Public Portraits of Xeric Plantings at Riverplace and South Waterfront, part 1

Parks provide the perfect opportunity to showcase plants and to demonstrate their performance in the real world.  What I present here are portraits of plants I chose for two particularly difficult sites that would eventually serve as a base for a new xeric landscape.  The sites comprise two acres of bank plantings.  I posted a review of these last August.  While still relatively young some are beginning to approach more mature size.

Arctostaphylos pajaroense 'Warren Roberts' in the sharp light of the winter sun. An older larger specimen is planted at the Battleship Oregon Mast in Waterfront Park.

Arctostaphylos pajaroense ‘Warren Roberts’ in the sharp light of the winter sun. An older larger specimen is planted at the Battleship Oregon Mast in Waterfront Park.

Cistus pulverulentus 'Sunset' forms a long undulating mass just above the rip-rap. Two A. pajaroense 'Warren Roberts' hug them just upslope

Cistus pulverulentus ‘Sunset’ forms a long undulating mass just above the rip-rap. Two A. pajaroense ‘Warren Roberts’ hug them just upslope

Another Arbutus menziesii in the winter sun. Helictotrichon sempervirens, used extensively here in the earlier planting, lies beside it to the right. Younger Cistus 'Blanche' stand upright in the background as does the Bald Cypress that lost its crown in an earlier storm

Another Arbutus menziesii in the winter sun. Helictotrichon sempervirens, used extensively here in the earlier planting, lies beside it to the right. Younger Cistus ‘Blanche’ stand upright in the background as does the Bald Cypress one of which has lost its crown in an earlier storm

Ceanothus gloriosus 'Emily Brown' with its characteristic herringbone branching pattern. Festuca californica is poking up in and around it.

Ceanothus gloriosus ‘Emily Brown’ with its characteristic herringbone branching pattern. Festuca californica is poking up in and around it.

The Mexican Silver Oak, Quercus hypoleucoides here is tripled the growth of the other two planted between the marina and restaurant ramps. That's Cistus 'Blanche to the right.

The Mexican Silver Oak, Quercus hypoleucoides here has tripled the growth of the other two planted between the marina and restaurant ramps. That’s Cistus ‘Blanche to the right.

Caprenteria californica is spotted in here and there at the top of the bank along Riverplace and at the north end of South Waterfront like this one against the ramp

Caprenteria californica, California Bush Anemone, is spotted in here and there at the top of the bank along Riverplace and at the north end of South Waterfront like this one against the ramp.  All are protected from the full power of the sun.

Cistus x danseraue 'Jenkyn Place'. These are doing very well immediately above the rip-rap south of the restaurant ramp and by the north breakwater ramp

Cistus x dansereaui ‘Jenkyn Place’. These are doing very well immediately above the rip-rap south of the restaurant ramp and by the north breakwater ramp

A very nicely shaped Arbutus menziesii

A very nicely shaped Arbutus menziesii

Arctostaphylos x Pacific Mist. This bluish foliaged lanky sprawler heaps up on itself and is planted in several places at this end of South Waterfront

Arctostaphylos x Pacific Mist. This bluish foliaged lanky sprawler heaps up on itself and is planted in several places at this end of South Waterfront. Shy to flower for me, but nice anyway.  Last year’s growth of Zauschneria ‘Silver Select’ pokes up through it.

Halimium ocymoides. Another one of the Rock Roses. This one with a bright med. yellow flower

Halimium ocymoides. Another one of the Rock Roses. This one with a bright med. yellow flowers. Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths’ behind.

Muhlenbergia ringens a very sturdy drought tolerant bunch grass used in South Waterfront and at 5 Flags. A better performer than M. lindheimeri here

Muhlenbergia ringens a very sturdy drought tolerant bunch grass used in South Waterfront and at 5 Flags. A better performer than M. lindheimeri here

Carex tumulicola is used relatively extensively throughout South Watefront and Riverplace. Evergreen and drought tolerant though it looks its best with some water in high summer.

Carex tumulicola is used relatively extensively throughout South Watefront and Riverplace. Evergreen and drought tolerant though it looks its best with some water in high summer.  A seeder on these sites, but not problematic.

Grevillea Xera Ember. This are still doing well and are heavily budded.

Grevillea ‘Xera Ember’. These are still doing well and are heavily budded.

Hard to see but this is one of several Arctostaphylos rudis, all doing well

Hard to see but this is one of several Arctostaphylos rudis, all doing well

Look how happy he/she is...all of that new green growth last year. One of several Arbutus menziesii planted on this stretch of bank. The twiggy stuff is all from the original planting

Look how happy he/she is…all of that new green growth last year. One of several Arbutus menziesii planted on this stretch of bank. The twiggy stuff is all from the original planting

This is one of the Quercus kellogii on site. Apparently the most common native Oak on the West coast or so I read, Note the white paint

This is one of the Quercus kellogii on site. Apparently the most common native Oak on the West coast or so I read, Note the white paint

There are a couple of Quercus douglasii, Blue Oak, as well

There are a couple of Quercus douglasii, Blue Oak, as well

This double Quercus garryana has been here a good 10 years plus. The white paint at its base is the kiss of death. NNG and its easement across the park

This double trunked Quercus garryana has been here a good 10 years plus. The white paint at its base is the kiss of death. It is growing within the NNG easement across the park

Arctostaphylos x Harmony. Some of these got hammered by Northwest Natural when they were in here working. Tough site. The Horsetail keeps trying to expand aided by runoff from the turf sprinklers. That's a volunteer Thuja in the background.

