Thursday, November 19, 2009

Plant shopping in November

I do a lot of dreaming about life in a warmer climate, but compared to many places (Denver, Spokane), I do have it pretty good here in Portland. After all it’s November 19th and we haven’t had a real frost yet, and last weekend I was out plant shopping.
The objective of the trip was to acquire more Yucca A. Purpurea. I’ve regretted only getting two of these unusual (and well priced, at $7.99) yuccas when I first saw them at Tsugawa back in August (picture above from that trip). Of course part of the joy of plant shopping is even when you have a goal in mind, there are distractions!

Like this dark Euphorbia Blackbird. Two have died on me in the past; maybe the third will be the charm? It will lend a little color and allure to our front steps…as long as its alive. (same plant, same place, same time...interesting change of colors in the photographs)The coloring on this Euphorbia Excalibur also grabbed me, and since it’s hardy to -20 F if I don’t get it in the ground before winter kicks in it will be fine. For now it’s tucked in the top of a bamboo stock tank (pot and all).
Another distraction was this Cockscomb Cryptomeria; I love Cockscomb flowers and didn’t know there is a whole tree with such fun shapes! This is an advantage to shopping with a gardening friend who has different taste; she’ll pull you into parts of the nursery you wouldn’t normally go and you might find treasures like this! I didn’t purchase one, but I’ve been thinking about it ever sense (this is usually a pretty strong indicator of a future purchase).
Thankfully they still had the Yucca A. Purpurea available …I got four!I was told the color range is because the greener ones were just brought over from the greenhouse, less sun = less color. They too are tucked in the bamboo tank for now…because I think I’ve decided where they’ll go (at least a couple of them, maybe not all of them), and it involves a project…a project called…

Yes, a project so ugly that deserves an all caps announcement. A smart person would have done this job last spring, when we planted Sammy and I had the area all cleared out. Even then I knew I should have been moving it. My sunniest best draining planting area does not need a huge bully of an Acanthus; it should be the land of Agaves, Yuccas and their friends. I am dreading this move…


  1. The best part about 'Excaliber' (aside from the awesome name and leaf pattern) is the pink stems it leaves behind. The deer decimate red twig dogwood, but will not touch the Euphorbias...not an issue for you, but here...Hah! fooled those suckers yet again!

  2. I never knew there was such a thing as Cockscomb Cryptomeria. A quick Google search gave me the Latin and I will now be on the look out for it. Thanks!

  3. I am officially in lust mode where E. 'Blackbird' is concerned. Of course, Zone 5, I don't think this will be an easy feat but three cheers for Zonal Denial! I do grow E. 'Excalibur' most successfully - a statuesque plant for sure!

  4. Love the blackbird, and though I don't love normal cockscomb flowers, the cryptomeria is cool. Good luck moving bully acanthus - that plant was well on its way taking over a friend's Santa Clara, CA yard back when we lived nearby.
    You asked about Liberty Park - it's south of the freeway right between Spokane Valley and Spokane. The city is building a pool in one part, but the cool old stone walls are on the other side of the park along with gorgeous old trees. There were a few slightly scary transients there when I visited, but the park as a whole was great.

  5. Hi DG~~ My 'Blackbird' is still alive but I noticed one stem is reverting. I hope it's not a sign of things to come. My fingers are crossed that the third time is the charm for you. 'Excaliber' was a spreader where I saw it planted at Dancing Oaks. I bought it anyway and it's staying put in a container. I hate to be a naysayer but I must share my Acanthus saga. Twice I transplanted mine [ambuiguity is I]. Both times I didn't get all the root and a new, albeit tiny plant sprung up the following year. Your plant is much bigger than mine was and it looks like you've got more room to work around it than I had with mine. But if you should see a tiny Acanthus next year...think of me! LOL

  6. I love that euphorbia blackbird - it might even convince me to plant one in my garden, but I'm abnormally afraid of rampant euphorbia, so I'll do a bit more research first.

    I appreciate your dread of moving the acanthus: it's big and stickery. I had the same experience as Grace when I dug mine up before. Now I have one in a pot and one in the wrong place in the garden: both need new locations!

    I hope we get some dry weather this weekend for all the projects we gardeners have on tap. Good luck with your move!

  7. ricki, thanks for the bonus info! I feel for you with the deer issue. As a kid I loved seeing them in the front yard (I grew up in the foothills of Mt Spokane) but now I understand why my mother was so upset!

    Les, well I am glad to hear I wasn't the last to know! Hopefully you'll find it.

    Teza, it's almost in your zone, the blackbird I mean. How about putting it in a pot that you can protect?

    VW, AH! I know the park...I guess I just never knew it's name. This is the Olmsted park that I-90 split in half right?

    Grace...YOU are the reason I bought Blackbird again. Last time I was at Tsugawa I was lusting after it and you said to try it again and put it in a pot. I heard you talking to me when I saw it's, well, your fault if it dies. JUST KIDDING. This is exactly what I fear about the Acanthus move. I think I will actually have to move it a half dozen times before I am done. Yuck.

    Jane, my Acanthus is the non stickery type so that's a plus, but the fact that you never can get it all is what I dread. Dry weather? God I hope so...but I don't know if I will tackle it this weekend, it might be an early spring move. I am trying to weigh the pros and cons of leaving it in-place over the winter.

  8. I have the same acanthus moving experience as Jane and Grace. While it doesn't seem to thrive in my garden, it also doesn't want to give up. I expanded my patio and pulled out some always sulky plants, and now, I see them coming up again through the cracks between the new pavers. I haven't tried taking out the plants that make a comeback, my hope is that it just takes a little extra weeding the following year to get it all under control.


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