Giant Hebe ‘Great Orme’ is blooming. The plant started so small and so quickly got so large. I am hoping that ‘Great Orme’ does as its description indicates, and stops at its current size. It is close to being on the sidewalk. I don’t know if it is a good idea to prune it, and I’m concerned that it would end up a weird shape. Right now it is a very nice dome, and I’d like to keep it that way. The bees love this plant (but then, they love most plants).
I am still catching up on some posts. These plants were purchased and planted in early June. For some of them I have included more recent photos, as well. We went to a variety of stores: nurseries, the everything store, hardware stores, the farm stand… I think I will only talk about some of the plants here, because about some I don’t have much to say: we liked them and thus bought them.
Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is a plant that I’ve heard Ciscoe Morris talk about numerous times (hummingbirds apparently love it). We saw this one for a pretty reasonable price and bought it. It is questionable if it will survive over the winter – it could go either way.
These miniature daisies are going to act as groundcovers in the rose garden. They have not been planted yet.
I bought this agastache specifically for a pot. The co-gardener has a tall blue pot with pink flowers, and the salvias that were in it died over the winter.
The co-gardener collects shasta daisies, and I think I encourage it.
Unless the co-gardener can find a good place to shelter it, this heliotrope won’t last over the winter (they are not hardy in our zone).
This hebe isn’t supposed to get too huge, which is good since I’m running out of space in the front yard (where the hebes are).
‘Wendy’s Wish’ was on clearance. The co-gardener bought it and put it in the pot with the star jasmine…. I think it has stopped blooming.
Green is my favorite color, so I was enthused about this dianthus.
Osteospermums are always nice. They typically don’t last the winter in this zone.
We didn’t need another cape fuchsia, but I love the way dark pink and yellow show inside the throat of the blooms. Hummingbirds absolutely adore these. It should get large (maybe next year).
The three yellow dahlias were for the cat/yellow garden.
I got a little tricked with this blue daisy plant. I bought it at the hardware store for a reasonable price, believing the “perennial” tag. Well, the tag didn’t say anything about temperatures, and so when I got home and looked up the plant I found that it isn’t hardy in our zone! I think the co-gardener knew this, but I was alone.
I got tricked by the hardware store about the marguerite daisy, as well.
These miniature brass buttons are going to be stepable groundcovers somewhere, but I’m not yet sure where.
Hummingbirds love this salvia, but I’m not sure if it will last the winter
The tradescantia is in the swamp
I have been collecting elfin thyme from many places… unfortunately, the least expensive places do not restock it – the amount they get in the spring is it. So, many places I bought up the remainder. Elfin thyme is going to be our lawn replacement. I am not sure if it is enough – but then again, the lawn isn’t out yet anyhow.
Possibly more photos to come… and yes, Sutherland isn’t doing much, but of course I had to still include it. Funny, it bloomed quite profusely last year…
This does not cover everything planted in May, because earlier plants are in this post. Possibly I am forgetting something, but we are solidly into June now so it is time I post this. I talked about most of the plants in other posts (purchase posts), so I will just include photographs here.
I arrived home to find two of the hebes blooming!
I saw Ciscoe Morris again, this time on Saturday April 13 at a hardware store. The store is part of a small northwest chain, and the specific location was historically farmy. See, I don’t want to do too much specifying, but I also don’t want this to get confusing (for me) since Ciscoe is appearing at various stores within the chain. Thus, I’m dubbing it a “farmtown.”
Here we go! Another write-up. My last post about Ciscoe, here, ended up quite long, and I wonder how long I will be sitting here working on this one.
First of all, I forgot my camera and partway there had to turn back. I knew that I had enough time, because I was leaving plenty early, but I was afraid I would not be able to get a good seat. That was not a problem, as when I arrived, fifteen minutes before showtime, only four people were sitting down. A half-hour before Ciscoe’s nursery appearance, many more people were waiting, so I am not sure if the difference was the type of venue or the location (this second place is more rural). Anyhow, I took a spot right in front. Well, last Saturday was a horribly cold day – the air was cold, the wind was cold, the rain was cold…. it did not feel like spring. The talk was semi-outdoors, so I was glad I happened to have four Little Hotties in my bag with me.
