Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whaddya think?

Trouble Spot Crop
The Trouble Area
September is a cruel month here in Portland. After our long, dry summers...I really start to long for the rains of autumn. These past few weeks, we've been teased with cooler temps...but today and tomorrow are going to be pushing 90.

The worst part, for me, is that this is the time where I can really take stock of what is and isn't working...and I REALLY want to move things around! Even though I know better, I actually took a shovel out this weekend...just to test the waters, so to speak. It was like trying to drive a shovel into cement...that is, not happening!

Trouble Spot 2140 copy
Same area, from other direction

In any case, it doesn't stop me from wandering around, trying to figure out what to move where...and in many cases, what to swap it with. Case in point, the area above. This part of the garden looked great for the past two years, however, the Agastache 'Golden Jubilee', which acted as a nice vertical anchor was very weak this year. It was actually that way with all my 'Golden Jubilee', which I can only attribute to our lack of good winter chill this past winter. I've decided to move it somewhere else, and have been trying to decide what to put in it's place.

Spot with Eutrochium
The Trouble Area with Eutrochrium
The spot has bizarre light conditions (like so much of the garden). It gets part-sun (about 5-6 hours) from June-August (the hottest part of the year), but is pretty much full shade for the rest of the time. So, the plant needs to be tough enough to stand the sun during summer, but able to grow in shade until then...and not flop like a drunken sailor!

The first plant I considered was Eutrochium rugosum (Chocolate Joe Pye Weed). I already have several of this plant in my garden, and it performs admirably...coping with varying light levels and looking smashing. I like the idea of it acting like a nice, dark visual "stop" in the area, and it even has decent fall color. The only real downside, really, is that it has very little winter presence.

Spot with Calamagrostis
The Trouble Area with Calamagrostis
Another plant I've been considering is Calamagrostis brachytricha (Korean Feather Grass). When I originally considered what to plant in this spot, my first thought was of grasses...however, I think the shade early in the growing season would lead to floppy growth from most of them. This particular grass, however, does fairly well in quite a bit of shade. It doesn't bloom as early as most Calamagrostis...but makes up for it with spectacular spear-shaped blooms in early autumn. The biggest selling-point is that it will provide good winter presence. Even before blooming, the linear quality of the foliage will be a nice calming influence.

What do you all think...do you like either of these options...neither of them...or do you have something even better!!!???!!! Let me know...I'd love some more input. I should mention that the area is only about 2' wide...so plan accordingly ;-)

Of course, being me, I reserve the right to be completely contradictory and plant something totally inappropriate anyway ;-)

68 comments:

  1. I think I'd put a nice broad-leaf evergreen shrub there. Maybe one that blooms. Of the two choices above, I much prefer the grass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmmmm...I'll have to research that...I had considered such a thing...but I tend to not like most broad-leaved evergreens (I know...I'm very weird that way)!

      Delete
  2. Of the two, I would go with the Joe Pye Weed. You can leave the tall stems up during winter, and the seed heads stay kind of interesting. I'm not really crazy about Calamgrostis brachytrocha seed heads, can't say why. What about another really tall grass, like Big Bluestem or Indian Grass? I do think a shrub with vertical habit would also be very good. How about Winterberry or Red Chokeberry?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could plant either of those grasses here...but sadly, I don't even get enough sun in my parking strips to keep them from flopping :-( I'll look into the two berries :-)

      Delete
  3. I'm not much help, the only plant of the two that I have any experience with is the chocolate Joe-Pye, and I love mine. But you're right, it doesn't have much winter interest. I can totally commiserate on your chomping at the bit to get going on re-arranging things. I've been that way since the beginning of August, just biding my time. It is hard. My Golden Jubilee was gorgeous this year. Could yours just be getting old?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha...I know, it's so hard to be patient, isn't it! I don't think it was the age of "Golden Jubilee', as the same thing happened to plants that ranged from 1-3 years old...it had to be something with the weather, I think...they were over two months late emerging this spring...and never got more than 1' tall...very odd.

