This is a fortuitous cross that resulted from a planting I made a few years ago. I’d planted Iris douglasiana and Iris x pacifica ‘Big Money’ near each other and found this offspring in-between! I dug this plant and divided it into 7 one gallon pots, passing some on.
One of my favorites I. x pacificas, ‘Pacific Rim’, a smaller statured hybrid growing in a partly shaded portion of my parking strip.
One of Xera’s Iris tenax ‘Watercolor’ series, I believe, blooming above the marina near Riverplace.
Tis the season…. it’s Fall, the rains have begun and the species pacific coast Irises’ roots are growing. This is the time to divide. I dug about half of a clump leaving the remainder undisturbed. I cleaned the soil away from the other portion wiggling, teasing, pulling, even cutting a few of the rhizomes, to separate them out into nice size starts. Continue reading →
This strip planting dominated by a Carex and a taller, 7′ or better, spine of the feathery Rhodocoma capensis from South Africa, rated at zn 8b. Mine, in my home garden, survived two nights down to 15ºF this last January with very little damage.
I don’t usually do this, write about a particular landscape with which I have no history, so this is a bit of a departure for me. I’ve know Sean Hogan for quite a few years, consider him a friend and a highly influential mentor of sorts. His encyclopedic knowledge of plants, his boundless enthusiasm, has been infectious and inspirational over much of my career as a horticulturist while I was working for Portland Parks and Recreation. I’ve benefited from the existence of his nursery and his commitment to horticulture picking his brain for plant and design suggestions as I attempted to broaden my own repertoire. Continue reading →
This little stucco house, in the Woodstock neighborhood, is one of Julie’s favorites. It sits on a little rise clothed in an unbroken sea of Juniperus sabina Tamariscifolia (?) punctuated with several Italian Cypress. This landscape has been here for decades and appears to be completely weed free. It’s xeric with enough density to choke out weedy interlopers. By not adding supplemental water many of our more common weeds are discouraged. Even if you wanted to apply a pre-emergent herbicide I don’t know if it could get to the soil. There is no way for anyone to enter this to remove volunteer Blackberries, Clematis, Canada Thistle or anything else for that matter. Junipers are strongly allelopathic containing chemicals in their shed foliage that build up in the organic layer on the soil surface discouraging successful weed germination. Many other plants including our West coast Manzanita are allelopathic as well and can be used similarly. Generally, allelopathic plants require several years to build up an effective layer of weed controlling old leaves to be effective, so our efforts will be necessary for some time. At minimum don’t remove this layer of old and decaying leaves! Junipers are also highly competitive in terms of their roots for water and nutrients. Do I recommend this landscape…not necessarily, as it provides little ‘useful’ space offering little more than a very ‘defensible’ border, though it does have its attraction. It provides shelter for some birds and critters, including rats, unfortunately, and fruit to those interested, while posing a minimal weed/seeding hazard to other landscapes. It is a very simple landscape.
We can do much better than we have been doing with our landscapes…we have to! It is incumbent upon each of us to grow our landscapes well, whatever they are, whatever they demand of us. Our inability or unwillingness to do this is symptomatic of a society today that doesn’t place priority and value on life, first! (If you are reading this, you probably aren’t part of this ‘we’.) The fact that we don’t have the time, resources or interest is indicative of how far out of balance our own lives are. This isn’t a new phenomenon. I don’t mean to shame or blame anyone here. Modern societies have long been out of step. We place a premium on our personal freedom, the idea that we have moved beyond nature, that technology will do for us whatever we need. Nature will keep ‘chugging’ on without us so that we can devote ourselves to our more personal goals…and so ‘nature’ has been left largely on its own as if what we do will have no significant or damaging effects…but that isn’t really the way it is. So, what do we do about that dead weedy lawn out front? Continue reading →
Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ and Delosperma cooper both ‘succulents’ that are well adapted to heat and though they do best with an occasional summer soaking.
Zauschneria (Epilobium) ‘Select Mattole’. All of these ‘California Fuchsia’ only come into bloom with the heat of summer and are not only tolerant of drought, but abhor regular summer irrigation.
Echium wildprettii. Heat is also not an issue for Echium spp. All of these are thickly haired their epidermis covered with trichomes. These same hairs likely lead to its winter moisture/rot problem as it slows the foliage’s drying.
Agave montana. This one has been very durable for me over the last 18? years. Like all Agave it wants winter/dry conditions, tough here, with occasional summer wet, which I provide with drip tubing.
Arctostaphylos auriculata ‘Knobcone Point’. After planting this out last summer and giving it supplemental water to establish, I was thinking that I was home free. It wintered well, or seemingly so, and then we began our normal summer dry season…. I watered it a little bit, left town for a week and came back to it drought stressed, remember the 102º day in June? I watered it more, not wanting to overdo it, was out of town again and, you’re looking at the result. This was planted from a larger, 3 gal pot, could this have been a factor? I have never plant larger plants like this in unamended heavy soil.
