Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fling 2013 - The Sunset Garden

Sunset Garden Header copy
I know it's been a while since I posted about the Garden Bloggers Fling...but fear not...they are still coming...just slowly! Today, we're going to take a look at our visit to the offices and trial gardens of Sunset Magazine.

sunset trial 3sunset trial 2
I have to admit...even though it was only 11 (I think), it was HOT...and a lot of us were seeking refuge in the shade whenever possible! I made a point of walking around as much as possible, however...and look what I spotted on the right...

sunset grass trio
Yum! Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition', looking fabulous!

sunset bouteloua h
Even closer it!

sunset amistad lovely
Sunset was introducing a line of signature plants this year...and one of them really wowed me (and quite a few others). Salvia 'Amistad'...utterly gorgeous!

sunset salvia amistad 1
I just love those rich purple blooms emerging from the jet-black calyces...just stunning!

sunset arch
While wandering around their test garden, I was struck by this arch. I liked the form and size, not so much the bright, shiny color (I'm in the minority on that part)! Ironically, I saw a similar arch last weekend at Farwest that was rusty metal...which would sit much easier in my garden.

sunset coreopsissunset bark
Even these bright flowers couldn't compete with the amazing textured bark of these old oaks!

sunset totem
I quite liked this stylized totem, standing sentinel in a swathe of Stipa gigantea.

sunset lawn
I was surprised at the enormous lawn they had at the office...I can only imagine how much water and mowing that entails! Then again, they use this space often for events...which makes sense...I can't remember how many people they said they could fit there...but it was astounding (I want to say 20,000 or something crazy like that)!

sunset succulentssunset grasses 3
There was much exploring all the corners of the gardens.

sunset grasses 2
I spent quite a while wandering in their mini-meadow.

sunset trial garden
At the end, we all met up again at the entrance for one last look at the trial gardens. Thanks again to Sunset for opening their doors to us and letting us check out their digs!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I think it's gonna rain today...

Rainy Day rudbeckia triloba
This past weekend, and last night, we actually got rain here in Portland! After months without a drop of rain, it's always kind of astounding to see the sky open up and have this strange liquid pouring down to the earth. Of course, I decided last night to water the new plants...and just as I turned on the faucet, it starting raining...not that I'm complaining. It's so great to fall asleep to the sound of rain falling.

Rainy Day deschampsia
Of course, while the rain is always welcome in my can really do a number on the plants at this time of year. Everything is so tall and top-heavy, that a few things inevitably crumple under the sudden weight of all that water. Some plants, like the Deschampsia above, bow gracefully under the added weight.

Rainy Day agastache blue blazes 2Rainy Day floppy selinum and eutrochium
Others, like this enormous Agastache 'Blue Blazes', succumb and topple over. I'm always annoyed when this happens...but am not surprised. I tried to lift the stems to shake off some of the excess moisture...and they weighed a TON! The same is true for the poor Eutrochium and Selinum stems on the right...I was amazed at just how heavy they were, weighed down with rain as they were.

Rainy Day floppy selinum
Luckily, the stem on this Selinum wasn't snapped, so I propped it up with a bamboo stake.

Rainy Day floppity border
Looking down the sidewalk through the north borders, it's getting a little close in there...I shook off as much moisture as I could to make it easier for pedestrians to get through...but if things aren't a little more upright when I go home at noon, I will probably have to trim things back...or undertake some creative staking!

Rainy Day rudbeckia
The Eutrochium cannot keep its massive heads upright after rain...they are so heavy...they decided last night to lay on top of everything around them.

Rainy Day rudbeckia 2
While most plants accommodated this from the Eutrochium, a few snapped stems are inevitable.

Rainy Day eutrochium rudbeckia
Still, there's a sort of romance in the lax companionship they've all formed.

Rainy Day anemone h
One bonus of the leaning stems is that I can now see the Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' through the Eutrochium stems!

Rainy Day macleaya
Luckily, the damage is minimal this time...and since it's fall, a little attrition in the garden is less traumatic. There is much beauty due to the rain. The lovely matte leaves of Macleaya cordata, allow the water to bead up beautifully.

