June 2012 Plant Profile: Gentiana x ‘True Blue’

June 7th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Blue is such an elusive color in the floral kingdom and it’s no wonder that people are captivated by any flower that’s blue. Sadly, flowers that aren’t naturally blue have been artificially dyed in order to sell, but this month’s Plant Profile highlights a genus that’s known for its natural blue flowers and that’s the Gentian.

Many Gentians are alpine/sub-alpine  herbaceous perennials. Species require very specific watering, soil types and exposure. There was great excitement when this hybrid was released as not only were they able to capture the purest blue of a Gentian, they developed a garden-worthy plant that’s adaptable to most home gardens. It was aptly named ‘True Blue’.

This plant is spending its third year here at CUH and it’s been moved quite a bit, but it overwintered beautifully this past winter and, with luck, it will bulk up with more of these ethereal blue blossoms that are capable of blooming on and off throughout the summer.

Common Name: True Blue Gentian
Location: CUH-Soest Garden Bed 6 (just behind signage)
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and spread: 25-30″ high and about 18″ wide.
Bloom Time: Early Summer through Mid-Autumn.

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CUH Update – SPRING 2012

May 25th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Finding the time to do a regular update has been a challenge as this time of year demands so much of our time as the gardens take on a life of their own! With only two gardeners (one half-time and one 3/4 time) overseeing the grounds, we must scramble to get on top of things and sometimes it doesn’t always happen. The gardens, somehow, find a way to look fabulous and put on a show like no other.

MvVay Courtyard revovation:
We have just completed the first phase of a redesign and renovation of the McVay Courtyard here at the Center of Urban Horticulture. In the next couple of months, we will slowly transition into a new look thanks to UW Professor in Landscape Architecture, Ian Robertson. His aim is to integrate more architectural plants and add much needed color and vibrancy to the space.

CUH McVay Renovation
In this brand new makeover of this bed, we’ve relocated the existing ferns to make room for striking Manzanitas
(Arctostaphylos cvs.), azaleas, and an assortment of various bulbs including Nerine, Amaryllis, and Lilies.

 

Seattle Garden Club’s Scented Garden:
After 5 years since its installation, the Fragrance Garden is another one that has has taken on a life of its own as the beds are just about full and plants have really had a chance to get established.

Now it’s just a matter of editing and ensuring that there’s color (and fragrance, of course) all throughout the year.

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Fragrant azaleas perfume the air even on drizzly days.
(Rhododendron occidentalis)
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Newly installed trellis for a profusion of fragrant sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

A grand entrance in progress:

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Visitors might be wondering what’s happening up front; it’s getting kind of weedy and the horsetails are back in full force. It’s just one of the challenges we have in maintaining the grounds with just 2 part time gardeners, but we’ve been recruiting volunteers and partnering with the Hardy Plant Society of Washington
who have something spectacular in store as they are gathering troops to take on this challenge and transform this site into a most spectacular perennial border! There’s so much to do and they could really use a few hands during their work parties. If you’re interested in volunteering and being a part of what’s expected to be a traffic-stopper, check out the link to their site.

 

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It’s time to assemble our seasonal containers; both indoors and out! We’ve been trying to keep our small foyer in the Douglas Conservatory actually look like a conservatory with random tropical plants we’ve nursed back to health and put on display here. These have also been the source of plant material for ESRM 411 (Plant Propagation).

 

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The cutting lab is always a fun activity and I had an opportunity to help out this quarter! They take a wide assortment of cuttings utilizing various techniques and treatments. If they are successful, they’re able to take their new starts home and just marvel at the fact that they started a new plant from just a single section of stem and brought it back to life!

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In Remembrance.

   It’s been about 5 years since I started working in the Soest
Perennial Display Garden and in that time, I’ve had the pleasure of
meeting and interacting with the Soest family. This February, we were
saddened by the passing of Orin Soest. Alongside his wife, Ally, it was
always a treat to see them visit and walk them through the splendid
garden that bears their name. Even in his fragile state just a few years
ago, Orin still insisted on seeing the beds and always marvelled at
just how much it has grown and evolved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll always admire him as a kind and generous man who wasn’t afraid to smell the flowers. In fact, one of this favorites was a highly scented English Rose called ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, which should be in bloom in a few weeks in June and into July. Please come by CUH and the SoestGarden and help me remember Orin by sampling the scent of this exceptional rose and admiring a garden that will continue to live on in his honor. His presence, both in and out of the garden setting, will truly be missed.

