Friday, August 29, 2014

Powder and spikes, an odd combination of favorites this week…

Two plants were begging to be featured as favorites this week, two very different plants. The first one is all soft and powdery, Artemisia stelleriana 'Silver Brocade'.

Planted as a small 2-inch "basket stuffer" in June it's done a great job of stretching out to cover some ground.

I was worried it would take on a rough "dusty miller" appearance as it grew but so far that hasn't been a problem. Of course the real test will be what it looks like come spring, I imagine I'll be cutting it back for a fresh start.

The stats:
  • perennial groundcover hardy in zones 3-8
  • full sun, drought tolerant
  • yellow flowers in spring (which will be removed!)

The second plant, Pachypodium lamerei, is anything but soft, although it's crazy top-mop of foliage does have a "touch me" quality...

However with a quick glance below the leaves your fingers might recoil in horror, look at those spikes!

Serious spikes.

This one isn't hardy here in my Zone 8 garden (requires at least Zone 9+) so they (there's actually a pair planted together) go indoors each winter, and typically loose their leaves. The first time it happened I was concerned, but now expect it, as soon as they go back outside when temperatures warm in the spring the leaves reappear.

These can become small trees (up to 15ft tall) when planted in the ground. They're native to Madagascar, which explains the common name - the Madagascar Palm. They both have an extra nice crop of leaves this year, which is why they caught my eye. So you know what I'm wondering...what's looking good in your garden this week?

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pollinator paradise and fun for people too...

It's rare Andrew accompanies me to a Hardy Plant Society of Oregon function but somehow I managed to talk him into attending a presentation given by Annie Hayes, the Annie in Annie's Annuals. We sat next to the owner of this garden, Karen, and he struck up a conversation with her. Shortly after that she started working at my "neighborhood" nursery, Garden Fever, and we've been chatting ever since. That's how I happened to score an invite to her and her husband's open garden and studio event earlier this month...

I should also mention Karen is a garden designer and owner of Calendula Garden Design.

Her house colors have me wishing we'd gone with a bit of a lighter brown so we could have charcoal and green trim.

Her husband's work appears throughout the garden, and yes, I liked it. You know I'm not a fan of GARDEN ART but these heads didn't scream ART, they seemed to belong and added to the overall vibe of the garden.

This photo does not do this plant justice, this Grevillea victoriae was huge, it kind of scared me (since I've got 3 planted in my garden). Karen also said she'd pruned it way back recently too, since it was starting to make the neighbors nervous.

Detail of the side gate, the glass insets add a nice flourish.

And the same gate is repeated on the other side of the house, which is actually where we entered the back garden.

Look at those vintage chairs!

And of course the deck "skirt"...

The garden is filled with flowers and edibles, truly a pollinators paradise.

I'm not sure how I managed to photograph these artichoke blossoms when they weren't swarming with bees, maybe I sneezed right before I took the photo?

Did you notice the bags hanging from the tree in the last photo? They're protecting the fruit, if I remember correctly against codling moth.

How many gardens feature a working studio with kiln? Not many.

Pretty nice eh? I meant to take a few photos of Karen's husband's pottery but wanted to ask first and thus forgot.

Just beyond the studio is a sitting area/fire pit with the coolest chairs, which I also forgot to ask about.

Make that cool chairs and a table.

Yes this (very private) tub does get used.

Looking back towards the house from the studio.

Let's explore the garden...

Potato tower...

More garden faces...

And Karen's signature wine bottle edging. If you click on over to her website you'll see a small night-time photo of the bottles illuminated.

Thank you for letting us visit your lovely garden Karen!

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Announcing plant lust, the blog!

It was inevitable really. When you get three plant-crazy people like myself and my business partners, Megan and Patricia, together we aren't going to be happy keeping the plant talk to ourselves. We've got to share the passion and get others excited about the possibilities, thus we've started a blog.

Blogging is part of our history at, if not for our respective blogs we never would have met back in 2009 and now, finally, we’re all blogging together. Those of you who miss Megan’s fabulous blog, Nestmaker, will be thrilled to know she’s back online. Patricia, a bit of a new comer to the blogging world, has got a lot to say about plants, and gardening, and won’t hold back. Of course you already know me. We’ll be posting three times a week, and we hope you’ll join us and be part of the conversation at plant lust the blog...

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Echium wildpretii rescue...

There are very few things that have me dressed and wielding a shovel miles from my home at 7:00 in the morning. This is one of them.

On a whim I’d taken Lila with me to run a few errands one day. We stopped for a walk and did the circuit around my partner, Patricia’s, ex-garden. She moved early in the year and the garden has been on a slow decline ever since; new owners with different priorities. Patricia and a team of gardening friends (including yours truly) had performed a couple of digs, rescuing her fabulous plants from certain death. There wasn’t much left to see the day I walked, mostly just crispy leaves and tall weeds. But then I spotted these…

Against all odds there were Echium wildpretii growing, lots of them. These guys hadn’t been watered since who knows when, because the new owners planned to remove all the "plant material" and start over with lawn they were just letting things die. The echium came from seeds dropped by a plant which bloomed in 2012, this plant (photo from 2012)…

That blooming action was two years ago. Last winter (2013/14) saw ice, snow, lows of 12F and several days and nights below freezing. Yet there were new seedlings. The plants I'd just spotted were actually the second crop, I took this group of photos (below) in October of 2013. Those plants didn't make it through last winter...

But evidently their late (second year) seedy siblings did. So once I spied this treasure Patricia and I talked, she contacted the new owners, and here we were, with a small window of time in which to get what we could...

That's why we were there at 7am, you see we'd been told everything was coming out at 8am that day, to make way for the new landscaping (lawn) and we needed to be gone before the workers arrived (couldn't have any pesky plant freaks standing in the way of progress). Furthermore the two days prior had seen highs of 99 degrees, that morning it was muggy and in the 70's, these were not ideal digging conditions. Of course we didn't let that stop us. Here's Patricia's haul (she may have grabbed a few other things)...

And I had a couple of flats like this. Are you wondering where the soil is? That's the sad thing. When you're digging plants out of baked cement soil you don't get any roots. None.

Here's what we left behind, (look ma no echiums!)...

This is what the roots looked like on the plants I took home (dark because I'd soaked them in water). Not very promising right?

So I cleaned them up, removed some of the leaves, and planted them in the stock tank recently vacated of cucumbers (so much for that fall veggie crop I was planning on).

They've been kept extra moist and in the shade ever since.

A few of the really sad ones (super lacking in roots) went in a vase of water.

Things were looking pretty dire later that first day, and for a few days after, but then they started to turn a corner and perk up. Here's how things looked a week later. I've watered them twice a day, everyday and not let the sun directly hit the leaves. Several outer leaves turned crispy and were removed, but the ones which remain are strong and show promise (no more wilting).

When I tug on the plants they seem rather secured in the soil, perhaps they've sent out new feeder roots? One can hope.

The success rate for the plants in water wasn't so good. Two of four remain.

However those two are developing small roots and seem relatively happy...

All that work in hopes of getting more like this, one of the best Echium wildpretii in my garden ever...

If all goes well from here on out I've got 16 (!!!) echium to plant out in my garden. That's amazing. Of course now I'm trying to decide if I...
  1. leave them here all winter (risky, above ground containers are more susceptible to freeze damage).
  2. pot them up individually and then stage them here for the winter (ready to be whisked to warmer environs when the temperature drops).
  3. plant them out in the garden once the rains return in October (or whenever they decide to return) and hope for a mild winter.
What would you do? Cast your vote!
All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.