July 1st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Photo courtesy of Richie Steffen/Great Plant Picks
An evergreen hydrangea?!! You betcha!
There are very few evergreen vines for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest, but this gorgeous gem from Asia is becoming more readily available and it’s simply one of the coolest flowers you’ll ever get to witness opening.
From plump, peony-like buds, they begin to slowly crack open, a froth of fertile flowers begin to form and over the course of a few days, a flat umbel “lacecap” begins to form. People will begin to believe that it’s actually a hydrangea!
Hydrangea integrifolia is quite slow to establish (and re-establish, as we’ve learned after moving it to its new location at CUH three years ago) and may not even flower for the first few years of its life. Once it does, it puts on quite a show each summer. Dark green, glossy foliage remains year round. It’s a clinging plant that forms aerial roots on its stems. The aerial roots attach to a rough surface such as the bark of a tree or rough stucco wall; they don’t form tendrils or long whip-like shoots that wrap around supports so you have to carefully train them until they take hold. You could also let it sprawl on the ground as a ground-cover plant in a woodland garden.
They grow best in a protected spot in the garden such as a shady north-facing wall (such as our specimen here at the Center for Urban Horticulture), but they’re also quite at home tumbling over a stone wall in full sun with regular irrigation during the summer months.
Common Name: Evergreen Climbing Hydrangea
Location: Center for Urban Horticulture – Miller Library North Foundation Bed
Height and Spread: Can get 40′ tall and about 20′ wide
Bloom Time: Late June – July
May 6th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Joseph Rock’s Peony has been prized by gardeners and avid collectors for decades. Botanist and plant explorer Joseph Rock earned the honor of having this exquisite flower named after him.
Peonies are divided into two basic types; the bush or herbaceous peony and the so-called tree peony. With similar flowers, the main difference between the two are their bloom times and their growth habit. Herbaceous peonies die back down to the ground each winter and bloom later in the season (May-June) whereas the tree peony, which isn’t really a tree, is more like a shrub with stems and branches that do not die back to the ground and flower mostly in May. Paeonia rockii is a tree peony.
Tree peonies are long-lived shrubs with exquisite flowers, but they take careful placement and a lot of patience until they’re well established.
They are best planted in the autumn so they are able to start forming new roots over the winter and it’s critical that they are planted in a location with full/part sun, well drained soil, good air circulation, and protected from strong winds that could damage the brittle branches. They can take several years to get established to consistently bloom each year and they also resent being transplanted.
Common Name: Joseph Rock’s Tree Peony
Location: Pacific Connections – China Entry
Origin: Gansu, China
Height and Spread: 6-8′ tall and about 5-7′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Early-Mid May
A few selections of P. rockii can also be found growing at the Seattle Chinese Garden.
March 10th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Photo by Mitch Evans
It may seem odd that we’re profiling a plant we currently don’t have yet at UWBG, but soon everyone will be able to see it in a very prominent spot at the Center for Urban Horticulture. After over 10 years in its place, the 2nd of two Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood) in the Soest Garden will be removed to make room for a new tree that will take its place for the next 10 year cycle to cast part shade in Bed 2. Curation has selected the exquisite and rare Stewartia sinensis.
Many keen gardeners and horticulturists are familiar with the more common Stewartia pseudocamellia and the stunning bark of S. monodelpha. This Chinese stewartia seems to have been overlooked in the trade as descriptions state that the flowers are a hair smaller than that of S. pseudocamellia and monodelpha and the fact that it may be less hardy than the two species may also have contributed to its status as a collector’s item destined mainly for taxonomic collections. It has the same exquisite white blooms with the yellow stamens and the trunk of this small tree is truly exceptional with pretty peeling bark and a magnificent marbling pattern as the plant ages.
Be on the lookout for this stunning species. It will be years until it casts the kind of shade the underplantings of herbaceous perennials prefer, but the eventual effect will be quite dramatic.
Common Name: Chinese Stewartia
Location: Soest Garden Bed 2
Origin: Central China
Height and Spread: 20-25′ high x 15-20′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: June-July
October 1st, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Since our sample plants arrived three years ago from Blooms of Bressingham, this series of hybrid St. John’s Wort has really impressed us with their vigor, beauty, and reliability out in the garden. These short shrubs are wonderful in bedding; not only are their showy yellow flowers attractive, it’s the fruit on these tidy plants that are the main draw.
