This spring’s most requested plants

This spring’s most requested plants

Geez Louise, the first half of April has been a blur. Time flies when you’re spring planting. The Portland forecast has temperatures in the 80s this week. Too soon! The cooler, rainier days have been perfect for transplanting, weeding, and watering in new seedlings, but today’s our last day with rain, then the temperature climbs daily, from 51 today, to 82 on Monday. I’ve got about 20 plants waiting to get into the ground, but hot sunny days ahead means it’s go time, before all those little nursery pots need a bunch of babysitting and watering. Can you hear the second hand ticking louder by the second? As much as I’d love to spend the whole day gardening, there’s work to be done. We’ve been quite busy adding plants and nurseries to the site. We are slowly but surely sneaking up on 30,000 plants in our database. We’ll have to have a little celebration when we hit that number. Phew. It’s fun to see what plants are topping the charts on plant lust searches, especially this time of year when people are shopping and planting like mad. I’m happy to see a lot of drought-tolerant plants in the mix, especially in California. I’m always surprised to read about how many lawns there still are in California, since they can grow such amazing drought tolerant stuff that’s way more interesting than turf. Top 10 plant searches of 2015 1. Myrica californica (California Wax Myrtle) Photo by Native Sons The highlights: West coast native Zones 7-10 15′- 25′ tall Drought tolerant Adaptable to different soil types Fragrant Evergreen Yellow flowers Black Fruit...
Goodbye, winter

Goodbye, winter

Huge sigh of relief, we have arrived at spring. There will be plenty of time for celebrating the obvious beauty of the season headed our way. But now that winter is officially behind us, I want to take a moment to appreciate the plants that provided bright spots in winter’s final month. I love this garden-obsessed city. I’m so grateful to have neighbors with such showy winter plants in front yards were we can all enjoy them. And now that planting season is upon us, don’t forget to think about the stuff that makes you happy in the grey months so you have plenty of eye candy next time winter rolls around. One reason to welcome the cold weather is that it turns Chief Joseph Pine to gold. They were super hard to find a few years ago, and expensive. Now they’re much easier to find, but are still one of the pricier plants in the nursery. Which can be a problem if you have the desperately-want-the-plant-you-cannot-have disease. Thanks to this gardener planting his on the hell strip so we can share the view. And now that the weather’s warming up, it’ll fade back to green until next year. Edgeworthia’s huge bright flowers call from blocks away. The flowers glow like lightbulbs when the sun hits them. If you, like me, are completely without Edgworthias, this is a wrong we need to right this spring. Which one to get? One of the yellow varieties, like Edgeworthia papyrifera? Then again the orange Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’ is a good one, and orange flowers are more uncommon in winter than the yellow....
Yellow echo

Yellow echo

One way to make a garden look pulled together is by echoing colors. Take this inspired work in progress. Forgive the current state of the ground. Despite the forecast, it’s still winter for a couple more days. Clearly they’ve got plans. And a fab sense of color. While the plants are sleeping, they’ve always got their doors and bird feeder to keep things looking alive. Even more impressive, the theme carries over to the neighbors’ houses and gardens. The yellow magnolia belongs to a matched set planted in the neighbors’ hellstrip. The house on the other side is all out yellow. It’s too perfect to be coincidence, isn’t it? Those are some good neighbors. The magnolias are newly planted and still wearing their tags. This gorgeous flower belongs to a young Magnolia ‘Butterflies’. Of course all yellow magnolias are dreamy. Can we just admire the bold color choice for a minute? Something good must be planned for these new house hugging raised planters. Definitely one to watch this...
I’ve got a bad case of magnolia lust

I’ve got a bad case of magnolia lust

Magnolias are a romantic bunch, thought of like southern belles with a blousy bloom, a fleeting moment of floral perfection. Whenever I confess to love them madly, I’m met with a questioning glance. This does not equate. She of the spikes, desert plants and love of foliage…magnolias? Yes! If I had acreage I would plant multiples of all my favorites, the ones I know now and ones I’ve yet to discover. Naturally my first magnolia crush was on Magnolia grandiflora, could there be a better way to start? A grand old tree grew just outside my apartment on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. I must admit (although I’m not proud of this) a few blooms came inside to grace my bedside table. Fallen leaves became material for Christmas garlands and many wreaths. As luck would have it (because I’m not smart enough to have planned it) the very first thing I planted in my current garden was a magnolia, and not just any magnolia but one with huge leaves, M. macrophylla… Had I known then what I know now I probably would have gone for the smaller Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei, that Patricia praised a couple weeks back. Hers should top out at 30 ft tall, whereas mine could hit 50 (yikes!). The leaves are 2-3 ft long and the flowers measure 1½ ft across, they do smell wonderful but they’re so high up it’s rare to notice much of a fragrance. I like that it holds off on flowering until mid-May into June, when I’m typically spending more time in the garden where I can really enjoy them. Everything about this tree...
Dwarf Bigleaf Magnolia: One Sweet Tree

Dwarf Bigleaf Magnolia: One Sweet Tree

It’s hard to imagine there was a time I didn’t lust for specific trees. Not that far back, I could identify maples and conifers, and that’s about it. Now my list explodes with possibility. If you love tropical-looking, big gorgeous fragrant flowers, and quick gratification–Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei is just the tree for you. I found my at Cistus Nursery, and though it’s been in a pot for the past two years–awaiting placement in our new garden at Flamingo Park–it bloomed its wee heart this past season.     And the Ashe Magnolia plays well with other tropicals. I consider most of these annuals, though, I do overwinter the banana, because it’s super easy. (Shake off dirt. Wrap in newspaper. Throw in basement.)     I’ve had such a hard time deciding where to site my Ashe Magnolia, because I want to be able see it as often as possible. Before we settled keeping the apple tree, I’d planned to put it where that tree now casts a shadow, near the patio. Instead, it’s replacing of an old overgrown–and not in a good way–Rhododendron just outside the patio fence. The Rhodie came out via the tree dudes last summer, but they’d left the stump. Enter team men with mallet and pick ax.     Now I’ll be able to see my lovely big-leaf beauty from kitchen and patio–with a bonus of making it visible to my new neighbors. I can’t wait until they trust me enough to accept my guerilla gardening ways.     Cheers  ...