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)
June 3rd, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
The beginning of June boasts boisterous and abundant blooms and this native shrub is no exception. Starting in late May, an otherwise nondescript shrub begins to draw attention as masses of single white flowers suddenly begin to pop open creating a blizzard of deliciously scented clusters that cover a straggly shrub from top to bottom.
P. lewisii growing in the upland forest restoration site out in UBNA.
Found in open forests in low-mid elevations, Philadelphus lewisii is highly adaptable to the garden where it becomes a large shrub and requires only well-drained soil, moderate moisture, and full sun to part shade. It seems to tolerate competition from other plants very well, but requires some pruning to keep its size in check and to remove dead or non-productive wood.
A established specimen in full bloom along the entrance into UBNA
Common Name: Lewis’s Mock Orange
Location: Union Bay Natural Area
Origin: Pacific NW Native
Height and Spread: 6-7′ tall and about 5-7′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late May – Early July
April 3rd, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Spring flowers are in abundance in April, but very few possess the charm and delightful scent of the infamous lily-of-the-valley. Known to be a thug in the garden once established, a variegated selection appeared that seemed to not grow as quickly. Still quick to spread in rich, moist soil and capable of competing with neighboring plants, the thin yellow striping along the leaf is quite unusual and can light up shady areas both before, during and after bloom. The only caveat to growing this plant is its tendency to revert back to all-green foliage. Once this is encountered, simply yank out the green reversions to maintain excellent foliage color.
Common Name: Variegated Lily-of-the-Valley
Location: Soest Garden Bed 7
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 6-8″ tall and can spread forming patches in the garden.
Bloom/Fruit Time: April-May
February 4th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Hellebores are very popular winter-blooming perennials, and plant breeders are responding to the high demand for easy maintenance and colorful blooms during the gloomiest time of the year. The Gold Collection® is an assortment of species and modern hybrids selected for vigorous growth and prolific blossoms year after year. ‘Merlin,’ a Ballardiae hybrids (H. niger x H. lividus), is simply magical: it opens as a soft pink with a deeper pink reverse and a hint of lime green. As the flower ages, the blooms age to a richer deep pink and hold on for many weeks. The foliage on ‘Merlin’ is exquisite, with a hint of marbled variegation on tough, clean leaves.
Skagit Gardens in Mt. Vernon, WA kindly donated a batch of Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® ‘Merlin’ to UW Botanic Gardens, and the plants have done well for us. They’re exceptional in the garden, but also in containers for those who don’t have much space.
Common Name: Hellebore hybrid
Location: Entry Triangle Bed Entry along NE 41st St.
Origin: Garden Origin.
Height and Spread: 10-12″ high x 18″ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: December-March
January 6th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
A striking addition to any landscape, this golden Monterey Cypress is quite popular and widely available in nurseries and garden centers. ‘Goldcrest’ is noted for its narrow, upright habit and exquisitely bright color; it fits into many different planting situations especially in smaller spaces.
The caveat to this beauty is its semi-hardiness in the Pacific Northwest. It requires a warm spot in the garden or it is best confined to a container planting that could be moved during a hard, cold winter. Most plants sold in garden centers are small, immature trees with very tender, needle-like foliage, and have a wonderful citrus scent when rubbed. They’re wonderful as a vertical accent in a container and are frequently sold decorated with ornaments during the holiday season.
They should be grown in full sun and have well draining soil. Once established, they are quite drought tolerant and often they turn slightly orange or light brown during the winter time, resuming chartreuse coloration once the weather warms in spring.
Common Name: Goldcrest Monterey Cypress
Location: Containers in Fragrance Garden
Origin: Garden Origin. Original species is native to the central California coast, USA.
Height and Spread: 6-7′ high x 18-24″ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: N/A
December 2nd, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
This low growing, creeping shrub often gets overlooked throughout most of the year, but its vibrant fruit and evergreen foliage make it a stunning addition to the winter garden, particularly in containers. The Wintergreen grows via shallow underground rhizomes and like most plants in the Ericaceae, it prefers acidic soils and because of its diminutive size, grows best in mostly sunny and exposed sites.
American Wintergreen is best utilized in container plantings here in the Pacific Northwest as large patches of it in the garden are rarely encountered. It can be a tricky plant to get established in the garden and requires regular watering initially, but looks to be drought tolerant once it gets going.
As a container plant, the lovely (and edible) fruit are closely admired and last for many weeks. The fruit itself is actually a dry capsule and it’s the fleshy red calyx that surrounds it that looks like the fruit. When crushed, it has a minty aroma.
Common Name: Teaberry, American Wintergreen
Location: Containers by the commons and Merrill Hall
Origin: Eastern North American
Height and Spread: 3-8″ high x 10-12″ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: September-March
November 4th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
After a tremendous autumn display, the show continues in the landscape with wonderful fall and winter blooming plants that take center stage. This lovely selection of the fall/winter blooming Camellia sasanqua is highly coveted by garden designers for its glossy, dark green, evergreen foliage and simple flowers that do not leave a horrible mess once they’re through flowering.
‘Setsugekka’ has lovely pure white flowers with stunning yellow stamens that begin blooming in late October. It has a soft, earthy scent to its flowers and it has somewhat of a free and open habit that lends itself to being trained up against a wall as an espalier that provides a dark green background to others plants during the spring and summer months when its not blooming.
Common Name: Fall-Blooming Camellia
Location: Fragrance Garden/NHS Hall Bed
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 10-15′ high x 7′ wide
Bloom Time: October-February
August 30th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Probably the most asked about plant in our seasonal container plantings, this unique African Daisy is both eye-catching and remarkably easy to grow. ‘Whirligig’ is referred to as a “spoon” type of hybrid where the tips of each petal is scalloped and rounded in shape.
Osteospermum come in various colors and are easy annuals provided that they receive full sun, regular water and fertilizer and in a mild winter, some plants may overwinter and come back the following season.
Common Name: African Daisy
Location: Container at the entrance of Merrill Hall at the Center for Urban Horticulture.
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 8-12″ high x 12″ wide
Bloom Time: June-Frost
August 6th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
In recognition of the installation of New Zealand’s focal forest at the Pacific Connections Garden, we highlight a stunning ornamental grass that certainly attracts attention at this time of year. The “toe toe” grass is a relative of the more common, but often troublesome Pampas grass (C. selloana).
C. richardii is far more elegant and their plumes arch and sway in a gentle breeze making a dramatic impact in the landscape. It takes full sun and is quite adaptable to poor soils. It is best used as a single specimen or as a grouping of 3-5 clumps so you can admire its form and habit.
Like a few Ornamental grasses, it has the potential to re-seed in warmer climates, but it hasn’t been considered invasive here in the Pacific Northwest. Like any plant we’ve accessioned at UWBG, we will closely monitor its habit and take appropriate action should it ever become a problem. For now, we will enjoy it’s striking presence in the New Zealand entry at the Pacific Connections Garden and the South Slope of the Soest Perennial Garden.
Common Name: Toe Toe Grass, Plumed Tussock Grass
Location: Soest Garden – South Slope, WPA Pacific Connections New Zealand
Origin: New Zealand
Height and Spread: 5-7′ high x 5ft. wide
Bloom Time: July with plume lasting through the winter months.