Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nursery Visit - Wind Dancer Garden

Wind Dancer Header
Fall is here at last in the PNW...and that means one of my favorite plant groups, the grasses, are really shining! This spring, at one of the zillions of plant sales I attended, I met Carolyn Kolb, owner of Wind Dancer Garden, located just outside of Salem, OR. She mentioned that I should visit the nursery in September, when it's really looking it's best. I kept that little invite in the back of my head all summer, and after the Fall HPSO plant sale, decided to make the trek down to Salem for a visit.

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As we pulled into the almost-hidden driveway, I knew this was a garden I could spend hours in. Full of grasses and complimentary perennials, it was amazing! There were lots of winding gravel paths throughout the garden, which made for great vignettes. The curved paths are great at creating a sense of "discovery", you are always wondering what is around the next corner.

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This large patch of Sedum 'Angelina' makes me realize how effective they are in a larger mass...especially growing around objects. I resolved to be patient while mine fill in over the next year or two...I WILL resist the urge to plant more...they WILL spread and fill in!

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While, in general, I'm no fan of tropicals, I found their inclusion here to be very tasteful and fitting. These dark-leaved Colocasia were particularly fetching...and given my love of dark-leaved plants, may be something I "mimic" in my own garden someday ;-)

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This photo illustrated one of the things I love about grasses, their scale! There is something magical about feeling dwarfed by plants...especially when you consider this growth all occurs during a single year!

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Carolyn offers a design service, focusing, of course, mainly on grasses, and judging by the design of the gardens at the nursery, I'd say she has a good eye and a deft hand!

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I can't quite figure out if this is a variety of Deschampsia or Molinia...either way, love that gauzy veil of flowers in gold.

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I adore this pairing of two of my favorite Pennisetum, 'Red Head' and Pennisetum spatheolatum. The contrast in shape and size are just amazing, subtle and dramatic at the same time.

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I noticed that the Miscanthus purpurescens at the nursery were coloring up far sooner than mine at home are...can't wait for them to start their fall transformation...there's a reason it's also called 'Flame Grass'!

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Another photo showing that Grasses and Sedums were made for each other!

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I love how well the warm color of this Crocosmia works with the grasses, and offers a contrasting form to the more ubiquitous, flat-topped sedums.The amazingly textural bloom stems of Pennisetum spatheolatum never fail to delight.

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Another vignette showcasing the wonderfully varied forms and textures of the grasses on display.

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Of course, there are plenty of non-grass plants in Carolyn's gardens as well, like this charming and vibrant little Clematis.

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Past the main display gardens are some of the more "private" gardens, including this arbor which leads into a veggie garden.

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Gotta love the pumpkins!

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I always forget just how beautiful some veggies can be, like these cabbage.This path leads around the back of the house to even more gardens!

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I loved this little vignette with the birdhouse surround with a patch of very charming...and love the sympathetic tones of the colors.

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I'm always jealous of gardeners who have ponds...especially one as nice as this!

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The gravel path around the house, hugs the side of the house. Love the mix of perennials and shrubs through this area. The Rudbeckia and Verbena bonariensis were putting on quite a show the weekend we visited...such a great, classic fall combination.

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More Rudbeckia...I was also impressed by the tasteful placement of various pieces of art and sculpture in Carolyn's garden...very nice.

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A parting shot of the garden, showcasing one of my faves again, Pennisetum 'Red Head'.

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Now for the good stuff...the shopping!!!!! I could barely contain myself once I entered the retail space of the nursery. It's espcially difficult as I'm running so short of space on my tiny plot...and I was keeping in mind that for every plant I was going to buy, that meant more of the hell-strip I would have to tear up this fall...which is not the easiest of many of you know.

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I'm a firm believer that fall is the BEST time for planting grasses, for many reasons. Of course, they are easier to establish, not being stressed with heat and drought...and the cool weather promotes root growth, rather than top growth. For me, it's also a bonus that many of them are at their full (for the moment) I have a much better idea of their scale in the garden. It's far too easy (at least for me) to cram things too closely together when they are little more than a sprig in a pot in the spring. When they are 6 feet tall, however, it gives me greater appreciation about how they will eventually settle into the space.

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Bouteloua, Calamagrostis, Pennisetum, Panicum, Schizachyrium...I want them all!Although I'd ignored them in the past, the fall color of the Molinias brought me back again and again.

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I finally got a good look at one of the newer grasses that were introduced this season, Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition'. I have been curious about seeing these all season, so was really excited to see a bunch of them together, to get a better idea of the effect they would have in a garden setting. All I know is that I'm definitely including them in my plans for next year's garden additions.

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Can you believe THIS is the retail part of the's practically a mini-meadow!

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Again, this grass, Molinia 'Moorhexe', kept drawing me back...I was positively smitten by those pumpkin-edging-on-scarlet stems.

