July 2011 Plant Profile: Triteleia (Brodiaea)

July 10th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Triteleia 'Rudy'

Triteleia in McVay Courtyard with Nolina nelsonii in the background.

Somewhat of a taxonomic nightmare, but truly a much overlooked summer flowering bulb! Planted as a group, these put on a colorful show in early summer as they first emerge as fleshy, grass-like plants, but then they’re soon followed by wiry stems hold up clusters of blue-violet blooms (also comes in white) that are eye-catchy and truly spectacular. The seed heads will also dry adding a little longer interest. This particular cultivar pictured is called ‘Rudy’ with a cool blue suffused in white. It thrives happily emerging from ornamental grasses and just popping up as a planned surprise. These are charming, so easy to grow and need to be used more often.

Common Name: Triplet Lily, Brodiaea
Family: Asparagaceae
Location: Soest Garden Bed 6
Origin: Western USA
Height: 10-12″
Spread: Each inflorescence is about 6-8″ wide.
Bloom Time: Late June/July.
Bloom Type/Color: Terminal umbels on wiry stems with clusters of typically blue/violet flowers,
Exposure/Water/Soil: Full sun in well-drained soil.

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June 2011 Plant Profile: Glumicalyx goseloides

June 6th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Walking down the Soest Garden, it’s very easy to miss seeing this remarkable perennial plant all the way from South Africa. It’s a low growing evergreen perennial herb with foliage that has a pungent scent to your fingers if you touch it and if you kneel down and observe the unique tubular flowers, you’ll pick up on the “artificial chocolate” scent. What is really special about this delicate plant is its hardiness. It has survived temperatures in the lower teens (Fahrenheit) provided that it’s in a well drained spot in full sun.

Common Name: Nodding Chocolate Flower
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Location: Soest Garden Bed 8 (Southeast corner of bed)
Origin: South Africa
Height: 10-15″
Spread: 12-15″
Bloom Time: Late May and throughout the summer if deadheaded
Bloom Type/Color: Terminal racemes of nodding flowers of red/orange with a unique fragrance.
Exposure/Water/Soil: Sun-Part Shade. Moderately moist and well draining soil.

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May 2011 Plant Profile: Daphne x transatlantica ‘Summer Ice’

May 11th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Having the coldest spring on record, I figured it would be fitting to introduce this excellent garden plant that might describe what kind of summer we have.

Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice'

Daphne ‘Summer Ice’ is becoming a widely recognized small shrub for the Pacific Northwest. It’s dependable, easy to care for, once established, and possesses fine qualities as such persistent leaves (for the most part) and wonderfully sweet fragrance that’s present almost year round. Gardeners have been impressed with its tidy habit often forming a compact mount with dense blooms from top to bottom.

Common Name: ‘Summer Ice’ Daphne
Family: Thymelaeaceae
Location: Fragrance Garden
Origin: Garden Origin
Height: 2.5-3ft.
Spread: 3ft. wide
Bloom Time: Intermittently throughout the year.
Bloom Type/Color: Terminal clusters of white-pale pink,tubular flowers with exceptional fragrance.
Exposure/Water/Soil: Sun-Part Shade. Moderately moist and well draining soil.

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April 2011 Plant Profile: Osmanthus delavayi

April 8th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
 

One of the most useful and attractive evergreen shrubs for the Pacific Northwest, this fragrant, spring blooming gem is hardy, easy to grow and highly adaptable to our climate. Left alone, it’s a loose and airy background shrub with clusters of densely packed tubular flowers in early spring. It also responds well to regularly pruning and shearing as a specimen or hedging plant. This is often done after flowering to stimulate growth that puts forth next year’s bloom.

Common Name: Delavay Tea Olive
Family: Oleaceae
Location: Fragrance Garden. McVay Courtyard
Origin: Western China
Height: 6-8ft. tall and
Spread: 10-15 ft. wide
Bloom Time: Late March into April
Bloom Type/Color: White, axillary, tubular flowers. Scented
Exposure/Water/Soil: Sun-Part Shade. Moderately moist and well draining soil.

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March 2011 Plant Profile: The Genus Helleborus

March 9th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

The popularity of this tough and resilient perennial has made it one of the most revered and sought after of all winter blooming plants in our climate. The range of varieties and different color forms now available is quite remarkable and being able to select just one for your garden is near impossible.

Helleborus x hybridus Winter Jewels™ Black Diamond

By far the most popular and well known are the diverse hybrids of Helleborus x hybridus (often incorrectly dubbed as Helleborus orientalis) or the Lenten Rose. These represent the wide range of colors and forms that currently exist and some of the finest examples come from a breeder who generously donated some of their previous breeding stock to UW Botanic Gardens, which are all now in full bloom at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Ernie and Marietta O’byrne of Northwest Garden Nursery developed the fabulous Winter Jewels Series. Thousands of crosses comprised of hybrids bred from at least 16 different species make up several color strains to showcase much improved flower forms, exquisite colors and unusual markings.

