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I have a membership to the Lan Su Chinese Classical Gardens. Of course, that means I hardly ever go–because, after all, I can go any time I like. It reminds me of a million years ago when I had a free season ski pass at Timberline on Mt. Hood. Megan‘s dad was a part time ski-instructor there, and it came with the territory.

It’s amazing I learned to ski at all considering how much time I dedicated to Blue Ox Bar in Timberline Lodge. Ai yi yi. Why must they waste youth on the young? Now that I know I’m mortal, I’m less inclined to take risks involving head and body trauma. I know, this is a pitiful picture of me below, but I’m just saying. (I hope you’re not weary of me mentioning this injury. It’s with me every day, and I’m always planning around limitations of headache and fatigue. Goldangit anyway.)

It’s been ages since I last skied. And even when I think of how much fun it might be, I consider the time, travel, and expense necessary to reach the slope’s edge–for that brief glorious run downhill. That’s a lot of lost gardening hours. (One little caveat: if anyone has a ski chalet and gear and champagne, I’d totally be up for a downhill weekend. )

Fabulous sights every which direction.
Fabulous sights every which way.

The other day, I was driving past the Chinese Garden, all by myself, and I thought, if there’s a parking place nearby, I’m stopping. Sure enough, no peanut gallery to object and a parking place right beside the garden.

Turns out, I didn’t have my pass with me–because I’d switched purses before leaving home. I always forget essentials when I switch handbags, but in my defense, the smaller bag is much better for waltzing around downtown hands-free.

Heavy bag and not heavy bag. (Craigslist finds. I still love handbags, but no longer justify the retail expense.)
Heavy bag and not heavy bag. (Craigslist finds. I love handbags, but can no longer rationalize the retail expense.)

The nice man at the entrance window was able to find me on the membership list and issue me a day pass.

Chinese New Year Decorations

The garden is decorated for Chinese New Year. I almost made the mistake of going on opening day. Saved by the Yard, Garden, and Patio show the same day–where I attended two seminars, one by Roger Gossler and another by Vanessa Gardner Nagel. Much better. In fact, Vanessa’s talk got me thinking about mass plantings and its importance in the garden. I knew that, because little Ms. Megan taught me ages ago. But in my zeal for every plant I see, I sometimes forget.

Chinese New Year Decor
Chinese New Year Decor

More big bold decorations.

All dressed up for Chinese New Year.
All dressed up for Chinese New Year.

Seems I’m off on a rambling tangent, so I believe it’s time to show you the money.

Aspidistra elatior / Cast Iron Plant
Aspidistra elatior I’m guessing. Cast Iron Plant is so good, whatever the variety.

Lan Su Groundcovers

Lan Su groundcovers are spectacular, and so many of them. I realized with all of these I may periodically conflate Ophiopogon and Liriope and Acorus–even Carex. Understandable, no? Is there a foolproof way to tell them apart, I mean, other than just knowing?

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigra' and Acorus?
Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ and Acorus?

Here’s a closeup. Does that make i.d. easier?

Mystery groundcover. Acorus or Carex maybe?
Mystery groundcover. Acorus or Carex maybe?

Knowing where to break up the mass planting appears to be an art. I have these plants, just not in this combination. Hmmmm.

combination of groundcovers with Farfugium japonicum 'Cristata'
Dynamite combination of groundcovers with Farfugium japonicum ‘Cristata’ (I think it’s ‘Cristata’.)

I have the tiny Mondo Grass too. I need to showcase it better. It looks great at the foot of surrounding shrubs.

Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus', a teeny weeny Mondo Grass.
Perchance Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nanus’, a teeny weeny Mondo Grass.

The red berries are no doubt a dead giveaway. I’m sure I’d have done a better job of looking for identities had I worn a warmer coat. Oh I have plenty of warm coats, but I didn’t have one with me. It was so much colder than it looked from inside. I have a great App for weather, but did I push the button? Noooooo.

Groundcover with red berries?
Groundcover with red berries? Update: per Ms. Amy Champion this is Rhodea japonica.

I know the identity of the plant below, I think. Iris confusa. Pretty sure.

Iris Confusa
I think this is Iris Confusa. I have this plant. It’s good.

Groundcovers are stars in their own right.

Epimedium and Carex
Epimedium and Carex (pretty sure.) Dynamite combo.

Glorious groundcovers every which way.

Carex? I love it, regardless of its name–though that make it hard to find.

Chinese Garden Shrubs

I did look up a couple times. I don’t have any Camellia in my yard, but this would be a dandy. I like its attitude. There’s an online guide to some of the garden’s plants, but not all the plants–at least not that I’ve discovered yet. I bet there is one out there.

Camellia transnokoensis
Camellia transnokoensis is lovely, with open undulating style.

This flowering Quince looked lovely with its supporting cast of mini Mondo Grass.

Flowering Quince
Flowering Quince. Love the color. Love the size.

Gorgeous Rhodie with Jasmine or Sarcococa and Bergenia.

This is how to showcase a Rhododendron.

What are some of you favorites for mass planting? I’m in the mood–and I’d be thrilled to employ your best ideas.