I put two in my pants pockets and two in my coat pockets – I think it was a real help. The hardware/garden store had a dispenser of coffee out, but I don’t drink coffee, so that was of no use to me.
As the weekend before, Ciscoe came in slightly before start time and reviewed the plants on the table – the ones about which he was to talk. So I guess that it was so not strange that the nursery the week before had not notified Ciscoe of the plants about which he would be talking. Ciscoe has a radio show Saturday morning, which is sometimes broadcasted from various audience-filled locations, so I think he comes straight from that.
I was immediately struck by how much bigger the table was, how big the sitting room was, and how great the space between the table and the seating (Ciscoe’s “stage”). Well, first I was struck by how cold it was – that thought never really went away. Then I was impressed to see how natural Ciscoe was with one of those clip microphones… the ones with the back-pocket pack and the little cord running to the head. Hands-free microphones. You know, the kind with which Ciscoe is free to flap his arms and dance around (I exaggerate slightly). It was certainly a contrast to the old-school microphone the week before, and all its associated problems.
Plants, subjects, questions, etc:
- Ciscoe started with a story about where his “oh la la!” phrase came from. It was a pretty humorous story, so I won’t ruin it here, but I will tell you that he was bicycling in France.
- Heuchera (also known as “coral bells”): The first plant Ciscoe picked up was a bronze/orange heuchera. He was not sure which variety it was – I’m not sure whether-or-not it had a tag. Ciscoe said that heucheras (maybe specifically the colored foliage kind) were one of the favorite plants he ever had. He said that colored ones had only been around for the last 25 years (but wasn’t sure about that), and he remembers when they first came out. Originally, heucheras were just green with red flowers, and in so stating this Ciscoe had the opportunity to tell a heuchera + hummingbird story. He said that the first colored variety was “Palace Purple” (I am not fact-checking this). He said to not be afraid to cut them down, in case the shape gets unattractive. He said that the experts don’t always know how any given heuchera will behave in the Pacific Northwest, and if it is not doing well, move it to sun if it is in shade or move it to shade if it is in sun. Well, this advice is useful for me, because we have two heucheras, Heuchera sanguinea ‘Snow Angel,’ that are not doing well in their shady location. They are supposed to be evergreen, but defoliated in the fall. I will share a picture after this section. The shade that they are in is not intensely shady, but perhaps they don’t like it. So maybe they will be moved out of the woodland garden. We have another heuchera that is in partial shade, Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade.’ I am keeping my eye on it, to see if it seems to dislike its spot. Our garden has four heucheras in direct sun (sited by the co-gardener: I was skeptical at first, but they seem to be doing ok thus far). They are: ‘Purple Petticoats,’ ‘Sashay,’ ‘Midnight Rose,’ and ‘Marmalade.’ It is still to be seen how they like the full sun in July and August. I will include a picture of them when I have weeded that area.
- A tulip tip: Well, this tip was not useful for me, because Ciscoe started by saying that if you have clay soil it won’t work, but I will include it anyhow. A classic problem with tulips is that they don’t come back the next year. He said that this is because they are native to Uzbekistan and etc. I am not sure if this is really where they are from, but I will leave it. Anyhow, tulips don’t like our climate, because they need excellent drainage. Thus, his tip is to plant a tulip 12 inches deep. Uh, then he said that this only works with some kinds of tulips. Ciscoe says that at 12 inches the tulips don’t try to reproduce, and in our area the little ones won’t don’t come up anyhow (still to be seen if this is true). Planted closer to the surface, tulips put their energy into reproducing, and if they divide it weakens them. He said that the bulb fertilizer that one applies is to keep the tulips coming back, not to make them bloom (they will bloom regardless). He said that planting at 12 inches also prevents squirrels from digging up the bulbs. This is interesting, for I lifted some bulbs last year, replanted them in the fall, and I think they all bloomed. That is another technique for getting tulips to rebloom, and I will probably post more about it here in several months. The main problem is that I don’t have anywhere to put them while they are drying out. I lifted mostly because I thought they looked ugly in the front yard after they had bloomed. I did not lift the ones in the cornus/yellow garden, and I think many of those tulips did not reappear (fortunately I bought more). Certainly there are a lot fewer around the stump than last year. It is too much work to lift all of the bulbs in the yard, so I will probably just buy new ones every fall for certain areas (like around the stump).
