Sunday, May 30, 2010

The funky things plants do

Finally, I've had some time to look at the garden with an eagle eye and this immediately caught my attention:

This is Osmanthus x fortunei, one of my favorite broad-leaf evergreen shrubs. This is one of 4 rooted cuttings I purchased from the Pat Calvert Greenhouse at the Washington Park Arboretum a few years ago and it's been my assumption that it just isn't large enough to flower until a few seasons ago, I began to notice this odd occurrence where new growth develops to form what look like petals instead of new leaves.

Osmanthus x fortunei mutation A Osmanthus x fortunei mutation

Upon closer inspection with my nose, that characteristic apricot scent was present! Typically, Osmanthus flowers are somewhat axillary with the small flowers closely held to the stem and this particular variety (with fragans in its background) blooms in the autumn.

So, this is at least the third year I've noticed this and I'm anxious to see if it will continue to do this as the plant matures.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Landscape Install Update: Bellevue Residence with CEM Designs

Oh, I'm absolutely pleased with how things have established and grown since last fall's installation at this Bellevue residence.

Recall the "collaborative efforts" I posted last fall when I worked with Clayton Morgan at CEM Design.

1. Original site and demo
2. Post intial planting

And here it about 7 months later:

Main Street View

Street View of Rockery

Stone Path Stree View

I guess what has made this project exciting is the fact that almost all the plant materials, including two rare woodland perennials have thrived and will offer flowers this first year in their Himalayan themed landscape.

Main view of focal plantings

Cardiocrinum giganteum late May Meconopsis portrait
Here's the stately Giant Himalayan lily (Cardiocrinum gigatneum) and the delicately elegant and rare Blue Poppy (Meconopsis baileyi)

I did a site visit with Clayton recently and he showed me how to operate the irrigation system. I hope he's proud of this project. It just needs to fill in a little more, but most imporantly, the clients are VERY pleased!

I'm drafting a profile on Clayton very soon so people get to know him and more of this work.


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Overwhelmed Gardener. Part 3: Coping with it all

Oh just shoot me already, PLEASE! lol......Ok, I'm being overly dramatic.

I should be used to this: It's the height of spring approaching summer and the amount of work in the landscape piles up mercifully and it gets harder and harder to stay on top of anything. Feeling like you've accomplished something arduous and physically and mentally draining only to learn that you've barely dug the hole or if the the hole's been dug, there's no freakin' way that plant is going in there because any wrong move will be severely scrutinized by someone in the know.

I hate to be so overly critical of my work, but I often let it get to me and, recently, I was scolding myself for not doing ANYTHING right. I would scream at myself for forgetting little things and constantly blaming myself for not getting things done the way I had intended both at my work sites and in my own garden.

Stress? I guess. I know there are more stressful jobs out there and I really shouldn't be complaining, but managing time seems to get harder and harder for me. I already struggle with getting enough sleep and with all sorts of projects, events, commitments, and attempts at a social life, it often gets to me.

As you know, I met a man named Pearl a few weeks back and was reminded of something very important: "Create a garden that is exclusively yours; you do it the way you want to do it in your own time without worrying about what other people might think and take the time to be proud of what you've done. You garden for yourself"

Riz with Pearl Fryar

These are words I've definitely heard before; someone without horticultural training might be able to get away with this, but I often feel the pressure at times and in some ways, I've been so afraid to work in my garden because of this standard I have set for myself and in other gardens and feeling like it could NEVER be of that caliber. Now, I feel like it has gotten away from me...

i have a three day weekend to rediscover my vision and feel alive in my garden once again.

Wish me luck,


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Hyde Herbarium celebrates it 20000th accession into its collection at UW Botanic Gardens! A gorgeous specimen of Cornus kousa collected from the Hyde Garden by Prof. Sarah Reichard and former herbarium manager, Wendy DesCamp.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Putting the Garden in the Playgarden!

