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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Learn Autumn Perennial Care from Riz Reyes

October 11th, 2012 by UWBG Communication Staff

Autumn in the Soest Perennial Garden

When – Saturday, November 3, 2012, 10am – 12pm – Cancelled
Where – Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA
Cost - $25; $30 after October 28th, registration required.


Join the Soest Garden gardener Riz Reyes for this hands-on workshop on fall perennial garden care. Walk the extensively planted beds and learn about which plants to cut back now, and which ones to leave until spring. Learn how to divide and transplant specific types of plants, and some tricks and techniques for maintenance practices that create visual appeal for the dormant season. Riz will also share his favorite “tried and true” selections for fall interest.

Participants should bring their own hand-pruners, gloves, and hori-hori soil knife, and dress for the weather.

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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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CUH Update – SPRING 2012

May 25th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Finding the time to do a regular update has been a challenge as this time of year demands so much of our time as the gardens take on a life of their own! With only two gardeners (one half-time and one 3/4 time) overseeing the grounds, we must scramble to get on top of things and sometimes it doesn’t always happen. The gardens, somehow, find a way to look fabulous and put on a show like no other.

MvVay Courtyard revovation:
We have just completed the first phase of a redesign and renovation of the McVay Courtyard here at the Center of Urban Horticulture. In the next couple of months, we will slowly transition into a new look thanks to UW Professor in Landscape Architecture, Ian Robertson. His aim is to integrate more architectural plants and add much needed color and vibrancy to the space.

CUH McVay Renovation
In this brand new makeover of this bed, we’ve relocated the existing ferns to make room for striking Manzanitas
(Arctostaphylos cvs.), azaleas, and an assortment of various bulbs including Nerine, Amaryllis, and Lilies.

 

Seattle Garden Club’s Scented Garden:
After 5 years since its installation, the Fragrance Garden is another one that has has taken on a life of its own as the beds are just about full and plants have really had a chance to get established.

Now it’s just a matter of editing and ensuring that there’s color (and fragrance, of course) all throughout the year.

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Fragrant azaleas perfume the air even on drizzly days.
(Rhododendron occidentalis)
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Newly installed trellis for a profusion of fragrant sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

A grand entrance in progress:

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Visitors might be wondering what’s happening up front; it’s getting kind of weedy and the horsetails are back in full force. It’s just one of the challenges we have in maintaining the grounds with just 2 part time gardeners, but we’ve been recruiting volunteers and partnering with the Hardy Plant Society of Washington
who have something spectacular in store as they are gathering troops to take on this challenge and transform this site into a most spectacular perennial border! There’s so much to do and they could really use a few hands during their work parties. If you’re interested in volunteering and being a part of what’s expected to be a traffic-stopper, check out the link to their site.

 

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It’s time to assemble our seasonal containers; both indoors and out! We’ve been trying to keep our small foyer in the Douglas Conservatory actually look like a conservatory with random tropical plants we’ve nursed back to health and put on display here. These have also been the source of plant material for ESRM 411 (Plant Propagation).

 

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The cutting lab is always a fun activity and I had an opportunity to help out this quarter! They take a wide assortment of cuttings utilizing various techniques and treatments. If they are successful, they’re able to take their new starts home and just marvel at the fact that they started a new plant from just a single section of stem and brought it back to life!

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In Remembrance.

   It’s been about 5 years since I started working in the Soest
Perennial Display Garden and in that time, I’ve had the pleasure of
meeting and interacting with the Soest family. This February, we were
saddened by the passing of Orin Soest. Alongside his wife, Ally, it was
always a treat to see them visit and walk them through the splendid
garden that bears their name. Even in his fragile state just a few years
ago, Orin still insisted on seeing the beds and always marvelled at
just how much it has grown and evolved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll always admire him as a kind and generous man who wasn’t afraid to smell the flowers. In fact, one of this favorites was a highly scented English Rose called ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, which should be in bloom in a few weeks in June and into July. Please come by CUH and the SoestGarden and help me remember Orin by sampling the scent of this exceptional rose and admiring a garden that will continue to live on in his honor. His presence, both in and out of the garden setting, will truly be missed.

 

 

Riz

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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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CUH Update – December 2011: New Garden Features & Season’s Greetings

December 21st, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

It has been an incredibly busy autumn here at CUH as we have several new projects underway. Our entire horticultural team has been involved with 2 major projects we’d like to highlight as these are pretty significant changes that might raise a few eyebrows.

Soest Garden by R. Reyes

new tree photo

Earlier this autumn, our arborist crew took down a large specimen of Parrotia persica that’s been growing in a raised planter in the Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Perennial Garden. You can read our notice about it from a few weeks ago.

