May 6th, 2015 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
The peony has been a staple in gardens for hundreds of years and the UW Botanic Gardens has a wonderful representation of the genus this month at both the Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) and the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH).
This month we are highlighting a spectacular peony that’s currently in bloom in the Pacific Connections Entry Gateway. Visitors stopped in their tracks by the large, dinner plate-sized blooms which emit a wonderful scent. This is a pink form of the typically white flowered P. rockii. Found in Northwest China in Gansu Province. This species is characterized by a deep purple pattern in the center of each petal.
This type of peony is referred to as a “Tree Peony” by most gardeners. Although it’s not technically a tree, it is a woody shrub that does not die back and should not be cut down in the autumn like the more common bush peonies many people know. But like the bush form, it takes a few years before the plant is established and starts blooming well.
Both types are generally planted in the fall, but potted plants can be purchased and planted just about any time of year (except when the ground is frozen).
Genus species: Paeonia suffruticosa subsp. rockii
Common Name: Rock’s Peony, Joseph Rock Peony, Ziban Mudan
Location: WPA – Pacific Connections – China Entry Garden
Origin: NW China, Gansu Province
Height and Spread: 5-7′ height x 6′ width spread on mature, undisturbed plantings
Bloom/Fruit Time: April-May
March 23rd, 2015 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Wood Anemones are wonderful, easy to grow, spring ephemerals that require patience to get established, but once they get going, they form wonderful clumps in moist woodland conditions. What makes them sought after by gardeners is their ability to thrive in dry shade underneath mature trees. They have delicate fern-like foliage which set off the drifts of flowers that light up the spring landscape!
A. nemorosa flowers come in shades of blue, white, pink, with singles, doubles, and this most unusual form. This species has a remarkable tendency to mutate and the cultivar selection ‘Viridiflora’ (“green flower”) is a great example! What typically would be petals are actually modified leaves know as bracts. This creates an unusual moss-like texture and it’s absolutely charming combined with all the other plants in the garden as they burst into growth in spring. As with all wood anemones, they will begin to naturally die down in late spring and will rest until the following spring so be sure to mark where they are planted.
Genus species ‘Cultivar': Anemone nemorosa ‘Viridiflora’
Common Name: Green flowered Wood Anemone
Location: CUH Soest Garden – Bed 7
Origin: Native to Europe, but selection may be of Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 4-5″ height x 24″ width spread on mature, undisturbed plantings
Bloom/Fruit Time: March-April
March 3rd, 2015 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
The manzanita is one of the most iconic of all West Coast native trees and shrubs, yet they are rarely ever seen in gardens. Like their famous relative, Arbutus menziesii (The Pacific Madrone), they’ve earned a reputation of being slow and difficult to establish. But with a strong emphasis in introducing more of our native flora into our gardens and the constant demand for drought tolerant plantings, the wide range of Manzanita species and hybrids have really started to come to the fore and gardeners are rediscovering their unique and stately presence in the landscape.
We have several specimens slowly getting established the Center for Urban Horticulture’s McVay Courtyard and one of the standouts is A. densiflora ‘Sentinel’. An upright grower discovered in Sonoma County, CA, it is one of the faster growing selections and it is also one of the most adaptable of the genus. The clusters of pink-to-white, urn-shaped flowers appear in later winter into spring like many in the genus, but the year round attraction is the evergreen foliage and the smooth and dramatic trunks with the often peeling, russet red bark. The older the specimen, the better they become.
Manzanitas require full open sun and very well drained soil that’s relatively lean. Avoid adding too much organic material to your soil and though they are drought tolerant, regular irrigation and fertilizer the first 2-3 years will get them going. They highly resent heavy root disturbance so take care when planting and avoid having to transplant it once its established in the ground. Staking of younger plants during planting is beneficial until they fully root in and settle.
Genus species ‘Cultivar': Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Sentinel’
Common Name: Sentinel Manzanita
Location: McVay Courtyard – CUH
Origin: CA, USA
Height and Spread: 4-6′ height x 6′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late February-March
February 3rd, 2015 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Winter garden in the Pacific Northwest seems incomplete without this landscape standard. It has lush, glossy, evergreen foliage year round, takes dry shade conditions, and flowers in the wintertime with a powerful scent that perfumes the landscape. Sweet Box comes in two basic forms for the home gardener: the tall form and short form. The tall form (S. ruscifolia and S. confusa) get to about 2-3 feet in height and wide. The short form (varieties of S. hookeriana) makes somewhat of a groundcover with underground stolons that form a clump no taller than 12 inches and can spread about 3 feet.
