A Winter Stop by Skidmore Woods

A Winter Stop by Skidmore Woods

It’s well established that the weather gods are crazy, all over the country. Apparently California’s HUGE storm will alleviate drought, with flash floods, mud slides, and other general pestilence. Around these parts, it’s been raining nonstop. We’ve had more rain in a half of February than is usual for the entire month. And that’s saying something for the Pacific Northwest. We’re hunkered down waiting for the deluge to stop. I don’t think I’m alone in yearning for gardening weather. I like to think I embrace the abundance of rain for the green it produces. But come on, this is ridiculous. That said, I happened by Skidmore Woods a few days ago. It was raining. But the car veered to the right and hydroplaned to the curb. Next thing I knew, I was burying my nose in fragrant and fabulous plants. I was freezing and wet, oh but the vision of loveliness. And the fragrance. That bright yellow bloom is a welcome sight in mid-dreary winter. On my list. The Rhododendron above is reminiscent of R. ‘Sinogrande’. But there are so many. And I’m definitely not a Rhodie aficionado. But I know you’re out there. The greens were so green. Okay, fine: weeks of pouring rain has some utility. And Camellias still in bloom. I do like Camellias, contrary to previous claims. I still don’t know my conifers, but I like them. Does that count? I even went to a lecture about them last Sunday. It was a Hardy Plant Society (HPSO) event, with a talk by Norm Jacobs of Arbutus Nursery. He knows conifers, in spades. And this Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis (probably). Every shade...
Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m sometimes tempted to write off holidays that seem primarily Hallmark driven. But that’s the curmudgeon in me. When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day ranked right up there with Halloween. I can feel the cramp developing in my right hand just thinking about all those cards for school the next day. My first communion picture is germane, because I used the Parish Bulletin as my checklist–to make sure I didn’t miss anyone. Everybody got a card from everybody. You’ll note my check marks end with Janet Nicholas. That’s when my mom caught me using what I guess she considered an important historical document. I wouldn’t remember a thing about it if I hadn’t gotten in trouble. Hah. I guess Mom was right. I still have the damn thing. Okay. What was I talking about? Right. I love getting cards, for any occasion, though admit, I’m not great with a calendar. I have trouble sending the right card at the right time–always thinking everything is waaaay out in the future, until it’s in the rearview mirror. I’ve had some good Halloween cards in the drawer for years. They’re like plants that never make it from the pot to the ground. Is it like that for other people? Of course, flowers are always lovely, for Valentine’s Day, or any old time. Mister likes them too, but in a different way. I don’t want to embarrass him here by showing damage. But you get the idea. Last year I didn’t bring flowers inside because of him. But this year, as dog is my witness, they’re coming in–even if it means guarding full-time with squirt bottle in hand. And since the...
plant lust list: Camellia

plant lust list: Camellia

Seriously. There’s not Camellia one in my garden. I thought I didn’t like them. But I suspect it’s a prejudice born of those ubiquitous mis-pruned Camellias of my youth. When I was a kid, every yard had at least one, and usually more. Apparently, though, they ain’t supposed to be primarily giant light-blocking lollipops–good for concealing pint-sized, water-pistols packing assailants. I mentioned last week that I’ve been studying the Gosslers’ Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs. Focusing on one Genus at a time is much better than mad-scanning and racing to the next plant. Breathe, Patricia! Here’s what the Gosslers have to say about the lovely Camellia: These ornamental shrubs have been grown in their native lands for hundreds of years by gardeners, and they have been grown in Western gardens for at least 150 years. The glossy, dark green leaves of Camellia japonica are a standard feature in the gardens of the Pacific Coast, and in the South from Virginia to Texas. The flowers can be single, semidouble, or formal double, ranging in color from white to pink to deep red, with many hundreds of variations. Our problem in the Northwest is that the flowers can be blemished or ruined when they bloom in early spring. We have tried many forms of C. japonica over the years, but our climate is too cool, and the flowers are ruined most years by rain and cold weather. (OOOOOH, another reason I thought I didn’t like them. Wrong plant in the wrong place.) However, we really like some of the hardier species’ first-generation hybrids and Camellia x williamsii hybrids. Camellia includes an enormous range of...