It's taken me awhile to post this because I'm getting constant reminders about this event from all my peers and I really wanted to be sure that I only post events I, personally, care about and aim to fully support.

My friend, colleague, and garden/container design extraordinaire, Wendy Welch, introduced me to this project a few months ago and explained her involvement with the Seattle Children's Playgarden. Being developed in a neighborhood that hasn't always had the best reputation, I was amazed at the progress they've made in developing a space where children can feel safe and engaged with the multitude of potential activities the garden will offer.

Now, in encouraging the next generation of gardeners, this is definitely a great place to get them started or at the very least, peak their interest so their awareness of the community and environment is nurtured properly. For this very reason, I feel like I have to offer my support and contribute somehow.

On May 22nd, they are holding an auction to help raise money for the garden. I was asked to design two small container plantings and a selection of VERY RARE PLANTS from my nursery to be auctioned off that night. I hope people take notice, place a high bid on the wonderful items they're offering, such as:

* Lunch with renowned plant explorer, Dan Hinkley, at his garden, Windcliff.
* Wine with Ciscoe in his garden along with a tour of his plant collection.
* A chicken coop with chicks — and an expert to help
* Pots designed by Seattle’s hottest garden designers (including Wendy and moi!)
* Spas — Restaurants — Events for kids
* Private flight to Vashon Island for wine tasting

See, there's lots of wine involved. You should totally go! heehehe

Visit the Seattle Children's Playgarden website for way more information and details about the auction.

I sincerely hope they get enough attendees for the auction. It's $65 a pop and money's really tight for most everyone. They have about 70 people signed up to attended, but their goal was 150. Now, they're aiming for at least 100 people to attend.

Visit their website to find out more about the auction and the garden itself and please find a way to make a contribution! It just feels good knowing that the next generations of gardeners have a solid foundation and they have you to thank.

"Hardy" Schefflera taiwaniana found at local nursery

Ok, so Zone 8 isn't quite hardy, but there's been so much hype amongst avid gardeners here about when Monrovia will release these GORGEOUS Scheffies from Dan Hinkley, who grows it up against his house and it comes back each year in his Puget Sound garden called Windcliff in Indianola, WA.

Whoa! Hardy Schefflera released from Monrovia and found at local nursery.

Bioblitz comes to Arboretum!!

Plants just make up a small portion of the biodiversity that exists in making our environment so special and much beloved by everyone. We've got birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, etc. and we often take for granted just how much is out there all working to survive in this delicate balance we call life.

2010 has been selected to be the year of biodiversity all across the globe and a campaign referred to as a "Biolitz" aims to catalog this biodiversity in the hopes that people become more aware of their surroundings and persuade decision makers about how they should approach projects, infrastructure, and make them all understand the environmental impacts.

Photo from UW Botanic Gardens

I think this is a tremendous opportunity for the community to volunteer and know that they took part in a worldwide project that could help preserve our beautiful surroundings.

Find out how to sign up and get more information here!

They are desperately seeking volunteers for this event so spread the word and do something unique, different and probably a whole lot of fun!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Peony A-Rockin'

There's something about the simplicity in color and form of Joseph Rock's peony (Paeonia rockii) that takes my breath away ever since I saw it in person at a friend's garden. Not only were the flowers striking, the scent was most alluring.

Hoping to one day own a plant of my own, I couldn't afford to spend $150 dollars for a plant for myself (I still can't!). But after hours of searching online, most companies offering "Ziban Mudan" were Chinese exporters who offered them in large commercial quantities. I found a plant for $100 dollars a few years back and actually caved and bought it. It produced mediocre flowers and it seemed to get hit by botrytis quite readily and it is currently struggling.

Here's one of its better moments. The flowers were huge, semi-double, nicely scented, but shattered immediately after it fully opened.

Paeonia rockii bloom

I stumbled across a source in Lithuania, of all places, that offered mature seed-grown plants so I decided to give it a try. Several years later, they are my surviving specimens planted in a not so ideal location (under a white pine in dry shade and bloom reliably each year.

