April 2013 Plant Profile: Akebia quinata ‘Alba’

April 2nd, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Akebia quinata 'Alba' bloom detailWe have an increasing number of vines here at the Center for Urban Horticulture and this particular selection is one that’s been around the longest.

Often dubbed as the “Chocolate Vine”, the typical species flower is generally a deep purple with a gentle, yet deliciously scented blossoms. It is a deciduous and very fast growing vine that will require support. This rare white form (possibly the same as the selection named ‘Shirobana’) is absolutely lovely, but often overlooked.

It can cover the side of walls, spill over banks, climb over just about anything with its pliable and supple vines that can easily be trained and also contained with regular summer pruning of excessive “Whips”.

I’ve yet to see this white-flowered form set fruit, but it should be possible. It produces a large pod with gelatinous fruit with a sweet pulp and many seeds.

 

Akebia quinata 'Alba' The lovely and highly unusual flowers of Akebia with  the large female flower dominating with smaller, but more prolific male flowers that hold the pollen.

Akebia quinata 'Alba' habitHere you can see its habit taking up the corner of NHS Hall at the Center for Urban Horticulture

  

Common Name: White-Flowered Chocolate Vine, White Five-leafed Akebia
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, NHS Hall
Origin: China/Japan/Korea
Height and Spread: Can climb 25-30ft.
Bloom Time:  Early Spring

 

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March 2013 Plant Profile: Edgeworthia chrysantha

March 7th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

photo 3I always attempt to showcase a different plant , but for the second year in a row, I simply couldn’t resist mentioning a species that people who visit UW Botanic Garden’s  Center for Urban Horticulure at this time will be asking about because it’s looking the best its ever looked for us.

Making a grand return this month is Edgeworthia chrysantha all by itself!

I paired it with its close relative Daphne odora last year, but with the mild winter we’ve had, both of our specimens came through beautifully and it’s just starting to bloom its heads off! And like it’s relative, it is WONDERFULLY FRAGRANT!

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.

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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 2013 Plant Profile: Cyclamen coum

February 1st, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Cyclamen coum portraitWho says there isn’t much color in the landscape in the winter time? The month of February is peak bloom for one of the most delicate, yet tough plants in the winter garden. Hugging the ground with it’s rounded foliage often mottled and marked with silver patterns, this prolific tuberous perennial sends out multiple buds that gently emerge and, all of a sudden, burst  into bloom.

What makes Cyclamen coum so charming are their diminuitive size and the diversity of leaf color and patterns on the foliage and the vibrant colors that seem to appear in the ground as if a child had spilled a bag full of candy! They come in wonderful whites, pinks, purples,  lavenders and an occasional darker colored “eye” giving a bi-color effect.

Through the rigors of winter, whether it be  gloomy and wet or  bitter cold, these delicate charmers are as tough as can be.  Even gardeners with winters temperatures dropping down to -15F can enjoy these cheery flowers once the snow melts and the weather warms.

 

They are wonderful under deciduous trees and shrubs or even scattered about in a lawn where you don’t want children and pets playing in during the winter.

 

Cyclamen coum Common Name: Winter Cyclamen

Location: Soest Garden – Bed 7

Origin: Eastern Europe/Turkey/Caucasus

Exposure: Part sun – shade

Height and spread: 2-3ft. tall x 5ft. wide

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January 2013 Plant Profile: Blechnum chilense

January 8th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Light frosts are tolerable and quite attractive, but very deep freezes can cause damaged fronds

Light frosts are tolerable and quite attractive, but very deep freezes can cause damaged fronds

Once so rare and only available through close-knit garden circles, this exquisite fern can now be purchased from several growers and specialty nurseries.

Our original plant growing here at the Center for Urban Horticulture came from the famed Miller Garden from Elisabeth C. Miller, herself. Over the years it has established into a prolific clump of thick, evergreen fronds that resemble the local name in its native Chile “costilla de vaca”, which literally translates to “cow’s ribs”.

It’s a robust, but slow growing fern compared to others, but it thrives in the same condition with adequate moisture and full to part shade with rich, but well drained soil with a lot of organic matter.