In the garden, the ideal location for Sweet Box is under part shade with regular irrigation the first few seasons to get it established. It works well as a foundation planting up against the house and in mixed beds in a shaded woodland garden. Despite its common name and close relationship, Sweet Box can’t be treated like regular boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) and be sheared on a regular basis. To keep the size and shape in check, prune only the tall forms and prune shortly after they’ve finished blooming (March-April). This forces new growth and stems that will then flower the following winter. Pruning during the summer and fall will remove the new growth; therefore, the flower buds are sacrificed.
Sarcococca ruscifolia under an evergreen dogwood in the Fragrance Garden
Sarcococca hookerianna growing with Winter Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’) for extreme fragrance
A close up of the flowers on S. ruscifolia
Common Name: Sweet Box
Location: Fragrance Garden
Origin: Eastern and Southeastern Asia, Himalayas
Height and Spread: Tall (2-3′ height x 3′ spread) – Short (1′ height x 3′ spread)
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late December-late February
December 31st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
The first of the year starts off with a bang with a most wonderful hellebore hybrid to ring in the new year showing the first blossoms of the season. Here at the Center for Urban Horticulture, we’ve acquired quite a selection of hellebores thanks to Skagit Gardens and Northwest Garden Nursery. ‘Shooting Star’ is one that’s been under our watchful eye for its third season now and we’ve been impressed with its excellent foliage and vigor along with the early flower power it possesses in the garden. We have it growing in three different locations at the Center for Urban Horticulture and each specimen is thriving, making it a stand-out in the winter landscape.
All types of hellebores are beginning to pop up at local nurseries. Many will be in full bloom, so you can select from hybrid seed strains or clones such as ‘Shooting Star,’ which will be all identical compared to the seed-grown strains. Hellebores make wonderful container plants and can be potted up or safely planted into the garden as long as the ground is not frozen.
‘Shooting Star’ opens to a pale blush pink with just a hint of green. As it ages, it slowly turns greener and the pink is accentuated. These “antiqued” blooms last into March.
Companions: Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass), Cyclamen coum, Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ (sweet flag), Pulmonaria hyrbids (Lungwort)
Species: × ericsmithii
Cultivar: ‘Coseh 790′ Shooting Star USPP #22424
Common Name: Lenten Rose
Location: Douglas Parking Lot, Soest Garden South Slope, Miller Library North Foundation Plantings
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 10-12 inches high and about 1.25 feet wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late December-early March
December 1st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Looking nondescript throughout most of the year, the so-called “Christmas cactus” puts on a tremendous show as the holidays arrive in November and December.
As part of the Cactus family, they are actually epipthytic plants (similar to air plants) that grow on rock crevices and trees in the wild and require a well drained potting mixture and specific dry rest periods in order to initiate flowering when grown as a house plant.
Most receive a Christmas cactus as a blooming gift for the holidays. They can be enjoyed anywhere in the home where it receives bright, indirect lighting, humidity and very sparse (about once every two weeks) watering. Following the tremendous floral show, plants will rest and watering is greatly reduced further until about March or April when they can be re-potted if desired (although they prefer the tight confines of being potbound in a small container). New growth resumes and regular watering and fertilizing (all purpose fertilizer is fine) can take place (once every week or two). They can also sit outdoors up against the house protected from direct light during the summer and can be treated like other container plants.
To initiate flowering again:
Water is withheld as days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop. They need a cycle of normal daylight and then complete darkness for 12-14 hours for about 6 weeks. All this usually begins around September into October where you can either start bringing them indoors in a room that will be completely dark for that period of time or they can stay outdoors and make sure street lights aren’t disrupting this dry/dark period. If temperatures are expected to drop below 55F, then the plants should be brought inside.
After this treatment, buds should have formed and regular watering and care (once every one or two weeks) can resume as they begin to open and flower.
A bright, deep pink Schlumbergera begins to show off amongst the tropicals just as you enter the Douglas Conservatory.
species: × buckleyi (T.Moore) Tjaden = S. russelliana × S. truncata; S. Buckleyi Group is the most common.