Dioon spinulosum, a Cycad from Oaxaca, Yucatan and Vera Cruz and is the largest growing in America. This plant is very heat tolerant and appreciates the occasional summer shower. Its ‘hard’ leaves help it conserve water. For a Cycad it is tolerant high humidity, but prefers some protection from the hottest afternoon sun. My plant, last year spent the summer protected from sun and the consequent softer growth then burned in the intense sun earlier this summer. This new growth, in center, will presumably be tougher as it is in nearly full sun.
This is typical of my Willamette Valley Latourelle Loam soil, even under mulch, drying and cracking wide open.
It’s Sunday, July 30, and 87º outside, our forecasted high. We’re at the front end of a forecast that is calling for two days over our record highest temperature ever recorded in Portland. I’m looking at it now, Monday, the 31st calls for 92º, August 1 for 99º, 108º, a record, on the 2nd, 110º, another record, on the 3rd, before ‘cooling’ to 105º on the 4th and 95º the next day. Our average high for this time of year is 82º. The current record is 107º set on Aug. 8, ’81 and matched on Aug. 10, ’81. That may not seem that high to people in the SW, but it is here and here is what matters. Temperature is a local phenomenon. It’s okay if we whine about it. It’s hotter than we’re used to. Hotter than what the local native flora and fauna are ‘used’ to. For native species it’s not just about preferences, though we may use that word when we talk about their requirements and limits. Continue reading →
I don’t know what this Bromeliad is, but it is statuesque, the inflorescence reaching well above my head. I took this shot next to Burl’s ‘chateau’ at Rare Plant Research just south of Oregon City. He moves a lot of tropical exotics in and out of his greenhouses every year. This is what a lot of people think of when they picture a Bromeliad.
I awaken and come down stairs at about 7:00 am…it’s a warm 66ºF outside. I was up late last night, until after 12:00 am, keeping the air flowing through downstairs in an attempt to cool the house. This is on the warm side for us here in the summer. On rare occasions our lows can drop to as high as the low 70’s…such temps tend to occur more frequently in more recent years when ‘heat lows’ settle in around us and we suffer through ‘heat alerts’, whenthe air stagnates and turns ‘brown’ and we can become caught in one of those cycles of days where our highs remain in the upper 90’s and low 100’s. Our all time record high of 107º, in August of 1981, was during such a cycle that I had the privilege of experiencing as I was here in Portland visiting a friend and attending my brother’s wedding. On the 6th it hit 99º. The high rose the next day to 102º, 105º on the 8th, 104º the next, 107º on the 10th, the humidity at 15%, then cooling to 97º on the 11th. I remember taking turns trying to cool ourselves, without any air conditioning, submerging in a tub of tepid bath water, Continue reading →
[Please note that I wrote this in 2004 as an article in the HPSO Bulletin. A recent FB posting has prompted me to revive/revise and repost it here.]
The emerging shoots are clothed in very colorful sheaths.
Phyllostachys spp. all have two branches at their nodes. I prune these off between 4′- 6′ up on the culm to better show them off, at the same time that I thin out the spindly and oldest, least colorful canes. This is done after the fragile new shoots have been hardened with silica and lignin.
These three are of Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’, a ‘reverse’ form of the Yellow Crook Stem Bamboo…reversed because in this form the sulcus, the groove, is green while the rest of the internode is yellow.
My first significant relationship with a bamboo,15 years ago, (this was the summer of ’89 when we moved into our current home) was a fatal one. Phyllostachys aurea, Golden Bamboo. I had heard all of the usual stories, yards lost, asphalt heaved and cracked, good neighbors gone bad. Our new house confronted me with several problems, that I knew would get worse if I put them off. It was another example of a homeowner picking the wrong plant for a screen, or failing to take the precautions to contain it. With my limited knowledge and biases I had no doubt about what I needed to do. I got my shovel and chased every rhizome down. I was thorough and a good hunter, none survived. Continue reading →
I use a lot of Monocots in my garden, among them in this picture are the Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ with its huge dark velvety heart shaped leaves, Arundo donax ‘Variegata’, the Giant Reed, whose clasping leaves show us that this is a grass not a bamboo and the white speckled, green, heart shaped leaves of my Zantedeschia x elliotiana ‘Flame’ just behind the reaching stem of Arundo.
Many gardeners are self taught and haven’t formally learned Botany, the science that helps us understand plants in a more formal, academic way, though they may be excellent ‘gardeners’ in terms of their growing of plants. Botany provides a pathway toward the understanding that many of us crave, that for others is an unwanted burden..they are happy with the doing. For them the task of learning botanical latin, binomial nomenclature and the classification system by which we organize and study the various species, understand their structure, development and common history…is of less interest. No doubt a good many fall somewhere in the middle. I have always been among the more curious ones with regards to this. Continue reading →