Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Taking on the Parking Strips : Part 2

Parking Strips Header 2
Hello everyone! This post is the second post in what I've decided will be a 3-post series. I would have had this one done sooner if I'd planned on doing that from the beginning, but, I tried to shove it all into two posts, and quickly realized I just had too many photos...and the post would have been ridiculously, there you have it. On with the show!

Front Parking Strip From South
Starting where we left off, this pic is probably from June...things are starting to fill in nicely.

Anemanthele and Libertia
After a few people commented on it, I realized I never actually listed the plants used for this project, let's rectify that now! Here we have one of my favorite new plants over the past few years, Anemanthele lessoniana, along with Libertia perigrans...which, I realized as soon as I planted them, were a bit too similar to be used right next to each other. The Libertia was an impulse buy, however...I've actually decided that although I like it in theory, it just doesn't work here. I think you need a large-ish patch of them to really make an impact.

Calamagrostis Karl Foersterfront strip august  3292
Two garden stalwarts, Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' and Echinacea 'Magnus'. I sort of go back-and-forth on 'Karl Foerster', thinking I would love that space for a "more interesting" grass, but 'Karl Foerster' is so beautiful throughout the seasons, that just when I think I'll replace it, it looks so good, so "right" that I love it again. It's just so valuable at providing structure and contrast in my garden. Of course, Echinacea I just love beyond all reason, so I always have some...they are so perfect, elegant, honest.

front strip july  3238
And of course, where Scott gardens, there will be Agastaches! In these front parking strips alone there are 4 different varieties of Agastche. Above we have both 'Golden Jubilee' and 'Purple Haze'.

acaena purpurea  1771
I just fell in love with this tiny groundcover last year, Acaena purpurea. Sadly, it wasn't super happy in my garden. I can't tell quite yet if it's where it's planted...or the dog pee. I'm leaning toward dog pee.

agastache blue blazes sunrise  2027
Another Agastache, 'Blue Blazes'. I planted some of these in my back yard two years ago, and last summer I found out that they get WAY bigger than I thought. I forget, sometimes, that here in Portland, things just tend to get bigger than they are supposed 20-30% bigger. I'm experimenting this year with aggressive cutting back on these, if they still swallow up their neighbors, I may have to move things around a bit.

eryngium yuccifolium  1838Molinia Skyracer
Here's a plant that was completely new for me last year, Eryngium yuccifolium, which has the awesome common name 'Rattlesnake Master'. I'd seen it in numerous Piet Oudolf plantings...and you know me, if Oudolf says jump, I say 'How high'! On the right is Molinia 'Skyracer', which I absolutely fell in love with after seeing it a few years earlier at Wind Dancer Garden in Salem. It looks humble here, but in mid-summer it erupts with tall, elegant stems of dark, almost-black blooms.

Muhlenbergia rigens and crocosmia
Another grass I tried for the frist time, and fell in love with last summer, Muhlenbergia rigens, aka Deer Grass.

Knautia Melton Pastels Sunrise
I enjoyed the regular Knautia macedonica in the back yard so much last year, but really like having some variation in coloring when I comes to was thrilled to find some 'Melton Pastels' last year. This is a crazy-tough plant and blooms forever. I'm hoping that with more sun in the strips, these won't get quite as tall as the ones in the back yard.

Panicum Huron Solstice
Panicums just may be my favorite family of grasses, depending on the day you ask me. Tough, dependable, beautiful. This is a new variety I tried on a whim, 'Huron Solstice'. You can't tell in this picture, but as the year progresses, it becomes a riot of color.

Panicum Northwind
Another Panicum, with a habit as different from 'Huron Solstice' as you can imagine. While 'Huron Solstice' is more arching and fountain-like, 'Northwind' is strictly upright. If you are looking for an alternative to Calamagrostis, give this a try.

front strip august  3296
Yet another Agastache, 'Desert Sunrise'. I love this particular Agastache...for its foliage as much as for its flowers.

schizachyrium blue heaven  1819
Another stunning grass, Schizachyrium 'Blue Heaven', which I absolutely adore.

Sedum matrona 2Sedum October Daphne
Lately, I don't seem to be able to have a garden without at least a few we have 'Matrona' and 'October Daphne'.

Parking Strip
As you can see, but the end of July, things had pretty much started to take shape. I can't take too much credit...things just seem to WANT to grow in Portlands mild weather.

front strip july  3237
As usual, it helps that our spring lasts until July, so plants have a good, long time to settle in before the drought of summer sets in.