One caveat to this incredible fern is its winter hardiness.  It can easily survive temperatures just below freezing, but a very hard frost will damage the tough fronds and the plant can take its time waking back up from the base. It is best suited in a protected and sheltered location such as a deep woodland or in close proximity to a building or neighboring trees and shrubs.

 

 

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Common Name: Chilean Hard Fern

Location: Fragrance Garden

Origin: Chile, Argentina

Exposure: Full to part shade

Height and spread: 2-3ft. tall x 5ft. wide

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December 2012 Plant Profile: Abutilon ‘Tiger Eye’

December 5th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

This holiday season, we’re taking you indoors into our Douglas Conservatory and showcasing a plant to warm up our botanical curiosities. This unique and elegant flowering maple (though not technically a maple (that’s the genus Acer)) is best known as an annual shrub for containers and summer bedding, but I haven’t the heart to just chuck it into the compost. So we brought it in for the winter and given a little care, it has decided to flower for us.

Flowering maples come in an assortment of colors and have the distinct maple-like foliage that gives it its common name. They benefit from full sun/part shade and regular watering and fertilizing during the growing season. They seem to bloom on and off and gentle pruning keeps plants bushy and loaded with flowers. ‘Tiger Eyes’  isn’t as prolific a bloomer and stands taller and lankier than most other Flowering maples, but its flowers are too exquisite and makes up for it.

 

Common Name: Flowering Maple

Location: Douglas Conservatory

Origin: Unknown

Exposure: Full Sun/Part Shade

Height and spread: 6-8ft. tall x 3ft. wide

Bloom Time: Sporadically throughout the year. Heaviest in summer


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November 2012 Plant Profile: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Kitten’

November 6th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Ornamental grasses begin to put on a show in autumn as striking blades of silvery light greens transition to deep yellows and tans adding structure and textures during a time of year  perennial beds are cut back and put to rest. The genus Miscanthus is a staple of ornamental grasses.  Native to Japan and China, they are tough and easy to care for.

Once established, they are drought tolerant, easily maintained, and typically possess year round interest. Some selections, however, have had a reputation for being too large of an ornamental grass for small urban gardens. They may be overly vigorous, and in some occasions, relentlessly self seeding. There’s a remarkable array to choose from, but there was a cultivar two years ago that caught my eye and has continually impressed me.

‘Little Kitten’ has been a pleasant and manageable ornamental grass that stays tidy and it has a soft, demure elegance to it when used singly as a specimen and it adds a wonderful foil to bold foliage late in the season in containers massed as a small group.

 

Common Name: Dwarf Maiden Hair Grass

Location: Soest Garden Bed 4 (Rear)

Origin: Garden Origin

Exposure: Full Sun/Part Shade

Height and spread: 3-4ft. tall x 3ft. wide

Bloom Time: mid-late Autumn

 

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October 2012 Plant Profile: Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’

October 4th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

It’s highly unusual that we would highlight a rose as a “stand out” plant in the month of October, but with the gorgeous Indian summer we’ve been having lately and the simple fact that this is an exceptional cultivar, I felt it deserved some attention.

Planted behind the wooden benches in the Fragrance Garden, ‘Sally Holmes’ is an absolute standout when in full bloom. It has soft peachy-pink buds that open a soft cantaloupe cream and age to white. It has only a slight scent to not overwhelm visitors when they sit. Only in it second year since it was planted, this eventual large shrub/small climber has been near the top of the list of roses recommended for the Pacific Northwest. It’s vigorous, very prolific to flower (and repeat!) and it doesn’t succumb to the damaging diseases  that plague roses in our region. That’s why it’s a Great Plant Pick!

 

 

After the first flush of blooms in June, our volunteers were very diligent about deadheading the spent flowers from the first flush and the result is an even larger flush of blooms in early Autumn and THERE’S STILL BUD DEVELOPING. These might succumb to frost and not fully develop, but it clearly demonstrates the vigor and quality of this superb rose.

 

Common Name: Sally Holmes Rose

Location: Fragrance Garden

Origin: Garden Origin

Exposure: Full Sun/Part Shade

Height and spread: Large shrub/climber 8-10ft. high and 6-7ft. wide.

