Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Heat repeat

The last weekend of June is getting a reputation in these parts, a HOT reputation. June 26-28th 2021 brought the infamous "Heat Dome" and record setting high temperatures for Portland of 108, 112, and116 F. This weekend brought another warm forecast...

...with actual temps of  93, 99 and 97. Thankfully this wasn't anywhere near as hot as last year, but still significant for gardeners, as those highs were completely out of line with the cool wet days we've been experiencing. When your plants are used to partly to mostly cloudy days, with highs in the 70's—then hitting 85 by 10:30 am is quite a shock.

On a personal note, I was thankful to be able to walk the garden this year to prep and water with ease. Last year I'd just had ankle surgery and wasn't able to get outside throughout the day and check on things. It was hell wondering how my plants were doing, to not be able to run out and shade something that was showing signs of wilting—like the new growth on this Rhododendron 'Ebony Pearl'. It was so crispy ugly after last year's heat that cut it off. Then wouldn't you know it, this year's fresh new spring growth was still tender when this heatwave hit...

Ditto for the Sinopanax formosana, only it wasn't just new growth that was scorched under three days of relentless hot sun last year, the old foliage turned brown too. It looked so bad I decided to cut the trunk back, way back. Would it respond? Or did I just kill a very expensive plant? It responded, but now I needed to protect those tiny new leaves!

Ditto for the Schefflera delavayi...

So this is what my garden became...

Frost cloth, doing double duty as shade cloth.

It turns out those big brown new leaves on the Rhododendron sinogrande, are also kinda tender.

Something I found out as the heat progressed. The shorter one made it behind the cloth, the taller one did not, it's leaves went limp and folded in on themselves. Thankfully a good soaking when the sun went down and they recovered 

The Schefflera delavayi looks like it's performing some sort of finger-puppet show.

Rather then move the new treasures gathered in this stock tank, I built a shade barrier here as well.

I also took down my garbage can lid planting from the back of the garage. In addition to the heat, strong evening winds kicked up. If the sun didn't crisp these guys up, the wind may have knocked it down.

This is one I missed! Augh! The tender new growth on a prized Pyrrosia sheareri. As soon as I caught it, I built another shade wall, fingers crossed it recovers. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm am happy the summer sun has arrived. It just would have been nice for the plants if maybe we'd had a a few days in the high 80's, maybe a day at 90, before BAM! We left the cloudy, cool and rainy days behind and almost hit the century mark.

Even the agaves shared their unhappiness, as a few ended up with sunburned leaves.

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, June 27, 2022

My plant haul, from the 2022 NPA Study Weekend

The event was a Hardy Plant Study Weekend hosted by the Northwest Perennial Alliance based in Bellevue, Washington, and it was a most excellent five day adventure! The point of the long weekend was touring private gardens and catching up with plant people, but of course I managed to accumulate a nice plant haul as well...

My home base for the weekend was an Airbnb on Mercer Island. That's where I snapped the above photo of my plant haul, and this one of Lake Washington as I unpacked my car...

Here's the run-down of my plant acquisitions in the order they became mine: first up, a Rhododendron 'Strawberry Sorbet' from Wells Medina Nursery. I didn't plan to buy a rhododendron, but with foliage like that, well how could I refuse?

"Another A+ foliage plant from Frank Fujioka, R. 'Strawberry Sorbet' has thick leaves with orange indumentum on the underside of each leaf. This new hybrid will grow 4-5 ft tall and wide, with very handsome leaves, dark-green with suede-like felt on the backsides, giving each leaf more thickness. This natural 'insect proofing' will add to the plant's value over time. Does best in a bit of shade, and is hardy to zone 8." (source)

I wish you could have been standing next to me at the plant sale which was part of the Study Weekend events, when I mentioned my new rhododendron—and it's fabulous foliage—within earshot of the fellow selling "REAL" rhododendrons at the Chimacum Woods booth. His disgust was palatable as he scoffed, "oh, a HYBRID..." whatever...

Also from Wells Medina, Rosularia platyphylla. It's in the Crassulaceae family and hardy to Zone 5. I wonder what those little seedlings would grow up to be? I'll never know as I've already pulled them.

Sedum rupestre 'Cristatum' (Wells Medina). I've unsuccessfully experimented with this one in the past, here's hoping I'll get it to take hold and grow to look like this photo from Pinterest.
This syneilesis hybrid—part of a plant originally from Far Reaches Farm—was a gift division from my friend Camille's garden.
I fell head over heels for it when I visited her garden last fall (photo below from her garden) and she dug me a piece this spring. As part of the NPS Study Weekend Committee, Camille worked her tail off to make sure we had fantastic gardens to visit during this event, thanks Camille! I can't wait to see my baby plant grow up to look like yours!
Naturally there were agaves! This dramatic fellow goes by the name Agave bracteosa 'Stingray'. It's one that Bryon Jones (of the Pt Defiance Zoo & Aquarium) has been growing on for years and finally decided to part with. My friend Scott Meyer was kind enough to pick it up, and handed it off during the Study Weekend festivities.

Scott also passed on to me this Agave parryi ssp. huachucensis 'Excelsior' that came to him via Bryon. Isn't it a looker? I think I'm going to be brave and try it in the ground...

From Maggie Soderstrom (seed growing whiz that she is) I scored a pair of begonias that just might be hardy here in Zone 8: there are two each of Begonia aff. asperifolia and Begonia sp. Michael Wickenden collection U614. Look at those leaves!
Speaking of Maggie; she, Scott. and I skipped out on the Saturday lecture portion of the Study Weekend events and instead headed north to visit Christianson's Nursery in Skagit Valley. Christianson's is one of the few large nurseries that continues to bring a great selection of plants to the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival each year and Scott has been encouraging me to visit them for awhile. I'm glad I finally did, it had a great vibe, and great plants. 

