What's looking good this week?

grant_in_seattleNovember 19, 2006

Well, it looks like the rain is back after a three day break. I used the break to trim back some overgrown vines, clean up some maple foliage, and tidy up beds here and there, plus just enjoying some of the plants that are looking good this time of year. What about you?

Many (though not all, heh heh) of the plants in my little garden are looking really nice right now. My little butterfly rose that I combined with a phormium whose variegation has similar coloration looks really nice this week (that's the phormium foliage in the background):

The schizostylus plants are always reliable for blooms at this time of year. Here are a couple of pics of just two of several colors in bloom right now:

What else? Oh, the winter containers are all looking nice too. I've nailed huuuuuge windowboxes (that I found (abandoned) in the shed here) on top of the wooden fence along the front of the garden. I filled them with cordyline, pansies, dusty miller, and the usual suspects for winter interest. I used leftovers to fill in some very large pots on the landing steps to my deck. You can't tell, but the pot is large (30 inches per side) and square, and an obnoxious chartreuese color:

The somewhat overgrown plant at the right is the variegated cigar plant (Cuphea ignea) that is one of my favorites for a very long season of bloom. Here's a closer pic of the blooms if you're curious (it's been blooming non-stop since June):

What have you been up to in the garden recently, and what's looking good out there?

Take care and happy gardening,


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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Your plant photos look perfect as usual, Grant. You must be a plant genius.

If it would just dry out for a while I would go rip out all my dead tomato vines for disposal. The evergreens look good, can't say I have much blooming except Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice' which always looks good, and my Elaeagnus ebbingei variegated plants set off the brilliant red berries of the Berberis Burgundy Glow bushes. Elaeagnus bloom is maybe ending, they waft fragrance in the fall.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 7:05PM
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silver_creek(z8a WA)

The conifers really stand out at this time of year. In bloom right now are Viburnum farreri 'Nanum' and the big mahonias are starting to bloom, Charity is first, and bealii, Winter Sun, and Arthur Menzies are all showing color in their buds.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 11:50PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I had an Acacia verticillata that was new this year, shot up over the roof and began flowering some time ago. That would be "looking good" if it hadn't been in a one gallon pot at the nursery too long, causing it to fall over in the recent winds. I cut it off near the ground.

I could have tried pulling the roots open when I planted it, of course, but I figured I would just let it go because acacias are tender and short-lived here anyway. Annual bedding with trees.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 12:38AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

My ponds are looking good. ;-)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 12:29PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Shall I send some deer over? On the Camano site I keep finding a deer sitting at one of the ponds. Think a couple of them have moved in for the winter, earlier in fall there were quite a few others around as well. Various plants nibbled to nubs. Then there is the stripping of bark...acres of woods and they zero in on plantings.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 12:36PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Deer are diabolical. I think they are responsible for branches broken off various plants and tossed around on the ground. The bark stripping is also very damaging. I've tried tying chicken wire around trunks of some trees and that seems to stop them. It kills me when my MIL who lives with us thinks it so special to see some deer in our yard.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 5:59PM
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Thanks for the updates and comments. Nancy, I've got plenty of things that look horrible, but I'm saving those for another thread. :) Glad you liked the pics of what's looking good though.

I haven't tried Eleagnus before. How much sun do they need? I've had my eye on 'Gilt Edge' for awhile. I also need to get some of those big mahonias, but I've been waiting to see them in bloom at nurseries before taking the plunge. Some seem to be starting.

Sorry about the acacia...that's too bad. Think it will come back from the stump/roots? Annual bedding with trees...very funny!

Glad the ponds are looking good too. This little garden came with a small water feature (notice I'm not calling it a pond, heh heh) that is full to the rim right now. I was going to just get rid of it but am now debating. As I slowly reclaim the back "garden" (think of all manner of shrubs and large or small trees randomly planted only a few feet apart front to back, left to right, almost like an unorganized tree farm) it seems like it might be a fun little feature some day; it has been smothered in shade by laurels (removed) and small trees (smoke bushes etc (relocated)) so we'll see. It's pretty shallow and I think it's concrete. Must investigate as my machete and I get closer!

I did spend Sunday afternoon grubbing out two fairly hefty self-sown western cedar trees (can you say home-grown garland?) and replaced them (after lightly ammending the soil) with some you-know-whats ('Emerald Green' arborvitae...I know, I know....boring, but the garden is tiny and I need some extra privacy so don't want anything too fat).