      Delete
  4. I'd go with the Joe-Pye. As for the Golden Jubilee, I'd wait until winter and cut her back to the ground. I sometimes need to cut it back for it to bush back out...and it does:) Mentally, I think we're in the same state of mind. My garden here needs a little TLC as well....and i want to get back to work in it again....needs a little magic:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good suggestions...and you're right, sometimes the best course of action it to wait and see how things progress on their own :-)

      Delete
  5. I like the look of the Korean Feather Grass or some other Grass. Or how about a Daylily grouping?--the conditions seem right for them. They thrive in hot, dry weather, but they like some shade, too. Then, again, they have no winter interest. So, maybe a small evergreen shrub would be better. Boxwood?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmmmm...not sure about the Boxwood...I'm not very good with evergreen shrubs!

      Delete
  6. Disporum cantoniense 'Night Heron' with a Calamagrostis brachytricha as a companion plant. The two plants together will provide stunning year-round interest and cope with your light conditions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting! I think I rmember seeing the Disporum in a garden earlier this year and liking it...will have to research!

      Delete
  7. I like the Joe-Pye, as it has bigger leaves and I think this area needs some for contrast. Lots of fine texture there already, so don't add another grass!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tend to agree with you there, Alan...I sort of feel the area needs the "block" of bigger foliage and dark color.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Hahahaha...that's basically my motto for life ;-)

      Delete
  9. Your chocolate Eupatorium wilts in full sun in my area. (Ontario, Canada) If I'm home, a full watering can does the trick though.

    Brachytricha requires a support hoop here to prevent flopping, mostly when it rains. I love it, so it is worth it.

    I adore Angelicas from Annie's Annuals, those amazing deep purple ones that produce gorgeous seed heads in their second year, then seed about. I'd try those. Then there are great Baptisias, (I have an amazing white one), Filipendula, Penstemon barbatus...

    Not a troubled area, an opportunity spot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhh...that's a nice idea...I do love Angelica...but have never grown one. Do you think the lack of sun during the spring would make the Baptisia too floppy?

      Delete
  10. Loquat. You need a Loquat. Or ignore me and go with Anonymous...I like what he/she has to say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmmmm...I dunno...don't those grow into trees? ;-)

      Delete
  11. Hi Scot, I am not in the position for suggestion as we have different plants. But that last one with the grass is already lovely for me. You have nice things going on there now. I will be depressed if they will all succumb to winter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Andrea...I don't think they will get winter-killed...our winters are far too mild for that...well...I think ;-0

      Delete
  12. Hi Scott,

    Good luck with your changes - I'd be tempted to leave the Agastache there, and if they perform poorly again next year then move things around ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's kind of the way I usually think too, Gwirrel! I always hate to make snap decisions based on one bad performance...perhaps I should let them be one more year :-)

      Delete
  13. I'm prefer the Korean Feather grass over the Joe Pye Weed. I'd also consider a taller evergreen shrub or small evergreen tree ideally placed at the back of the bed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmmm...I had thought the same thing...but could never quite find one small enough for the spot (it's quite narrow)...will have to keep searching :-)

      Delete
  14. Of your two choices I'd go with the grass. I'd probably go with something vertical and evergreen, like a Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting...I really need to find someone in Portland with one in their garden...I can't quite tell what they really look like in photos for some reason.

      Delete
  15. I think you need purple foliage in the spot. If grass is a consideration, is Pennisetum 'Vertigo' hardy for you? Another choice, if you have some room may be one of the new smaller purple Physocarpus cultivars like 'Little Devil'. Of course I'm thinking in terms of zone 6 options...in Portland you have infinitely more :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Vertigo' is sort of borderline hardy...so I'm not totally counting on it coming through the winter. It would look AMAZING there though, for sure.

      Delete
  16. I have fothergilla in deep shade most of the day, then it gets blasted with hot west sun in late afternoon, and it is lovely. A nice woody shrub like that gives you winter interest, fall color, good structure, and flowers in spring. If there was room for the agastache, there should be room for the smaller fothergillas (gardenii). Or the physocarpus (or a broadleaf evergreen) suggested above. Or a St. Johnswort Albury purple--- great dark leaved shrub with cool flowers (mine also gets deep shade half day, then west sun). I also like the vertical Sky Pencil evergreen idea. You need a punch in that spot, and some visual weight.