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Molinia 'Moorhexe'Pennisetum macrourum 'White Lance'
So, did I actually buy betcha! Of course, I got a few of those Molinia I was eyeing...their striking form and color really struck me. I love their extremely rigid, upright form...such a contrast to my many mounding perennials. One of the big reasons I went to begin with was to get a few more Pennisetum macrourum. I had purchased one at the Fall HPSO sale a week or so earlier, but really wanted 2 more to make a decent-sized grouping. I've been in love with this grass since seeing it used en masse at the Montreal Botanical Garden last fall...can't wait to see them fill in next year...with those elegant waving wands of blooms.

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Pennisetum 'Red Head'
The last grass I got was this Pennisetum. It's very similar to a grass I already have in the garden, Pennisetum 'Moudry', the bonus of 'Red Head' is that it blooms MUCH earlier. In my garden, 'Moudry' just started blooming a few weeks ago, 'Red Head' is supposed to come into bloom months can you not love that!

Of course, the sad part of this post is the poor grasses I had to leave behind. I've been working on garden plans for the rest of the hell-strips around the house for a while, and now have a very clear idea of which grasses I'm going to I know that a future trip to Wind Dancer Garden is on the docket for next year :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bye, Bye Arborvitae

Up until a few weeks ago, this was my view every time I left the house. From the first day we moved in, I have wanted to remove the Arborvitae that was at the front of our house. I sort of wanted to tear it out as my first act of gardening...sort of asserting my dominance to the yard. For some reason, however, my partner was fond of the shrub, and since her practically never expresses any sort of interest in the garden, I decided to let him keep it. A few years have gone by, during which time I thought I'd grow to love and accept the shrub. I didn't. I grew to resent it more and more. It took up space, blocked light and was generally, well, boring. Yes it was evergreen...but I decided a better term would be "ever-boring". It didn't do anything but sit there...taking up precious real-estate (and during winter, getting me wet everytime I tried to squeeze past it.)

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Luckily, my partner has come to agree with me that it's just out of scale...and really feels separate from the rest of the garden. Last month, we finally decided to cut it down! It went pretty fast, but wasn't the most pleasant of operations (it didn't help that we decided to do it on a blazing hot day). We cut off the branches one by one, then finally attacked the stump. I have to admit, we will probably have to get someone else to remove the stump at some's a little beyond us to get it out at this time!

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Voila! Here's the same view as the above, sans Arborvitae! I have to admit, I was a little worried I'd feel exposed when walking up and down the path, the shrub provided quite a bit of a barrier. I needn't have worried, apart from feeling exposed, the path to the house feels far less crowded and claustrophobic. It helps that the same day we cut down this shrub, we pruned back all the others as well.

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We've moved the birdbath to the new open spot temporarily...until we can have the stump removed and plant something in its spot. It's become quite popular, if not with birds, at least with the neighborhood cats, who find it irresistible.

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Another before and after...this shot shows the view of the house with the Arborvitae.

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And now without. I'm excited to finally be able to integrate this part of the garden, as before, the shrubs proved to be a bit of a visual (and physical) barrier.

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The day after removing the Arborvitae, I finally bucked up and admitted the Rodgersias that had been just to the right of the shrub were not happy. They were fine during our cool, wet springs, but very, VERY unhappy during our warm, windy summers. In spite of the fact that we had (for the most part) a very mild summer, and even though I watered them like a crazy person, their leaves were still scorching badly. I moved them all into the shade (this shot shows the area they vacated). and decided to replace them with plants that would appreciate the sun.

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I replaced the Rodgersias with several Panicum, a new variety I found at Portland Nursery this summer, 'Blood Brothers'. I was totally smitten with their coloring (blue-ish foliage that develops red tints). I also popped in a few Persicaria 'Firetail' I got on sale. I can't wait to see them bulk up next year, I think they'll be a great counterpoint to the billowing blue mounds of Geranium 'Rozanne' in front of them.

With Fall approaching, I always get the itch to re-think the garden and move things around...our mild winters make it the best time to transplant things...are any of you making changes this fall?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - September 2011

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September already...who let that happen?!? Portland had a rough couple of weeks at the beginning of this month, with some nasty temps, making me hide inside with the A/C blasting, but cooler temps have returned and I'm venturing out again into the great outdoors. This is one of my absolute favorite times in the garden, probably because I have such a leaning toward fall-blooming plants...and grasses, which are shining at this time of year.

Ruckbeckia Panicum Agastache
Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' with Agastache 'Desert Sunrise' and Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
I know this will show up in a lot of the photos throughout the post, but this workhorse of a plant still deserves it's own photo. Dependable and long-lived...and such a great standard in summer/fall gardens. I really love how it ushers in fall with a blaze of color. While I shun golden yellows earlier in the year, at this time of year, it just seems appropriate...and really sets off the warmer tones found elsewhere.

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Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
My favorite of the blue Agastaches...huge, vigorous and floriferous. A few of these are 6' tall and almost as wide...they have a fairly open branching structure (which I may try to keep a bit more compact with selective pruning next year) and insinuate themselves into other plants, making for some great combos. In the above photo, you can see how fabulous it looks when backlit...which makes the entire plant look like, well, it's namesake!

