Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Veratrum californicum is my favorite plant in the garden, this week…


Seeing the green tips of Veratrum californicum pushing through the ground is the first, and most reliable, indication that spring has arrived in my garden. The syneilesis (Shredded Umbrella Plant) are about a week behind and the hosta are still sleeping. As those wide, bright green, pleated leaves unfold I am smitten all over again.

The first time I spotted that foliage was during a visit to Gossler Farms back in 2009 (photo from that visit below). I was infatuated and thankfully left with a name, my search finally ended at Portland Nursery about a year later.

Mine bloomed in 2012.

But couldn't manage to stay upright.

Nothing quite compared me for seeing this plant growing in the wild around Crater Lake. It was a definite "wow" moment.

My friend Peter, The Outlaw Gardener, recently shared photos of Veratrum californicum as part of his Foliage Follow-up post on the 16th, he included lots of fascinating information about the "dark-side" of this plant.

The stats from a gardening perspective...
  • perennial growing in USDA Zones 4a-9b
  • said to prefer sunny locations although for some reason I planted mine in the shade and it seems to be doing fine.
  • 3-6ft tall - although I imagine 3 is the plant and 6 is the bloom


Veratrum is nothing short of spectacular, and earns it's keep solely based on those leaves. However it does fade as the summer's heat approaches, that's fine for me because that's when it's neighbors step up to steal the show.

What's looking good in your garden this last week of March?

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

47 comments:

  1. I need to find some Veratrum, either seeds or plants. I love those big pleated leaves. I've also seen it growing in the wild, a few years ago on Mt. Rainier. Quite a spectacular plant. I was so happy to see this post this morning, because I worked on a favorite plant post the other day, but wanted to wait for your new one this week rather than add the post to a previous one.

    Here's my post about my favorite this week: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-favorite-plant-in-garden-is.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll let you know if I see any plants out and about in my travels! (at a nursery I mean)

      Delete
  2. Beautimus foliage! Kelly at Far Reaches told me that this plant can tolerate standing water so I'm thinking of transplanting mine to a pot without drain holes to see if the foliage will stay all summer if it gets enough water. I first spotted it in a huge clump in Jerry's (Jungle Fever) garden and fell in love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I look forward to seeing how your experiment goes! I too remember the plants at Jerry's - they were the first I saw doing exactly the same thing mine does when the weather gets hot, I was glad as I thought I was doing something wrong.

      Delete
  3. Interesting that it is growing in that rocky outcropping at Crater Lake. It must be fairly adaptable because I've seen it growing in the mossy ground of McDonald Forest not too far from here. What a beautiful plant. I can see why it's your favorite for this week. And look at all your little Syneilesis bumps coming up. I've got exactly three on my less-than-one-year-old plant. I am not a patient gardener.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace this seems to be the year for the Syneilesis to take off! I swear I've got double what I did last year.

      Delete
  4. I absolutely love all of these pics of your plants. I love greens, a natural garden and the Veratrum californicum is gorgeous. Your friend Peter's pic off the coast is breathtaking. So glad I came across your blog and I will be back, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually that photo is mine and of Crater Lake.

      Delete
  5. I LOVE this plant - its color, its texture, and its form (if not its dark side). I think its sad that a plant with "California" in its name won't grow in my area of SoCal (and doesn't even appear in my Sunset guide). My selection this week is more heat and drought tolerant: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-favorite-plant-this-week-xylosma.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, it seems very unfair...

      Delete
  6. This plant is in my wish list. I have tried it from seed and failed so am now looking to buy one

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish you success in your hunt.

      Delete
  7. I love it. It is also in my wish list but I can´t manage to find it here, as usual...
    Thanks for the pictures, one of the things I most like from your garden is the combinations of green.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I read on Mark & Gaz' blog a comment that you were thinking of heading up their way to do some shopping? Perhaps you can find it then?

      Delete
  8. So dramatic, the way the leaves unfurl...and those pleats...and the last shot with the water droplets...just, WOW!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see large swaths naturalized around your property Ricki!

      Delete
  9. Wow, they look great once they start to bulk up! I acquired one two years ago and it has been slow to bulk, have high hopes for it this year onwards and I've just seen it starting to peek through the surface of its pot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed they have an even more appealing look en masse.

      Delete
  10. Veratrum, corn lily because of the look of the flower when in bud, is one of our most dependable fall color plants ….. at an elevation above 7,000 feet in the San Gabriel Mountains. The foliage turns bright golden yellow. What a difference a few degrees of latitude make! Nice to see the spring leaves without having to take a long looong hike.