    The grasses and perennials will give you a blank spot for some seasons. Small shrubs will go all year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG...that's EXACTLY what I really want there...I just don't think I have room for one :-( I saw a dwarf Fothergilla at the nursery early this summer and have been trying to find a spot for it ever since!

      Delete
  17. Scott how about: Acanthus mollis 'Hollard's Gold', filipendula rubra, Hydrangea Aspera, Solidago,Ligularia Japonica, Anemone Japonicas with Calamagrostis, Choisyas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many choices! Actually, now that you say it...the Japanese Anemone might be a good choice.

      Delete
  18. You have such a gorgeous garden, there is so much going on. I wonder if a large leafed shrub, evergreen or semi-evergreen would be a place for the eye to rest? Something like a fatsia or wait, you said sun...hmmmm. I know loquat gets large, but maybe something like that.
    Good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you, Janet...I've been trying to find something with larger leaves...but it's quite a small space...and most shrubs are just too big (and most of the "dwarf" shrubs are, well, too dwarf!

      Delete
  19. I'm trying to tell myself not to do too much since this year isn't typical at all. Besides I took out two beds. Tired! :) But I am a big believer in flowering shrubs now too, so don't know if you've considered any of those or not.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right, Cher, and I keep thinking that same thing in the back of my head. I keep thinking we might have a normal winter this year and it will set things back to normal...who knows :-(

      Delete
  20. Hi Scott,
    I think like Sue, physocarpus 'Little Devil' would be a nice effect. Or perennials like acanthus, aruncus dioicus kamtschaticus, aster cordifolius 'Little Carlow', aster laterifolius 'Lady in Black', cimicifuga (actaea) 'Brunette', thalictrum rochebrunianum, fuchsia magellanica, vernonia...
    Sorry, my english is poor but your garden is great !
    Gisou, Alsace, France

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your English is just fine, Gisou! Actually....why did I not think of Cimicifuga...that's a great idea!

      Delete
  21. hi Scott,
    I'm partial to the grass but reading the other comments, I like the idea of the physocarpus - beside providing 4 season interest, the color would really draw out the red/purple in your selenium & persicaria, and and contrast nicely with yopr rudbeckia...
    I love your garden and blog! you've got me hooked on grasses now too!
    Chris, NJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you're liking the blog, Chris...do you have a blog of your own???

      I actually really like the idea of the dark psychocarpus too...I just don't think I have room for one :-( I think the heigh would be fine...but the width would probably shoulder the other plants out of the way :-( Then again...I could maybe shuffle things around a little bit ;-)

      Delete
    2. No, no blog of my own... I'm just a voyeur right now! My garden has become a labor of love the last few years. It all started with ripping out nasty yews I inhertied. Now I'm addicted.

      Delete
    3. Ah yes, I know the feeling well...I hope you consider starting a blog soon so we can see your garden :-)

      Delete
  22. what about a big bold Phormium , I know they are tricky in our PNW. winters.I've been seeing more of them again, I have two at the moment that look great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmmmm...they are beautiful, but I'm not sure I want to risk it...not if there's a more trust-worthy option...I'm kinda lame that way ;-)

      Delete
  23. Tetrapanax? Tolerates a variety of light conditions and the big leaves would be a cool contrast. How about Corylus avellana Contorta 'Red Majestic' Great contorted branches and catkins for winter interest & can be trained to be vertical, purple foliage in the summer. I like the color contrast of your Eutrochium rugosum better than the Calamagrostis brachytricha but the latter better enhances the meadow vibe. Or you could plant a loquat. (Loree made me say it.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes...I don't think I'd dare put in Tetrapanax...hahahahahahahaaha! I love the idea of the Corylus, though, I think they are so rad...but too big for that spot. I actually wish I had the guts to rip out the variegated willow on my corner...I'd replace it with the Corylus so fast!

