my kingdom for a tree, or two…

my kingdom for a tree, or two…

Do you count losses from pesky winter weather as opportunity? That’s the path I’m taking. This small tree/large shrub for instance. Do you think it’s a sign that I can never remember its name? Oleander? No, that’s not right. It has Rosemary-like foliage. It’s from New Zealand, and I bought it at Xera Nursery. I transplanted it from my Alameda garden. But I have a devil of a time remembering the genus.

I can't remember what it is. But dead now.

I can’t remember its name. Headed for the compost bin.

This poor plant was almost out of the ground after the snow and wind and ice. Now as I look at the picture, I see traces of green. Maybe it would have recovered. It was fine, but no love affair here. And there are so many other good contenders. By all means, register your opinions.

Chionanthus virginicus aka White Fringe Tree.

Chionanthus virginicus aka White Fringe Tree. photo by plant lust friend extraordinaire, Karl Gercens III

This tree has been talking to me for a while. It would be lovely in the back fence garden. That’s where the un-named tree met its demise, right there beside the Fatsia japonica.

This side of the fence faces north.

This side of the fence faces north.

That other spindly plant still there. Hmmm. I thinks it’s a Pacific Northwest native that I’ve moved several times. Red Flowering Currant, maybe. Poor thing. I need to find it a permanent location, or…

Right now it looks like there’s plenty of space in the beds, but you know how it goes.

Not much space when the plants grow. I hope they're still under there.

Not much space when the plants grow. I hope they’re still under there.

But back to the Fringe Tree.

Chionanthus virginicus bloom. Photo again by Karl Gercens III.

Chionanthus virginicus bloom. Photo again by Karl Gercens III.

Look at those silky flowers, and fruit for the birdies in the fall. Oh my.

Chionanthus virginicus fruit -- photo by Kristin Paulus

Chionanthus virginicus fruit — photo by Kristin Paulus

Another large shrub or small tree that’s been on my lust list is Heptacodium miconioides aka Seven Son Flower. I saw this tree at Treephoria–a boutique tree nursery in Boring, Oregon–and was smitten at first sight. It has year-round interest–textured dark foliage, fragrant white flowers in summer, followed by equally attractive red sepals that persist until frost, and exfoliating bark. Pretty terrific, no?

Heptacodium miconioides aka Seven Son Flower. Cherry red sepals in fall.

Heptacodium miconioides aka Seven Son Flower. Cherry red sepals in fall.

Not to mention, the last line about Seven Son Flower in the Missouri Botanical Gardens description, “Good Source of nectar for butterflies in the fall.” Perfect.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Cole's Select'

Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Cole’s Select’

Amelanchier  x grandiflora ‘Cole’s Select’ has been on my lust list for ages. I saw a picture of it in a gardening book years ago, but I’m likewise challenged to remember the book title. Occasionally, I’ll come across it and think, oh, that’s right. I’ll remember that. But, no, I won’t. I do recall where I last saw the book–at my friend Cathi’s house. I was by her place a couple days ago, but she’s in the middle of a kitchen remodel. I did not find the book.

Book with the photo of Amelanchier is in here somewhere.

Book with the photo of Amelanchier in there somewhere.

I’ve read that Amelanchier has some issues. Missouri Botanical Garden says “None serious,” just rust, leaf blight, leaf miner, powdery mildew. Sounds kind of serious to me, but is it enough to keep it off the lust list? I’m a piker when it comes to dealing with plant problems–and would make a good Queen of Hearts.

Off With Their Heads!

Off With Their Heads!

Also Embothrium coccineum aka Chilean Fire Bush. In truth, I’ve killed two so far. But I really want to be successful with this one. Hummingbirds go crazy for it. Should I give it one more try, or have the tree gods spoken?

Chilean Flame Tree, photo by Karl Gercens III

Chilean Flame Tree, photo by Karl Gercens III

So a theme is developing. I want backyard borders with trees and shrubs to support birds and butterflies, and bees and other beneficial insects. And I want it to feel a little like paradise. That’s not asking too much, is it?

I’ve been studying, but you know the drill–if you’ve got a brain that played “Dictionary” as a kid. You look up a word, and then look up a word from its description, and on and on. That’s akin to how I research trees. And shrubs. And perennials. Etcetera.

I hear people say they’re on the hunt for this particular plant or that, and I’m so envious. How do they keep track? I have a general rolodex in my head, and lists galore, but I’m such a cheap date. Any plant can turn my head. If I ever get my garden to the point where I’m not reworking the whole thing, it will be a miracle.

Mother Nature intervenes in best laid plans.

Mother Nature intervenes in best laid plans.

