Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Changes in the NW corner of the upper back garden

Today a few garden updates from the Northwest corner of the upper back garden...

First of all, I bit the bullet and planted the tall Pseudopanax ferox that I got from my friend Lance Wright when he moved to Eastern Oregon last summer. This plant is borderline hardy here in Portland, and he was moving to a much colder location.

It became mine last June, but I was hesitant to plant it in the ground right away as I was going to be away off and on for a few weeks, and it didn't come with the best root system. By the time I could plant it (and baby it a bit) the weather had turned hot—so I decided to just leave it in the container and not risk it. Thank god I did as I'm pretty sure I would have lost it during last winter's extremes. 

So why did I plant it in the ground if there's a chance I could lose it? Well, it's too tall to fit in the shade pavilion greenhouse during bad weather, unless I lay it on it's side, which would not be easy to do once I plant it in a ceramic pot. Plus I have another, smaller plant that's already in a container (a form of plant insurance) and they are hardier the larger they are. So I decided to be fearless and just do it. I picked this spot because it's protected from our frigid wintertime wind and gets a fair amount of sun. By planting it in May it will have several months to get established before winter comes around again.

Speaking of plants I lost last winter, this astelia was a floppy mushy mess. It looked so bad cut off all the leaves flush with the base, but didn't dig it out—and look at it now! 

There's one other astelia that's also trying to stage a come back—three tiny leaves a couple of inches tall—but all the others I thought were dead definitely are.

This trio of containers is the current featured focal point in the corner of the upper back garden, visible as you enter... 

The Agave 'Blue Glow' looked so good when it came out of the shade pavilion greenhouse this spring that I knew it needed to be here.

I then decided to go with a theme of plants in pots with the yellow/green speckled glaze and this aloe, Aloe maculata, got the nod.

The third pot was an empty I had on hand, planted up with a gifted Leucadendron 'Ebony'. It's small but growing.

Now we're scanning to the left and focusing on the trio of dish planters in front of the palm (Trachycarpus wagnerianus).

These planters were looking pretty rough after winter, so I did an intensive refresh.

I picked up a pot of small agaves labeled as Agave parviflora but most likely Agave × leopoldii and divided them up.

I also replanted (from the previous version of the dish planters) some Agave parryi 'JC Raulston', misc sempervivum and a Maihuenia poeppigii.

But of course what you're really wondering about are those opuntia pads with the INCREDIBLE 4" long spines; meet Opuntia sulpurea... 

I like the mix.

Oh! I forgot to mention the pieces of Portulacaria afra ‘Lilliput’ I cut up and stuck into each of the dishes. They add a nice contrasting texture.

And that's what's new in the NW corner of the upper back garden!

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  1. AnonymousJune 07, 2023

    Lots of very good luck with Pseudopanax ferox! It looks great against the orange wall. It would have been totally camouflaged against the previous paint color. A lot of time to consider added winter protection, if need be.
    A little jealous of your Leucadendron 'Ebony'... it has such a cool color and fun fuzzy bits.

    1. As I was planting I was thinking about how I might protect it. I guess a tent of frost cloth might help the foliage? Although really it's only mean to keep ground heat in. Mulch around the base I suppose...

  2. That's a perfect spot for the Pseudopanax and I hope it thrives there. I love your refreshed dish planters. Every time I see them I ask myself why I haven't copied those ;)

  3. Love those dish planters. They remind me of flying saucers. Those Opuntia pads look a bit dangerous. Right up your alley.

  4. Nancy MumptonJune 08, 2023

    I have Opuntia sulpurea and love it so. My spines are great too and a little curlier. Also have the Portulacaria in several varieties. Another great one!

  5. Planter refresh: well done and looking good. Great the Astelia survived! Pseudopanax -- perhaps the tall palm near it will provide a bit of shelter?

  6. Embracing that fearless attitude down here too by trying another Agave JCR. El Niño is in full effect, so I’m betting it will do fine for the foreseeable future. Yours seem to have more reflexed leaves than I am used to seeing. Big fan of Leopold with its curlicues.

    1. Re: those JCR leaves. They were stored in a shady spot after I cleaned out the contents of the dishes before replanting. I thought I would get to it the next day, but actually a couple of weeks went by. Thankfully they're perking up now!

  7. Fingers crossed for your Pseudopanax. It's such a special and rare plant.

    You could write a book just about your dish planters! Every iteration I've seen has been exciting to look at!

    Agave parviflora vs. leopoldtii. I bet that came from Altman/Home Depot. I feel for it, too. Ha! The real parviflora is much, much smaller. I'll give you a couple of seedlings; I collected some seeds in habitat last December.

    1. Yes you're right, HD. I am excited to see the real parviflora!


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