      Delete
  24. Consider Deer Oak, a very low growing shrub native to the Siskiyous. Evergreen, low growing and beautiful. http://www.forestfarm.com/product.php?id=3844

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never even heard of that before...that's the best part about blogging...I practically learn about a new plant every day!

      Delete
  25. Mahonia 'Charity.' I'm mostly kidding because that would probably be out of place but it's full of winter interest. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahahaha...actually, I thought about Mahonias for quite a while...but I can't find any small enough for that spot (well, the small ones tend to be REALLY short)!

      Delete
  26. Itea virginica 'sprich'-Little Henri Sweetspire. A little weak on winter interest but it does hang on to red/orange leaves through December. Very versatile plant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I DO love those in the fall...very good suggestion!

      Delete
  27. Beautiful ! It`s my first visit to your blog and I really like it. Our weather finally broke down here in Central Texas with some great rains on the 13th. I`ll be keeping up with your blog often . Thanks for the great pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Randy...glad to have you visit...and even more glad that you're getting some much-needed rain!

      Delete
  28. I didn't read through all of the comments so if this has been mentioned, my apologies. How about the dark-leaved Persicaria? They like sun and shade and aren't too terribly thirsty. I'm trying to think of a plant that has dark foliage and is also evergreen but I'm unable to think of anything. Please keep us posted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that idea, Grace, and you KNOW I'm a fan of Persicaria ;-)

      Delete
  29. I need to practice your restraint as far as moving plants! Hydrangeas seem to love it up there, tho I'm guessing they're not to your taste. There are some refined ones, like 'Preziosa.' I bet it would love that spot and would look fab with all your grasses .
    http://www.hillieronline.co.uk/products/plants/shrubs/hydrangea-preziosa-3l.html
    For a vertical, I bet veronicatrum would like those conditions too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would absolutely love it if that spot was big enough for a Hydrangea, Denise...but it's quite narrow :-( Veronicastrum is actually a good suggestion! I have a few that are actually getting crowded out of another part of the garden...perhaps I'll move them here!

      Delete
  30. I love your garden. I have not so much a suggestion as a thought for you.

    You're looking at a site that is basically backdrop for the other views in your garden, right? That to me says 'tall plant'. A tall plant will suffer less from the partial shade because it'll have more and higher canopy, and so get sun earlier in Spring and later into the Fall. In doing so you'd also create understory, where you could put shade-loving plants without concern of scorching June-September.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jason! That's a good point...one of the Persicarias nearby does scorch a bit....hmmmmm.

      Delete
  31. Actually, I do have a suggestion. Colocasia is supposed to adapt to shade or sun, growing larger in the shade.

    I wonder if you could prune it heavily at the start of summer and let it grow back? It wouldn't be much to look at in June but would be something in October.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good idea, Jason...and there are quite a few different varieties. I'm sort of torn though...they may be a little to "tropical" for my garden...do you think they'd fit in???

      Delete
  32. I think you need a very simple, geometric shape. I'd go with a columnar evergreen. I think you need the contrast from all the other loose herbaceous plants. Even something as simple as an Emerald Green Arborvitae (I know, boring, BUT). I added one to a rather wild herbaceous corner of my garden and it added so much weight, clarity, and contrast. Or a columnar yew.

    The Calamagrostis is great, but it doesn't put out its inflorescence until almost August. The rest of the year, it would not fill that hole. I like the dark leaves of the Joe Pye, but I'd still vote for something even simpler and more basic like a columnar evergreen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very valid point, Thomas, and one I've sort of considered...except I do sort of resist the use of evergreens (I know...what's my deal)!!???!! Still, it's definitely worth considering...maybe I should think about it over the winter.

      Delete
  33. Hi – Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Gardening Community at vorts.com? Our members will love it.
    Members include: Gardeners, Gardening Enthusiasts, Experts and Horticulturists.
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website...
    You can also add Photos, Videos, Articles and Classifieds if you like.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    The Gardening Community: http://www.vorts.com/gardening/
    Thanks,
    James Kaufman, Editor
    Share something to get us through winter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi James...sure...I'll pop over there :-)

      Delete