Monday, October 29, 2012

Falling Out Of Love

euphorbia  1383
Euphorbia wulfenii down the street from my house
I imagine all of us gardeners, from time to time, just loose interest in a plant. Maybe it doesn't perform as well as it should, isn't quite the right color, gets diseases or flops. Sometimes, tastes just change...and things we were obsessed with just loose their luster. Over the past year, I've realized that I'm completely over Euphorbias. It's sad, but true. I remember, soon after moving to Portland, being amazed at all the enormous Euphorbia wulfenii around town.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'
Even though I thought there were pretty cool, however, they never intrigued me like the darker-leaved varieties did (and honestly, every house in Portland seems to have at least one Euphorbia wulfenii). First I planted 'Blackbird' and loved it all winter long...then, it bloomed in spring and became a sticky, buggy mess. I cut it back, but it never looked good again, so I yanked it out.

Euphorbia 'Blue Jeans'
Next came 'Blue Jeans', which I dearly loved when I planted it...however, the same thing happened...after blooming, it became a straggly, woody mess..and just never looked good after that...looking kinda crappy for the rest of the summer. Oddly, they always seemed to look at their best during winter. I enjoyed them last winter, and once they bloomed this spring, out they came.

Euphorbia Dixter
Euphorbia griffithii at Joy Creek Nursery
Then, a few years ago, I found this Euphorbia...Euphorbia griffithii. I loved it! Deep, somber maroon-tinted foliage in spring, followed by glowing, ember-like blossoms in late spring. The plant above is a mature clump I spotted at Joy Creek a few years ago...and I wanted one! I didn't have luck finding any for sale around town, until the Spring Yard, Garden & Patio show a few years ago. I bought a bare root plant (a smaller, less thuggish variety called 'Dixter') and was so excited.

euphorbia and daffodil  1491
Euphorbia griffithii at McMenamins Kennedy School
I know what you're thinking...finally, he found a Euphorbia he could love. Well, not really. Partly, I think I just don't have luck with buying bare-root plants...well, except for my enormous Amsonia (which I bought bare root on eBay), which looks awesome. My 'Dixter' has only produced two stems each year for the past 3 years. Each year, I keep expecting to see at least one or two more shoots...but no such luck.

euphorbia dixter  1774
You see, once the heat of summer arrives, 'Dixter' turns a plain, boring green...and gets utterly lost in the garden. The stems stay a decent reddish color, but they aren't enough to make the plant interesting. To be honest, right now (late October) there are quite a few plants in my garden equally as guilty as 'Dixter' of being sprawling, green masses, but, without exception, their seasons of interest are still much longer than 'Dixter'.

Locate Euphorbia 2
Boring, green, sprawling foliage
So, since I have the tiniest garden ever, and don't suffer a plant I don't at least sort of love, it's coming out next spring. Here's the question...what should I put in its place? I'm seriously considering moving the trio of Agastache 'Desert Sunrise' to it's old spot (well at least one of's not a huge area), since they are starting to get shaded out by the ever-expanding bulk of the Eutrochium nearby. Honestly, however, those Agastache could find another home somewhere even sunnier (perhaps one of the parking strips). In that case, what would you plant here?

located euphorbia 1
Peek-a-boo, I see you!
Have you ever falled out of love with a seems inevitable, doesn't it...after all, we're always changing...and it makes sense for our gardens to change with us, right?
I'm suddenly wondering if the front garden couldn't use a nice Euphorbia wulfennii ;-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Foliage Follow Up - October 2012

FFU October 2012
Well, ok, I admit it...I'm late for both Foliage Follow Up AND Garden Bloggers Foliage Day...but better late than never, right?

This month I've decided to focus on a single plant, one of my favorite foliage plants in my garden, 'Tiger Eyes' Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes' or 'Balitiger').

sumac foliage  2370
Sumacs are native to pretty much every part of North America...and are most often seen wild on roadsides and other disturbed areas. Most of them are fairly unassuming during much of the year, although they do have interesting curving branch structure. It is during fall, however, that they are un-missable. To see a thicket of them along the highway is to risk veering off the road...they are ablaze with rich crimsons, smoldering oranges and vibrant gold.

sumac foliage  2369
The best thing about 'Tiger Eyes' is that it's foliage is an unusual (and ever-changing) variety of colors during the year. When they emerge, they are bright gold, and fade to a pleasing chartreuse during most of the growing of my favorite colors.