- Asparagus: someone asked a question about asparagus, and I decided that I shall not grow it (as if I grow any vegetables, which I do not). Ciscoe said that the first year one should not eat any, the second year some people eat some stalks and some do not, and the third year one can increase – unless the plants start looking wussy, then don’t pick them. He said that asparagus lives over 20 years, so takes awhile to get the whole thing going.
- Tomatoes: Ciscoe gave a 10-15 minute talk about tomatoes, which I did not write down. There was just too much to it, and I don’t grow tomatoes so it is not important to me. What I took away: to grow tomatoes right is a lot of work. I did jot down that one should not try to grow big tomatoes around here, and for it all to go well we must have a great summer. Something I thought was interesting: one can make one’s own grow light.
- Brunnera: Ciscoe showed a variegated brunnera that I ended up buying (see below). I had been interested in brunneras for awhile (didn’t have any), and this one looked great. Ciscoe said that they are related to forget-me-nots, so the flowers look similar. Apparently nothing eats brunneras. He said that they only flower in spring, but that they have good foliage. This one might seed some, but not too much.
- Organic fertilizer: someone asked an odd question about organic fertilizer. He kept trying to get Ciscoe to name a good brand, and Ciscoe would not (I wouldn’t either, in Ciscoe’s spot). Thing is, right behind the stage was a display of organic fertilizer! I think sometimes people don’t try hard enough. Anyhow, Ciscoe said that with organic fertilizer, not all of the nutrients go into the plant at once. In fact, organisms eat it and make it available to the plant over time.
- Lawn: Did someone ask a question about lawns? Ciscoe shared the information that he never picks up his lawn clippings, and he waters his lawn all summer long – every week and a half. Many people in Western Washington let their lawns go dormant, but of course Ciscoe’s yard is held to a higher standard.
- Lace Leaf Maples: Someone asked a question about taking cuttings for lace leaf maples. I am not entirely sure what was said (I must admit my mind wandered), but Ciscoe said that it was quite difficult.
- Vinegar: Ciscoe talked about using vinegar for weeds again. I have heard him talk about it before. He was saying that one can dig up dandelions, but a lot of times they come back (which I have noticed). Instead, one can spray straight white vinegar onto the plant, but only on a hot sunny day. Ciscoe tapes a funnel onto his sprayer (I guess so that only that plant is hit). He said to reseed that spot of the lawn (making sure to get the lawn seeds into punctured holes) if the dandelion was in the lawn (aside: I’m against lawns). He said to not be dainty with spraying, or else nothing will happen. Someone asked about a weed and he responded… then I said “what about horsetails?” Horsetails are the biggest problem in our yard, and I wondered if vinegar would work on them (the point of my question) – I thought that Ciscoe said before on his show that one could use vinegar, but I wanted to confirm. After I asked my question, Ciscoe said “ooohhhh horsetails!” promptly saying, “You know what it means if you have horsetails? You were bad in a past life!” If this is true, I was quite bad. Some of the areas of the yard have not appeared on this site yet because they have not been de-horsetailed yet this spring. Anyhow, Ciscoe said that the horsetail is the worst weed by far, they had it at Seattle U. when he worked there, and the best thing one can do is plant evergreen shrubs three feet tall to cover them. Well this is not going to work for me because they are everywhere. The yard cannot be one big shrub. I may do a separate post about horsetails, although I feel nervous about such a thing.
- Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’ (also known as “bleeding heart”): Ciscoe showed a bleeding heart with goldish foliage. He said that it was probably a Chinese hybrid. He loves the plant because of that golden foliage, and it is way tougher than regular bleeding heart. We have some dicentra in the yard, but only the native (Pacific bleeding heart: Dicentra formosa) and one other (I would have to check, I think ‘Burning Hearts’) have come back thus far, and I am getting suspicious that some are just not going to emerge. There were two ‘Burning Hearts’ and one ‘Candy Hearts,’ so a return of one is not very good. Pictures to come when they are doing a bit more.
