Thursday, May 7, 2020

I tore out some perfectly good plants...

You know those weight-loss/makeover ads where for the first set of images the person who was made-over is wearing an unflattering outfit in horrible lighting? Well, that's what's happening here too...but as I say, ya gotta strike when you're feeling it. Especially when "it" is the desire to remove perfectly healthy shrubs that you just don't love any longer. Bye-bye Grevillea miqueliana, Brachyglottis greyi and Abutilon 'Nuabyell'...

Hello empty soil!

I'm sure there were a few other established plants in there that got trashed too, but I did the deed a month ago, so it's all a little foggy. Here's what it looks like now, in much more flattering light...oh and for reference I was facing north taking this photo, and that's the side of the neighbor's garage.

Hard to believe I could instantly come up with so much new space to plant!

Let's take a look at the things that were allowed to stay. I was quite excited to get to see these astelia again. There are four of them, circled in white—although one is quite small. I can't remember planting it...but I must have.

Last winter was so mild that two grocery store (well more accurately an everything store....a grocery with a nursery department, clothing, furniture, etc) begonias overwintered.

There's a tall mutant Rhododendron sinogrande that made the cut too, that's it's stem closest to center on the upper right, the second stem belongs to a Yucca recurvifolia. These other two short guys I bought as tiny 4" plants back in 2015 (at Garden Fever!), I"m honestly quite surprised they're still alive they've been so buried. That's one of the newly free astelia between them.

Oh! And then there's this...a Rhapidophyllum hystrix baby given to me by Sean Hogan back in, well, I don't even remember. I think it will be happy with the increase in light.

I also discovered a big chunk of Rodgersia I'd forgotten was back there. Since it was still going to be hidden I took a chance and divided and moved it. It was touch and go for the first week or so but now all three pieces are happy in their new homes.

Here's a group shot of things I decided to move into the newly emptied spot. Since I couldn't go to nurseries and plant sales, I used what I had, shopped my garden. Starting clockwise with the dish on the far left, of which I had three that needed to find a home in the ground: each contained a Sedum spathulifolium 'Carnea', Calluna vulgaris 'Stockholm', and Hebe ochracea 'James Stirling'. Moving on from there...Echium wildpretii, Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Variegatum', Sinopanax formosanus, Rododendron 'Wine and Roses', Passiflora 'Fata Confetto', and Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Red Top'.

Here are the dish planters. Those plants have been in that tiny amount of soil for two years. It was time they got to stretch their roots a bit.

Now let's take a look at everything in the ground, we start with one of the existing astelia, which maybe Astelia nervosa 'Westland'...

Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Variegatum', which for now has the tall bare legs of a Pseudopanax x 'Sabre' to climb. That's a small Echium pininana seedling on the right (from a friend, who things it might be a hybrid with E. wildprettii).

Group shot! The crazy purple Rex begonia is one of a pair I got at the same everything store (this spring, while grocery shopping) to keep the overwintered begonias company.

I may have over done it a bit with the vines. There are two on each metal trellis, survival of the fittest? On the front are Passiflora jamesonii 'Coral Seas' (an annual here in Portland) and a clematis that's never done much. On the back are Passiflora 'Fata Confetto' and Passiflora 'Snow Queen'. This 'Snow Queen' has been weak so she'd better prove herself or she's outta there and 'Fata' can take over.

Those charming chartreuse leaves belong to Rododendron 'Wine and Roses', it was a gift from Roger Gossler last June when he brought a group up to tour my garden. I'm thrilled to have found a good spot for it.

The undersides of  the 'Wine and Roses' leaves...

Another shot of the astelia and Rhododendron sinogrande pairing...

The second Rhododendron sinogrande and one of the dish planters on the far right.

The Echium wildpretii lived in a container for the last year, it was insurance in case of an ugly winter, time to put it in the ground.