Keep the updates coming with what's looking good, or not so good.

Take care,

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 1:51AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Here is an article on Elaeagnus ebbingei that is very informative. I have the green/silver one which is 8-10' tall and wide, and the variegated one, which is smaller and more mannerly, 5-6' x 3'. They have been blooming and wafting fragrance. Mine are pretty much in full sun but the article says they can do well in deep shade too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elaeagnus

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 3:58AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

No point in "lightly amending the soil".

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 2:07PM
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Ferns are looking great.

I had Acacia verticillata once, but it froze at about 22 degrees. It was not one of the hardier Acacias I have tried. Mine did not grow very tall either.

I regret planting Elaeagnus: too vigorous and rangy; nice, but just doesn't do anything very exciting to me.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 6:25PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Grant, your color combinations are lovely. Many people don't put so much effort into them. As someone who was a florist for over twenty years, I'm often cringing in horror at many combos.

I bought a Schyzo ??? however you spell it, at the Hardy Plant Society sale but haven't planted it yet. Noticed it said moist soil after I got it home. Do you find that to be true? I don't really have moist soil, the areas around my water features are bone dry, no leaks or spill overs. Too many roots from neighbors major Doug Firs and arborvitae in all of my flower beds, keeping stuff alive in summer is a struggle even with soaker hoses.

My vote is to keep the water feature. Of course, I have seven with one more under construction.....on a small city lot. They are addicting. I love watergardening. Love the sound of water. Love the wildlife that visits (except the dratted raccoons because they do so much damage) Love the treefrogs and dragonflies.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 12:26PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Last night it occurred to me the wattle here is Acacia retinodes and not A. verticillata.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 12:54PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

This source is too new to be in the 'Plant Locator'. Says shipping ended Nov. 15 but page may be of interest anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: Desert Northwest - Plants

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 1:00PM
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I tried A. retinodes once too, but it also turned out to be less hardy than my other Acacias. I'm of the opinion that Sunset's comment suggesting it is the hardiest Acacia for our region is a bit ridiculous.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 1:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I think they used to have it at the old Arboretum offices. One I planted on Camano, before trying it here froze and died right away - the site is up high and I think it was something like 16 degrees F. Neither seemed to harden off at all with the approach of winter, the one here was growing and blooming away like it was July.

Jacobson (North American Landscape Trees) gives Everblooming Acacia as one of its common names, says "Notable for bearing flowers nearly all year around, but mostly in the summer and autumn." The one here was flowering off the new growth, which means if it's blooming much of the year it's making tender new growth much of the year, unless part of the time the bloom is just older flowerheads continuing on.

Based on plantings on University of Washington campus and elsewhere ones like A. melanoxylon and A. longifolia are better bets.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 1:56PM
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Those A. melanoxylon at the UW look like they froze to the ground in 1998. Still, they are tenacious plants.

The Acacias that have persisted in my garden with the least amount of damage are A. rubida, A. pravissima, and A. dealbata var. subalpina. Some of the other species I have purchased from Mike have failed. I think a number of factors are at work here besides the obvious fact that they get freeze dried in our arctic blasts. Some (obliquinervia, falciformis) come from truly alpine conditions and have a problem with growing on heavier soils. Also, I think it's better to grow the ones from moist rainforests, since those that are more drought tolerant (retinodes, baileyana) are more likely to keep growing into the fall with little or no irrigation. There are quite a few more Acacia species that are quite hardy (5-15F in the wild) and should be tried... nanodealbata, patazeckii, alpina, silvestris, kybeanensis, dunnii, and others. I've been working on getting seeds, but many are unavailable to me. Still, if any of them live through the next 1990-like freeze that will be impressive. Acacias in general seem even less happy about our arctic blasts than Eucalyptus, Callistemon or Grevillea.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 3:28PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Southern hemisphere origins of new introductions always likely to be a problem until discovered otherwise, on a case by case basis. Tolerance of Arctic conditions not the norm with plants from there. Comparatively high minimum temperature requirement IS the norm for acacias specifically. 15 degrees F. far from hardy, even in Seattle. Unless another thermometer plunge doesn't happen again for a longer time than in the past anything not hardy below 10 degres F. is "tender" in this region. Only the mildest beachfront and vicinity banana belt sites stay out of single digits during killer winters.