Rainy Day penisetum macrourum
The normally-upright stems of Pennisetum macrourum bend gracefully now...even more elegant under their burden.

Rainy Day pennisetum redhead
The bristly blooms of Pennisetum 'Red Head' capture the rain in miniature jewels.

Rainy Day pennisetum redhead 2
And their arching stems hold droplets.

Rainy Day Panicum Northwind
Luckily, I had already staked the two Panicum 'Northwind' grasses a few weeks ago (go figure, one of the trio is perfectly upright, the other two are somewhat floppy). As a result of my prompt attention to brace them, however, they remain upright!

Rainy Day rudbeckia triloba 2
Another grass that looks amazing in the rain is Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'. I love how the blooms arch over, creating new combinations with plants that they previously towered over.

Rainy Day calamagrostis 3
Even here, seen through the rain-laden stems of Molinia 'Skyracer', they are elegant...dramatic.

Rainy Day panicum ruby ribbons
And of course, you can't forget the Panicums...not just for those lovely beaded blooming panicles of theirs, but for their red and purple-tinged foliage, which transforms raindrops in to rubies and amethysts.

Rainy Day wide view
One thing is certain, the recent rains have been such a relief after last year, when our summer drought stretched until almost October! I hope all you out there are having a good late summer/early fall. After last nights rain, the ground might even be soft enough to plant now!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - August 2013

August GBBD HEADER's the middle of August already! It's definitely high summer here in Portland, although our weather has been atypically overcast and muggy the past few days. While I always welcome cloud cover, the humidity is not especially pleasant!

agastache blue blazes  3420
Hands-down the pollinator favorite at the moment is Agatache 'Blue Blazes'. Bees, bumblebees, hummingbirds and butterflies all jostle for a spot at this beauty.

rudbeckia panicum  3439
A summer classic, Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'. It may be common, but I still love it...and few flowers say "summer" like those bright yellow discs of gold. Of course, add the tiny, bead-like blooms of Panicum 'Shenandoah' and you have summer magic!

impatiens balfourii  3474
Even though I ripped them out by the millions this spring, several Impatiens balfourii obviously escaped me...and are now in full bloom. I have to admit, they are wonderful at filling in gaps in the garden. I'm already dreading all the weeding I'm in for next spring.

geranium rozanne  3419knautia macedonica  3408
Geranium 'Rozanne' is one of the hardest-working plants around. She's been blooming for at least 3 months without a break...and will go on like this until frost. She is constantly swarming with are the Knautia macedonica. I've discovered that while they will survive without supplemental summer water, the ones that DO get water flower all summer...while the ones in the parking strips that don't get water only bloom sporadically until the fall rains return.

crocosmia orangeade  3423
One of the first plants I bought, years ago, Crocosmia 'Orangeade'. Sadly, the expanding Sumac above them is starting to crowd them out...and they'll have to be divided and moved this fall...if anyone local wants a division, let me know :-)

garden vignette
Probably THE defining plant in my garden from July onwards is Eutrochium 'Gateway'. It's size, structure, and now, blooms, make it an extremely versatile and invaluable of my top ten favorite plants EVER!

epilobium wanding  3457
The Epilobium, which were so tall and upright for months, start to twirl and curve as summer heads into fall. The bees still love them...and they are swarming with Ladybug larvae...reason enough to keep them around, as the aphids are especially bad this year.

erysimum and agastache  3458helenium mardi gras  3477
Without a doubt, the longest-blooming plant in my garden is Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', which thrives on TOTAL neglect...I'm talking NO WATER ever. It's been blooming for 12 months straight! I always had trouble with my Helenium flopping, but the key seems to be to plant them and leave them be...don't water them and they stay much shorter and don't flop...yet they still bloom continuously for months.

agastache black adder  3462
The clumps of Agastache 'Black Adder' are much diminished this year...perhaps because I don't water them...some Agastaches DO seem to want some summer water. They still bloom, however, much to the delight of the bees.

