Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Heronswood February 2023 visit, the rock garden

When we were in Seattle last year for the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival I somehow talked Andrew into a visit to Heronswood Garden. The trip began on a ferry from the Seattle waterfront.

That's Andrew paying our admission...

While I was checking out the plants in those wooden planters, like Maihuenia poeppigii.

And Stylidium graminifolium, aka grass triggerplant.

I never got around to sharing these photos last winter (our visit was on February 18th) and once spring rolled around I didn't want to revisit winter images, so I've been hanging on to them until time was right, which is now! The first area we walked through was the rock garden, which had definitely expanded and settled in since my visit in 2021.

This area is planted up with an enviable collection of xeric ferns, and I got the names of most of them. Myriopteris aurea...

Myriopteris fendleri

Astrolepis integerrima

There were cactus mixed in too, I think this might be Opuntia fragilis (on the left).

Myriopteris rufa

Myriopteris tomentosa

And my biggest fern crush of the day, Pellaea truncata, aka spiny cliffbrake.

Didn't get the name of this spiny fellow. Don't you want to hug him?

More to explore...

Dudleya lanceolata on the left.

During my first visit this little bog planting looked much more promising. Maybe it just had the winter blues?

I remember crushing on this fellow, Polystichum imbricans. 

You can definitely tell these photos are from winter, I look forward to exploring in July when The Garden Fling visits and it's all a little "lusher." Notholaena standleyi...

There were agaves too—agaves and ferns in the same planting, you know I was happy! Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana on the left.

Agave gracilipes

Astrolepis sinuata

Yucca baccata I think?

I found this on the Heronswood website: "Created during the pandemic, and now honoring its victims and its heroes, the Rock Garden incorporates five rocky islands, each studded with miniature treasures that grow at high elevation. The garden currently showcases alpine plants from North America’s western mountains and southwestern deserts but will expand to include other regions plus Mediterranean landscapes."

Agave parryi var. truncata 

Agave americana 'Grey Ghost', living up to it's name. These agaves were definitely showing how they felt about the winter storms the PNW delt with last winter.  

There is a small on-site nursery under the awning in the distance, and I think classes are held there too. 

Ferocactus hamatacanthus

Opuntia sp. PL10028951

Before I wrap it up, the plantings that surround the rock garden and parking lot deserve a closer look.

Agave salmiana var. ferox

Agave 'Baccarat' on top of the wall and Agave parryi tucked in.

A colorful patch of Sedum palmeri

Agave bracteosa, enjoying a vertical lifestyle in the wall (I didn't get the name of the agave in the back). Come back on Friday and we'll check out the rest of this fabled garden!

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  1. I'm impressed that your love for ferns has grown as deep (almost) as your love for agaves. Fingers crossed I get to see Heronswood one day.

    1. Fingers crossed you'll be there with us in July!

  2. I've wanted to visit Heronswood as long as I can remember. The agaves looking a little wet just remind me of the torrential rain last year (: Wow, Polystichum imbricans is magnificent!

  3. Good update on Heronswood's rock garden. I bet exploring during July's Fling will have an all together different feel. Heronswood have a nice collection of Myriopteris ferns; the concept of xeric ferns feels odd, yet fascinating.
    I'll be visiting Heronswood during their Hellebore sale on March 9. I'm really excited about visiting again and checking everything out for myself.

    1. Oh, lucky you! That sounds like a fun event.

  4. Even with some damage to the agaves this is a truly beautiful garden. The xeric ferns are fantastic. Why is nobody selling them???

    The mystery opuntia with the dense spination could be Opuntia polyacantha var. erinacea.

    1. This is a very good question. You find a few out there at various nurseries, but they're definitely not plentiful. I would be thrilled to add more to my garden.

    2. Indeed! Why aren't more cool xeric plants from the southwest being trialed and sold in general? There are so many interesting ones! It's incredibly frustrating!

  5. I love those dryland ferns and hope that collection one day rivals the outstanding bed at UC Botanical Garden at Berkley.
    The bed above the wall contains an excellent specimen of Acanthus sennii. I have killed this super-spiny plant many times, but Duane West, long-time gardener there, told me how to grow it so that it would survive PNW winters.

    1. Sadly I don't have enough sun to keep Acanthus sennii happy (or maybe I should say enough sun that I'm willing to give to Acanthus sennii). Has yours bloomed?

    2. I have not bloomed one, in fact only overwintered one once. After speaking to Duane, I am going to order another one from Sean and plant it deeper. Apparently, it will send new side shoots if it is planted deep enough. I would be willing to give up a section of my roof garden to get this to bloom.

  6. I love all the spiny plants, Agaves, Yuccas!

    1. It's a good spiny collection, especially for a garden surrounded by the Puget Sound in Washington.

  7. When I think of rock gardens I expect succulent type plants. Ferns are a surprise but then it shouldn't be as you often see them hanging out of rock faces. The design of the rock garden is intriguing. It will be interesting to follow as it matures.

    1. Definitely, I am thrilled to see it again this summer.

  8. Ok, the Myriopteris got my attention. How apropo that I was just writing about Myriopteris aurea on my own blog. I am always surprised at these little coincidences that pop up among garden bloggers - when the stars align and we end up talking about the same thing at around the same time somehow. That Myriopteris fendleri is really, really purty. I can't wait to see the Heronswood rock garden in person.

    1. A much better version of when you're talking with your husband about something and then later open your laptop and see Facebook ads for that very same something...


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