- Hydrangeas: someone asked a hydrangea question: the guy cut them all the way down 3-4 years ago and hadn’t had blooms yet. Ciscoe said that it could take awhile, but thought it would happen soon. He suggested alfalfa meal, but said that alfalfa is alkaline, so could change the color of the blooms (traditionally, acid soil, which we have around here, leads to blue blooms and alkaline leads to pink. This is not as true as it used to be because of new varieties). This question inevitably led to the hydrangea pruning question. I have heard him tell people so many times how to prune a hydrangea: cut 1/3 of the branches all the way to the ground. This time Ciscoe said that one could even do 1/2, which I don’t remember him saying before. The shrub will be taller and more open, giving it a more elegant look, and it will have way bigger flowers. I think the co-gardener is against doing this to the brambly blue hydrangea, and I’m letting the matter drop. It is supposed to be done in February-ish in order to not lose the blooms. Dead-heading the puffy blossoms is ok, which the co-gardener did here. The birds like getting inside of the over-grown brambly hydrangea, and would dislike the situation if the shrub was shaped to look “elegant” and “open.” It bugs me that the blue hydrangea does not look more like the white hydrangea, which was pruned incorrectly, but the co-gardener pointed at that natural things do not need to be symmetrical.
- Honeysuckle vines: Someone asked a question about their honeysuckle vine, I don’t remember what it was. Ciscoe said that they can get aphids and powdery mildew if they are not watered enough: they get stressed. He gave his usual advice for aphids: a strong spray of water. Apparently aphids give birth to live young (I am not fact-checking this right now), so they can reproduce like crazy. He said that they get underneath the leaves and build up there. He recommended spraying a few days later and then again in a few days after that.
- Raspberries: Ciscoe mentioned that he thins out his raspberries. Hmm, I have not done this before, maybe should, but can’t bring myself to.
- Hellebore ‘Snow Fever’: Exciting! We got this at the garden show. It has variegated foliage, and Ciscoe said that he wrote about it in his Seattle Times column (I guess I remember now reading that). It is new this year and should be in dry shade. I will include a picture.
- Rhododendron losing bark: Someone asked a question about their rhododendron, saying that it lost a substantial amount of bark. Ciscoe seemed surprised, asked some questions, and wondered if squirrels were doing it. Ha! Feed your squirrels peanuts and almonds and you don’t have to worry about it. Ciscoe said that an option would be to cut to six inches from the ground, but they wouldn’t get any blooms for five years. He seemed concerned about the plant – I guess they kind of need bark.
- Hummingbirds: someone asked what kind of plants for hummingbirds they could put in a hanging basket other than fuchsias. Ciscoe said: petunias, zonal geraniums, and nicotiana.
- Pulmonaria (also known as “lungwort”): The previous weekend, at the nursery talk, Ciscoe started off by talking about pulmonarias, so much of the information was the same: look like lungs, worts used for medicine in the middle ages, scientists tested pulmonarias and determined that they do nothing for lungs… he repeated that in England people call them pulmonarias “soldier-sailor plant,” because the first flowers are blue and turn pink or vice versa, but that he was not sure which color was the sailor and which the soldier. Our two pulmonarias are not colored like that: one is fuchsia-colored and the other is blue – they don’t change color. Maybe it would be better if they did. He repeated the advice, which I already knew thanks to perennials.com, that one should cut them down to 1/8 inch after bloom so as to not have any powdery mildew.
- Ciscoe told the story about the hummingbird nest and the spider web. That’s ok, I can’t expect all new information and stories every time.
I almost forgot to mention! I won a giftcard at the talk! It was $25 for the hardware/garden store. Ciscoe tends to give away plants (with the permission of the establishment), and to determine who gets them asks such questions as “who has a weiner dog?” “who drives a Mini-Cooper?” etc…. but at the end of the talk he was asking a lot of questions and people in the audience were just not raising their hands… so when he asked “who has an orange cat?” my hand shot up. He gives a question to the winner, but that person gets the prize regardless of whether-or-not they get the question correct. Mine was along the lines of “who is the most handsome, smartest, most buff TV gardener other than Meeghan Black and Ed Hume?” I responded “you!” with enthusiasm. Afterwards, I asked Ciscoe a question (because I couldn’t get one in during the talk) and had him sign my giftcard. I asked if we could cut down our ‘Wine & Roses’ weigela (Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’) after it blooms, because it is an ugly shape (it was purchased bare-root). He said that that would be ok. We are hoping that it will grow back looking better. Apparently most people cannot pronounce weigela, but I was correct. A little thanks to dictionary.com.