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Pimplinella major 'Rosea'
This was a bit of a surprise, the Pimpinella, which I thought only bloomed in spring, is re-blooming!

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Salvia 'Black & Blue' and Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'
While I always curse the late arrival of this Salvia (which means I get to look at a patch of bare ground until July), once it arrives and starts throwing out it's amazingly electric flowers, I always forgive it. Love how the rich blue looks against the gold of Rudbeckias...and in combination with pink and purples.

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Teucrium 'Purple Tails'Agastache 'Ava'

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Sedum 'Matrona'
I've grown Sedum 'Autumn Joy' for years, but this spring, decided to add a few of this Sedum as well. I really like the slightly larger size and colorful leaves and stems. The flowers are just as nice as 'Autumn Joy' and are totally loved by the bees. I love their subtle, glowing coloring.

Knautia Verbena Agastache
Knautia macedonica, Verbena bonariensis, Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
I love this little's a sort of crazy free-for-all of red, blue and purple. A bonus, all the plants are pretty year I'm hoping they will require only a few waterings.

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Cosmos astrosanguiniem
I bought these on a lark, just because I love the way they smell. I have to say, they've grown on me. I really like their dark little flowers, which look smashing against Pennisetum 'Hameln'

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Persicaria polymorpha
I FINALLY found one of these for sale this spring, and even though had no where to really put it, bought it anyway. I'm pretty sure I'll have to move it next year...but for now, I'm just enjoying it. I think I actually like the blooms best at this stage, as they are a little past their prime...they have a rich, earthy beauty to them.

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Sedum 'Autumn Joy'Echinacea 'Prairie Splendour'

Lobelia gerardii
Lobelia gerardii
I got a few of these at a nursery that was closing a few weeks ago. Just when I thought they are done blooming, they sent up more blooms. Love their rich, purple blooms. Apparently, these have a propensity to reseed a bit...they'll have to duke it out with the patch of Verbena bonariensis nearby.

Astrantia Alba
Astrantia major 'Alba'
While 'Abbey Road' was just cut back, 'Alba' has sent up a few new blooms...I'm adding a few more Astrantia this fall...they've proven themselves to be not only charming and beautiful, but tough and in my book!

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Impatiens balfourii
A gift from the generous Derrick Pitman (Mr. Impatiens), this tender Impatiens has proven to be extremely vigorous, even though it got much more sun than I think it normally likes (4-5 hours in the middle of the day). It sailed through the summer while the Rodgersias and Ligularias scorched a few feet away (and with MUCH more supplemental water). Love the airy two-toned flowers!

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Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'Persicaria 'Golden Arrow'

Agastache Purple Haze
Agastache 'Purple Haze'
One of the things I love about this time of year (aside from cooler weather) is the amazing quality of the in this photo, plants look amazing when backlit!

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Geranium wllasovianum
I've shown both Geraniums 'Rozanne' and 'Ann Folkard' numerous times in these posts (both are still blooming...what workhorses!). This is a smaller and subtler Geranium, which I got mostly because the foliage (hopefully) turns brilliant colors in the fall. The flowers are small, but are produced continuously for months and add a simple, understated elegance to the garden.

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Verbascum chaixii 'Album'
Ryan Miller (Gnomiscience) gifted me with a bunch of seedlings a few months ago, and they are all thriving in their new spots...some of them, like this amazing Verbascum, have even started blooming already. Love the mix of colors on this plant...the purple stamens are just stunning.

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Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'
I've been lax about dead-heading this summer, luckily, some plants, like this Salvia, keep pumping out flowers regardless...gotta love that!

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Salvia 'Purple Majesty'
Another Salvia...this time, a giant! Getting over 6' tall (sadly, with somewhat fragile stems), this plant has been throwing out it's rich, purple blooms for months. I wish it was a little sturdier...then again, ever stem that breaks means that 2 more sprout a the axel below the more flowers!

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Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' and Geranium 'Rozanne'

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Agastache rupestris
Another of the standards for the clan...and tough as nails! I had these planted in too much shade last year and they languished. This year, I knew I had to move them, but wasn't sure I just dug them in behind the new fence. They have thrived's not as sunny as they would probably like...but I haven't watered them but maybe 2-3 times all summer.

Persicaria Firetail
Persicaria 'Firetail'
I recently overhauled a section of the north border, adding some Panicum and this the rich, ruby-colored tapers.

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Vernonia missurica (Ironweed)
I was hoping this would be open by bloom day, but it's taking its sweet time! Planted as tiny little starts this spring (purchased at the Spring HPSO plant sale) they've grown rapidly...I'm surprised they are blooming this year! They topped out around 5' tall this year...I'm wondering if they'll be even taller next year.

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Clematis tibetana
Another plant JUST about to bloom...look for it next month!

East Border, with Crocosmia 'Orangeade', Agastache 'Blue Fortune', Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', Agastache 'Desert Sunrise', Geranium 'Rozanne', Geranium 'Ann Folkard', Knautia Macedonica
I leave you will a view of the east border, in front of the house...what do you all have going in your garden...are you enjoying our slip into fall...or dreading winter!?!