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.

photo 2 photo 1

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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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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CUH Update – February 2011: Show Time

February 22nd, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Apologies for the delay in getting an update posted. We’ve had several little projects we’re trying to complete and we are getting numerous volunteer applications, which we have been going through and contacting interested individuals who are interested in helping us out in grounds.

Late winter brings with it a lot of planting and transplanting projects and our major one so far this year has been the relocation of an established specimen of Edgeworthia crysantha from the McVay courtyard to a new location just north of the Miller Library.

Transplanted Edgeworthia in a bed just North of the Merrill Hall

Like its close relative, Daphne, Edgeworthia resents being moved around and the fact that it’s also recovering from the hard freeze of last November with just a few buds remaining to open, we did our best to get the largest rootball possible and replanted it immediately into its new location. Cross your fingers!

With more severe winter cold predicted to come our way again, we are keeping our eye out on a few plants that could suffer. Obviously, Edgeworthia is on that list along with the two large Osmanthus we have in the Fragrance Garden. Our poor Daphne bholua doesn’t deserve another hit; this poor plant hasn’t flowered for us in three winters.


Then there are the Azara microphylla, which are just starting to flower that could be hit with cold and the remaining buds zapped and our massive Cordyline australis on the south side of Issacson Hall is already a sorry looking site. So, basically, anything spectacularly fragrant is being monitored.  Hehe

Our first accessioned plant for 2011 has been planted here at CUH in a large Chinese container donated by a special donor that once held a beautiful cascading Japanese maple, but when it became too troublesome to keep up the watering and the foliage would crisp up in the summer sun, we had to replace it.

Detail of the fierce branches of Citrus ‘Flying Dragon’

The maple has moved into a new home in the Woodland Garden over at Washington Park Arboretum and, for awhile, the pot was empty until it was decided that we would seek out a specimen of Poncirus (Citrus) trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, a hardy citrus, to fill that void. Bloom River Nursery down in Oregon was able to provide us with a standardized specimen that’s been trained for ten years. It now graces the pot with its exquisite and somewhat sinister looking branches. It is highly unusual and will definitely be a conversation piece. Now we have to determine an under-planting so it doesn’t look so bare below.

Spring is definitely in the air when the sun decides to show itself and bulbs begin to bulge out of the ground and bloom their little heads of. Our annual show of yellow, cheerful, daffodils are just days away.

But for a real show, the 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden Show is finally here and UWBG has a most unusual booth this year thanks to our friends at Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club.

Rey Lopez generously donated a kayak for our display with one end cut off so it would stand and then it was planted up to make it look as if it had traveled to both sides of UWBG. Native flora and accessioned plants represented the Arboretum while more natives , including red-twig dogwoods and cattails complete with a “blue-tube” represent Foster Island and UBNA, while more exotic garden plants represented CUH.

Planted kayak that’s been through Lake Washington having collected materials from UWBG along the way

February is flying by so quickly with many activities taking place. The next few weeks should be spectacular (barring any serious cold snaps that will do certain plans in).

Cheers,

R

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CUH Update – January 2011: A frosty start to a new year

January 11th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

The start of the new year brings with it a bit of sad news as one of our gardeners here at CUH has decided to take another position that’s full time, leaving just two half-time gardeners to oversee the grounds here. With our staff so limited as it is to oversee all aspects of the work we do and a budget that’s going to see more cuts, getting a new gardener sometime soon is highly unlikely. So, we certainly have challenges ahead of us, but we move forward.

January has traditionally been the coldest month of they year, but with our cold snap of November and drab December, I’m just praying that we don’t endure anymore severe fluctuations in temperature and prolonged subfreezing temperatures. So many plants have been hit and we’re all just waiting for signs of spring to distract us from our worries. Luckily, daffodils are showing signs of life as are the lovely Hellebores we are most excited about watching bloom in the next couple of weeks! You might remember ‘Josef Lemper’ from last year along with ‘Jacob’, ‘Pink Frost’ and the highly anticipated ‘Walburton’s Rosemary’. Then come the x hybridus selections that will be standouts in the Soest Garden for sure!!

We’ve also been trying to plant, if soil allows us so, and our focus has been getting our vine collection out of the nursery and into the grounds of CUH. Several grape species (Vitis) have been installed to clamber around the Southwest side of Merrill Hall and a few Clematis species climbing or carpeting the slopes of the Stormwater Garden. They’ve been mulched well in the hopes they survive the transplant well and establish as quickly as possible.

The McVay Courtyard will undergo a bit of a facelift to help spruce up the site with the addition of a new maple tree, flowering perennials and bulbs and the relocation of a large specimen of Edgeworthia chrysantha that will need to carefully be dug and transplanted to two possible locations. You might recall this plant suffering from the cold last month, so we will try and find a more sheltered location for it.

