Sunday, September 30, 2007



There have been several recent posts about things gardeners do not want in their gardens (NIMG). I have gotten enjoyment out of these posts and decided to post to a same topic but with a twist.

I have never been a big fan of yard art. Not that I feel it's a horrible thing, it's just that I have always been a big lover of plant material and the yard art is very secondary to me. Now don't get me wrong thinking that it shouldn't be in someones yard, I feel in the right place and with a sentimental value it a wonderful thing.
On that note, I have always felt a connection to the natural world and all yard accessorizes I have in my garden have some kind of connection of nature or about nature.

(IMG) I like incorporating occasion pieces of wood that I have found on hikes or on travels. Most have interesting shapes and features and remind me of the location they were found or the person I was with.

(IMG) I love bugs and critters and have often heard that crickets and dragonflies are good luck. So I have a cricket nestled in a pot of saxafragia and a dragonfly bell that gently rings in the breeze.

(IMG) I have a leaf motif going through my entire house. So when I find something a little different and unique for the garden with a leaf on it I find a place for it. Plus in Lower Issaquah Height (the mountain ridge I live on) there is often a wonderful breeze. The chimes are a joy to work by and beautifully add to the sounds of the many birds in the area.

(IMG) I don't have any lighting in my garden currently, so in continuing with the leaf motif, I have glass leaf luminaries lighting the garden during evening get-togethers or for quite meditative moments of solace.

(IMG) And finally I have two decorative stepping stones in my garden. One of course made with the imprints of maple and oak leaves. The other, pictures above, has the sentiment that I often remind myself of, "Sow with patience, Reap a full harvest". Wonderful words to live by... don't you think?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Phygelius 'Moonraker'

Phygelius 'Pink Sensation'

Phygelius 'Devil's Tears'

A while back I posted a picture of Cape Fuchsia (Phygelius) and had several positive comments about this wonderful perennial so I figured I'd feature it.

This hardy perennial is native to South Africa where it does not die down in their mild winters. In my area ( I'm located at the bottom of it's hardiness range at Zone 8a --- roughly 15f/-9c) it dies almost to the ground before re surging in Spring. All thou it has Fuchsia in it's common name and has a fuchsia look, it's actually in the Scrophulariaceae family being closely related to penstemon. In the past few years it has been hybridized to create many new exciting colours.
It has been growing in popularity the past decade because it blooms for months and has very few pests. In my area it starts blooming in June and goes strong till the first hard frost, the end of October for me. Phygelius grows to 3 to 4 feet (1.2 meters) and spreads by underground runners and prostrate branches to the same width. It is easily divided if it get out of hand.
like to pair it with daisy-like flowers creating a very easy casual look. Finally the reddish and darker pink varieties are highly attractive to hummingbirds.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Wondering through the garden today seeing what's blooming, what's going dormant, and how many weeds I'll be pulling this weekend, I came across several pots of dwarf dahlias I planted months ago. Unfortunately I've had these dahlias off to the side of the garden not really giving them much attention. We all have them, those plants placed in the yard that are a little neglected and often not the focus compared to the more showcased areas. We occasionally throw some water and fertilizer their way and kind of forget them.
So here is this little flower standing so proud and tall in it's 8" plastic pot. In the afternoon sun it's rich red petals seemed to glow really grabbing my attention. And though this diminutive flower is only about an inch across, it was the brightest star of the garden today. I admired it for the longest time, the more I studied it the more I discovered. It was the most perfect flower.
It reminded me that sometimes in our hurried lives, we're often looking for the biggest or the best, the showiest or the latest, and we need those gentle reminders to remind us that "it is often the simple things in life that are the sweetest". Isn't is amazing what a small dahlia can do!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


With a gentle fall rain and cooler temperatures, I can really see
signs of Autumn in the air.

Clusters of Fall colour I place around the house.

Spiders busy making webs.

Many of the annuals and perennial setting seed.

Some of the Fall bulbs for next Springs colour

Flats of Pansies, Ornamental Cabbage and Kale sprouted
soon to go out in the garden

The fall Asters starting to bloom.

The garden starting to be filled with berries.

The Maples showing their Autumn colour.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Native to Eastern North America Helenium is a valuable "end of the season" bloomer, starting to flower in August and continuing until October. It's name translates to Autumn Sun which is an appropriate name for the much underused perennial.

There are many species of Helenium but Helenium autumnale is by far the most used and best species of this plant group. Through hybridization Heleniums have been crossed to create flowers in many colours. From yellows to golds, rusts to siennas, even burgundies and mixed combination in between, Heleniums come in a beautiful fall colour assortment. There are tall hybrids perfect for back of the border locations and dwarf cultivars that are ideal for up close viewing.

Heleniums require full sun, great drainage and occasional water in Summer. They practically need no fertilizing and grow wonderfully with one application of a general all purpose fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season. Make sure to mark your plants. When they come up in Spring they really look like weeds, it's easy to confuse them and pull the wrong plant.

Their common name is Sneezeweed, it comes from years ago when the dried nearly mature flowers were ground and made into a powder, then snorted for the treatment of colds and headaches. Thank goodness for modern medicine!

