Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Zone 5 Garden at Christmas

We flew to Spokane, WA, on Christmas Eve and I was happy to see a white snowy countryside as we landed. No snow fell while we were there, but the accumulation on the ground was enough to paint a Christmas scene. My nephew visiting from Arizona even got to make a snowman, although he was starting to melt by the time I got around to taking these pictures.
I am happily back in Portland in time to prepare for our upcoming cold weather (nights in the low 20’s), naturally I had been concerned that cold temperatures might move in while we were away and I wouldn’t be home to protect my semi-tender plants (and my husband thinks I am a worrier, ha!). As luck would have it things were nice and mild here over the holiday.
My parent’s zone 5 garden was looking good, with plants showing off extra color due to the cold temperatures (like the sedum above), adding winter interest with their tawny foliage, and even a few with flowers. My father is the creative mind behind this tomato cage art installation. They are hanging next to the vegetable garden ready for next summer.
This once healthy fern specimen decorates the back of his shop.
My mother reports that up until a few weeks ago the poppies actually had buds, the foliage sure looks healthy.
My yucca love was inherited, mom tells a story about rescuing a truck load of yuccas that had been pulled out of a garden and headed to the dump. She inquired about them and the next thing she knew they were hers.
They look great no matter the temperature.
While I didn’t inherit any love of pansies I could appreciate its perky purple flower in the dead of winter.
Bergenia is another plant that gets incredible color when the temperatures dip.
It seems everyone’s Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ looks great in the winter except mine.
I believe this is a Mahonia…I have no idea which one.
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle).
A freeze-proof/wind-ready bird bath.
I remember mom falling for this Saxifraga at a Hardy Plant Society of Oregon plant sale. We were unsure of its hardiness but encouraged by the vendor she purchased it…looks like it’s doing just fine.
These expired seed heads add great texture!
As does this grass.
Another tough flower, a yellow primrose.
And more beautiful grass.
I’m guessing this may be a Cotoneaster? I really should have asked my mom for id on some of these plants but the visit went so fast I missed doing several things I meant to do.
Sempervivum are another plant passion that we share. In fact my brother and I joke that my mom is a “hens and chicks pusher” (as opposed to being a drug pusher). She is always ready to dig a few and send them home with us.
Up on their deck were the remains of a once beautiful Cordyline. And a terra cotta pot that shows the effects of the freeze/thaw conditions.
Unfortunately so does this Agave. Another purchase from the HPSO spring sale in 2009 it had a good run. Who knows maybe it will bounce back and live to see another hot Spokane summer?
For a tour of my parents garden in the summer click here, pictures from a visit in June of 2009.


  1. Big difference in the two posts of your Mom's gardens. She could push Hens and Chicks all day long here. The poppies will probably bounce right back. Oh and you aren't not alone with not having nice winter interest from the Autumn Joy. I must over water mine or something.

  2. Your pictures of winter gardens are all taken by a watchful gardener. Thank you for the lovely meditation on what my Mom profanely called the cycle of frickin' life.
    May you and your garden continue to grow and thrive in the new year.

  3. Nice color on that Mahonia - I did not know there were varieties that got winter color.

  4. Love the sedum Angeline... such a great plant. And yuccas are a must for cold zones... They simply never look bad!
    Love the saxifrage too! Do you know which one it is? I think your first "grass" picture is actually amsonia... a truely spectacular plant.

  5. There's a lot to be said for gardening in your proper zone - especially when respecting and even embracing its extremes prove you a good gardener. It's interesting and lovely to see so much winter color in your parent's garden that's 3 zones cooler than ours. I think your mom's seasoned garden chops are showing!

  6. The last photo is HILARIOUS! It's trying sooooooo hard to survive!

  7. Darla, I have no concern for the poppies, you are right they will be blooming like mad "soon"!

    Weeping Sore, thank you for the kind words.

    RBell, now I am doubting my assumption, although I know my mom has been a fan of the "Oregon grape" for years.

    Greensparrow, I think it is Saxifraga x urbium 'Aureopunctata,' or London Pride. Thank you for the possible amsonia id!

    Mulchmaid, I just read in the paper this morning that Spokane got 7" of snow yesterday...not so much color anymore...just white.

    Digs, and with any luck it will...I'm sending it some positive energy.

  8. It is all becoming had no choice but to take up gardening. Thanks for the tour: didn't expect to get to go to Spokane for Christmas.

  9. I didn't realize your sharp plant love was inherited, that makes a lot of sense, apple/tree-wise. Hope her marginal stuff makes it, and if not, she finds good replacements! I think you are right that the zigzag plant is a cotoneaster, we have a ton of them - maybe it's called a Herringbone Cotoneaster??


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