- Dwarf bottlebrush – Callistemon citrinus ‘Little John’: I was not in the search for another bottlebrush, but this one was just too great. I love how the branches go in different directions. Check out the picture. Bottlebrushes are native to Australia, so they fit my “exotic” category criteria.
- Lewisia cotyledon ‘Sunset Series/Strain’: I had been considering a lewisia for awhile, in a very tentative way, and finally bought one. I’ve always been scared by the excellent drainage that they demand. Irritatingly, this one is native to Oregon and Northern California – it is not one of the Washington ones. I will probably put it in a little pot.
- Parahebe catarractae ‘Delight’: this little guy is why I marked the hebe category (they are related)
- Chocolate cosmos – Cosmos atrosanguineus ‘Choca Mocha’: we already have a chocolate cosmos in a pot, the species I think, but as one is supposed to treat them as one would a dahlia, and because it was left in the pot all winter (albeit under the upper deck and in the corner), it may not come back. These things actually smell like chocolate! This cultivar is supposed to stay shorter than the species. I will pot it, like the last (which I am hoping turns out ok anyway. $2.99 seemed inexpensive for a potential duplicate).
- Rock cress – Arabis caucasica ‘Variegata’: the garden doesn’t have any rock cresses, and I liked this one because it is variegated.
- Brunnera macrophylla ‘Variegata’ (also apparently known as “Siberian bugloss”): I had wanted a brunnera for awhile, but it seemed like they always cost more than I thought they should. This one is variegated and quite lovely. I think I may put it in the swamp.
Saturday April 6th I went to a talk by Ciscoe Morris at a nearby nursery. The co-gardener was able to show up partway through. ::Gets out notes:: I got to the nursery a half hour early and, worried about the amount of people already there and the small amount of chairs, I didn’t wander around looking at plants but instead sat down. I started in the third row and then after awhile decided to move up to the second row. After awhile more I thought “what the heck” and took a spot in the middle of the first row. It appears that no one wants to sit in the front. Ciscoe arrived about five minutes before the talk was to begin, and began looking over the table of plants about which he was supposed to talk. I was a little amused by this – in my mind there would be some coordination of effort between the nursery and Ciscoe in selecting the highlighted plants. At one point while Ciscoe was examining them a lady sitting towards the front asked him if a plant was a hebe… he said no, that is what he thought at first too, but it was actually related to a huckleberry. Suffice it to say, Ciscoe didn’t talk about that particular plant. Oh, during the entire talk there was a microphone problem – pressure had to be applied in just the right spot for it to work – so for awhile various people held the microphone for Ciscoe. I’m not sure how much the people in the back heard – the event was not entirely indoors and the rain was pounding.
The format was that Ciscoe would talk about certain plants, in between which he would take questions from the audience. I was familiar with some of these plants, and with others I was not. Some I grow, such as the pulmonaria, flowering currant, monarda, and rhododendron. Some questions provided useful information for me, and others were less relevant. I think that I will share an accumulation of information here.
- Pulmonaria, otherwise known as “lungwort”: I knew about pruning after bloom to improve foliage, thanks to perennials.com. Ciscoe stated that the plants like moist shade, which is nice because that is exactly where mine are ( Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ and Pulmonaria longifolia ‘Bertram Anderson’) – and they seem to be doing quite well. Supposedly the leaves look like lungs, but I don’t really see it, so I tend to call the plants by their scientific name, pulmonaria. Ciscoe said that, like other plants with “wort” in the name, “lungwort” was used in the Middle Ages as a medicine – specifically for lung problems. Ciscoe said that pulmonarias are called “soldier-sailor plants” in England, but I forget the details.
- Flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum: Ciscoe/the nursery specifically presented the same cultivar of the native species that I have, ‘King Edward VII.’ Flowering currants are famous as hummingbird plants, and the rufous hummingbirds show up from migration when the plants are blooming in the late winter / early spring. Unfortunately for me, Ciscoe informed us that flowering currants, as native plants, have no tolerance for summer waterings. This is bad, because my two (the cultivar and the species) are in areas that get watered in the summer (July, August). I can’t just stop watering because of the currants! Ciscoe said that he knew of many flowering currants that died from watering. I guess I will just cross my fingers. By the way, flowering currants are scented.
- I asked a question about my flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Kan Toyo’). It was purchased in the fall (2011), and did not bloom the following late winter / spring or the one after. This, by the way, is a good example of why buying a plant in bloom can be useful, although some plants (such as lilacs) are known to bloom at the nurseries and then discontinue once they are planted, taking several years to begin again. I asked Ciscoe if the quince was going to ever bloom, and he said that flowering quinces grow to be very old, so sometimes take a few years before blooming. Well, that means that I don’t need to pull it out! Ciscoe also mentioned that flowering quinces are very difficult to move.
- Monarda, also known as “bee balm”: ‘Jacob Cline’ was on the table – the version I see the most – so Ciscoe talked about monardas. I have heard him talk on the subject before, I think at the garden show. He said that they like sunny and moist. I put mine (Monarda didyma ‘Petite Wonder,’ Monarda didyma ‘Petite Delight,’ Monarda ‘Pink Lace,’ Monarda didyma ‘Aquarius,’ Monarda ‘Fireball,’ and Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’) somewhat underneath the apricot tree (never fruits) and it is not especially moist there. They seemed to do ok last summer: we will see if they flourish this year. Of course, monardas are known to be hummingbird plants. As I had heard before, Ciscoe said that monardas pop up all over in no time, but are easy to pull out. Some of the monardas in the garden are pink, some are red, and some are purple, so it will be interesting to see what color the “pop-ups” are. Oh, Ciscoe said that ‘Jacob Cline’ is less likely to get powdery mildew than some varieties. He gave some directions about cutting down monardas, but went pretty fast so I am not entirely sure that I wrote it down correctly. I believe that he said that about this time to cut down some of the monardas by 1/3, some by 1/2, some by 1/4, and to leave some alone. Do this again in three weeks. If one does so, bloom time differs, and monardas bloom-out quickly. I am not sure if I will do that this year, since the monardas were only planted last summer. Stay tuned for pictures this summer!
- Ciscoe talked about an ornamental rhubarb and answered a woman’s question about her trumpet vine which had not bloomed. I am going to skip that information here.
- Someone had a question about something, causing Ciscoe to talk about alfalfa meal for awhile. I have never added alfalfa meal to plants – I figure that organic fertilizer is enough. Anyhow, he said that it is good for things that bloom for a long time, and to fertilize those every six weeks. He said to skip plants that only bloom once, like peonies. Apparently one is not supposed to breathe in the dust from the alfalfa meal. The proper way to administer alfalfa meal (like other fertilizers) is to scratch it into the soil. He said that it is important that the alfalfa meal have no rabbit minerals added, and one must go to extra effort if one uses pellets. For pellets, one should soak them overnight in a water bucket to make a sludge, and then administer that. He said that it is important to keep the bag in a metal can or else one will get mice.
- For some reason, a rhododendron was on the table, so Ciscoe talked about those for awhile. He told a great story about his time at Seattle U., but I will let you hear it yourself sometime. Anyhow, Ciscoe has seen rhododendrons over fifty feet tall, adding that they get bigger than they are supposed to. Typically, those with bigger leaves get bigger than those with smaller leaves. Any place that there was ever a leaf, one can cut the plant down to that spot and it will come back. One can cut a fifty foot rhododendron down to four inches and it will come back. Ciscoe added, before telling his story, that many rhododendrons have great bark.