Luminous pink to captivating corals, they often will be blooming and fruiting at the same time making them exquisite in floral arrangements. Even the ripened black fruit remain intact and are quite ornamental.
Hypericum Hypearls™ Olivia with Erigeron ‘Prosperity’ poking through
Hypericum Hypearls™ Renu
Hypericum Hypearls™ Renu with older fruit
Common Name: Hybrid St. John’s Wort
Location: Blooms of Bressingham Plant Trials
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 2-3′ high x 3″ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Mid-June-Frost
July 12th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Not many garden plants can challenge the constant bloom and remarkable display dahlias put on in a summer garden. Their extravagant blooms come in a wide selection of different shapes, forms and seemingly endless colors. With thousands of varieties to choose from, I’ve tried to seek out types that are often hard to find and are a little more unusual.
Dark-leafed dahlias are all the rage in Europe, but a limited number are available to avid gardeners and collectors so I wanted to make sure that they were represented in our regularly irrigated sandy clay loam Bed 8 in full hot sun.
Dahlias flowers have a tendency to dominate a planting scheme, especially large dinner-plate types that tend to look gaudy and out of scale and the stems always require support. I’ve also sought out varieties that have single flowers and have a more open growth habit so they compliment other plants in a flower bed.
Planted in the spring, dahlias are typically grown from tuberous roots or rooted cuttings. They grow quickly with heat and regular applications of an organic fertilizer. They begin blooming this month and can continue on until frost if one keeps the spent flowers off. Tubers can be left in the ground over winter if you have them growing in soil that drains well and then provide a good thick mulch in the fall. To be on the safe side, tubers may be carefully lifted after frost has zapped the plant and stored in a box with soil left intact. Keep them in a cool unheated garage until spring.
Dahlia ‘Bishop of York’
Common Name: Dahlia cultivars
Location: Soest Garden – Bed 8
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 2-6′ high x 2ft. wide
Bloom Time: July-first frost
June 6th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Striking elegance with remarkable hardiness and vigor, this lily has withstood the test of time and is considered a classic amongst lily growers worldwide. ‘Tiger Babies’ is a complex hybrid that was bred from the often virus-infected “tiger lily” (Lilium lacifolium). Breeding has made it virus free and a welcomed summer-flowering bulb each year.
Soft shades of cantaloupe orange blushed with pink as they open with heavy brown spots color the pendant, nodding flowers that have a very slight scent to them. They have strong stems and do not require staking and they are quick to multiply compared to many other lily Asiatic lilies.
Common Name: Tiger Babies Asiatic Lily
Location: Soest Garden – Bed 6
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 3-4′ high x 1ft. wide
Bloom Time: June
May 3rd, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
The Pacific Northwest is home to a remarkable assortment of plants that are the envy of other gardeners across the country and the Pacific Coast Iris hybrids are among them.
With their remarkable variation in colors, evergreen foliage and tolerance of drought and some shade, this type of iris has become quite the workhorse in the spring garden come late April and into May. Over the past few years, more and more Northwest gardeners are beginning to discover Pacific Coast irises and, in some cases, even collect the handful of named selections that exist.
Pacific Coast Iris hybrids are comprised of several species that exist throughout the west coast of Washington, Oregon and California. While straight native species such as I. douglasii and I. tenax are readily available and are fine garden plants, it’s these remarkable hybrids that gardeners crave. With grassy foliage and profuse flowers, they rarely get over 12″ tall and are wonderful planted in perennial beds and the ever-so-difficult spot of planting underneath a tree! Given time to establish, they are remarkably drought-tolerant and easy to care for.
In the Soest Garden, we’ve introduced a plant that’s been passed around for many years, yet it hasn’t been properly registered as a named cultivar. It’s actually a division from a clump that’s growing at the Washington Park Arboretum where not many people get to see and enjoy it. This is a selection named ‘Ami Royale’.
Common Name: Pacific Coast Iris
Location: Soest Garden – Bed 7
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 8-12″ high x 1.5 feet wide
Bloom Time: Mid-Spring
April 2nd, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
We 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.
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.
Here 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
Height and Spread: Can climb 25-30ft.
Bloom Time: Early Spring
March 7th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
I 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.
Common Name: Chinese Paper Bush, Yellow Daphne
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, Miller Library North beds
Height and spread: 6ft. high and 6-7ft. wide (usually smaller)
Bloom Time: Winter
February 1st, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Who 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.
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