Then the question of mother nature intervening, well, that’s a whole horse of another color.

Naomi! This horse is available for adoption from the Oregon Human Society.

Naomi, a 14.2 hand Appaloosa cross mare! This horse is available for adoption from the Oregon Human Society.

Cheers

  • Ooh, I like that Embothrium idea very much. And that Appaloosa mare. Both seem like fine additions, if only I had more sun and space.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      I asked Bill if it would be okay to add the horse to the back yard. Isn’t she a beauty. There was a time…

  • Loree

    I’m here to second the Embothrium. My first one died, after a year in the ground and no growth to speak of. My second took off like a weed and hasn’t looked back. I noticed little green buds yesterday. Plus if you go the cramscaping route like me it doesn’t seem to mind. Instead growing rather columnar in shape.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      I saw one of your great photos on plant lust. And told myself to remember to visit when it blooms. Drove by yesterday, but both cars in the driveway–so didn’t stop. Rare quality time? I do mean to cramscape, but think you’ve perfected the technique more than I have. And you remember what’s in your garden where.

      • Loree

        You’re welcome here anytime, but there isn’t really anything to see on the tree quite yet. Small green leaf buds (so I know it’s alive!) but that’s about it.

  • Tim Vojt

    You’ve definitely got options that I don’t have. That Embothrium looks dreamy. I’ve run out of room for trees, so I’m a little jealous. I’m rather enchanted with the multi-season interest of Cornus kousa and the hybrids. They flower after the florida dogwoods, and now come in colors other than white. Some have great variegated leaves. they have nice fall color. As they get older, they have great, exfoliating bark. Mine is just starting to peel. And then there are the pendant, Christmas-ornament like fruit in late summer. Probably not the best tree for pollinators and birds, though.
    I had no idea Chionanthus made fruit. Cool.
    I keep a list of lust on my phone, as well as a list of purchases by season and year. It’s not the most sophisticated system, but it sure helps me to remember names and just what it was I was dying to have!

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      I feel a little guilty posting about things you can’t grow. Gossler’s description on Chilean Flame tree says, “Don’t try growing east of the Cascades as literally no one can grow it there!”

      I’m kind of out of room too–thinking about another island bed. And I’m seriously lacking in conifers. It’s getting crowded back there, so I’m eyeing my neighbors’ yards.

      I know I should keep a list on my phone–but I kind of just use the on/off and volume buttons. I’m a great disappointment to my tech savvy kids. But then, they don’t need glasses—yet…

      Cheers, Tim.

      • Tim Vojt

        No guilt necessary about zone envy on my part.
        I’ve tried to add more conifers. I’ve actually considered channeling the queen-oh-hearts on a nondescript mugo pine if I can find a nice, reasonably priced Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro.’ Have never seen one locally.

        • Patricia L Cunningham

          Thank you, Tim. Though the guilt thing comes with the growing up Catholic. I saw a guy at the store yesterday with an ash cross on his forehead. I haven’t gotten an official post from the Pope, but definitely doubt I’m a member in good standing. That guy’s cross was the best Ash Wednesday smudge I’d ever seen. I told him it made me want to run church and get one for myself.

          • Tim Vojt

            My daughters went to Catholic High School and somehow the guilt-thing did not take.
            Pity. I could take advantage of that.
            🙂

  • Alison

    I had great luck with my second Embothrium too. It even bent all the way to the ground with our snow and has bounced back. I realized reading your post that I am very “Queen of Hearts” at heart when it comes to plants too.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      So happy to see you hear Alison. I honor your FB decision and wish I were more like you. I didn’t use to be all “Queen of Hearts”, but I’m working on it. I’ve learned from the best.

  • Alyson CooperWilliams

    I too love to plant for my local wildlife (the desired ones anyway) and I use a lot of natives. Problem is that so many natives are attractive for a short period of time and then can get a rangy look. I save those for my ‘wild garden’ that is not in close proximity to the house. One smallish tree that Darcy Daniels got me drooling over is Stewartia monodelpha. Gossler Farms carries it and I’m gonna get me some.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Isn’t it amazing how there is always more to learn, and ways to consider the garden. I don’t know how I didn’t have my radar more attuned to planting for wildlife. I think I’ve had that notion in the back of my head that natives sometimes don’t have the “look” I’m after. But you’re right, putting it off somewhere not in immediate eyesight is a good plan. Cheers

  • ricki grady

    You know what “they” say: third time’s the charm. I say “go for it”.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Okay. I’ll do it. Because you said so. And I know you know stuff. Cheers

  • Anna K

    From one cheap date to another – I’d say try that Chilean Flame Tree again. It’s too cool to give up on. 🙂