Monday, January 30, 2023

NPA Study Weekend, Tanya Bednarksi and neighbors

All of my posts this week are from the 2022 NPA Study Weekend which took place in the greater Seattle area last June. 

The garden we're visiting today is on the backside of the Mt Baker neighborhood, overlooking Lake Washington. From our tour booklet: "The 1922 Tudor style house sets the theme for the garden's design with its structure, symmetry and style suggesting an English Garden. A high boxwood hedge runs the length of the front yard with access through a double gate designed and fabricated by Jim Honald [I'm guessing that should actually be Honold, website here]. Boxwoods of various shapes and sizes fill the narrow front garden which is divided into two sections..."

So now you may be thinking; "this doesn't sound like something Loree would be interested in seeing!" Am I right? Well, you'd be right. A friend recommended this garden (a friend who loves clipped boxwoods) and since I planned another garden stop nearby, I figured "why not!" And honestly, do LOVE the perfectly clipped shapes in this first photo...

I was the first to arrive (something that never happens) and the gate was still closed, so I wandered around to the side of the garden and that's when I spotted this excellent gabion wall at a neighbor's place.

Talk about a wall that says "stay out!"...
Things were much more inviting next door, I really wanted to wander in, but I was good and stayed on the sidewalk. Just look at everything that's going on in there!

Turning back towards the tour house now, which looks like it was added onto at some point. That's not a Tudor-style...

Lots of fabulous lush plantings. 

A reminder that this event took place just as our very wet and cool spring was transitioning to summer.

Lake Washington view...

I believe this shady planting was under the deck off the back of the house.

Steps up to the front garden from the driveway...

Looking back at that interesting garden that I wanted to crash. Praying I'd see someone wandering about so I could ask for a closer look (sadly it was not to be).

Now I've arrived! In the front garden that is. 

I loved it. 

I mean, I wouldn't want a garden like this (I need all the cool plants all around me) but I think it's super fun.

Turning around to look down the long pathway to the other end...

More shapes seen en-route.

The steps down and back up are the direct pathway to the front door from the street.

I love this little trough pond too.

Okay, heading back to my car I spotted more fun from the neighbors, this was going on across the street.

Yes, I am glad I made this stop.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Winter horror in my garden

Here we are, back in my garden. On Wednesday I shared photos of the good stuff, today it's time to look at the not so good. First subject, my big Agave weberi in the driveway, that's it on the far left. The smaller agave in the tub is an Agave americana that went into the garage during the December cold. I wouldn't have thought the unheated garage would have made that much of a difference but the A. americana is fine, and...

... the entire center of the Agave weberi is now turning soft and rotting. This plant has been growing here for years! It looks like this will be the end though.

Following the same path I took in that earlier—winter interest—post, I've now walked down the driveway to the front garden and we're looking at one of my two Feijoa sellowiana (pineapple guava). It's about 80% defoliated I have no doubt all the leaves will eventually fall.

I'm also pretty sure that by the summer months they'll have regrown. This happened once before after a bad cold spell, back in 2014 if memory serves. To refresh your memory, this storm took my part of Portland to below freezing (ultimate low of 19F) where we stayed for almost 72 hours—three days not going above freezing does a number on our plants. Add in the harsh east wind (desiccating cold wind on the evergreens) and ice, and a lot of plant damage is the result.

Meanwhile the leaves just add to the winter mess, as they're very thick, don't break down easily and I have to clean them up.

Here's another agave that's taken a turn for the worst. If this was say, April, I'd have more hope, but we've still got a lot of rain and more cold (a couple of nights in the low 20's coming up) to help that rot grow. I believe this is an Agave salmiana.

As if the weather wasn't providing enough plant horror, the damn rabbit(s) are creating another nightmare. That empty patch next to the sidewalk, it used to be solid with black mondo grass, sedum, and sempervivum. 

They've ate it bare. I'm so angry!

That's an expensive snack you little furry terrors!

Across the sidewalk there are signs of munching on my cute little Agave x leopoldii.

An agave manages to hang on and still look good after the crazy weather and then gets eaten. I hope it hurt.