Here’s just an example of their work and what’s currently blooming now:

Helleborus x hybridus Winter Jewels™ Jade Star flower reverse

Helleborus x hybridus Winter Jewels™ Onyx Odyssey reverse

Helleborus Winter Jewels™ Painted

Helleborus x hybridus Winter Jewels™ Golden Lotus

When it comes to early bloom, prolific flowers and sturdy, disease-free foliage, the new hybrids coming out of Europe are tough to beat. The “Gold Collection”, again a complex series of hybrids are actually identical clones propagated vegetatively (via tissue culture) to ensure uniformity. In varying shades of pure white, cream, to deep saturated pinks, these have proven to be vigorous and excellent garden or container perennials. ‘Joseph Lemper’ our January 2010 Plant Profile) along with ‘Jacob’ are two selections of Helleborus niger that are a part of this Gold Collection. Then you have the exquisite quality of varieties such as ‘Ivory Prince’ and ‘Pink Frost’ that are flying off the nursery tables at nurseries in mid-winter.

Helleborus 'Josef Lemper'

A brand new hybrid that was new for us last year is getting established and looking quite lovely is Helleborus x ‘Rosemary’. An unusual cross between H x hybridus and H. niger bringout the fine qualities of both plants.

Then you have the sturdiness and dependability of species such as Helleborus argutifolius, the Corsican Hellebore, which opens later in the spring with pale green flowers. A selection called ‘Silver Lace’ is lovely with finer dissected foliage and a more compact habit. Helleborus foetidus you can find growing in the Fragrance Garden despite its unpleasant smell if admired up close, The foliage is exquisitely elegant, narrow and finely dissected.

Hellebores will be the highlight of an early spring plant sale taking place here at CUH being run by the Northwest Horticultural Society. Proceeds from the sales go to support the Miller Horticultural Library and there will be plant vendors from all around the Puget Sound region selling plants and, yes, they’ve been asked to also bring their blooming hellebores to entice you! There will be demonstrations, displays, and even a talk by renowned plantsman, Dan Hinkley.

For more information, please visit our page dedicated to this event!

This is the perfect month to see these wonderful jewels in person as the weather begins to warm, the earliest of bulbs begin to pop and the color heralding the arrival of spring.

Common Name: Lenten Rose, Christmas Rose
Family: Ranunculaceae
Location: Throughout CUH
Origin: Original species come from Eastern regions of Europe. Mostly hybrids.
Height: 10″-18″ tall
Spread: mature clumps can get 2.5ft. wide
Bloom Time: Mid-Winter-Early Spring
Bloom Type/Color: Flowers composed of persistent sepals often marked or fully double with central nectaries. Flowers are out to downfacing opening sequentially.
Water/Soil: Moist to moderately dry. Drought tolerant once established.

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February 2011 Plant Profile: The Genus Galanthus

February 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Galanthus nivalis by R. Reyes

Galanthus nivalis in the Fragrance Garden

We have several forms of the dainty and delicate snowdrop growing here at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Of all spring emphemeral bulbs, Galanthus have been revered and loved for many centuries and have always been the harbingers of spring as their noses poke up and their gentle blossoms push through the snow. It’s quite a dazzling image.

The popularity of Galanthus have suaded plant collectors, more specifically known as “Galanthophiles”, to seek out the rares forms and long lost hybrids that mostly exist amongst growers in the United Kingdom.

Supposedly, a single bulb of a exceedingly rare variant of Galathus was sold on eBay for well over $500 as stated in this article. The facts about the actual plant and terms of sale was somehow not clear.
The exceptionally large flower of Galanthus plicatus ‘EA Bowles’ that sold for £357 at auction

Not everyone need pay close to that amount to enjoy the sparkling beauty of snowdrops in the late winter. Often you can purchase a bag of bulbs (Most commonly available species G. nivalis and G. elwesii) in the fall or purchase potted plants blooming right about now at specialty nurseries. They naturalize and multiply when left undisturbed and they thrive in sun or shade in well drained soils.

An unusual double-flowered Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'

Come see them now in full bloom here at CUH!

Common Name: Snowdrops
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Location: CUH: Soest Garden, Fragrance Garden, McVay Courtyard (double flowered forms)
Origin: Original species come from Eastern regions of Europe.
Height: 3-6″ tall
Spread: mature colonies of bulbs can cover a square foot or more.
Bloom Time: Mid-Winter-Early Spring
Bloom Type/Color: Composed of tepals prodominantly white in color with various variations
Water/Soil: Moist to moderately dry. Drought tolerant once established.

Pure white


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January 2011 Plant Profile: Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’

January 5th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

The winter landscape is incomplete without the presence of twig-dogwoods. Their stately, yet elegant stems, vibrant color and imposing form in the garden is remarkable. What’s more impressive is their adaptability and ease of growth. They are tolerant of most soils, are drought tolerant once established and the ability to recover from almost being mowed down to the ground each spring and produce brightly colored stems the following winter is extraordinary. From a plant production point of view, they root easily from natural layers (when stems come into contact with the soil and begin forming roots) and a ecological restoration technique called “live-staking”, where sections of mature stems are simply plunged into a container or directly into the ground and root. These cut stems are also prized by florist and the slimmest stems are used for basket-weaving.