Arctostaphylos x Harmony. Some of these got hammered by Northwest Natural when they were in here working. Tough site. The Horsetail keeps trying to expand aided by runoff from the turf sprinklers. That’s a volunteer Thuja in the background and a small planted Garry Oak just to its left.

Not much to look at...nice curve in that stick! This is Aesculus californica. There are a few of these small Buckeyes down by the Marquam (another is doing well at Tanner Springs)

Not much to look at…nice curve in that stick! This is Aesculus californica. There are a few of these small Buckeyes down by the Marquam (another is doing well at Tanner Springs). One of the Cork Oak in the near background.

Feeling a little Spanish here! This is Quercus suber, the Cork Oak of Spain. There's three of these. Watch and learn.

Feeling a little Spanish here! This is Quercus suber, the Cork Oak of Spain. There’s three of these. Watch and learn. Planted in a sweep of more of the aggressive Panicum virgatum.

Another Arbutus x Marina. Might as well leave it to see what happens!!!

I probably wouldn’t do these again, Arbutus x Marina. A hybrid popular in San Francisco bit too tender here. One died. This and the other one have been hammered a couple of times. I thought of trying it because it is purported to grow faster than our native Madrone and are quicker to establish.

Romneya coulterii. This is what they do...either die or try to tack over their piece of the world. Right at the top of the bank against the south overlook.

Romneya coulterii. This is what they do…either die or try to take over their piece of the world. Right at the top of the bank against the south overlook.

Garrya elliptica 'Evie'. Finally after being abused, transplanted, broken down and eventually left alone it is happy with catkins elongating nicely!

Garrya elliptica ‘Evie’. Finally after being abused, transplanted, broken down and eventually left alone it is happy with catkins elongating nicely! Planted next to the south overlook with some protection by a grove of Red Alder.

One of the newer Quercus wisleznii I planted here at South Waterfront. Looking good.

One of the newer Quercus wislizenii I planted here at South Waterfront. Looking good. River, Snowberry with the party crasher Blackberry, Calmagrostis Karl Foerster and a perpetually stressed out Spiarea japonica ‘Crispa’

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Eldorado'. I think there are two more of these up at Riverplace. This is the oldest and largest 8'x8' or so.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Eldorado’. There are two more of these up at Riverplace. This is the oldest and largest 8’x8′ or so. It’s growing in a variable stand of Symphoicarpos albus with Panicum virgatum ‘bleeding in’. Out damn spot!

Aributus arizonica. I only planted four. Two died this last summer, their second. I Guess they just couldn't get their roots out far enough. (No irrigation at all. Fall planted.) This one looks like it was physically assualted and then left to grow on an angle, then 'straightened'.

Aributus arizonica. I only planted four. Two died this last summer, their second. I Guess they just couldn’t get their roots out far enough. (No irrigation at all. Fall planted.) This one looks like it was physically assualted and then left to grow on an angle, then ‘straightened’.

This is the bottom of a loose sweep of Arctostaphylos x Austin Griffiths angling up the bank. These are all in the 7'+or- tall range.

This is the bottom of a loose sweep of Arctostaphylos x Austin Griffiths angling up the bank. These are all in the 7’+or- tall range and heavily budded in mid-January.  Here the dormant grass is Miscanthus sinensis purpureus which struggles without irrigation.  Brome and Canada Thistle are an increasing problem in this stretch.

Somewhere down there is a Fremontodendron used and abused but still trying in its third winter. Note the undulating soft lobes.

Somewhere down there is a Fremontodendron used and abused but still trying in its third winter. Note the undulating soft lobes.  Don’t look for it yet…it’s mid-way down the bank.

Rhamnus californica. These are scattered the length of the bank from the Marquam Bridge north to the overlook at 5 Flags. They're all alive, but their performance is variable.

Rhamnus californica. These are scattered the length of the bank from the Marquam Bridge north to the overlook at 5 Flags. They’re all alive, but their performance is variable.  This one’s doing well. The cut back dormant grass is Panicum virgatum….Please don’t plant large masses of this.  It can seed and spread aggressively.  It was another reason for the xeric overhaul of the landscape.  It has been gradually reduced with a goal of elimination.  In the background is a sprinkler on a short riser.  These were used during establishment and for a few years longer until it was realized that their continued use was creating more difficult maintenance issues.  You can see them in several of the other photos.

Garrya x issaquahensis (Pat Ballard I think) still small and looks like its been kicked/ stepped a couple of times, but the foliage looks good

Garrya x issaquahensis ‘Glasnevin Wine’, still small and looks like its been kicked/ stepped on a couple of times, but the foliage looks good

Calycanthus occidentalis. There are three in this general area, all now of blooming size.

Calycanthus occidentalis. There are three in this general area, just east of the garden, all now of blooming size.

Quercus garryana, planted several years ago still has a fairly short scratchy winter silhouette.

Quercus garryana, planted several years ago still has a fairly short scratchy winter silhouette.  These have been variable, all different rates of slow, and the largest was destroyed several times by a determined beaver.

The rounded mounds are Cistus obtusifolius with their tight habit. No shearing necessary. The lower gray plant is Halimium ocymoides and the 'sticky' looking space in the foreground will fill in this spring with the resurging Zauschneria 'Silver Select'

The rounded mounds are Cistus obtusifolius with their tight habit. No shearing necessary. The lower gray plant is Halimium ocymoides and the ‘sticky’ looking space in the foreground will fill in this spring with the resurging Zauschneria ‘Silver Select’

Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonomensis

Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonomensis. This is a glaucus sweetheart!  Fairly slow.  One of them got stomped…public Park with uncontrolled access!  The once ubiquitous Blue Oat Grass now vastly reduced due to rot problems here due to soil conditions and previous irrigation practice (Incompatible plants with differing water requirements in original design.)

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