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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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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