This portion of an old lath house that collapsed in a storm has been left standing at the rear of the nursery.

From our visit to Christianson's I scored this Nepenthes lowii x ventricosa 'Red'—I wasn't planning to buy another nepenthes, but after the raccoon ass-hats decimated my smaller plants in containers on the ground, well, I decided another hanging plant was the answer.

I also bought a Coniogramme emeiensis 'Golden Zebra', because ferns were on sale and I have a place to tuck this one in...

And a random guzmania, because I love the red edges and wanted to drop it in with my other bromeliads in the fern bed.

Looks good don't you think?

And look, it's sending out a couple of pups already.

Our next stop was Swansons Nursery, where I was very tempted by the best looking anigozanthos / kangaroo paws I've seen in ages. They had both dark red and yellow and all were covered in blooms.

I resisted that temptation though, and instead went for a trio of Saxifraga cotyledon—cause they are quite large compared to my other saxifrage. 

The next exiting part of the haul isn't a plant at all, but rather a curvy metal container...

The creative and generous Gillian Mathews gave it to me, as she knew I loved hers, seen here in her Seattle garden...

Next up, another gift, but this one again plant—and yes it's alive. It's a Pseudopanax crassifolius seedling from Daniel Sparler's garden

Here is its mom...
I have a lot to say about this exciting seedling but will wait until I post photos from Daniel's garden to explain.

More gifts to round out this haul! I visited my friends Erin and Matt for dinner on my last night in the Seattle/Bellevue area and Matt pawned off some more tillandisa on me generously gave me more of his tillandsia collection—he had some exciting new additions and needed to clear up some space. 

I don't know how I've gotten so lucky, as I also took some of his plants home when I visited last February. I can't tell you the specific names (I'm hopeless when it comes to keeping tillandsia straight) except for the one in the pot, that's a Tillandsia 'Oeseriana'—and that's the end of this haul post!

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All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Vertical gardening with agaves...

For years my vanilla bean Point Pot has hung on the front of our garage, at the end of our driveway, and been filled with a Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'—summer of 2021 and it still looked good...

...but since that photo was taken it had gotten larger, turned floppy, and become a sickly color. It was time for an update. But what? 

The design of the pot called for something special. Of course you know I'm all about the agaves, and that got me thinking back to this Instagram post from Pam Penick...

...and this one from Daniel Nolan...

You see the developing theme right? Agaves gone vertical.

Pam photographed these variegated Agave attenuata growing in a wall at Chanticleer, in Pennsylvania—she visited last October.

These variegated Agave americana (that's what Daniel Nolan ID'd them as), were in a wall in Quito, Ecuador.

Remembering those fabulous plantings and knowing I couldn't pull off anything quite that dramatic—since I don't have a tall stacked stone wall—I got to thinking perhaps the Point Pot was calling out for an agave, hmmm. It could work! After all I don't like white in my garden—containers or variegation—but in the driveway it's okay. 

So here is a perfect place for the Agave americana var. medio-picta 'Alba' pup I've been babying! I had just been talking with a couple friends about how temperamental this agave is, and how I've given up growing it in a pot, yet this pup was doing well. 

It's the perfect "marriage" of container and plant. Now that we've flipped the switch to summer warmth —98 predicted for Sunday, when we've only hit just 80 twice so far this year—hopefully it will love the reflected heat of the concrete drive and dark brown wall of the garage. I wonder just how big it can get and not flop out of the container? To be continued...

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

After a couple of fun posts (here, here) from this garden it's time to get down to business! That means a formal post of photos from my visit to the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden: 127 "historical" acres near the San Gabriel Mountains in Arcadia, California.

Naturally this big bad pair of agaves at the entrance had to be photographed, I love how they appear to be crawling over the wall.

Agave gypsicola, in the Desert Display Garden.

More of the Desert Display Garden...

Agave stricta?

It had a great bloom spike whatever it was.

Echinopsis pachanoi, aka San Pedro cactus.

I feel like I rarely see Agave bracteosa in SoCal, this was a welcome exception—well unless it's actually Agave vilmoriniana, then that's more expected. They're usually easy to tell apart, but from this angle I'm not so sure.

The locals are very colorful.

Xanthorrhoea, I think I momentarily strayed into the Australian Garden...

Before wandering into this walled garden space, with its ginormous opuntia tree.

Equally ginormous cycad.

And shapely Agave 'Joe Hoak'.

Back to Australia now, one of the acacias, not sure which one as I obviously thought the blooms were more important than the foliage, can you blame me?

Brachychiton australis seed pods.

Macrozamia macleayi, a species of cycad in the Zamiaceae family.

Didn't see a name for this eucalyptus with the sweet blooms.

I was momentarily confused by the small volcanoes around the cordylines, then I realized they were piles of mulch.

Bismarckia nobilis, which hails from western and northern Madagascar.

Fruit of the Bismarckia nobilis

Now entering the Madagascar Spiny Forest!

Alluaudia procera, or Madagascar ocotillo

Pachypodium lamerei

Folotsia grandiflora

I tried to find out more about this strange creature online but came up empty.

Moving on to the Aloe Trail, Aloe 'Rooikappie'.

Aloe marlothii

Euphorbia polygona, I think?

Euphorbia polygona 'Snowflake' 

I wonder what creatures live in that curly aloe skirt?

Aloe ramosissima/Aloidendron ramosissimum

More curly skirts, on tall plants!

That sun and blue sky was so welcome in November, and we're finally getting some of that here now in late June!

Finally, a few silver Echium wildpretti I spied on my way over to the Prehistoric Forest and a bunch of aliens.

I love the skeletal ghost look of these, now I really want to leave my blooming echium in place until it achieves this level of wow.

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.