Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another friend goes to Hawaii and brings back amazing pictures...

It keeps happening. Friends go off to Hawaii and come back with pictures that make me swoon. So many fabulous plants in settings that I only dream of, and it’s all real (or so they say, since I’ve never been I remain cautiously pessimistic). This picture is my latest proof that Hawaii is a bizarre horticultural wonderland. What is this crazy bush with its huge red fruit? Is it real? Or only a fictitious treasure dreamed up to make me jealous?

Monday, November 29, 2010

And so ends Chapter 1, Storm 1…

Thanksgiving morning the frigidly cold air moved out and our temperatures returned to normal. Before I began cooking I went out and uncovered things and took a little tour around the garden. I’ve finally learned that cold damage takes awhile to show up. You can uncover a plant that looks fine and then over the next few days watch it fall apart. But even now, three days later, things are looking good. It’s nice to know a couple of nights at 18 and a day where it stays below freezing doesn’t have to mean widespread damage.
The photos above are of the same clump of Sedum palmeri. It looks a little gelatinous, only time will tell. I did nothing to protect it.

This hardy Dyckia (below) looks good and has taken on a flush of pink (it’s twin in the back garden has a few new blemishes that look like cold damage, I’ll be watching it)...
It’s Agave and Opuntia neighbors are doing fine.
The big(ish) Agave Americana left in the ground in the front garden looks great!
But the Opuntia has developed an interesting pattern on its paddles.
And they’ve flopped over like they are taking a nap. The Puya look no different than before the freeze… the piles of brown leaves are the final remainder of the Canna’s. I don’t know if it helps but I’ve gotten in the habit of using the dead leaves to cover and hopefully protect them…I never dig them up but just leave them in the ground (because I am lazy).
I did wrap a bit of burlap and put a very large terra cotta pot over my Manzanita. It certainly doesn’t look like much in this picture but I do love it and wanted to do everything I could to protect it. Last year I saw several that suffered severe defoliation in the cold and I wanted to avoid that if I could. Luckily it looks completely unfazed.
Not so for this Echium wildpretii “rocket” which got the same treatment, it’s a bit freezer burnt around the edges, but at least it’s alive (it’s the only Echium in the ground still showing signs of life).
The Tetrapanax is voicing its displeasure. I’ll cut the leaves and use them to protect the roots before the next cold snap.
I did a little experiment with my Callistemon. I’ve got two ‘Woodlander’s Hardy Red’ the one in the front garden has only been in the ground for about 5 months, it was completely unprotected. The one in the back garden is 2 years old and I protected it. Here is the front garden specimen…
And the back garden…
No difference! My other two Callistemons (‘Clemson’and ‘viridiflorus’) were also protected and look fine. This is Calistemon 'Clemson.'
So on to the Echium collection! Completely gone is this little Echium Pininana. I wrapped it up good but this is what it looked like when I unwrapped it.
This is the same plant (a smaller seedling) in another part of the garden. I completely forgot about it.
Here is the formerly beautiful Echium wildpretii.
And Echium fastuosum “Pride of Madeira.”
These are my Phlebodium pseudoaureum (Blue fern) bought at the Fall Hardy Plant Society Sale. Protected but not looking too hot. Maybe they’ll pull through.
Agave parryi, A.bracteosa, and A. toumeyana are all looking just fine.
I planted two small Aloe saponaria pups in the ground last summer as an experiment. They should be hardy to about 15 degrees; they were frozen and have thawed with no obvious damage, yet. I’ll be keeping an eye on them.
My Grevillea juniperina 'Low Red' had started to form these little buds in October and I am happy to see that they look fine. I can’t wait to have orange red blooms in the dead of winter (fingers crossed).
And speaking of flowers, the blooms on the Mahonia weathered the cold just fine too, they provide a much needed bit of sunshine on a grey day.
And so ends Chapter 1, Storm 1, of “Winter 2010/11”…I’d love to put the book back on the shelf and end it there. We’ll see what Mother Nature thinks about that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bromeliads, the “it” plant?

It seems bromeliads maybe the “it” plant these days for shopping mall and commercial plant installation and care companies. I see them everywhere! They’re adding color at the mall…And looking tropical chic in an office building lobby.
Turns out they are also available in abundance at the big box store.
In every color of the rainbow!
And even with pineapples.
This planter reminded me of 70’s tiki-style…I like it; it works well with the bromeliads.So did you get my “black Friday” tie-in? I managed to work in a post about malls and big box stores on the day that kicks off the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Maybe I’m subliminally influencing you to get out there and by Bromeliads for the ones you love this Christmas...or if a Bromeliad isn't your thing then an Agave makes a nice gift too! Maybe I should go in search of Agave gift giving ideas...hmmm....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...

...from the danger garden!
I hope you are gathered with the people you love, friends and family alike.
(pictures from the Huntington Desert Garden...one of the places I am thankful to have visited)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hose storage

Here is one persons answer to the age old gardening question of how/where to store the hose. As a bonus they also avoid having to remove a dead/ill-placed shrub!
I hope they remembered to disconnect and drain the house before our mini-freeze hit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It finally happened

The killing frost that is. Saturday night the temperature reached 31.6 degrees, it was frosty but there was little damage. Sunday night it even warmed up a bit, but after Monday night’s chilly 24 and dusting of snow its official…winter is here.
The poor plants went from fall to winter without even a warning that it was on the way. Can’t imagine that’s very good for them. Luckily this little event is supposed to be over pretty quick and things return to normal on Thanksgiving, although there is one more frosty night to endure as tonight is predicted to reach a very cold 18 degrees.
Walking accross the gravel to take these pictures I discovered the stones were frozen together. Crunch crunch crunch as I stepped on them.
Thankfully our little heater kept the shade pavilion greenhouse at a toasty 32 degrees, briefly dropping to 31 this morning before the sun came up. That’s an 8 degree difference between inside and out, I’ll take it. Hopefully it will hold tonight too.
Remember my quandary about whether or not to leave the trio of Agave americana in the ground? Well I finally reached a compromise, one of them stayed. It’s protected with frost cloth (plus late yesterday afternoon I added a plastic bucket over that) during our little cold snap. As tempted as I was to dig it up I also want to know if they would have all made it in the ground. The prickly pear and puya are just toughing it out with no protection, poor guys. As you can see in the photos above they look okay after one night in the cold.
The other two agaves that I dug up were planted in an empty stock tank (used for veggies in the summer). That way they can be outside all winter, protected during mild/brief arctic events and easily pulled and brought inside if an unspeakable chill should arrive.
I was so happy with the stock tanks compromise that I also dug three other agaves that were in easy to remove places and planted them in the other tank.
Of course I wimped out and pulled them all late Monday, they’ll spend a couple of days in the basement. I’m sure the temperature changes in and out aren’t good for them either but I just couldn’t leave them outside.
Before things got really cold I also dug two of my red Bananas (Ensete Maurelli) and I’m going to try to over-winter them in a semi dormant state wrapped in newspaper and in a cool dark corner of the basement. Who knows if it will work but since they were doomed to die anyway I have nothing to lose.
This one is taking another route and I’ll see if I can keep it alive and semi-growing over the winter. Again nothing to loose in trying!
Today I’m feeling pretty lucky to live in Portland. My family up in Spokane is experiencing a bone chilling high today of 11 degrees, low tonight predicted to reach 12 degrees below zero. Thankfully we are not visiting Spokane for the upcoming holiday. I don’t have enough pairs of socks to keep my toes warm at -12!