Weather damage on the Agave parrasanna 'Meat Claw'.

More rabbit damage on this Agave bracteosa—but look! It's fighting to make a rebound and new growth is pushing out of the center.

More ugly! Serious ugly. 

Times two. One of these is an Agave salmiana, I'm not sure what the other is.

It does not look good for this poor plant.

Cordyline Cha Cha, starting it's death decline. This is one of two that I have, I'll end up cutting them back to the ground and they'll ever so slowly return. A couple years from now (unless next winter is nasty) they'll look good again.

This is the hardest pill to swallow. The bad spot on the large Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' next to my front steps keeps growing...

There were Cordyline australis here. The tops started to collapse so I chopped them. I'm pretty sure I've seen these sprout new growth from somewhere on the side of the trunk, so I thought I'd see if they wanted to go that route. If not I'll cut these down and the new bottom growth (unfazed by the cold) can take over.

Poor little Clarity Blue Dianella, both eaten by the rabbit(s) AND attacked by the cold.

We're in the back garden now and assessing the astelia damage. The plant on the right—Astelia 'Red Devil'—is one of the survivors, the plant on the left however is slowly melting.

I'm holding out hope that part of it lives, but I can tug on the leaves of this side part and they pull right out.

The same here. On the right is 'Red Devil' and it's solid, the one on the left is not.

And here, the leaves pull right out. Damn. I wish I could remember which ones these are, but that knowledge was lost to time.

This mass of ugly is part astelia (dead) and part Corokia virgata 'Sunsplash' which is hanging on to some of it's leaves (as well as some black mondo, leaf litter and who knows what else).

This Corokia virgata 'Sunsplash' however is a crispy mess.

The pyrrosia. Oh the pyrrosia. I've got these planted all over my garden (on account of the fact I LOVE them). Several plants are fine, or have minimal damage, unfortunately this mass planting of P. lingua, P. lingua 'Variegata', and P. hastata was really damaged by the cold, wind and ice (not to mention they're covered in leaves falling from the Stachyurus salicifolius and Maytenus boaria 'Green Showers').

While these are ferns, they're not the type that will replace the damaged fronds with a new flush of growth come spring. Their leaves sprout along a creeping stolon.

It's going to be really painful to cut off the damage and leave these plants looking bare. 

Several aspidistra are looking horrible as well, and also semi-buried by fallen leaves.

These plants only put out a couple of new leaves each year, so it's going to take awhile for them to rebound—assuming they can.
All three of my Cyrtomium fortunei look like this. Pretty pathetic, right? I have no experience with this plant and bad weather. It's supposedly hardy to Zone 6 so hopefully if I trim back these toasted fronds new ones will grow out in the spring.

Another said Clarity Blue Dianella, one of a pair in the back garden that got hit hard by the weather, no rabbit.

The leaves on Pseudopanax 'Sabre' looked great right after the freeze, but they're starting to turn. I've got no idea what this one will do long term either.

Stachyurus salicifolius continues to loose its leaves.

The pendulous bloom spikes remain however. Will they hang on to bloom this spring? We shall see.

Mahonia lomariifolia ssp. tenuifolia is hanging onto it's damaged leaves.

Where as this Mahonia x sevillana (a hybrid between M. eurybracteata and M. gracilipes from the Miller Garden) has dropped them all. Is it still alive? I have no idea. Note the thick layer of leaves, cones, conifer branches, etc, etc, etc, that's covering the soil. This is not what you should be seeing, there are small plants hidden under there!

What type of plants you ask? Well, for example Asarum maximum 'Ling Ling', not that it's anything to look at right now. Normally it's a lovely evergreen plant, hardy to Zone 7. The leaves in this photo look horribly sad!

The last plant to be featured on this list of horrors (note I said the last to be featured, there are plenty more I didn't photgraph) is my Metapanax delavayi. This is the side facing the house, it looks pretty good, all things considered.
There are a few sad leaves...

But nothing like what you see when you walk around to the back side where most everything is crispy brown and falling.

It's odd to have half a shrub look okay and half look this bad. My garden seems to have many strange microclimates that change with the wind and the seasons.