Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Hello everyone! I know, I know...I've been slacking lately. This past weekend Portland seemed to jump from spring directly into summer for a few days. I have to admit, it was a bit TOO warm for me. In addition to the unseasonable warmth, we've only gotten about half of the usual rainfall that we should get from January-March (6" instead of 12"). Regardless, the biggest project I'm tackling this year is, well, lots of small projects! As with every garden, there are a few spots in my garden that always seem to give me trouble.
One of the areas that I feel defies my efforts to tame is this corner in our front garden. Sadly, the front slope of our garden here is the worst soil I've ever encountered. It's ridiculously heavy clay...and seems to smother the life out of many plants. The Agastache 'Desert Sunrise' have never thrived here (I'm lucky they still live...this spot has killed quite a few other plants). They just never look happy, and right about the time they bloom, the stems start to splay badly. I've been thinking for the past few years that this spot just needs a strong structural plant...especially since all the surround plants are fairly airy. I also want something with dark foliage.
The best solution I've come up with, so far, is to plant something that really proved itself last year, Pennisetum 'Vertigo'. The pair I had in pots here were beautiful, but, unfortunately, not hardy (unless they are just REALLY late to re-sprout). So...I would get the color and form I want...but would probably have to purchase it every year.
Canna 'Intrigue'- photo courtesy Riz Reyes
I've also been considering Canna 'Intrigue'. While I'm not the biggest fan of Cannas in general, I saw this one at, of all places, a mall, last year and really fell for it. I like that its leaves are a bit narrower and more refined...and that weird pewter-y purple color is fabulous. I don't like the flowers, but can always pop those off, right? My concerns about this plant is that it might be just a bit too tall...and overwhelm the space...also, there isn't alot of horizontal room...although I could divide it every few years, I suppose. Also, I've read that Cannas like quite a bit of water...and although on a drip system, I have trouble keeping water-hungry plants alive during the heat of summer...just ask my dearly departed Rheum palmatum, Monarda 'Aquarius'...well, you get the picture.
One of my chief demands of most of the plants I chose these days, is that they have some degree of winter interest. In this department, 'Vertigo' would seem to win out. I was surprised this winter and just how nice they looked (unusual for tropical grasses, which usually collapse at the first frost). Cannas, unfortunately, do tend to melt with the onset of colder temps.
So, what do you think, would you chose one of these...or do you have another, even BETTER suggestion???