    My favorite plant this week is Schefflera
    http://janestrong.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know that golden yellow, but see it in July. It's not as pretty then.

      Thanks for sharing your fav, and a schefflera no less! Look forward to checking out your blog.

      Delete
  11. Wow, love that foliage. It looks great against your house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The house paint color continues to make the garden pop! Of course the white showing through in the cracks of the siding is a less positive side effect.

      Delete
  12. Loree:
    Look for V.nigrum, whose flowers are a deep wine colour! It would make a perfect companion for this one. I have two feet of snow outside the door, the only thing keeping me sane is a A.griffithii that I have in a pot in my room which has started to stir..... finally!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you look back at the first photo you'll see a smaller plant (with holes) on the lower left side. That's my V.nigrum...still alive after 3 years but not doing much. Maybe I should move it. I finally saw one blooming last year on a garden tour and it was gorgeous!

      Delete
  13. Love it! I've seen large stands of it while hiking in the Cascades. Peter's experiment might have some merit, as I frequently saw it growing in or near seepage areas and streams. Certainly that's where the biggest, lushest plants were, with foliage pushing 4 feet (I want to say 5 feet, but my memory may be making a fish tale of it). Although even seepages have some water movement. It will be interesting to see how his do in his wet containers. I didn't realize it had those alkaloids in it. Might be toxic enough to deter deer, and my parents have some damp areas in their yard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet you can find some at the spring HPSO plant sale!

      Delete
  14. They are cool looking plants for sure.

    I have tried to grow various Veratrum over the years without much success.

    My first nigrum grew well the first year in the ground and then never came back. My second nigrum was growing really well and then a mouse or other small rodent nibbled it and it fell over (I bet it didn't do that again given how toxic it they are!)

    I bought a californicum last year after seeing one of your posts and it grew quite well, but I have not seen it reappear yet. It's still early days though.

    I bought a album 'Lorna's Green Seedlings' from Cally Gardens 2 years ago and that grew well and I saw it starting to grow again last weekend, so that one seems to be my best performer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well here's hoping your californicum comes back strong as soon as the temperatures warm AND you have much seed success!

      Delete
  15. Great native! Your picture of the leaves emerging from their column of new growth is really amazing! I would grow this plant just for that moment! Here's my favorite of the week: http://www.rainydaygardener.com/2014/03/ribes-sanguineum-king-edward-vii-is-my.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt the same when I first saw it. It didn't matter at all what came next!

      Delete
  16. It looks great in your garden and in the wild! Those first plants to emerge are welcome sights, aren't they? And the way Veratrum emerges is pretty nifty. This post was a nice combination of landscape, mid-range, and macro shots--to give us a great perspective of what it looks like from all angles and in various settings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for mentioning the combination of shots, I try!

      Delete
  17. The leaves emerging from sleep are unbelievably beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Replies
    1. Those pleated leaves are what I fell in love with. I have a native Carex that has leaves like that, which is what I love about that plant, too. But this one's leaves are WAY bigger, so the lust for it is bigger too. LOL

      Delete
  19. P.S. My favorite this week is here - http://outlawgarden.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heading over to find out what it is...

      Delete
  20. That's a nice foliage indicator of spring...woodland to high mountain exposed! For spring's arrival here, I use wind, but this year the wind took a few weeks longer than the warmth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wind wears me down. Last year it seemed most of the nice warm days were also very windy, it guts down on the enjoyment!

      Delete
  21. Yeah! Those leaves are amazing! Love your pictures. Mine bloomed last year and I was absolutely stunned by the huge stalks of white flowers. I think mine must get a bit more sun as it didn't lean but my lilies sure do that! Even when the leaning flower stalks get in the way of the path, it's hard to cut them down!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya mine is in pretty much total shade, what was I thinking?

      Delete
  22. That's a nice one Loree..nothing better that young unspoiled spring foliage. Here is my fave of the week..http://gardenbook-ks.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-favorite-this-week.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had intense rain yesterday and I was sure I'd come home to holes in the leaves, thankfully no!

      Delete
  23. Gorgeous foliage.. the colour is great and looks so lush, (your garden looks especially lush in the photo from 2012) and I can see why it piqued your interest when you saw it at Gossler Farms!
    My favourite is due to foliage, too: http://crmbsgrdn.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/my-favourite-plant-in-garden-this-week_28.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When faced with bare soil in the garden is it always shocking to look at the green green photos of summer (or late spring), it's sometimes very difficult to believe it will look like that again in just a few short weeks!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!