Cultivar: Assorted named cultivars exist, but often offered by color only
Common Name: Thanksgiving/Christmas Cactus, Zygo-Cactus
Location: CUH Douglas Conservatory Entry
Origin: Wild species originate from SE Brazil
Height and Spread: 1.5-2′ high with stems that can drape 3-4ft. long
Bloom/Fruit Time: November-early January
November 3rd, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Beautyberry is starting to put on quite a show and we have a species that isn’t common in Pacific Northwest Gardens. Callicarpa dichotoma is widely known on the East Coast and thrives in their summer heat and humidity. Having had an exceptionally lengthy summer here, our plants of ‘Early Amethyst’ look the best they’ve ever looked in the three years since they were planted out as small 1 gallon pots.
Combined with consistent moisture in full sun, they’re dripping in hot purple pink and look absolutely stunning in the autumn landscape! We hope the foliage has a chance to color up before a hard frost comes. Meanwhile, they are a sight to behold
Cultivar: ‘Early Amethyst’
Common Name: Beautyberry
Location: CUH Sidewalk Entry
Origin: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam
Height and Spread: 4′ high x 4-5′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: September-frost
Growing with the bright gold, moisture loving Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’
C. dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’ with Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Taurus’
October 1st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
A large indoor bulb that’s forced to flower in time for the holidays is often what gardeners think of when we say “Amaryllis.” Those large, almost dinner plate-sized flowers are actually the genus Hippeastrum. The true Amaryllis, depicted here, is a fall-blooming plant. Though its growth habit is similar to Hippeastrum, it can be grown outdoors in the Pacific Northwest
Native to South Africa, they thrive in Mediterranean type climates with full sun and well drained soil and are best left undisturbed once planted as they can take several years to flower from bulbs that are regularly available for planting in the spring.
Common Name: Naked Ladies
Location: McVay Courtyard
Origin: South Africa
Height and Spread: 15-18″ tall stems and forms clumps 3-5ft. in width over time
Bloom Time: August-October
September 4th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Tickseed is the common name for the cheery and colorful Coreopsis. Long utilized as a border plant in perennial gardens, it’s often only know for its ferny green foliage and one main flush of bright yellow blooms in early summer. Now, thanks to Darrell Probst’s spectacular breeding work on the Big Bang series, the genus has been revolutionized, with a wider range of colors with almost continuous bloom throughout the season! Skagit Gardens in Mt. Vernon, WA has sent us samples over the years to display and trial here at UW Botanic Gardens and we have them peppered around the Center for Urban Horticulture.
This stunning selection is ‘Star Cluster’. It probably has the tidiest habit of all the Coreopsis we have. It has worked very well as a edging plant because it stays fairly low and it has been in flower since June with minimal deadheading. The color progression of the flowers is quite fascinating as it opens to a lovely cream with a crimson center and over time and as the weather cools for autumn, the center color softly blends and becomes more prominent on the entire flower.
Common Name: Tickseed
Location: Soest Garden Bed 5
Origin: Garden Origin.
Height and Spread: 15-18″ wide and 10-12″. tall
Bloom Time: June-Frost
August 4th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Succulent plants continue to be very popular amongst gardeners everywhere because of their unusual and architectural forms and thriving with very minimal watering. The Aeoniums are one of the most iconic of all succulents. Unfortunately, they are not hardy in the Pacific Northwest, but they are excellent container specimens that are actually pretty easy to overwinter if cared for properly indoors.
The key to success with any succulent is bright light, very well-drained soil and limited watering during the growing season. They respond to being fertilized on a regular basis during active growth (for us it’s June-September) and then as cold temperatures approach, they are dug up before the first frost and potted up and kept indoors where it can stay cool, but not freezing. Some growers overwinter them “bareroot” and will mist them occasionally so they don’t dry out. The more light you can give them during this pseudo-dormant period the better.
species: arboreum var. atropurpureum
Common Name: Tree Aeonium, Irish Rose, Houseleek
Location: Containers in Soest Garden
Origin: Straight species from Canary Islands, but this selection may be of garden origin.
Height and Spread: 1.5ft wide to 2ft. tall (potentially much larger in milder climates)
Bloom Time: N/A for Pacific NW outdoors (but may flower later winter/early spring if greenhouse-grown)