 

 

Riz

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May 2012 Plant Profile: Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

May 4th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

One of the best performing new plants the past two gardening seasons has been this incredibly vigorous Geum. A genus not often used here in gardens (I don’t have any idea why), this selection was given to us by Skagit Gardens who asks us to evaluate its performance. So far, it’s been so dependable, relatively low maintenance (just need to shear back after the first main flush to allow it to continue blooming through the summer. What’s remarkable about this plant is it remains somewhat evergreen and flower buds appear as early as March, ramps up in April and is in full spectacular bloom in May and into June and sporadic flushes throughout the summer. It looks smashing right now paired up with Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ in Bed 8 of the Soest Garden.

 

 

 

Common Name: Avens
Location: Soest Garden – Bed 8
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and spread: 2.5ft high x 2 ft. wide
Bloom Time: Early Spring

Growing Conditions: Full Sun/ moderately moist soil

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April 2012 Plant Profile: Ribes sanguineum

April 3rd, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Spring is definitely in the air when the clouds of pink burst forth into bloom and our native red-flowering currants put on a show. Though most forms aren’t truly red, their flower power is outstanding and its been a native that seems to have adapted well in our harsh urban environment. There’s a lovely white form that’s also floating around at this time of year drawing Oohs and Aahs from those who encounter it.
The flowers give a light pungent scent and hummingbirds absolutely go crazy for them.

A close up of the exquisite flowers of red-flowering currant

Common Name: Red-Flowering Currant
Location: CUH-Douglas Parking Lot
Origin: Western Coastal North America
Height and spread: 7-10ft high and wide.
Bloom Time: Early Spring

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Cherry Tree Removal at CUH

March 14th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Our row of cherry trees along the driveway at CUH are scheduled to be removed this Thursday, March 15.

Though they’re starting to bloom, we have a severe infestations of blossom brown rot, a common fungal disease of cherries in the Pacific Northwest.

Fungicdal treatments are not a sustainable option. Our decision to display healthy plants available in the trade has left us with the option to choose plants that will be more adaptable to this site.

For more information, check out a post composed by Horticulture Supervisor, David Zuckerman, on the early flowering cherries along Azalea Way in Washington Park Arboretum.

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March 2012 Plant Profile: Two members of the family THYMELAEACEAE

March 10th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

I had a hard time deciding on just one plant for the month of March and I was able to narrow it down to two highly notable species and since they happen to be in the same family, I figured I’d mention the family as an excuse to have two plants this time around.

One of these plants many of us are familiar with because of it’s remarkable winter fragrance. Daphne odora. The other one is more familiar to collectors and is not as readily available, but just as dramatic and also wonderfully scented. That plant is Edgeworthia, the Chinese Paper Bush.

Both are members of a family that’s difficult to really define as there aren’t any very obvious diagnostic traits to identify it. In Landscape Plant identification, however, it’s a family known for woody shrubs producing very fragrant winter blossoms. They also have smooth bark and fibers that make them valuable in quality paper making.

First of, let’s discuss the ever popular Daphne odora. It is, by far, the most intoxicating scent in the winter garden. It has a very heady perfume and some are reminded of the children’s cereal, Fruit Loops, when they come close to admire it! The most common selected cultivar of Daphne odora is ‘Aureo-marginata’, basically implying the variable gold edges on the foliage. This species is evergreen, but ‘Aureo-marginata’ tends to be sprawly and have a poor growth habit. A newer selection called ‘Zuiko Nishiki’ looks to be a more promising cultivar with a better growth habit that’s more upright and the foliage appears cleaner, refined, but lacks the gold edge.

Common Name: Winter Daphne
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, Miller Library/Merrill Entrance
Origin: China/Garden Origin
Height and spread: 2ft. high and 4ft. wide.
Bloom Time: Winter

Edgeworthia chrysantha has been a much sought after collector’s plant for years, but it’s becoming more readily available. It has a really architectural look to its multi-stemmed habit and light, cinnamon colored stems. It makes a rounded shrub with lush foliage during growing season as it begins to set buds for the following winter’s blooms which are a deep creamy yellow and possess a fabulous scent. They can be finicky to get established. Make you you choose a spot with sun/part shade, and it benefits from a protected location as well as it’s not as hardy as the Daphnes here in the Pacific Northwest. Rich, well drained soil is a must along with regular irrigation during the summer and fall while buds are setting and avoid moving it around as with most daphnes, mature specimens will sulk if transplanted.

A wild form of Edgeworthia chrysantha

Common Name: Chinese Paper Bush, Yellow Daphne
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, Miller Library North beds
Origin: China
Height and spread: 6ft. high and 6-7ft. wide (usually smaller)
Bloom Time: Winter

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February 2012 Plant Profile: Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

February 14th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' in the Fragrance Garden at CUH

This month’s plant profile showcases one of the showiest and most reliably fragrant, winter blooming shrubs. According to Great Plant Picks, it is a “tough shrub grows best in full sun to light or open shade. It prefers well-drained soil, but will tolerate sandy sites or clay if the drainage is adequate. It is drought tolerant once established, but flowering will be more profuse if it receives occasional water during dry weather. Little pruning is needed to maintain an attractive plant.”