Freezing down of older UW plantings of acacias at that time reported in original (1989) edition of 'Trees of Seattle'. Before then the courtyard in the Forestry Department building area had a whole grove of several kinds for quite a few years, by the time I first paid much notice mostly blackwood types but also I am fairly sure some of the wispy A. retinoides type as well. Much bigger than any I have seen here since.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 4:20PM
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LOL at the "ammending soil" retort. I just couldn't help myself. I added as little as I could tolerate, heh heh. I know they don't need much but I couldn't help myself.

Thanks for the comments on the color schemes. I try to keep things somewhat harmonious, but my penchant for hot/bright colors often gets me in to trouble some times. :)

I think moist to average soil suits schizostylus quite fine. They do seem to struggle a bit in really dry, powdery soil, but anything other than that seems to suit them fine. I've got mine mostly planted in a sloped west-facing bed which gets pretty dry during summer, though it has pretty good soil. They really are reliable for blooms from October through April or so, with occasional spikes in summer too.

I may keep the water feature depending on my laziness. This back garden is very tiny so I was thinking of clearing most things out and having a pretty formal layout (in back) and the pond would alter that plan, but it may become a nice feature and if it's concrete as I suspect I'll probably leave it. I'll try to get some pics and start a different thread on it.

Oh, something else looking good this week is Chilean glory flower (Eccremocarpus scaber) which is still in full bloom. I love this plant and wish more people would grow it. It's easy from seed, blooms quickly from seed the first year, and is generally a perennial in most of Western Washington. Mine are still covered in orange goldfish-looking blooms.

I'll start a search for the white-flowering bergenias. I'm really growing attached to the plant and have built up a nice little collection of cultivars, though mostly in the pink to magenta range.

Keep the updates coming. We'll all have to compare notes after the cold snap that is predicted for early next week. :)

Take care,

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 11:21AM
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flowerfan2(z8/ WA)

That cigar plant is very unusual. Is that an annual or is it hardy? Does it need a lot of water during the growing season? What looks good in my garden now are the winter foliage plants. I planted a lot of cyclamen hederafolium by my front door along with arum, variagated gladwin iris, autumn fern, sarcacoca and a winter blooming daphne. The foliage is so cheery and when the shrubs start to bloom the fragrance is wonderful. Karen

    Bookmark   November 24, 2006 at 10:29PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I like bright colors!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 2:23PM
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Karen, the cigar flower is half-hardy so it will survive mild winters here. My plant has survived to 25ºF just fine. Still, I always take stem cuttings to root indoors over winter just in case we get a bad winter.

Right now the cigar plant looks just like the photos above: covered in little orange blooms. I really like it. The green-leaf form of it (Cuphea ignea) is very easy from seed and readily available from most larger seed companies.

Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 12:50PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I got my camera back, so here is the photo I wanted to send-

a href="http://photobucket.com/"; target="_blank">

The barberry berries look great contrasted with Elaeagnus ebbingei I think 'Gilt Edge'.

I've been spending a lot of time over on the kitchen forum, ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitchbath since we are trying to put in granite tile counters and a new sink before we have company at Christmas. It's more tiring making decisions and working in the house than working in the garden, and much less enjoyable. But this is garden break time.

We only got a sprinkling of snow here, just lots of rain and the high winds fizzled- whew.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 9:09PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

For nice photo of and note about one of the plants mentioned on this thread...

Here is a link that might be useful: Botany Photo of the Day: Hesperantha coccinea

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 12:09AM
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Nancy, the combination is great! Thanks for sharing the picture. It's definitely worth waiting for.

Ron, I hadn't heard about some folks reclassifying Schizostylus in to a different genus. Good information.

It's funny to see new replies on this post as I was just thinking about it yesterday after the cold snap. All in all the garden still looks good, though the rose in the pic is now more or less fully dormant, and the cigar plants, while alive, definitely have crispy tips.

Thanks again for the eye candy, Nancy.
Happy gardening everyone,

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 3:49PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

My Miscanthus look good too but strangely didn't bloom this year. I'm not very happy with my photo as it was late in the day and used the flash, and the red berries look really washed out, not as vibrant red as they are.

In my indoor garden I have a Christmas cactus, Stapelia, orchid, and primrose blooming, and buds on a basket Fuchsia that should probably be dormant in the garage instead.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 5:14AM
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