blosom
Cherry blossom

pond edge

hypericum relative chaenomoles japonica
Hypericum relative Chaenomoles japonica

peony bud 2

Persicaria 'Red Dragon'

epimedium and lorapetalum
Epimedium & Lorapetalum

Stipa gigantea March 20 2011
Stipa gigantea
So what did I but at the sale...well, nothing :-) I really wanted the Epimedium...but at $30 a pop, couldn't justify that expense. I also picked up a seedling of Peony Obovata...but at $12 for a mere sprout, decided against it. to Portland Nursery to get some Chives (had been meaning to plant some for the past few years. While wandering around, I passed the grasses - I could hear my partner already, "More grasses?". They actually had a few small Stipa gigantea this year...which I could NOT pass up!