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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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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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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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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