I'm particularly fond of this year's crop that just started blooming with just a few more buds to go!

Paeonia rockii habit

Paeonia rockii pair

And here is one blossom just nearing its end...

Paeonia rockii fully open flare

There are many hybrids and color forms of Paeonia rockii available on the market (most of them coming in from mainland China).

There are some hybrids and forms that are just truly out of this world. Photos from

This one is called 'Great Achievement' (Feng Gong Wei Ji).

Just love the name of this one 'Xue Shan Hudie', translating to "Butterfly in Snow-Capped Mountain"

A crazy double called 'E Luo Si'

Dubbed as 'Wei Zi Jin Huan' or "Purplish Gold Wreath".

With these exquisite forms and poetic names, they are very irresistible, but I'll always be fond of the plain white selection.

Riz with Paeonia rockii

Growing tree peonies in general can be quite a challenge for the inexperienced gardener because it takes years for them to grow and fully establish in the garden. They often arrive in the fall as thin dead sticks and it takes awhile before they leaf out and flower the following spring. Some even don't flower until after a few years.

They need full sun, but have tolerated part shade. The prefer moderately moist, but well-drained soil and an area where it doesn't get too windy yet provides good air-circulation.



Impulse Buy: Polygonatum odoratum 'Jeweled Dragon'

I figured I'd start a series where I'd profile a plant I purchase for me, myself, and I. So often times I visit nurseries to buy plants for clients and as tempted as I am to get something for myself while I'm there, I've learned to restrain myself. Even during plant sales lately, I keep getting asked, "WHERE'S YOUR BOX?"!!

I think I've just learned to be honest with myself and my current situation with my garden. Until I get the new driveway and redesign done, I really don't need anything new besides a few specimen trees and perhaps a few mature shrubs as "bones" in my new landscape, but after years of looking at plants and admiring the rare and unusual, I know something special when I see it and this past week, it was this gem:

Polygonatum odoratum 'Jeweled Dragon'

I tried to find out more about this variegated Solomon's Seal, but, of course, many retail nurseries do not like to release where their material comes from. I know I saw a similar plant at Windcliff and a Japanese selection offered by Asiatica Nursery called 'Koryu'.

So, one may ask: What's so special about this plant?

Here's the run-down:

1)To most people, the subtle white streaks on the ridges of a rugose midvein might not seem all that significant, but the textural interest makes this plant unique and one of a kind.


2)I paid $20 for this small plant, while Asiatica wants $44.00 for a 3.5 inch pot. So yeah, if I can bulk it up, it could be quite profitable (if there's enough interest in it)

3)Not many people will want to spend that much on a small perennial like this so the likelihood of having something that very few gardeners have is a plus on my book. And if it proves to be as vigorous as the straight species, that's an added bonus!

What do you think? Worth it? Waste of hard-earned money? Find receipt and return it?


Friday, May 7, 2010

The first blossom of Meconopsis in the Himalayan landscape installed last fall for a client in Bellevue, WA.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A musical tribute to AGAVE!

Oh my. Is this what I'm in store for at next month's Hardy Plant Study Weekend or is this exclusively an Oregon thing?? haha

What a fun time! I'd lean more towards having a real live band, but this was pretty cute:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meeting "A Man Named Pearl"

My co-worker told me about this documentary awhile back. I haven't had time to check it out, but these past few weeks, this title began to surface and it came up during a chat amongst gardening friends. Then I got an email reminder about Northwest Horticultural Society's lecture series and realized that Pear Fryar was our speaker!!

His story is really compelling, hearing about it and watching this trailer, I'm already being moved to tears and being reminded of the human component to gardening and why most of us garden. Sometimes it takes a bit of adversity to discover a passion and be motivated to create something beautiful for everyone to see.

I think everyone should attend this lecture or, at least, see the movie. I really should invest in Netflix.

Click here for lecture location and information from NHS.