- Someone asked about canna lilies, but I don’t remember the question itself. Anyhow, Ciscoe said that some varieties (some of the interesting ones) don’t come back the next year. What he does is he digs them out in the fall, puts them in a dark nursery pot in his unheated garage by a window, and replants around Mother’s Day. One thing about Ciscoe Morris: he has an unheated garage with a window that is used solely for plants. Do you have a large window in your garage? I heard him say, I am not sure if it was at the talk or on TV, that he removed a wall of his garage and put in a window. So, when I hear the “unheated garage by a window” advice (which seems to occur often when discussing how to tend to certain plants over the winter), I roll my eyes a little bit. So, don’t be surprised if your canna lily doesn’t make it.
- This question is kind of important. A lady told Ciscoe that her peonies won’t bloom. He said that they are planted too deep, that peonies must be at the soil surface in order to bloom, and that ones underground almost never bloom. Buds need to be above the soil line. So the other day I went out and viewed the new peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sorbet’) and wondered. I am pretty sure that I planted it with the bud above the soil… but I guess I will find out in a few weeks when it either blooms or does not bloom. The co-gardener picked out the new peony at the garden show, so I will feel a bit bad if it doesn’t bloom. I looked at it, and got this feeling like it might be too late to dig it up (the roots are underground) and play around with it. I might be wrong, but I was not inclined to do it. Ciscoe told the audience that one never has to divide peonies – they will grow a long time – but can divide them in fall if one wants. Peonies need full sun, and one should never mulch over them. So you know, many peonies smell great.
- Rock daphne: Ciscoe talked about the rock daphne on the table. The garden has three daphnes (Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata,’ Daphne odora ‘Zuiko Nishiki,’ and Daphne x napolitana) – they smell great – but there is not a rock daphne. Yes, I understand why. Ciscoe said that they need spectacular drainage, and in this clayish yard, that cannot be guaranteed. Rock daphnes are spring blooms, are fragrant, do well in a rock garden, need full sun, and should be mulched slightly to keep them living. Based on the drainage requirement, I do not see a rock daphne in the future.
- Lewisia: I am not sure what type of lewisia was on the table. Some types are native, and Ciscoe said that they grow on the north side of a rock. He said to cut them back and they will bloom again. Good drainage, bright spot. I had been curious about lewisias before, but had never actually purchased one. Something I had read intimidated me – perhaps the part about good drainage, I am not sure.
- Ciscoe likes to talk about hummingbirds – he even has some statistics memorized. He mentioned Grevillea victoriae (what I categorize as exotic) and Chinese and hybrid mahonias (Oregon grape is a type of mahonia). As Ciscoe reports, hummingbirds make their nests out of spider webs, which expand as the babies grow. Sweet.
- Gentian: Ciscoe showed this, which is blue, and the co-gardener was going to buy one but forgot. Gentians like sunny spots, well-protected from afternoon sun, well-drained. The plant was a very nice shade of blue.
- Beesia: I am not familiar with this plant. Ciscoe said that it is a slow-spreading groundcover for the shade, and to cut down its leaves in spring to keep it from looking ugly.
- Epimedium: I have been curious about these but have not purchased any. Ciscoe told the audience that there are many kinds, some of which are evergreen and some are not. Some epimediums turn red in the winter. Ciscoe recommended them for dry shade. Perhaps I will make space for one at some point.
- Ciscoe mentioned that people should cut ferns down now. I already cut most of them down as according to Ciscoe’s book, but it is true that two ferns which are hard to access have not been cut. Speaking of ferns, they are not coming back especially fast – those fiddleheads are not speedy.
- Someone asked if there was a plant that would deter cats. Ciscoe thought for awhile, and said no. He mentioned that groundcovers might help. The co-gardener, who had arrived late so was sitting towards the side, called out to plant catnip in the neighbor’s garden. Ciscoe then talked about catmint, which is related to catnip, and how the nursery employee told him that cats would leave it alone, but they did not. We had this experience somewhat with Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ but not with Nepeta ‘Limelight’ – and only when the catmint was freshly in the ground. Some cat smashed it down, like it had taken a nap on the catmint.
- Ciscoe told the audience that he typically does not lift his dahlia tubers, but puts western sword fern branches on top during the winter to insulate them (he gave a description of the process but I did not write it down). Unfortunately, the co-gardener pulled out the five dahlia tubers in a frenzy during cold weather, and then left them under the upper deck, so they might not be any good anymore. Lifting dahlia tubers is a little elaborate – at least according to the instructions that I have.
