Plants in the mail!

Back when I was really into cars the running joke was about how you should always have your car parts mailed to your neighbor, so your wife doesn’t see how much you’ve been ordering online (and how much $$$)… Well, it’s no different with plants, but this time, it was fellow blogger Lance Garden Riots who had the order sent to me!

Now, to be fair, he didn’t really do it to hide it from his wife. It’s because we went in on the order together to save on shipping, and the delivery timing coincided better with a time I’d be able to receive it.

It’s always interesting to see how plants are shipped. I was impressed with this method!

plants in a shipping box

Flowers by the Sea is a mail order nursery specializing in Salvia, a genus that I find particularly interesting, not only for their utility to pollinators, but also because so many are drought-tolerant heat lovers and that’s a pretty important niche in any west coast garden especially inland.

Continuing with the unpacking, under the layer of peanuts there are plants, each in a 4″ pot, very carefully wrapped in 2-3 sheets of newsprint:

plant wrapped for shipping
Salvia pachyphylla ‘Blue Flame’

The first one is Lance’s – Salvia pachyphylla ‘Blue Flame’ aka Giant Purple Desert Sage. It doesn’t look giant here but the foliage smells wonderful – that classic desert sage scent. I can’t wait to see what Lance does with it!

plant wrapped in paper

The taller plants had been folded over inside the paper – you can sort of see that here (I’ve unfolded this one). There was very little breakage.

salvia plant in pot

The above pictured was the only plant that had any of its soil come out of the pot, and as you can see it was only a bit of a dusting.

unboxed mail-order plants
The whole shipment

Here they are all unboxed. My two are the Salvia africana-lutea ‘Kirstenbosch’ (in front with the brown flowers) and the one directly behind it which is Salvia x jamensis ‘Full Moon’. I had also ordered S. semiatrata but unfortunately it was out of stock by the time they shipped.

Now here they are one day later – they’ve unfolded a bit and I have all the confidence in the world that they’ll continue to do so and in a week there will be no remaining evidence of having been folded over for shipping. Pretty neat technique!

boink

In other Salvia-related news, I’m changing up the area by the front door which involves removing (finally, phew) the gigantic ‘Hot Lips’ as well as (at least most of) the culinary sage ‘Berggarten’. Both are very successful plants there, but dangit, I want more interesting things in that highly visible area. Honestly I’ve been sort of stuck, design-wise, in this area for a while (analysis paralysis, anyone?) but my housemate Kate got me unstuck. Basically, she said the Hot Lips is boring and the red and white color is pretty gaudy, and the culinary sage is just an oversized blob that belongs in a less prominent spot, if we’re going to have it at all. Despite my myriad excuses for leaving those plants (both of which came with the house) in place for so long, I knew immediately that she’s absolutely right.

Anyway stay tuned – here’s a “before” pic:

culinary sage plant
So very successful. But I’m over it.

Lastly, I’m happy to report that my S. discolor made it through the winter in its pot, protected under my patio right up against the house. Now it’s out in the garden looking very pretty!

Salvia discolor and that’s Digitalis ‘Honey Trumpet’ at left

Happy gardening.

A Visit to Joy Creek

Last Friday I made the trip out to Scappoose with my friend Carol to visit Joy Creek Nursery for the first time.  They have a vast and wonderful display garden which held delights around every corner.  We got lost in it for what must have been a couple of hours (it’s BIG).  Here’s some plant porn for you:

Hydrangea ‘Oregon Pride’

Just as we entered the garden, Mike (one of the owners) came over and named a couple plants for us.  First he showed us his “Plant of the Week” which he said he thinks might have to be “Plant of the Month”: Hydrangea ‘Oregon Pride’.  I’m all for Plant of the Month (June) especially with that name because June was Pride Month, how apropos!

I’m not big on Hydrangea macrophylla but I do love me some black stems! I actually have a little black-stemmed one that came with the house.  Like ‘Oregon Pride’, it also has these fabulous chartreuse buds.

Mike saw me eyeing this curious fir.  He said it’s Abies koreana ‘Starker’s Dwarf’ and that it’s 50 years old, if I recall correctly.

It’s only about 20′ tall

Abies koreana ‘Starker’s Dwarf’ – everything about it was cute

Acanthus flowers looked fantastic in front of a golden Cotinus.

