Showing posts with label Dancing Oaks Nursery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dancing Oaks Nursery. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Infatuation with PCIs (Pacific Coast Iris Hybrids)

Pacific Northwest gardeners are able to brag about a lot of plants that most of the rest of the country could only see and admire in photographs and Pacific Coast Irises seem to be one of those that are such workhorses in the garden, but they're rarely seen outside of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Pacific Coast Iris x 'Native Warrior'
Iris x 'Native Warrior' offered by Xera Plants
Now why is that? As you'll see with the mouth-watering color forms that I've obtained and grown for several years now, they've been highly praised for their shade and drought tolerance and a few select forms have excellent evergreen foliage!

To start, let's look at what's comprised as a PCI:

There are about 11 wild, native, species that make up the PCI's. They are considered a "beardless" type of iris that grow as rhizomatous clumps and thrive in our wet winters, dry summers and moderate temperatures.
Some species hybridize on their own and, of course, selections are made and numerous crosses are done to enhance the size of bloom, improve habit and vigor and diversify the color range that exists.

Often you'll see them offered as seed-grown plants in local garden centers, but specialty nurseries will carry named selections that can be quite extraordinary.

My first exposure to them was when I was in college and doing a planting plan for a design/build project I was involved in. I did some research and found that these irises would be perfect for curbside plantings and the specs emphasized the use of natives. Naturally wanting something more extravagant and more memorable thanks just sword ferns or salal, I found 5 plants at a local garden center with the full intent of using them for this project, but we were over budget and knowing that they probably wouldn't reimburse me if I used them in the garden, I decided to keep them and plunk them in my garden. The result were 4 vigorous plants (one just died randomly), three of which I donated to use at the Center for Urban Horticulture and one that simply took my breath away so I decided to keep and propagate.

Iris x 'Ami Royale'
An unregistered selection named 'Ami Royale' offered by Far Reaches Farm

With a handful of named selections, PCI hybrids are still difficult to come by. I still find that a lot of Northwest gardeners really don't know them so the push to really propagate and offer them in large quantities just isn't there. The plants are also somewhat temperamental about WHEN they're divided. I've been taught that once new roots are beginning to form at the base of the rhizome, they're ready for division.

Pacific Coast Iris hybrid 1
A hybrid with unique coloration - could possibly already be named

Ideally, they start putting down new roots before winter sets in allowing the roots to reestablish so the plants are immediately replanted in the beds or potted up and overwintered in a cool, unheated polyhouse over the winter.

Iris PCI Drip Drop
Iris x 'Drip Drop' was offered by Cistus Nursery

So why aren't these stunning plants found in other parts of the USA? According to Iris growers in the mid-west and east coast, hardiness seem to be the downfall of these extravagant blooms. While they easily withstand frosts a deep freeze in the single digits may do some of these varieties in.

Pacific Coast Iris x 'Baby Blanket'
The unique coloration of Iris x 'Baby Blanket' I got from Dancing Oaks Nursery

PC Iris with Golden Ribes 1
Check out the stunning contrast with a gold leaf red-flowering currant at the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's Spring Plant Sale!

Iris x Pacific Coast Hybrid Blue with Gold
This one was just labeled as "blue-violet", but looks stunning enough to be a named selection.

Iris x Pacific Coast Hybrid Violet Purple
Again, another unnamed selection that caught my eye so I grabbed it

So, what did happen to that one that was left from the original 5 plants I first got:

Iris x Pacific Coast unknown

Iris PC hybrid with Heuchera

Pacific Coast Iris hybrid

Pacific Coast Iris hybrid 1c habit

I've observed it, divided it, and shared starts with various friends and colleagues, who, I hope will keep it going.



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Garden Shinanigans in Oregon Part 4: Doing the Dance of Oaks

It has been a real plant guys trip as we next hit up the boys over at Dancing Oaks Nursery.

I've heard so much about this nursery, purchased many of their plants and I met Fred last season at a North American Rock Garden Society meeting where I purchased some awesome things! So, it was really quite a treat to be able to see (AND SHOP at) their remarkable nursery and extensive display gardens. I also got to meet Leonard, a true plant fanatic!

Dancing Oaks guys
From left to right: Fred Weisensee, Matt, Leonard Foltz, and Erik soaking up the sunbreak and chatting plants before we raided their nursery and scored some wonderful plants!

Dancing Oaks 2Much like the O'byrnes, they have excellent bones and structure in their landscape. They have this stunning plot of land in the Willamette Valley that's just so rich and it really is an excursion to get to, but WOW.

Dancing Oaks 7
Though most of the wonderful herbaceous collections they have are dormant and marked only by blue flags to denote their location, the paths and the existing structures really help define what really is a remarkable garden that is really diverse in a way that people can re-create a lot of the elements in which they integrated in their landscape. With a basic bedding scheme like this simpled edged in stone, you can create an extravagant woodland garden just PACKED with treasures!

Dancing Oaks 8 focal point to pondThey also use conifers effectively and I love the simple stonework of the formal path that leads to a future focal point, which, I believe is a grand stand of HUGE Gunnera manicata aka DINOSAUR FOOD!

Dancing Oaks Hellebores with Bamboo

There were more Hellebores to be found and this patch growing amongst a grove of crook-stemmed bamboo was quite attractive.

So, luckily, Matt drove and brought his work truck so we could get as many plants in as we could. And boy did we PACK IT!!!

Dancing Oaks packing truck
Complete with the O'Byrne's Hellebores, We strategically loaded it up! No, we weren't done loading yet! LOL!

Dancing Oaks Matt packs it in
As determined Matt was to get EVERYTHING in, he had to leave behind a few plants that Fred and Leonard would graciously bring up to Washington on their next speaking/plant selling engagement.

Dancing Oaks 6
So, I thought this was their house. Nope. It's actually their guest house. Freakin' unbelievable.

Kitchen at Dancing Oaks Nursery
They warmed up their guests with tea and baked goods in a most awesome kitchen that I'd want someday. Look at that open space and the island could also serve as a demonstration platform to give talks, lectures and even film a television show!!!

At Dancing Oaks Nursery with the guys
Fred kindly took this photo of us, but the group photo of all of us turned out blurry. I always strive to capture moments I want to remember, but all the more reason to return and pay the guys another visit and buy more plants for myself and client projects.

Dancing Oaks rainbow 2

We were then treated to a nice rainbow that graced the nursery and garden making for a wonderful ending to a most awesome trip.

This is a definition of a true, retail NURSERY. It's not a garden center where you can find all your tools, composts, gloves, pots, fertilizers, aprons and other crap like that. It's an actual place where plants are grown, propagated, evaluated and truly take centerstage. OH, BUT THEY'VE GOT SOME OF THE BEST ORGANIC EGGS EVER!!  $3.50 for a wonderful dozen of assorted eggs, which Matt taught me how to fry them "over easy". Hhahhaha

Good times...good times....