Parking Strip Preview
Mid-July is such a great time here in Portland. It's usually not too hot yet, and everything is still fairly green and fresh. The days are long and the rest of summer stretches out before you.

front strip july  3262
Of course, the flip side to summer in Portland is that the rain just STOPS. No rain for 3 or so months isn't exactly ideal for most plants. Luckily, the drip system we installed makes watering easy. Since these plants were all newly-planted, I watered fairly regularly until about the middle of July, then started to taper off, watering only when something looked stressed. Generally, I'd water once a week or so...and this coming year, I'll probably only have to water every other week...perhaps less. Planting tough, drought-tolerant plants definitely makes sense in a parking strip.

Muhlenbergia rigens  2073
Here is the Muhlenbergia rigens again, starting to bloom...I just love it!

Punky Cat in Little Bluestem
Tall grasses are irresistable to cats, I think they are channeling their inner lion, just waiting for the next gazelle.

Agastache Pennisetum Sumac Geranium
I'm still not used to how quickly plants grow here in the PNW.

panicum huron solstice  2079
As summer wore on, Panicum 'Huron Solstice' started its show...merely a rehearsal for what was to come.

front strip august  3270
If there is such a thing, I'd say my garden typically "peaks" in August.

front strip august  3275front strip august  3278
While, in my mind, August is still high summer, the light definitely starts to change now...with morning and evening light having a warmer, mellower tone.

front strip august  3283
Even in these newly-planted parking strips, everything seemed to be rushing to bloom. Looking back at it, I can hardly believe that whole area was just lawn a few months ago!

front strip august  3300
August also marks the point at which the warm-season grasses start blooming, here we have Panicum 'Northwind'

front strip august  3301
And here are the impossibly delicate stems of Molinia 'Skyracer', which is almost impossible to do justice in a photograph.

front strip august  3310
While obviously limited in size, at moments like this, the parking strip garden succeeded in my goal of creating a micro-meadow.

front strip august  3315
Here, at the end of August, I'm going to wrap up this post, the next post will cover Autumn through spring, bringing us full-circle for the year on this project.

front strip august  3319
BTW, happy first day of spring!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - March 2013

GBBD March 2013
Wow, it's the middle of did that happen! It seems like just the other day we were taking down our Christmas lights! Spring is officially here in Portland, and I can't tell you how nice it is to get out of work and still have it be light out! It's still a bit early for much to be blooming in my garden, but a quick look around yesterday morning found a few surprises.

double daff  3328
The most noticeable blooms at the moment are the Daffodils. Amusingly, I actually didn't plant any of these...they are remnants of the previous owner's plants. This is the first time these doubles have bloomed since we've lived here. They were previously covered up by a Euonymous shrub that I removed last summer.

daffodil  3329
As with most plants, however, I prefer the singles.

oxalis  3339
I was surprised by this vibrant pink Oxalis bloom the other day.

purple crocus  3337
Why, oh why, have I waited so long to plant Crocus? They take up no room, bloom brilliantly, and then disappear just as the rest of the plants take over.

purple crocus  3336forsythia  3330
I think I like this white/purple Crocus best...sadly, so do the slugs. The Forsythia on the right is one of the other shrubs that came with the house. The Forsythia in our neighborhood right now are a riot of golden color. Sadly, I'm awful at pruning (seriously, my least favorite thing EVER) so this poor shrub is in a constant state of "bad haircut".

mukdenia   3338
While this is more of an "almost" bloom, I'm so excited to see the Mukdenia 'Karasuba' I planted last year looking so happy. I'm hoping it likes the spot it's in.

clematis  3334
I'm not entirely sure what variety of Clematis this is, it belongs to our neighbor, but is covering the fence between our properties. It's a dull, boring thicket for 11 months of the then a glorious, glowing mass of blooms for a few weeks in early spring.

anementhele  3332
And now, for a pre-emptive Foliage Follow-Up! One of the constants in my garden, Anementhele lessoniana. I just love it's ever-shifting colors during the year...and it's graceful form.

persicaria purple fantasy  3333
I leave you with some of my favorite new foliage at the moment, Persicaria 'Purple Fantasy' it!

For more blooming goodness around the world, visit Carol at May Dreams Garden. For more Foliage finery, visit Pam at Digging!