Acanthus mollis

There are several big sprays of Eryngium giganteum around, also fabulous with the same Cotinus.

Eryngium giganteum

Bee party!

I loved the color combination of these soft peachy roses with the Eryngium.

Eryngium and roses

I didn’t catch the name of this next plant but it seems like a Ligularia.  Hydrangea aspera in the background doing its cotton candy phase.

Ligularia, I think.

Musa basjoo with Trachycarpus looking for all the world like summer will never end

Big tropical leaves halted us in our tracks for quite some time.

Gunnera tinctoria is a good 7 feet tall

Carol kindly posed for scale

She actually had a very small Gunnera, which died.  After seeing this, she was glad it kicked the bucket! It’s quite the challenge in just about any garden to make room for one of these.

Call me weird but I really liked this foliage combination of Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ and a bronze Carex.  The brown of the Carex really brought out the red splashes.  I couldn’t get a great photo so you might have to take my word for it.

Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ and a bronze Carex

I never cease to be thrilled with gray-green or silvery foliage against purple:

Eucomis probably ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ with a grape

I loved this next vignette – what a cooling scene visually on a hot summer day.  Under a large English walnut (take that, allelopathy!) grow these Astrantias, Brunnera, Hebe (‘Western Hills’?), Hostas flowering in the distance, and a ton of other plants.

Walnut trees (Juglans spp.) are commonly believed to exhibit allelopathy toward other plants.  Without getting overly technical it means they exude a chemical called hydrojuglone, which is converted to juglone by oxidation, and it’s juglone that supposedly can inhibit the growth of some plants.  This whole thing isn’t well understood, I imagine because there hasn’t been a lot of research put into it (why spend research dollars figuring out what will grow under walnuts when most commercial walnut orchards don’t want other plants under the trees?), but for home gardeners, Joy Creek’s garden here certainly proves that growing stuff under walnuts is very possible.

A few paces from there and we found the famed Rudbeckia field.  Earlier, Mike had told us some visitors asserted this could be seen from outer space.  It did not dissapoint!

Rudbeckia, Kniphofia

But I found the Kniphofia even more interesting.

I have K. uvaria, but I haven’t been impressed with it because it blooms for a very short time and tends to look pretty ragged the rest of the year.  I’d like to try growing one that blooms for longer and has better foliage. I also don’t love the creamsicle look – I prefer the ones with at least somewhat more uniform color.

Much as I love conifers, I am very picky about which ones end up in my garden. I am NOT picky about good foliage combinations, and I just loved this.  I’m guessing Tsuga heterophylla and some kind of Chamaecyparis.

I was intrigued by these really gigantic rose hips. With hairs even.  I didn’t find a tag on or anywhere near the plant, unfortunately.

see? crazy big! they look like developing pears but for the hair.

You know when you visit a garden where the plants are mature and you see something real big and go “oh shit” because you realize you haven’t accounted for mature size when you planted the wee little specimen you have? This Bupleurum fruticosum totally did that for me.

Lavender, Hydrangea, Bupleurum fruticosum

…. And then you laugh and just go “oh well, whatever”…

I do love me some blue Hosta.  Mostly, though, I was excited about native Vancouveria used as a “filler” plant among the Hosta and rather exotic-looking ferns here.

surely Crytomium, but idk which

I love that fern!

At this point we were nowhere near done seeing the gardens – in fact we’d only been through about half of it, but my phone was really low on charge, so I stopped taking pictures, except of the plants I came for.

Drimys lanceolata (four of them, I love them that much!)

And I couldn’t resist this Salvia discolor even though it’s questionably hardy.

Salvia discolor

I planted it out into the garden but now that I’m researching it I’m pretty sure I’ll lose it over the winter unless we get spectacularly lucky with a warm winter again.  I might even dig it now so I don’t have to do it in November when the plant is more established.  I wanted white foliage in the spot I put it in, but fortunately I have two Helichrysum thianschanicum I got from Xera, so maybe I’ll put one of those there instead.

It was really fun and inspiring to visit Joy Creek Nursery and I’m really glad I went (finally).  I recommend visiting if you haven’t.  Plus GREAT PEOPLE work there!!