sumac foliage  2368
As autumn approaches, and temperatures cool, however, 'Tiger Eyes' starts to metamorphose into something altogether more beautiful.

sumac foliage  2366
Slowly at first, and then more rapidly as the days wear on, the whole shrub turns a vibrant gold. For me, since I don't get much sun during the year, I'm lucky to get this slight blushing of red, but I've seen the same shrub grown in full sun and it's spectacularly red in those conditions.

sumac foliage  2360
Even though mine isn't quite as dramatic as it could be, if given better conditions, it's still the highlight of the garden right now...eclipsing everything else with it's dramatic display of ever-changing foliage.

sumac  2333sumac  2318
On cloudy days, 'Tiger Eyes' is luminous, but on sunny ones, it's ablaze with light and color. It's situated to catch the long, slanting rays of sun, while most of the garden around it is still pooled in shadow.

sunny sumac  2325
As beautiful as this display is, however, it won't last long, sadly. Already, our steady rains have started to batter it, and leaves are falling day by day. Soon, all that will remain is it's twisted skeleton.

sumac  2334
But until then, I'll enjoy every minute I can of this autumn spectacle. Happy Foliage Follow-Up and Garden Bloggers Foliage day, everyone!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - October 2012

GBBD October 2012
Wow...somehow we are already at the half-way point of October...that's sheer craziness! This past weekend, we FINALLY got some rain here in Portland. I think I read somewhere that this summer marked the longest period without measurable precipitation since they started keeping records...ouch. I was actually outside on Friday morning when the first few drops started falling...and I can't quite describe the feeling of utter contentment that settled over me. After our long, dry Portland summers, that first rain is so refreshing!

Of course, the first rain also tends to collapse or topple some of the more top-heavy there were a few things I propped up this weekend, but, in general, the garden is none the worse for wear.

agastache blue boa  2262centranthus ruber  2287
Agastache 'Blue Boa'Centranthus ruber
Agastache 'Blue Boa' was new for me this year, and had bloomed non-stop since I planted it in June (I think it was June). I was amazed that for something newly-planted, it really didn't seem to need much water at all. Like everything in the parking strips, it's lucky to get a drink ever other week. Centranthus ruber is one of those plants I totally take for granted. It asks for absolutely nothing from me...but blooms from spring to frost.

salvia black & blue  2265
While I refuse to plant any more Salvia 'Black & Blue' in my garden due to how late they emerge (you can expect a big hole in the garden where they are until at least July), I really love the few that keep coming back year after year...nothing can quite compare to their rich, saturated blue flowers.

salvia purple rain  2282
Salvia 'Purple Rain'
Another Salvia, but one that is much earlier to awaken and fill in, 'Purple Rain' rewards me with blooms from June until frost, although right about now, they are few and far between.

geranium rozanne  2269
Geranium 'Rozanne'
While the 'Rozanne' that I have in the front have only a smattering of blooms, the one in the backyard still pumps out the blossoms.

rucbeckia goldsturm  2263persicaria golden arrow  2281
Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'Persicaria 'Golden Arrow'
While most of the Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' gave up the ghost mere days after last month's Bloom Day post, there are still a few stragglers, seen here cradles in the foliage of Panicum 'Rostralbusch'. Persicaria 'Golden Arrow' has also been a blooming fool this year...never letting up for a moment. I discovered, however, that it REALLY hates direct sun...the leaves scorched a little bit during the hottest days of summer.

rudbeckia triloba  2285
Rudbeckia triloba
I have a few of this short-lived perennial (sometimes biennial) around the garden, where it has seeded itself. While the largest one (as tall as me) is declining now, the smaller ones are going strong. I LOVE their smaller-than-usual golden charming...and with a more subtle effect than 'Goldsturm. I'm happy to see that there are quite a few that bloomed this year have formed basal mounds of foliage, which seems to generally indicate they will return next year!

persicaria lance corporal  2266
Persicaria 'Lance Corporal'
If you are afraid of plants that reseed like there's no tomorrow, turn your head now. By letting 'Lance Corporal' bloom, I definitely take the chance that I'll be greeted by millions of seedlings next spring. Luckily, the seedlings are easily removed, so I indulge it and let it those crazy, wiry blooms.