The one represented here is a striking stand of them at the Center for Urban Horticulture’s Soest Garden flanked my various ornamental grasses, heaths and heathers create an amazing, low-maintenance plant combination that anyone can replicate in their home gardens.

Even with our early snowfall last November, the imposing stems of yellow-twig dogwood stand out and dried flower heads capture a few flakes creating a glittering effect from a distance

Common Name: Yellow-twig dogwood
Location: CUH: Soest Garden South Slope, WPA: Witt Winter Garden Family: Cornaceae
Origin: Garden Origin
Height: 6-8ft.
Spread: 7-8ft.
Bloom Time: Early Summer
Bloom Type/Color: Umbels of white flowers on the tips of stems.
Water/Soil: Moist to moderately dry. Drought tolerant once established.

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December 2010 Plant Profile: Prunus ‘Mount Vernon’

December 2nd, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Contrary to its original form (Prunus laurocerasus), this selection of the common, overused and potentially invasive Cherry Laurel is a welcomed addition to any landscape. ‘Mt. Vernon’ is beginning to appear in many urban plantings both as a hugging evegreen groundcover or as a prostrate specimen shrub in front of a border. It is truly versatile, hardy, and a very dependable plant with glossy, deep green foliage that looks fabulous all year around. It is also slow growing and doesn’t have the “seeding-around” problem associated with Cherry Laurel in our climate. The low, almost creeping habit is exquisite especially around hardscapes and any areas you need to “soften” in appearance.

Common Name: Mount Vernon cherry laurel
Location: Soest Garden Bed 6
Family: Rosaceae
Origin: Garden Origin
Height: 12-15″
Spread: 4-6′
Bloom Time: Early Summer
Bloom Type/Color: Insignificant spikes of cream white flowers.
Water/Soil: Well drained, moderately moist. Can tolerate some drought once established

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November 2010 Plant Profile: Osmanthus fragrans v. aurantiacus

November 14th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

In the three years I’ve expected it bite the dust, this plant has survived our winters and we’ve enjoyed the fruity scent from this form of Sweet Olive every autumn. Osmanthus fragrans is a popular shrub/small tree in the warmer regions of the United states (USDA Zone 8 +) and in China, where it is highly revered and its scented autumn blossoms are used to scent and flavor tea. This orange flowered form aurantiacus is not as common in the United States and it’s also not known to be as hardy. So, it was surprising to me that our two large specimens in the Fragrance Garden are thriving. Perhaps the fact that we started with large specimens, are enclosed by other plantings and are against a southwest facing wall contributes to their success OR I’ve even began to wonder if this isn’t aurantiacus, but a selected named cultivar of O. fragrans that is truly hardy and well worth propagating to see if it’s something we can recommend to gardeners in the Puget Sound region. We can grow straight O. fragrans, but it really requires a protected location and benefits from the radiated heat from a nearby building or paved surfaces. Instead, I’ve recommended gardeners seek out a cross known as Osmanthus x fortunei to plant in their gardens. It is very much like O. fragrans, but with broader, darker green leaves and larger, more profuse flowers with the same apricot-like scent. You can read more about it here. For now, just follow your nose during your next visit to CUH and admire this plant in person.

Common Name: Sweet Olive
Location: Fragrance Garden
Family: Oleaceae
Origin: China
Height: 12-20ft.
Spread: 4-6ft.
Bloom Time: Late October throughout November.
Bloom Type/Color: Axillary flowers arranged fairly densely throughout plant.
Straight species is a creamy yellow, but this a rare orange form and supposedly not hardy selection of this species.
Water/Soil: Well drained, moderately moist.

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October 2010 Plant Profile: Symphyotrichum (Aster) lateriflorum ‘Prince’

October 11th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Symphyotrichum (Aster) lateriflorum ‘Prince’


A regular visitor to the garden recommended that I make sure that I profile a plant that would stop people on their tracks when they walk by it and for October of this year, I’ve selected a dashingly handsome Aster, or now properly known as Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Prince’ thriving happily in Bed 8. After years of sulking in the same bed; but overtaken by other plants, I finally moved it where it would receive full sun and less competition and, oh boy, did it take off! It is a much revered plant in the fall landscape because of its compact habit, dark purple foliage and the masses of miniature daisy-like blooms that bloom for weeks until a very hard frost. Many who see it are surprised that such a small plant could produce so many flowers!

Common Name: Calico Aster
Family: Asteraceae
Origin: Garden Origin
Location: Soest Garden Bed 8
Height: 1.5ft. tall
Spread: 2ft. wide
Bloom Time: Late September to hard frost
Bloom Type/Color: Small composite, white with pink centers.
Exposure: Full Sun
Water/Soil: Average, well drained.

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