May Flowers

Just a stroll around the garden.  My flowering plants have always been kind of spread out – not grouped together all that much, so when I go around and take pics of everything that’s flowering I’m always shocked!

Let’s start with the Clematis.  I think Grace and I agreed the other day that this could well be ‘Elsa Spath’ (it came with the house so we’ll never know for sure but the description fits very well).

My hand span is 8″.

Whole plant:

This will be quite the show. The fence is 5′; at its tallest now the plant is up to 10′

My sister gave me this blueberry and it’s extremely floriferous!

Chives – Allium schoenoprasum

These pansies seeded themselves (from a hanging basket two years ago) into this pot with the grape and have been happily blooming away for months now.

Dwarf Korean Lilac – Syringa meyeri – is just starting its fragrant flower show.  I love its super-cute cupped leaves.  Excellent fall color, too!

Syringa meyeri

I let all that broccoli go to seed and the bees are having a ball.

Aptly named Polygonatum odoratum smells lovely, a very interesting scent.  You really have to get down low to smell it, though!

Polygonatum odoratum

My one Rhododendron.  I kind of want to keep this one… Kind of.   There were two others against the east wall of the house which we removed last year – they were so infested with lace bugs and bud blast and they were coarse and not fun to be around on the patio.  This one has some lace bugs too, but it’s not as bad.  I pruned it pretty hard last year, so it’s not covering itself with flowers like usual, but I think it’s healthier overall.

Speaking of covering self with flowers.  This is my neighbor’s and it’s very fragrant.  It WAFTS.

Look at the lusciousness.

I wish you could smell this.

This next plant never ceases to amaze me.  It started blooming in January, and look:

It will be FIVE MONTHS in flower by the time these are done. Amazing Hellebore.

Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’ bloomed indoors over the winter, and it’s been adjusting to outdoor life for several weeks now by coloring up its leaves with anthocynanin.  It was much lighter over the winter (pic from November).

Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’

Little Limnanthes is so cheery! I kind of like this with that weird orange Heuchera (upper right).

Limnanthes douglasii

And then there’s this old girl.  This won’t stop until frost.

Hot (Frickin) Lips Salvia. I’m working on making peace with it.

Here’s my plan with that Salvia, and yeah, hold me to this, would you? I’ve planted a few things around it that, once they grow a bit, will allow me to drastically reduce the size of the Salvia or move it/remove it (most likely the latter because this color of flowers is damned hard to work with and it’s not what I really want here). But until then, I’m going to just prune it as needed to allow those other plants some space.  I kind of like how it’s a weird shape right now which you can only see from the other side (I tried, but could’t get a convincing picture – you have to see it in person).  Maybe I should think of it as a sculpture.

Moving on – more pansies in a pot! Survivors from last year’s Mother’s Day event.

My third Geranium to bloom this year (three more to go) (unless I buy more plants, which I will).

NOID (yet)

The other geraniums are G. macrorrhizum and G. pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’ and you can see them both in this post.

This little Geum rivale just won’t quit and I find it kind of irresistably cute..  It’s really doing well this year.  I might have to move it to where it can get more water over the summer.  It survived here last year, but I might have been watering it constantly (I don’t remember).

Geum rivale – almost a native

Lavender #1 is off to a great start! Nothin yet from #2.

I like this little Euphorbia.  It’s very delicate and seems to only seed around very lightly. So far. We’ll see.

Euphorbia cyparissias?

Almost at the end, we’re over in the forgotten zone where the pile of wood chips almost buried this Ornithogalum, which I find very aptly named – see how the mass of flowers looks like an umbel?

Ornithogalum umbellatum

I wish it had better foliage, but that’s what cover-up plants are for!

I don’t think I ever took a picture of this CWTH* lily-flowered tulip (which lasted for EVER by the way), but isn’t it just the epitome of absolute decadence right now? I weirdly love tulips when they’re falling apart.  My friend Carol taught me to appreciate them in this state a million years ago, and it has stuck with me.  The parrot tulips are the best.  I should grow them just for that.

*CWTH = Came With The House

I’ll end with the most stunning flowering plant of all right now.  This thing lights up my whole street and I love it when it flowers.  I hope my neighbors do too as they drive by.

 

Update for Alison! Yes, Geum rivale has pretty nifty seed heads, though they’re not as flamboyant as G. triflorum: