Friday, November 29, 2013

Banksia marginata is my favorite plant in the garden; this week.

I’ve never claimed this favorite plant thing was a scientific affair, and it’s not. I readily admit my favorite plant this week, Banksia marginata is heavily influenced by working on a post about my visit to The Desert Northwest. After all the mere thought that this plant…

Could grow up to have blooms like this (image source)…

And it’s alive (currently at least) in my garden. Well, it’s enough to give a girl goosebumps. I purchased this plant from The Desert Northwest at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in 2012, it was planted later that spring.

Here’s their description: “I guarantee this Banksia is made of pure silver! Well, not quite, but it's almost as good. This species is usually a shrub to about 5 - 8' tall, but it may attain the stature of a small tree. The green leaves are comparatively small (under 2”) with light serrations, and silvery underneath. Yellow flowers may appear on tall cylindrical “cones” in winter. Silver Banksia is very easy to grow. It will be happiest in full sun on sandy or silty soil, and does not like clay or very rich soils. It is quite drought tolerant but will also not object to moderate summer irrigation. It can also be grown in a large container for many years. This plant was shared with us by Brian Brown from his garden in Bremerton, Washington, where it has remained unscathed by the severe cold events of November 2006, December 2008 and December 2009 - it's now about 10' tall. We also know that this plant is originally of Tasmanian origin, suggesting it is well adapted to a cool climate. Hardiness once established is certainly somewhere below 20 °F; hopefully, further testing will enable us to figure out just how much lower.” And it looks like I might be helping figure out just how much lower, since our nighttime temps next week are predicted to be in the teens.

The silver undersides are one of my favorite things about this plant.

However I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve let the trunks grow so willy-nilly. I really should have been stricter. Here’s what they look like at the base, one goes straight up, three arch out to the side.

Last year the tender new growth resulted in some tip die-back come spring. I fear worse is bound to happen this year, I just hope the plant lives on. What are YOU appreciating in your garden this last week of November?

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I’m thankful for…

Pinterest! Every once and awhile I notice there’s a pin on Pinterest sending a lot of traffic to my blog. Of course I have to go see what image is creating the stir, a couple weeks ago it was this one…

Oh the horror! That was our house and garden in March of 2011. The post the photo came from was a "before and after" when we removed the inherited camellia (it's already gone in that image). I am thankful that someone thought it worth their time to pin that photo and tag it “pieres tree” (Pieris japonica I presume, there was a pair), after all its reminded me just how far we’ve come and how different everything looks now compared to just a couple of years ago. I am thankful for dark brown paint and time for plants to grow! Here's a photo taken this week, to illustrate the difference…

Looking through the original post I also cringed at this one (there's the camellia with pink blooms - just right of center)…

Here's the "now" - oh and I should also mention when the above photo was taken I was starting on a front yard overhaul, having lost a lot of plants in the previous cold winters and deciding to go an entirely different direction.

Besides being thankful for Pinterest I am also thankful for the important things; my health, my family and friends (both my in-person friends and my online friends) and this wonderful life I am able to live. I am fortunate. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a most wonderful Thanksgiving holiday if you are celebrating.

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In a word, cold.

Last week saw the coldest temperatures of the season, a low of 26.6 in my garden. I know that's not cold by most standards but hey, I'm a wimp! The cool-down had been predicted, and so I had plenty of time to get prepared. I thought I was, but then I saw this. How could I have completely forgotten about the Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira'?

It would have been so easy to turn an old terra-cotta pot over this guy...

The one in the back garden looks a little better, it might make a recovery. It was so beautiful, and sadly too big to have been easily protected. I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Earlier in the season I considered digging the Salvia discolor and trying to over-winter it, but I'd pretty much decided not to. Now the final decision has been made for me. Truth be told I'm kind of glad as I think the brown and white coloration post-frost is quite gorgeous.

I cut a branch and brought it in the house, it filled the room with that lovely decaying, fall, smell.

There will be no Acanthus sennii flowers for me. By days-end the stems had turned mushy and fallen over.

After taking the photo above I turned back towards the salvia to see Lila drinking from the previously iced over rain gauge, which had melted in the sun. Evidently water tastes better when it's not in her bowl.

She did attract my attention to this purple cordyline I picked up for cheap last spring. Experience says theses aren't at all hardy but this one still looks good.

When I looked out early in the morning the Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' foliage was all limp. It perked up with the rising temperatures.

And the Sedum rubrotinctum still looked good.

Not so for the bits of Blue Senecio - it's not happy. Ah well, I took a lot of cuttings, it couldn't all be saved.

The Phylica pubescens from Annie's was untouched.

But just a couple of feet away the lawn was locked in a frosty state.

Duh, I meant to wrap the trunk of my in-ground tree fern. I guess better late than never.

Elephant ears (colocasia) look even more like their namesake once hit by frost.

Grevillea rivularis (lacy foliage, upper right) looks good, Aloe maculata not so much. When the leaves turn solid green they've frozen.

It didn't occur to me until after the second cold night that I'd completely forgotten about the Echium wildpretii. How could I? So easy to cover! I had four of them, this was the biggest. Hopefully it will pull through, hopefully they all will.

The dark leaf cannas actually get even better after a freeze, that is until their leaves turn to mush and the stem collapses.

Ever the tough guy my Mangave 'Macho Mocha' shrugged off the cool temperatures.

Although this split in the fleshy leaf is new, perhaps a little frost damage.

And once again my hope of seeing Tetrapanax blooms has been crushed, the buds are droopy and that's never a good sign.

Finally I'll end with an image of a tree just up the street. Perhaps it's done this before but this is the first year I've noticed the ombre coloring with super dark maroon leaves at the top, shading down to yellow-green at the base. It's way more dramatic in person, but hopefully you can appreciate the show.

So that was the first round, I'm currently hearing scary things about next week. The "S" word is being mentioned. Temperatures in the teens (and lower) are being discussed and the two worst words in the English language (arctic air) are being used with frightening frequency. I'm seriously wondering how I would go about constructing a heated dome over my garden, Andrew's handy...

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

And finally, The Desert Northwest...

A couple days before our Kitsap Peninsula adventure I got an email from the organizer, Peter (aka The Outlaw, but you probably already knew that), asking what time I needed to be back to Tacoma to meet up with Andrew. He'd hatched a plan and wondered how late was too late. Then he told me he'd emailed with Ian at The Desert Northwest, who just happened to be having an open nursery event that day in Sequim, just 45 minutes or so beyond our last stop, Far Reaches Farm. Ian was willing to stay open a little later and Peter proposed visiting. YES!

To say I was excited was an understatement. The highlight of the day just went from seeing Heronswood for the first time to visiting The Desert Northwest, and I am not exaggerating. In fact I was so excited to be there I took very few photographs. No pictures of the overall greenhouse set-up. No pictures of the sign, as I usually try to do. That's why I stole borrowed the DNW logo from their website to use at the top of this post. It just seemed wrong to launch right into the plant pictures without any sort of introductory photo. Hopefully Ian won't mind and do something crazy like ban me from ever purchasing plants from him again.

So enough chatter, let's get on with the visit! Here's Anna checking out some fabulous plant treasure. I hope she won't mind when I say watching her see these plants for the first time was great fun. I heard her exclaim "oh what's that!!?" several times.

Naturally there were agaves...

Some of my favorites even.

I'm thinking a puya? I emailed Ian to get specific names on a some things but forgot to ask a few, like this one.

Pseudopanax ferox crassifolius (thanks Ian, for the correction), I never tire of the colors.

Alison and Peter shopping in the background.

Banksia pilostylis...

I should give you a little background on The Desert Northwest, in case you're not familiar with them. From their website: "We are a specialty nursery located in Sequim, Washington, dedicated to the production and promotion of noteworthy water-wise plants! Here you can find a wide range of interesting and hard to find treasures, such as cold-hardy desert plants, plants from the Southern Hemisphere, Mediterranean plants, dryland native plants, and more. Founded in 2005, Our aim is to show Northwest gardeners how to make plant selections that require little or no summer water once established. We specialize in mail-order, as many of our plants also offer excellent performance, or potential, outside the Pacific Northwest! We propagate and produce all of our own stock here at our nursery in beautiful Clallam County, Washington, without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We also offer seed of some plants."

There is also this: "Our web site is also intended as an informative resource for those who wish to learn how to grow various kinds of unusual plants, especially xeric plants and others adapted to our summer-dry climate. Please enjoy the photo galleries, blog, and plant articles on the site! We hope you learn something interesting while browsing through our pages, whether it be about rare plants, gardening, or our climate."'s true! The amount of information available on the website is amazing.

Here Anna is holding Banksia grandis. I bought one of these from Ian at the spring Hortlandia sale in Portland. I think he plans to return to the sale this April.

Grevillea 'Poorinda Royal Mantle'

And a flower...

Banksia blechnifolia

Banksia cunninghamii...

Pure madness, in a good way of course!

Another Leucadendron jester, I believe.

Protea punctata (dried flower) with Leucadendron laureolum (narrower leaves, on the right).

Grevillea lanigera 'Mt Tamboritha'

Ficus afghanistanica 'Silver Lyre,' I don't think this one was for sale - I saw a tag from another nursery (one I frequent) in there. I'm glad I took a photo though, it's a beauty and one Andrew Keys introduced me to during his visit to Portland last summer.

Okay finally what did I buy? Well not as much as I would have liked to. The fact this trip was done in September not May had a dampening effect on my desire to purchase. Plus there was the budget, always the budget (and as you know if you've been following along I had been buying plants ALL DAY LONG!). So I picked up a Banksia blechnifolia, I bought one last spring but it sadly turned crispy when I (stupidly) left it in the hot sun while it was still in it's little 4" container (my excuse is I was stuck in jury duty). It's spending winter in the shade pavilion greenhouse.

My second purchase was a happy coincidence. Remember when I saw this Microcachrys tetragona earlier in the day at Celestial Dream Gardens but couldn't buy it because they didn't have any?

Well something possessed me to pull out the scrap of paper the name was written on and ask Ian if he had one. He did, sold! His description: "Microcachrys tetragona - STRAWBERRY PINE - From the windswept heaths of Tasmania's rugged highlands (I say that whenever I get a chance) comes this unique coniferous shrub that doesn't really look like anything else. It is thought to be a relict from a larger group of plants that was once widespread throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Making a low shrub to an eventual 2' tall and perhaps 3 - 4' wide, its fine, whipcord-like branches are a rich shade of deepest green. In the garden it tolerates sun or partial shade, and while it is easy to grow and moderately vigorous, I would not expect great drought tolerance since it comes from a region of high rainfall. The common name alludes to the female strobili which are bright red and resemble little berries."

So ends our day-long plant buying adventure. Judging by the car it was a very successful day...

But wait there's more. I shared the back seat with a few plant passangers...

This eucalyptus was particularly friendly.

We wrapped up the day with a lovely dinner before Laura, Charlie and Anna had to hit the road back to Portland. Peter, Allison and I just had to trek to Tacoma. If I recall it was about midnight when my head hit the pillow, a very long day having left Portland at 5:30 that morning, but oh so worth it!

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.