Heleniums are a great addition to your Autumn garden and pair beautifully with Rudbeckias, Sedums, Ornamental grasses, Caryopteris, Purple Asters, and Shrub Roses filled orange rose hips.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Sedum rupesta 'Angelina'

Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco'

Sedum acre

Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce'

With all the talk about global warming and conserving our natural resources I thought it was timely to share on some plants that require minimal amount of care, water, and fertilizing, yet really preforms well. In the Seattle area we are very conscience of our water and though we get over 50" of rain annual we are a very water wise community. Our raining season start in October and ends in April/May but from several months we see very little measurable rain. Even if we get an occasional Summer storm it's not enough to really deeply water any plant.

Sedum idon't-recallus

Sedum 'Bertram Anderson' in bud

Sedum 'Bertram Anderson' full flower

Sedums are a wonderful plant group that are members of the Crassulaceae Family. The family largely consists of succulents or succulent type plants. Being native to many parts of the world you really get a tremendous variety of shapes and sizes. This post well dwell on ground cover types and next week I'll share on upright growers. As mentioned before Sedums require little care and only need a minimal amount of attention. Generally full sun and great drainage is a must. They grow much better in soil that is not overly enriched.
There is practically nothing that bothers them. And usually any difficulties come from cultural situations, like to much overhead sprinkler watering (which can make them rot). Sometimes they can be a little aggressive but they are easy to pull up (they have all surface roots and don't spread by invasive underground runners). All the
Sedums from my yard are very hardy to Zone 2 (-20c).

Sedum spurium 'Dragons Blood' and 'Tricolour'

Sedum seiboldii 'October Daphne'

Sedums are perfect for that area that doesn't get much water or next to a walk way in the full hot sun that's difficult to water. Even tucked in a sunny rock garden is perfect for these little gems. I hope you'll make a place for these trend plants that are not only easy care but also easy on our natural resources.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Today I was working diligently in the yard trying to catch up on the weeds. It seems that they continually out pace me. It was just a few weeks ago that I had cleaned up some of the beds and now the weeds are all back. While pulling countless clover I recalled how ironic it was that earlier in the season I had purchased some ornamental types and planted them.

A little background information on Clovers. There are two plants that go by clover. First, there is Oxalis, which is a member of the Oxalidaceae family. Then, there is Trifolium, which is in the Fabaceae family. Trifolium is a legume so it can take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil through bacteria action on their roots, Oxalis can not. Both Oxalis and Trifolium often go by the common name Clover. Both have species that can be invasive and become a weed. Both have foliage that look very similar, it's the flower that makes it easy to distinguish the two apart. It all can be very confusing, but it's times like these that the botanical names are helpful.

The two ornamental Oxalis that I have pictured are Oxalis siliguosa 'Sunset Velvet' (top picture) and Oxalis regnellii atropupurea (bottom photo on the right). What a mouthful! Rated hardy to zone 8 (which is what I am) both have attractive uniquely coloured foliage. I paired them with Heuchera 'Peach Flambe' creating a tonal combination that I really like. O. regnellii is sometimes sold as a purple shamrock. Oxalis prefers moist soil in a shady or dappled light location. They really don't have any pests to speak of, and any difficulties usually come from cultural conditions. I'm hoping these will fill in nicely in a year or two, because these 2 cultivars are not know to be invasive let alone aggressive.
Here is an interesting link that shows O. regnellii growing. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I have often been called upon to teach the garden classes at the Nursery that I currently work at. These are 2 hours presentations on many topics from bulbs to curb appeal, lawns to container gardening. From time to time I have the opportunity to teach second graders about plants. The classes are always brief to accommodate their short attention spans and although my schedule is sometimes limited, I always look forward to these classes.
I love kids (I don't have any that I know of) and I love the wonderment they have of all things that grow. Often, I would use Zinnias as an example to speak on plant life. At the end of the class we would plant Zinnia seeds in 4''pots and the kids get to take them. I choose Zinnias because they germinate so fast and in no time at all they would be blooming. The kids get so excited to take them home. It was as if I'd given them something so amazing. It's truly beautiful how, a little pot of seeds, something so simple, brings such joy.

To this day I still enjoy growing Zinnias. They are practically fail safe. And like a kid, I still check the Zinnias I sow everyday to see which ones have germinated. Now at the beginning of September I go out daily to see what colours are in bloom. I marvel at these simple yet stately flowers that attract bees and butterflies and come in some many wonderful colours. And like a second grader, I still smile and feel joy when I see them grow.
I guess a 4" pot of Zinnias is pretty amazing!

Zinnias are a member of the Asteraceae Family and are named after the German Botanist Dr. Johann Zinn. He was the first to describe this Americas native. Through hybridization Zinnias come in many shapes and sizes. From inches tall to 5 footers and just about every colour other than true blue. Zinnias like full sun and great drainage. Deadheading every so often will keep them blooming as well as monthly applications of a general all purpose fertilizer. Full sun and great air circulations also is something they like and helps prevent any fungus amungus.