Another of the dish planter contents plopped in the ground and some random (not hardy) aloes that needed a home and were stuck in the ground (on the right).

Pulled back slightly and showing new sempervivum, sedum and Saxifraga x geum 'Dentata'.

Panning upwards you see I've tucked a few things into the Trachycarpus fortunei trunk, the largest are a pair of Fascicularia pitcairnifolia with soil and sphagnum moss around their roots—it's an experiment—the one on the left needs to be better secured as it's trying to break free. Another month and they'll be joined by vines (Passiflora lutea and a Bomarea sp.) that climb the trunk each year.

My Sinopanax formosanus had been suffering in a container for too long, so I took advantage of this opportunity to set it free. This decision may haunt me as it will easily become too large for the space. We shall see, perhaps a "stay at home" mistake I'll have to remedy in the future.

Here's the funny mutant tall Rhododendron sinogrande. It bloomed and split into three growing points.

Looking at the northeast corner...

Here we see a bit of the re-homed and happy rodgersia (big leaves) and some preexisting Saxifraga × urbium 'Aureopunctata' aka golden London pride, a ground cover. At the back is a mahonia I got as a "trial" plant from Monrovia last year, M. confusa 'Narihira'.

Astelia 'Red Devil'

It's just so good I had to include a second look.

And another overall shot. But wait! What's going on there on the right?

Yep, the brick border has been pulled up and the new line laid out, if not quite dug in.

That's the next project.

A pretty good chunk-o-"lawn" is going away...

I might try to move a couple of lawn plugs to where the Grevillea miqueliana and Brachyglottis greyi laid on, and killed, the existing grass. Or maybe not. It will fill in eventually.

Meanwhile I am happy with the change and haven't missed the plants I got rid of at all. Not even one bit.

Weather Diary, May 6: Hi 65, Low 48/ Precip .05

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I like the change-up too. What a lot of plants you found once the grevillea etc were pulled! And now those fab trellises are easier to admire!

    1. Aren't those trellis great?! They both came to me via a garden blogger friend who couldn't find space for them.

  2. It's difficult to pull out healthy plants--but we only have so much room, right? I got rid of many many Aloe 'Rooikappie' this past week, felt bad about it but did it anyway.

    Your refresh looks wonderful.

    1. There is no point in keeping a plant that doesn't make you happy!

  3. Terrific makeover, Loree. These projects are so satisfying!

  4. Everything looks good. I like that you could plop those tray container plants right in the ground. They look established that way. Removing lawn is always a good thing. It looks like you are prepared to fill in right away too.

    1. I briefly thought about trying to break the plants apart (from the dishes) but decided I liked the congested look. No surprise there.

  5. I think you've made good use of your stay-at-home energy, Loree, as well as the plants you have on hand. I like how prominent the Astelia are in the new scheme. I've got 2 significant areas now in need or replanting, the second provided courtesy of the gopher that appears determined to become a permanent resident. I've got 2 gopher repellents coming that I hope might improve matters before I replant.

  6. I love the new refreshed look. Trachycarpus fortunei trunk is awesome: would be nice to see it covered with the vine. I love the leafs of the Rhododendron sinogrande: such an impressive shrub and you manage to have 3.
    The more grass you remove the more space for plants. Yeepee!

    1. I will definitely be sharing photos as the vines progress up the palm's trunk. It's going to be nice to see more of it/them this summer.

  7. It's amazing how much garden work is being done due to the stay-at-home. Your reno's look great. At first glance your Trachycarpus trunk reminds me of a Yeti. Have you named him?

    1. I have not...but Yeti would be fun. There are a few around town that have had their fur removed, I don't care for the look, they seem so vulnerable. Plus the fur makes it easy to train things up it.

  8. I am in Portland, and can't find Passiflora Fata Confetto, where did you get yours? or can I get a couple of cuttings from you?

    1. Sorry, mine's not big enough for cuttings. It came from Grassy Knoll Exotics,


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