Now with more snow in the forecast, we have to pace ourselves and pray we get everything we want to get done, accomplished. It’s mother nature; you always have to try and work with it, never against it!

I’m sure it’ll be forgiving, it always seems to be.

Think spring….and tell it to hurry!!

Riz

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CUH Update – December 2010: Overcoming November’s Cold Spell

December 15th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Several weeks after an unusual early snow and cold snap, the grounds at CUH have looked like a bomb was detonated and we’re just now cleaning up the aftermath. OK, it wasn’t that bad, but the clean-up continues as the holiday season is well underway and we’re doing our best to keep things clean and presentable to our many guest this time of year.

Having the snow was actually quite a sight as it emphasizes the strength of the structure, or so called “bones” of a landscape, so beautifully.


Here you can see some of the changes made to the Fragrance Garden this past year as we thinned out a few plants and transplanted several specimens to allow more room for certain species to really thrive.

Nolina nelsonii in the McVay Courtyard

Always the stand-out in every season is our stunning Nolina from Mexico. Dusted in pure white powder, it withstands the cold and remains such an iconic plant in a garden that will undergo a slight facelift as we reconfigure some of the plantings and add some for floral interests come spring.

Container composition up against Issacson Hall.

Even the effective composition of an evergreen container is emphasized by winter’s snow. During the growing season, this Osmanthus heterophyllus, flanked by a prostrate Podocarpus, Heuchera ‘Purple Petticoats’ and a maidenhair fern. In the shade for the majority of the day, it isn’t all that exciting. But as the snow arrives, it instantly becomes a sight to behold.

Helleborus argutifolius 'Silver Lace'

The same could be said of this fairly new selection of Helleborus argutifolius called ‘Silver Lace’. It’s been a plant that not many people really take note of unless it’s paired with a contrasting color or texture in the garden, but the added snow creates a most unusual and beautiful effect.

Phlomis ruselliana seedheads

With so much clean up, cutting back and dead-heading to do in the fall, you just can’t quite get to everything, but once the weather doesn’t cooperate to allow you to finish your work, the resulting image in the landscape can be quite enchanting. This Jerusalem Sage was never cut back after blooming, but capped in a light dusting of snow, it is truly elegant.

NOW, COMES THE HARSH REALITY OF IT ALL:

Persicaria in the Soest Garden

“Overcooked spinach” is what one visitor said to describe the mess a cold spell can bring. A task that I meant to do a few weeks back suddenly rises up on the priority to-do list.

Cold damaged Daphne bholua

For the third year in a row, our poor Daphne bholua has, once again, suffered from an early frost and cold damage. This species typically begins blooming around Christmas time for us, but the past few winters have been so unforgiving, we just pray that it recovers and is allowed to branch out and flower again next year.

Cold Damaged Edgeworthia chrysantha

A relative of the Daphne is the beloved Chinese Paper Bush or Edgeworthia. Each winter, since it was planted, the cold seems to damage the buds as they form so very few flowers are produced. Ideally, the plant would have formed its buds over the summer and into autumn, the foliage yellows and drops and by then, the plant is prepared for the onset of cold temperatures and the buds continue to develop and flower beginning in early February or so. The problem has been: the foliage never fully yellows so the plant isn’t allowed to go into a proper dormancy before the cold sets in; therefore, the buds are further damaged. Seeing these fuzzy undeveloped buds that still look plump and firm gives us hope that they’ll mature properly, but the fact that it isn’t even officially winter yet worries me.

There’s a lot to see and observe at CUH right now, but one of the highlights is a exciting brand new plant (you didn’t think I’d end this report on a sad note, did you?) we’ve acquired as a container specimen for Merrill Hall Commons. Though being advertised as hardy and suited for our mild Seattle climate, this relative of a fairly common houseplant has been the talk of plant aficionados around as the grower who was introducing it accidentally “leaked” a few specimens to local nurseries and we managed to secure one prior to its wide distribution. This is the stunning and elegant Taiwanese Umbrella Tree botanically known as Schefflera taiwaniana.

Schefflera taiwaniana

Like any new and exciting plant we acquire for our collections, I like to think of each one as a gift to the public: our visitors who come near and far to enjoy the surroundings and admire the work we do here at CUH.

I want to dedicate this Schefflera to you all and hope you have a chance to see it here or acquire it for your own garden in the near future.

On behalf of UWBG and the entire grounds staff here at CUH, I want to wish you all a warm and happy holidays and an exciting new year!

Cheers,

Riz Reyes
Soest Perennial Display Gardener
UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture

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