A close up of the fragrant winter flowers of Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'

Common Name: Bodnant Viburnum/Dawn Viburnum
Family: Adoxaceae
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden
Origin: Garden Origin: Bodnant Gardens in Wales, UK.
Height and spread: 8ft. high and 10ft. wide.
Bloom Time: Winter

This is a lovely shrub for the urban garden as it works wonderfully as a background plant during the growing season with its dark green, bronze foliage that have a rugged texture. It simply lights up in the winter time as it flowers and on a warm day, the delicious scent of warm sugary vanilla and lilac wafts in the air. Truly exquisite and, as mentioned, a reliable shrub for the Pacific Northwest.

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January 2012 Plant Profile: Salix lasiandra

January 13th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s been a very mild winter season so far and and we’ve been blessed with several cool and clear days that bring out the best in the winter landscape. Working out in the Union Bay Natural Area, I was drawn by the picturesque views of the bay and looking out into the restoration sites, I also couldn’t help but notice the glowing stems of vibrant willows. Naturally occurring in consistently wet areas, UBNA just seems to glow and you can’t help but stop and admire them especially on a sunny day. UBNA is home to several species of willow, but the Pacific Willow stands out the most.

In the managed landscape, there are several species and cultivated varieties of Salix that are highly attractive. Salix alba, a European species, comes to mind along with the cultivars ‘Golden Curls’ and ‘Scarlet Curls’ derived as hybrids from S. matsudama ‘Tortuosa’, the famous “corkscrew willow”. These plants are fast growing and are often best coppiced in the winter or late springtime to get the slimmest stems with the most intense color the following year. This is achieved by taking down the shrub to about 6-10 inches tall and allowing new growth to develop from the base.

Common Name: Pacific Willow
Family: Salicaceae
Location: Union Bay Natural Area
Origin: Pacific Northwest Native
Height and spread: 20-30ft. high and 10-15ft. wide.
Bloom Time: Late winter

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CUH Update – December 2011: New Garden Features & Season’s Greetings

December 21st, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

It has been an incredibly busy autumn here at CUH as we have several new projects underway. Our entire horticultural team has been involved with 2 major projects we’d like to highlight as these are pretty significant changes that might raise a few eyebrows.

Soest Garden by R. Reyes

new tree photo

Earlier this autumn, our arborist crew took down a large specimen of Parrotia persica that’s been growing in a raised planter in the Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Perennial Garden. You can read our notice about it from a few weeks ago.

 

 

If you’ve visited UWBG-CUH in the last two weeks or so, you probably couldn’t help but notice a small broadleaf evergreen tree standing by itself on a “pedestal” with soil excavated from it. This is the first phase of what should be an extravagant perennial border to be design, planted and maintained by the Hardy Plant Society of Washington. HPSW and UWBG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and we’re moving forward to assist them in preparing the site. The first step was to remove as much of the existing soil as possible to help eradicate the horrendous horsetail that has inhabited the bed after years of mediocre maintenance as this section of CUH has always been a low priority, yet it’s really our front door. We are ecstatic to have a group that can take this on (and also take over the Blooms of Bressingham evaluation program and its maintenance.

It will be awhile before both these projects really come into their own, but because we are the CENTER for urban horticulture, we will aim to provide our visitors with ongoing interest, color and at this time of year, festive decor such as our lovely Christmas tree donated by City People’s Garden Store and decorated by one of our many generous supporters, Charlotte Behnke and our containers in the Seattle Garden Clubs’s Fragrance Garden where members flanked containers with scented pansies and primoses accented with bright gold sweet flag grass.

On behalf of the UWBG staff, we want to wish you Season’s Greetings and a very Happy Holidays and may the upcoming year bring with it much joy, good health and, hopefully, more frequent visits to our gardens!

Cheers,

Riz

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December 2011 Plant Profile: Ilex x koehneana

December 16th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

UWBG has the one of the largest Holly collections in North America and this particular hybrid tends to get by unnoticed until one actually gets up close to admire its bold presence as a broadleaf evergreen shrub. It almost looks like a magnolia or something from the tropics, but it’s perfectly hardly for us here in the Pacific Northwest.

This Ilex is a hybrid between the common I. aquifolium (English Holly) and I. latifolia (Lusterleaf Holly). It does not reseed itself prolifically like English Holly and makes a stately background plant that has endured poor soil, limited irrigation, and is likely to thrive in both sun and part shade.

Common Name: Koehne Holly
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Location: Soest Garden South Slope
Origin: Garden
Height and spread: 15-20ft. high and 10-15ft. wide. Various cultivars exist that are shorter or taller.
Bloom Time: Late spring
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Dioecious, white flowers followed by red drupes in autumn/winter on current year’s wood.

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