aster prince  2275
One of my favorite plants for Autumn, Aster 'Prince' (yes, I know they have been re-classified...but I'll never remember that other name). While most Asters have pretty bland foliage, this one has nice deep purplish foliage, so it provides interest all season, not just for the month or so that it blooms.

origanum hopleys gift  2279persicaria firetail  2270
Origanum 'Hopley's Purple'Persicaria 'Firetail'
One of my favorite little plants this year was the above Origanum 'Hopley's Purple'. It has the most wonderful blue/green foliage on wiry stems. Starting in midsummer, it begins blooming with deep lavender-purple blooms...and continues until frost. I actually need to move the other Origanum from across to path to be near this one, I think you really need multiples of this one to make an's a bit too diffuse as a specimen. Persicaria 'Firetail', like the other Persicarias in my garden, is a workhorse...blooming for months and months. Like the other Persicarias, it seems to revel in the cooler days of Autumn, pushing out more and more blooms.

persicaria firetail  2272
Another shot of Persicaria 'Firetail'

knautia macedonica  2284
Another totally care-free and ever-blooming plant, Knautia macedonica.

eupatorium rugosum  2289
While I main plant Eutrochium (Eupatorium) rugosum for it's lovely dark foliage, the flowers are such a nice treat in Autumn...purest white and so fluffy.

persicaria inverleith  2260knatia melton pastels  2274
Persicaria 'Inverleith'Knautia macedonia 'Melton Pastels'
One of my favorite Persicarias due to it's shorter and fuller habit, Persicaria 'Inverleith' also has the wonderful habit of blooming continuously for months on end. Knautia 'Melton Pastels' might win the prize for longest-blooming plant in my's been going since May!

echinacea purpurea  2277
While most of the Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' are pretty much done blooming, there are always a few straggling blooms right up until frost.

clematis tibetana  2291
The wonderfully exuberant Clematis tibetana has been amazing this year, blooming for months and months. Instead of slowing down, it seems to be ramping up the bloom production right now!

clematis tibetana  2268
In case you weren't sure of it's vigor...there it is, smothering the copper arbor we made. It actually has grown over the fence, across the roof and out INTO the garden itself. I finally chopped it back a bit this's a beast!

sedum matrona  2288teucrium  2261
Sedum 'Matrona'Teucrium hircanicum
Another plant that is, for the most part, done blooming, Sedum 'Matrona' has a few lingering fresh blooms, while most of them have faded to their russet winter coloring. Teucrium hircanicum has really proven itself this's tough and ever-blooming...I can't recommend it enough.

agastache purple haze  2276
Agastache 'Purple Haze' is one of my favorite Agastaches, at the moment, due to it's dependably compact form. It doesn't open up or flop, even in heavy rain. Plus, it blooms forever.

agastache desert sunrise  2278
Another favorite, Agastache 'Desert Sunrise', has bloomed all summer and shows no signs of stopping.

agastache blue blazes  2298
Agastache 'Blue Blazes' is almost TOO vigorous in my back garden, but in the parking strips, with minimal water and more sun, it stays more compact. One of the best features of this Agastache is that even after the flowers have faced, the colorful calyces continue to offer colorful interest.

verbena bonariensis  2271impatiens balfourii  2273
Verbena bonariensisImpatiens balfourii
Here we have a few plants that can be devilish reseeders! I'm always amazed at how many of the Verbena pop up every spring, and I seem to spend weeks moving them around to better spots, but rarely just chuck them in the compost...they are just such great plants...and fairly un-intrusive. The Impatiens, while lovely, has proven a bit TOO prolific, and while I'll always let a few reseed around, I spent a fair bit of time this past weekend pulling up a rogue plants to keep their spread a (tiny) bit under control!

eupatorium  2258
While it's sort of in the "faded bloom" category, I've been really pleased by this particular Eutrochium 'Gateway' this year. While the other Euthrochium in my garden fade to a beige color, this one has faded to more of a somber mauve...I like it!

north border from east  2290
As we wrap up this Bloom Day post, here's the North border from the east...

north border from west  2259
...the same border looking from the west...

back yard  2292's the back yard just before I chopped things back a bit to open up the path again...

home  2295
...and here's the big picture of the whole affair!

I hope October finds you in good spirits, and hope you're enjoying the weather, wherever you are. For more Bloom Day Posts, check out May Dreams Gardens.