Monday, October 24, 2022

Susan's garden...

It was a lazy warm Sunday in mid September when Patricia and I visited Susan Langenes's garden in Milwaukie, Oregon. This was not my first time to visit, but it had been awhile. This rock garden area was all new to me...

It's tucked into a warm (reflected heat) corner bordered by the street and the driveway.

Lots to look at and love here...

If I remember correctly this agave was a NoID. 

However I think Susan told me the name of this one, and I promptly forgot it.

Agave utahensis 

And this little guy (below) is an Agave x ovatispina 'Blue Rapture' (ain't that a mouthfull?), from Plant DelightsAgave x ovatispina 'Blue Rapture' is a 2018 Plant Delights/JLBG introduction from a cross of two cold tolerant century plants, made by our volunteer agave specialist Mike Papay. Mike crossed his voluptuous Agave ovatifolia with pollen from an unsuspecting Agave flexispina. The offspring, which are still young but insanely vigorous, look absolutely amazing. We obviously won't know the mature size for another 14 years or so, but would estimate the rosettes will reach at least 2' tall x 5' in width. This is a very limited offering of what promises to be a truly amazing new strain of century plant...each seedling is different, although overall they are quite uniform. 
Don't go thinking you're gonna add it to your collection however, because it's no longer listed for sale.

Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' 

Cuphea ignea, the cigar plant—a tender perennial.

This cutie! I think it's a drought stressed Pleopeltis lepidopteris? Or I could be wrong.

It's a great plot full of interesting plants.

Oh and there's another one of her other passions (she has a few), vintage BMW's.

Susan does Plantago major 'Rubrifolia' well...

And seeing her blackberry lily (Iris domestica) seed pods made me wish I'd gotten serious about sowing the seeds my in-laws had sent me.

And this! OMG. She has a seriously large Grevillea ivanhoe doing fabulously up by the front door of her house. It's not thought of as being reliably hardy here so it's fantastic to see doing so well.

That foliage!

The push to visit Susan's garden was because she'd put out a plea to the local bloggers group that she wanted to rehome several container plants. She was overwhelmed and wanted to be free. A few of the plants up for grabs were agaves, but thankfully she'd decided to hang on to this sweet Agave americana, 'Mediopicta Alba'.

I adopted this Agave victoriae-reginae and will be keeping it under cover over the winter, then planting it out in the late spring. I've always wanted to try one of these in the ground, and free is the best price to experiment with.

I also went home with this Agave gentryi/montana cross (maybe? I'm trying to read the writing on the side of a container, not neatly labeled for sale).

After thoroughly appreciating the plants in the front garden, we made our way around to the back garden. This blooming Schefflera delavayi was on it's way out, another plant Susan was rehoming.

Phormium and Bupleurum fruticosum mash-up.

And then my eyes saw this! OMG! It's a stellar example of Lyonothamnus floribundus, aka Catalina Ironwood—made even better by the agave at its base.

The foliage...

The bark...

The next tree we were captivated by was this eucalyptus, Eucalyptus perriniana. You can see its mature foliage way up there at the top.

The trunk was also pretty spectacular.

And the blue on blue with that sky wasn't hurting.

There were more agaves here and there. Susan has a much more relaxed gardening style than I do—yes I know. Some of you might call me uptight, I don't care. I love her style, and I also love coming home to mine.

Speaking of...back at home here's my #1 fabulous score, a nice big Phlebodium aureum. It hung out under the shade pavilion for a few weeks...

But once I started moving things around (and indoors) I tried it out in what will be its home next spring, up on the SW corner columns. Heaven! Thanks Susan!

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


  1. This is my kind of garden. Lots of spikes, but also foliage plants.

    If you ever want your own Agave 'Blue Rapture', let me know. I have a large one in a pot, and it has several pups. It's a beautiful agave.

    1. You'd love Susan's garden! Good to know about the agave, thank you!

  2. Nice collection of agaves! I love the Catalina ironwood/agave combination. It'd be nice to have a tree like that but I expect its height would cause an uproar here with a "view conservation" ordinance in effect.

    1. I was starting to reply that it's actually not a huge tree (based on the ones I've seen), but then decided to look it up and saw numbers like 50ft. Nevermind...

  3. Nothing nicer than getting unusual plants for free. Love the tree bark shots. It is frustrating how plants come in and out of availability. Just ordered something that I've been trying to get for years.

    1. Especially when the company that had been offering them decides to just stop production!

  4. It was nice that you could rehome some of Susan's plants. It's always hard to see gorgeous plants freeze. Susan's front rock garden is great. Lots of very cool plants here. I have a big Phlebodium as a houseplant that I purchased in a little 4" pot. It's grown quickly and is now 2'x2'. One of my favourite foliage plants. You will love yours.

    1. Oh I don't know that they were going to freeze, she just wanted space. But yes, I feel lucky to have them.

  5. The Catalina Ironwood is spectacular, top to bottom, and I love your choice score of Phlebodium aureum! Wow. It looks divine at the top of the column. (Hopefuly it wouldn't mind some direct sun).

    1. The sun on that column isn't intense, but come next summer I think I'll actually place it on the column at the back, it's a little shadier.

  6. Super cool Catalina ironwood! I know of one by Clinton Park in SE that’s in a parking strip.
    Susan’s looks even bigger. Love those photos of her garden! Inner SE PDX and Milwaukie are in a nice wind protected area. The grevillea is gorgeous. I have a new Neil Bell from Xera, but that Ivanhoe is a beauty.

    1. She does live in a great spot for gardening, none of the wind and ice-storms that I get in NE Portland.

  7. Oh Loree this is lovely! You really did show the best parts :)
    The fern is indeed Pleopeltis - Pleopeltis lepidopteris 'Morro dos Conventos' to be exact, from PDN. Also like Gerhard, if/when my Agave 'Blue Rapture' makes pups, you can have the pick of the litter!
    I did actually get quite a bit of ice last winter (almost an inch?) and the Lyonothamnus lost one 3-foot branch, then I judiciously pruned a couple others for balance. That plant just does NOT stop growing, ever!
    Funny, after removing that Japanese maple, I've been eyeing several other plants for removal and it's looking like a lot more manzanitas are on their way in...
    Thanks for coming over and I'm so glad to see those plants have good homes with you now!

    1. Well why would I share the non-best parts!? Your garden is so perfectly you Susan, and I really enjoyed our visit. You really got me thinking about the different ways we garden. Thanks for all the ID's!

  8. Oh PS. The NOID Agave is almost certainly A. americana var franzosinii, and the next one in your post is Agave pseudoferox 'Bellville', also from PDN, and the utahensis is var. eborispina, a gift from Pat Thompson of Secret Garden Growers (that's also where your v-r and gentryi came from).


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