- Geum ‘Eos’: Thinking back, I don’t remember what this plant looked like. Ciscoe said that it keeps putting out flowers, and that the specific specimen had beautiful golden foliage (which I presume I noticed at the time). Ciscoe said that every three years, the plant will send underground offsets and that the original will stop blooming. One is to swap out the original with the new plant. I doubt that I will be doing this for a plant which obviously did not leave a lasting impression (it has only been a week since I have been to the talk).
That’s the end. I did not write down every question that was asked… some were a little silly (“will these two plants look nice together?”).
After the talk I waited in line to talk to Ciscoe and have my picture taken. I asked him if I should cut down my phygelius (“cape fuchsias”). I had the penstemons, salvias, and hardy fuchsias on my mind. He confused me a little, ultimately saying that I could and that phygelius will get huge. They run underground. I must have been too excited, because I missed some of the details.
The talk was not entirely indoors, and the co-gardener got cold and left before looking at the plants much. Thus, I only ended up buying one plant, a new hebe.
I had seen this hebe several times before, but they tended to be gangly and untidy. This one looked pretty great. No, I don’t really have a place for it. I picked up some sunflower seeds and a new bag/block of soil-building compost.
Nursery prices have gone up since last year. Hmm, I shall not complain about any given nursery or nurseries as a whole, but their prices can be high. It is one thing for a shrub to cost $20, but another thing for a perennial. Sometimes I am “curious” about a certain plant, but that curiosity is not worth $20. Prices have gone up at all of the nurseries that I have been to recently (except maybe the nursery on the Olympic peninsula where we bought the Bee rhododendrons), so it is not a comment about any particular business. The situation is unfortunate, and keeps me from buying some of the higher-priced perennials.
Last Wednesday, March 27, the co-gardener and I visited a nursery. Prices have gone up since last year, and our coupon wasn’t that great, so we bought almost entirely plants in the little 4-inch pots. For the first time, we got sedums and hens and chicks (types of succulent). I picked up another hebe, for which I actually have a spot. I already planted a purple lobelia and wanted a second, so I was pleased to find that. I was tempted by penstemons, as always, but resisted.
- Sedum lydium – Lydium Sedum
- Sedum acre ‘Aureum’ – golden carpet sedum
- Sedum spathulifolium ‘Carnea’
- Sedum sieboldii ‘mediovariegatum’
- Sedum oreganum – Oregon stonecrop, supposedly native
- Sedum album ‘Faro Form’
- Hen and Chicks – Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Spumanti’
- Hen and Chicks – Sempervivum ‘Ruby Hearts’
- Leatherleaf Fern – Polypodium scouleri
- Hebe franciscana ‘Lobeloides’
- Parahebe ‘Olsenii’
- Delphinium elatum ‘Guardian lavender’
- Delphinium “Pacific Giant hybrid” ‘Blue Bird’
- Deep Red Tall Lobelia – Lobelia x speciosa ‘Compliment Deep Red’ x2
- Tall Purple Lobelia – Lobelia x gerardii
- ‘Hot Trumpet’s salvia – Salvia roemeriana ‘Hot Trumpets’
- Nutmeg creeping thyme – Thymus praecox ‘Nutmeg’
- Lime thyme – Thymus x citriodorus ‘Lime’
I had been curious about parahebes for awhile, so finally got one. The delphiniums are going to go in the rose garden and the lobelias in the swamp (where they did quite well last year). The sedums will likely go in a pot.
To celebrate the First Day of Spring, we visited a nursery. It is not at all like last year, when we were re-landscaping the yard and were picking up a lot at the nurseries: now we have to keep in mind for what there is actually space.
- Hebe ‘Patty’s Purple’
- Variegated lacecap hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mariesii Variegata’)
- English daisy (Bellis perennis) ‘Galaxy’
- Pansy ‘Fuzzy Lemonade’
- Pansy unknown
The English daisy and two pansies are going to be put in a pot by the co-gardener. I have a spot in mind for the hebe… and as for the hydrangea, I’ll figure something out. It may possibly go in the exact middle of the backyard.
This was pretty restrained.