August’s Last Hurrah

August’s Last Hurrah

I’ve been holding out for rain, garden on pause. Avoiding the temptation of nursery visits. Averting my eyes to avoid confronting the sight of plants unquenched from my unreliable hose offerings. The weeds, they’ll have to stay until the soil more willingly releases them. Could it be, the wait is finally over? Do I fall for the meteorologists’s sweet lies this time? The promise of precipitation? The return of workable soil, hospitable to new nursery spoils? Even though there remains another week of our typically hot, dry August to endure enjoy? Might our hottest, driest summer ever be prepared to yield, even briefly, to warm rains? The red banana, formerly thriving in my humble plot, collapsed under its own weight a couple weeks ago. My sentiments exactly. The Echium (piniana perhaps?) is oblivious to, or rather appreciative of, the unrelenting stretch of hot, dry days that have stretched into weeks and months. An impressive performance from a plant that was transplanted from its original in-ground home in the heat of summer last year, spending the winter sulky in a nursery pot, shuttled in and out of the cold. In my garden, Echiums prove triennial not biennial. At first spectacular rosettes, if the weather gods dictate they don’t see next spring, they’re still a worthy annual. Assuming winter does not send them early to their grave, the second year, they start to trunk. The third year, knock on wood, they rise into a Seussian flower tower, setting seed before the end. Two years ago, an echium set seed in the hell strip. Last year, a fabulous drift of babies emerged,...
Don’t like this peony? Wait 5 minutes.

Don’t like this peony? Wait 5 minutes.

I bought a peony at a plant sale where it was labeled “Woodland Peony.” That should mean it is Paeonia obovata, although I tend not to 100% trust plant labels that don’t include a latin name. I can’t speak for all P. obovata since I just have the one, but this plant reinvents itself more than any other plant I’ve ever known. I chose P. obovata because it grows in a semi-shady woodland setting, and because it allegedly has single creamy flowers. An unassuming mild mannered plant that fits in nicely with the surrounding plants in shades of green, gold, and white. But this plant does not bloom whatever color The Man says it should bloom. It does whatever it pleases, and reserves the right to change its mind day to day. The first buds of 2015 arrived, and it appeared this would be a year of white flowers with pink edges. The flowers opened to an alternating pink and white. Not white, like I had planned, but not quite as intense as some of the previous years. Notice the petal shape, smooth and round. Not to be confined to a single flower style, some of the flowers had fringed petals instead. The flower color mellowed with time. Older flowers lightened up, and newer flowers emerged with less pink striping. Toward the end of the bloom season, cream buds began to appear, instead of the two-toned pink variety. For the final week of the flower show, the whole plant had the white flowers I’d originally thought I was getting when I planted it. I love the leaves of this...
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....