Monday, March 4, 2024

A February visit to the ferns at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

While I love visiting new gardens and experiencing different things, I'm also a sucker for a good annual tradition. That's is why I visit the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden every February on our way up to Seattle for the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival.

Walking from the parking lot to the garden things felt much more open than in the past, some trees seemed to be missing, perhaps storm casualties? There were definitely signs of the cold and it's nasty effects in the garden, like this brown Heptapleurum taiwanianum (Schefflera taiwaniana).

I accidently managed to capture signs of tree removal as well (look in the background).

Time had gotten away from us on our drive up, so I had to prioritize what I saw, would you believe ferns were top of the list? I know, I gave it away in the title.

I was curious how their pyrrosia fared this winter to I made a beeline to this patch. Flawless!

It's planted near this mossy fallen tree.

I should have been more proactive after our January storm and went out hunting for a fallen mossy log or two to haul home.

Oh my! I think those are Magnolia macrophylla leaves (or similar). I've always wondered what they'd look like if I left mine in place over the winter, rather than picking them up. 

To the stumpery! That's a well protected (from cold) tree fern, Dicksonia antarctica, on the far left.

Rhododendron sinogrande, Woodwardia unigemmata beneath.

Saxifraga 'Primuloides' (I think).

I love these next three shots so much! It's winter, and yet there's still so much going on here.

Pyrrosia sheareri looking fantastic.

The Hardy Fern Foundation had a cutback work party at the garden just this last weekend, I so wish I could have been a part of that. 

Yep, more pyrrosia, these planted in a stump (it is a stumpery after all).

Steve Hootman (Executive Director and Curator and the garden) has done a lot of plant exploring and brought back great pyrrosia species that are planted out in the garden. I bought one of these plants at the garden nursery during this visit.

Love the Lonicera crassifolia...


Polypodium scouleri

Epimedium and moss are a great match.

Pyrrosia lingua I believe (on the stump).

Their pyrrosia all look so good. I wish mine did (winter was harsher here).

Their aspidistra look a lot better than mine too. 

Okay, time to tuck into the conservatory to warm up a bit before making another trip through the nursery to decide on my purchases (I bought the aforementioned pyrrosia, a pair of Gaultheria nummularioides and a Rhododendron nakaharae 'Mariko'). 

Curculigo sp., love those pleats!

I keep telling myself I'm going to create a growing column like this and plant it up with pyrrosia and other treasures.


Adiantum hispidulum, rough maidenhair fern (I believe).

Rhododendron boothii

Nice flowers and colorful new foliage, too bad it's not hardy.

I had to pay my respects to the pyrrosia in the corner...

And admire their tall Brassaiopsis hispida, then it was time to leave.

If you're signed up for The Fling this summer you'll be visiting the RSBG! Yay! If you're not signed up there are a few places still available...

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  1. I really need to try planting Pyrrosia in the ground. I've only seen one species sold locally, and these only in large expensive pots, but I'll keep my eyes open on my next trip to Seaside.

    1. Do it! Funny I just looked up my Seaside blog post to send it to a friend and saw their pyrrosia. Would you be willing to haul a plant home from the Fling? If so I'll bring you one in a small 4" pot.

  2. Especially nice vignette there at the end with the Brassaiopsis. Conservatory gardening is a whole world unto itself, isn't it? --hb

    1. It is, one I wish I could partake in daily.

  3. My favourite parts of one of my favourite gardens. The smaller Pyrrosia is definitely one to seek out. I also would love to have one (two?) of those columns in my tiny greenhouse. Stack those plants!

    1. Exactly, more plants in underutilized space is always a good thing

  4. I remember those impressive Magnolia macrophylla leaves from an Autumn visit. I suppose leaving them in place supports the mycelium network of fungi bellow. I leave Hosta leaves like that all winter, but eventually, in late February or early March I succumb and remove what's left of that unattractive mess.
    As soon as temperatures get up into the 50's, I should visit the RSBGH again, well before the Spring madness.

    1. Yes you should! I can't imagine leaving those leaves here in my garden, everything under them would be dead.

  5. I love how green and mossy everything is, I miss that. Do you have any idea how that column is secured in the ground? I'm going to move an indoor monstera to my tree outside and I will have a large column stuffed with moss/charcoal/kanuma/pumice pole leftover. It would be very cool to secure it (maybe just rebar) in the ground and attach plants to it? Thank you for the fantastic idea, I'm intrigued.

    1. I do not recall how the column is secured, it might even be from the top as the structure has several things (plants) hanging from it. You can check it out yourself in July!

  6. I love this garden. It doesn't look so much like a garden but a lovely natural area. Some of their rhodos look like they got hit but other than that can't see too much damage. All looking healthy and green

    1. Yes it definitely feels like you're out walking in the woods. I love that about it.

  7. We did have a great cut back session in the Stumpery but unfortunately a volunteer cut back the Pyrrosia's even after being instructed not to. I'm sure they will recover but it might take a bit of time to do so.

  8. Your comment about the magnolia leaves reminds me that I desperately need to move the smothering mass of poplar leaves off some of the plants in our creek garden. I'm guessing that Pyrrosia in the corner isn't very hardy because it is inside the conservatory. It is extremely attractive with the undulating leaf margin and the color contrast between rust and dark green.

    1. That same type of pyrrosia (P. sheareri) is what is pictured in my next post on the Amazon Spheres (growing near the tree ferns), it's really of the same hardiness as the others growing in the fernery.


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