Bloom Time: Early-Mid Summer, Early Autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

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September 2012 Plant Profile: Hesperantha (Schizostylis) coccinea

September 5th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

This delightful, but seldom grown corm from South Africa is looking the best its ever looked in the Soest Garden here at the Center for Urban Horticulture.  It has been in bloom since early July and there are more buds to come as this particular species is known for its late summer/autumn flowering, which is always quite valuable in the landscape as fall rolls around.

It’s still commonly known as Schizostylis in the trade (Pronounced “Skizo-sty-lis” OR “shizaw-stalis”), but Hesperantha is the correct name. It’s in the Iris family and related to the similar looking Gladiolus, Crocosmia, and Freesia. This particular selection is a lovely one called ‘Torero’, which was developed in Oregon.

 

It prefers moist, but well draining garden soil and full sun. It is absolutely spectacular amongst ornamental grasses and a mature clump can remain in bloom from late summer and sometimes sporadically into the winter depending on how severe our cold weather is here in the Pacific Northwest.

Common Name: Cape Lily, Crimson Flag
Location: Soest Garden Bed 6
Origin: Dwarf selections are of garden origin.
Height and spread: 1.5-2ft. tall and about 3ft. wide on mature clumps.
Bloom Time: Late Summer into Autumn and sometimes into Winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 2012 Plant Profile: Magnolia grandiflora (dwarf cultivars)

August 7th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

The bold presences of the Evergreen Southern Magnolia is truly a sight to behold in late summer as its creamy white blossoms unfurl, emitting a sweet, pleasantly pungent aroma that fills the warm air.

One of the problems, however, is its eventual size. Most of the cultivars readily available will easily get too large for a small urban garden, but there are a handful of selections that stay at a reasonable height, yet still provide the exquisite, deep green, glossy foliage and russet brown undersides and, of course, the ethereal blooms in summer.

The one photographed here is one we have here at CUH called ‘Baby Doll’. Unfortunately, it’s not readily available in the trade, but it possesses a wonderful mounded compact habit for a small tree. It stands about 10ft. tall and about 15 feet wide in canopy.

More commonly available in the trade is ‘Little Gem’. A handsome, but sometimes overused selection. This still gets to be quite large when fully mature at 20-25 feet high, but much smaller compared to the standard selections.

A little newer on the market, but appears to be quite promising are ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Baby Grand’. The wonderful russet undersides are very prominent in ‘Teddy Bear’  as the densely leaved selection is calling to be embraced. It has rounder foliage and a tidy and fairly uniform habit. Another fine selection that has proven itself to be a performer even in not so ideal conditions is the newest selection dubbed ‘Baby Grand’. It has a wonderful short stature that will make it great for large container work and it seems to be a great bloomer even on a young, establishing plant.

Magnolia grandiflora could almost be a staple in almost every landscape/garden. The plant looks wonderful year round, adds a nice tropical feel to the Pacific Northwest landscapes here and it’s fabulous flowers in this month are an absolute treat!

Common Name: Southern Magnolia, Evergreen Magnolia
Location: CUH West Entry
Origin: Dwarf selections are of garden origin.
Height and spread: Most dwarf cultivars stay around 15-25 feet in height and about 15-20 feet wide.
Bloom Time: Late Summer into Autumn

 

 

 

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July 2012 Plant Profile: Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Peas)

July 6th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

This is the first time we’ve selected an ANNUAL for our monthly plant profile!

Over the past few years, we’ve refrained from planting annuals (except for seasonal containers) because they typically require more maintenance and we would have to replant them each year.

For the Seattle Garden Club’s Fragrance Garden, however, we needed more height, extended color, and, of course, delicious scent for visitors to enjoy! So, I recommended we erect three sets of three stakes, arranged into a tepee,  and flank them with climbing sweet peas. They’ve taken their time getting going, but July looks to be an absolutely stunning display of powerfully fragrant blooms that will stop visitors from their path just so they can inhale their magnificent perfume.

 

 

Common Name: Sweet Peas
Location: Fragrance Garden
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and spread: 18″- 6 o7ft. high (dwarf to standard varieties) and about 12″ wide.
Bloom Time: Early to Mid-Summer.

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