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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November 2011 Plant Profile: Acer griseum

November 13th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Fall color this autumn has been truly exceptional and this wonderful maple is no exception. Though more well known for it’s papery bark, Acer griseum is one of the most beloved landscape trees here in the Pacific Northwest. You see it more frequently these days as street trees and main specimen subjects in small urban gardens because of it’s slow-moderate growth rate.


Here it is just a few months ago. What makes this maple so distinct and easy identifiable is the bark, of course, but the foliage isn’t palmately dissected like the Japanese maples, but instead it’s a compound leaf with several leaflets.

Acer griseum fall color
Come fall, the foliage takes on a spectacular orange/red color that’s more pronounced when planted in full sun, but since this adaptable plant also thrives in part sun, the fall color is more yellow.

My friend Sean Barton with one of the largest specimens of Acer griseum I've ever seen at Bodnant Gardens in Wales, UK during a visit earlier this spring.

Common Name: Paperbark Maple
Family: Sapindaceae
Location: North of Merrill and NHS Hall
Origin: SW China
Height and spread: 18-20ft. high and 15-18ft. wide. Older specimens will ultimately reach 40-50ft.
Bloom Time: Early June
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Almost inconspicuous flowers appear in spring followed by dull green samaras appear in mid-summer.

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CUH Update: The Autumn Approach

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

After a nonexistent summer, we’re now charging forward and anticipating the return of rain and cooler temperatures, the shorter days, and all the fall tasks that seem to just ramp up without warning.

Autumn can be a mesmerizing time of year as many plants, particularly in the Soest Perennial Display Garden, have reached their full potential in growth and in many cases, abundant bloom. There’s indication of fall color all around (check out this month’s Plant Profile selection) and the last thrust of blooms being encouraged from slightly tender plants such as the dahlias, salvias, and agapanthus make for a tremendous show. The ornamenntal grasses are beginning to turn color as well as infloresences beginning to show creating a wonderfully diverse and complimentary foil to the landscape.

Our Plant Pick for the month of October: Vitis coignetiae the Crimson Glory Vine.

Fall is also the time to get one last mow of the lawn and then fertilize it. A major tree removal is on the task list this fall/winter (read about it here).We’ve also got a few planting areas that need to be prepared and hopefully installed this autumn and spring. It will be a very busy fall. We just pray that the weather cooperates when we have these large tasks to take on.

Cheers,

Riz

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' with Dahlia 'Bishop of York' with giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea) in the background.


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October 2011 Plant Profile: Vitis coignetiae

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Vitis coignetiae

Another woody plant has captured our attention this month and is deserving of this autumn highlight and that’s the Crimson Glory Vine.

While most grapes are fruiting now and express some fall color, this outstandingly large and colorful vine is mesmerizing to see especially when back lit by the western exposure of the sun. A entire kaleidoscope of rich purples, bright crimsons, yellow, reds and oranges along with the aging green is a sight to see.

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It is readily available and fairly easy to care for. It requires full sun, but can tolerate part shade, and moderate irrigation. It also requires quite a bit of space, but responds pretty well to pruning in mid-summer to control its size and habit on a trellis or similar structure.

Common Name: Crimson Glory Vine
Family: Vitaceae
Location: North of Merrill Hall and South of Issacson Hall on trellises
Origin: Russia, Korea, and Japan
Height and spread: 20-30ft. +
Bloom Time: Early June
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Almost inconspicuous racemes with small white lowers later forming into chalking purple blue fruit that are slightly bitter and tart with prominent seeds.

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Notice of Garden Renovation: Soest Garden Specimen Tree

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Our Persian Ironwood tree slated to be replaced later this fall/winter

So after 13 years in the same raised bed, it’s time that one of our Persian Ironwood trees (Parrotia persica) be removed and replaced with another species.

It was suggested that every ten years or so, the specimen tree would be changed out to showcase different species that could be utilized to create the part shade environment intended for the perennials planted below. There’s also concern that a mature tree’s roots could damage the concrete wall if allowed to get large.

After leaf-drop this fall/winter, we will close off the Soest Garden for a day or so and have the tree removed. Some of the soil will be replace (and perennials moved temporarily, of course) and our new tree, a American smoke tree Continus obovatus, will be planted.

We will begin digging up perennials shortly and keeping them in the nursery until they can be replanted in the same bed. Signs will be posted describing the project and further notice will be made when the date of renovation is determined.

CUH Grounds Staff

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September 2011 Plant Profile: Vitex agnus-castus

September 1st, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

I’ve decided to go with a woody species this month so I selected the fabulous Chaste Tree. Our specimen here at CUH is just coming into bloom and will absolutely peak in the next couple of weeks attracting bees, butterflies, and other wildlife while also attracting the attention of our frequent visitors who inquire as to “why do you grow butterfly bush? Don’t know you know it’s a noxious weed?!”


Vitex agnus-castus makes a wonderful substitute to the agressively self-seeding Buddleja davidii. It has a far more elegant appearance with it’s scented, silvery green, palmately compound leaflets and the conical, upright flowering stems that bear lavender flowers that really look like butterfly bush.

As a Mediterranean native, it prefers a warm environment in full sun and fairly well drained soil. It is readily available in most garden centers and while the most common form is the lilac color. Vitex also comes in white and pink. Though hardy and thrives in the Pacifc Northwest, it is VERY slow to leaf out and looks like a dead tree in early summer before it begins to leaf out. Vitex comes into its own in later summer entering fall, which makes it so ideal for later season interest.


Common Name: Chaste Tree
Family: Lamiaceae
Location: Douglas Conservatory Parking Lot
Origin: Mediterranean
Height: 5 meters
Spread: 5 meters
Bloom Time: Late August-September
Bloom Type/Color: Upright panicles of lavender, occasionally white and pink forms available.

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