echinacea and sedum  3468
Another classic late-summer/early-fall combination, Echinacea and Sedum, in this case, Echinacea 'Magnus' and Sedum 'Matrona'. I love how the colors compliment each other...they seem to smolder in the front parking strip. As wonderful as the fresh, bright blooms of Echinacea are, I like them as they start to fade even more...they take on warm, peachy tones that so gracefully usher us into autumn.

echiancea showoff  3454
A new Echinacea I'm trying this year, to much success, is 'Showoff', which I love due to it's gracefully reflexed petals...and the delightful ombré coloring of its petals (I know, ombré is SO 2012...but who cares)!

macleaya cordata  3429echinacea white swan  3422
While Macleaya cordata is grown mostly for it's lovely powdery-blue foliage, the frothy flowers are pretty cool too. Echinacea 'White Swan' adds a cool pop of white to the front border...I do love it's crispness.

Lilium sarabande  3405
The last of my Lilies to bloom, I believe this is 'Sarabande', which, happily, is nicely perfumed...and beautiful!

agastache purple haze  3465selinum  3450
While the coloring of Agastache 'Purple Haze' isn't as intense as some of the newer varities, I really like how it contributes a soft, well, haze of cool color to a border. A bonus is that it's habit is reliably upright. Selinum wallichianum is just undeniably graceful in form and flower.

lobelia gerardii  3472
I can never get enough purple...and Lobelia gerardii delivers in that department!

persicaria golden arrow  3456
While it's lush, golden foliage is the main attraction early on, the cerise, bottlebrush flowers add wonderful, airy strokes of color to the scene.

astrantia star of fire  3476echinops  3466
I'm a bad gardener, I almost never dead-head flowers anymore, mostly because I like the way they look as they fade on the plants...and also, because I never seem to get re-bloom anyway. One exception seems to be Astrantia 'Star of Fire', which I just planted last month. Echinops blooms are utterly fascinating to me...I love how they are perfect, pointy spheres...and bees go INSANE for them!

queen annes lace  3441
I was pretty excited last month when I realized that some Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carrota) had seeded into my garden. Time will tell whether I should have been afraid instead. Even more exciting are the colors of Panicum 'Cheyenne Sky'!

salvia amistad  3425
Salvia 'Amistad' still thrills me...those inky purple blooms are to die for!

rudbeckia triloba  3460
This is the best year ever for Rudbeckia triloba in my garden...I have several that have seeded around and all of them are their sprays of smaller golden blooms.

agastache liquorice candy  3461
This Agastache ('Liquorice Candy') was a gift, and a wonderful gift it has turned out to be!

vernonia missurica  3432
I transplanted these poor Vernonia missurica 3 times this spring...I couldn't decide whether I should give them away (they flopped badly in my shady garden last year) or move them to the sunniest spot possible. Well, I kind of just plopped them where I had room, and they are much happier...and starting to bloom with intensely red-purple umbels of flowers.

verbena polaris  3430agastache blue boa  3464
Verbena rigida 'Polaris' continues to add soothing light lavender flowers to the path leading into the backyard, and Agastache 'Blue Boa' still pumps out blooms, even though it's now dwarfed by the Panicum 'Northwind'.

hummingbird  3478
While I almost never seem to have my camera at the ready when the hummingbirds are around, yesterday morning I lucked out! Here, it's feasting on Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'

north border from east  3433
Let's wrap up with the wide we have the north border looking from west.

north border from west  3434
The same border looking east.

north border from west v  3435
Looking over the north parking strip into the corner of the garden.

side yard  3446
Here's the north border from above.

front garden from south  3426
Here's the front garden looking north.

front border from north  3452
The front garden looking south.

backyard fron driveway  3411
Here's a view into the back yard coming up the driveway (shed on the left).

backyard v  3443
Here's the backyard looking north.

back yard from north  3453
And the backyard looking south.

corner view  3412
And we finish with a look of the whole shebang! Join Carol at May Dreams Garden for more Bloom Day posts...and I hope your summer is going well, as we look with anticipation toward autumn!