 

 

If you’ve visited UWBG-CUH in the last two weeks or so, you probably couldn’t help but notice a small broadleaf evergreen tree standing by itself on a “pedestal” with soil excavated from it. This is the first phase of what should be an extravagant perennial border to be design, planted and maintained by the Hardy Plant Society of Washington. HPSW and UWBG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and we’re moving forward to assist them in preparing the site. The first step was to remove as much of the existing soil as possible to help eradicate the horrendous horsetail that has inhabited the bed after years of mediocre maintenance as this section of CUH has always been a low priority, yet it’s really our front door. We are ecstatic to have a group that can take this on (and also take over the Blooms of Bressingham evaluation program and its maintenance.

It will be awhile before both these projects really come into their own, but because we are the CENTER for urban horticulture, we will aim to provide our visitors with ongoing interest, color and at this time of year, festive decor such as our lovely Christmas tree donated by City People’s Garden Store and decorated by one of our many generous supporters, Charlotte Behnke and our containers in the Seattle Garden Clubs’s Fragrance Garden where members flanked containers with scented pansies and primoses accented with bright gold sweet flag grass.

On behalf of the UWBG staff, we want to wish you Season’s Greetings and a very Happy Holidays and may the upcoming year bring with it much joy, good health and, hopefully, more frequent visits to our gardens!

Cheers,

Riz

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December 2011 Plant Profile: Ilex x koehneana

December 16th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

UWBG has the one of the largest Holly collections in North America and this particular hybrid tends to get by unnoticed until one actually gets up close to admire its bold presence as a broadleaf evergreen shrub. It almost looks like a magnolia or something from the tropics, but it’s perfectly hardly for us here in the Pacific Northwest.

This Ilex is a hybrid between the common I. aquifolium (English Holly) and I. latifolia (Lusterleaf Holly). It does not reseed itself prolifically like English Holly and makes a stately background plant that has endured poor soil, limited irrigation, and is likely to thrive in both sun and part shade.

Common Name: Koehne Holly
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Location: Soest Garden South Slope
Origin: Garden
Height and spread: 15-20ft. high and 10-15ft. wide. Various cultivars exist that are shorter or taller.
Bloom Time: Late spring
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Dioecious, white flowers followed by red drupes in autumn/winter on current year’s wood.

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CUH Update: The Autumn Approach

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

After a nonexistent summer, we’re now charging forward and anticipating the return of rain and cooler temperatures, the shorter days, and all the fall tasks that seem to just ramp up without warning.

Autumn can be a mesmerizing time of year as many plants, particularly in the Soest Perennial Display Garden, have reached their full potential in growth and in many cases, abundant bloom. There’s indication of fall color all around (check out this month’s Plant Profile selection) and the last thrust of blooms being encouraged from slightly tender plants such as the dahlias, salvias, and agapanthus make for a tremendous show. The ornamenntal grasses are beginning to turn color as well as infloresences beginning to show creating a wonderfully diverse and complimentary foil to the landscape.

Our Plant Pick for the month of October: Vitis coignetiae the Crimson Glory Vine.

Fall is also the time to get one last mow of the lawn and then fertilize it. A major tree removal is on the task list this fall/winter (read about it here).We’ve also got a few planting areas that need to be prepared and hopefully installed this autumn and spring. It will be a very busy fall. We just pray that the weather cooperates when we have these large tasks to take on.

Cheers,

Riz

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' with Dahlia 'Bishop of York' with giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea) in the background.


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October 2011 Plant Profile: Vitis coignetiae

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Vitis coignetiae

Another woody plant has captured our attention this month and is deserving of this autumn highlight and that’s the Crimson Glory Vine.

While most grapes are fruiting now and express some fall color, this outstandingly large and colorful vine is mesmerizing to see especially when back lit by the western exposure of the sun. A entire kaleidoscope of rich purples, bright crimsons, yellow, reds and oranges along with the aging green is a sight to see.

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It is readily available and fairly easy to care for. It requires full sun, but can tolerate part shade, and moderate irrigation. It also requires quite a bit of space, but responds pretty well to pruning in mid-summer to control its size and habit on a trellis or similar structure.

Common Name: Crimson Glory Vine
Family: Vitaceae
Location: North of Merrill Hall and South of Issacson Hall on trellises
Origin: Russia, Korea, and Japan
Height and spread: 20-30ft. +
Bloom Time: Early June
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Almost inconspicuous racemes with small white lowers later forming into chalking purple blue fruit that are slightly bitter and tart with prominent seeds.

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Notice of Garden Renovation: Soest Garden Specimen Tree

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Our Persian Ironwood tree slated to be replaced later this fall/winter

So after 13 years in the same raised bed, it’s time that one of our Persian Ironwood trees (Parrotia persica) be removed and replaced with another species.

It was suggested that every ten years or so, the specimen tree would be changed out to showcase different species that could be utilized to create the part shade environment intended for the perennials planted below. There’s also concern that a mature tree’s roots could damage the concrete wall if allowed to get large.

After leaf-drop this fall/winter, we will close off the Soest Garden for a day or so and have the tree removed. Some of the soil will be replace (and perennials moved temporarily, of course) and our new tree, a American smoke tree Continus obovatus, will be planted.

We will begin digging up perennials shortly and keeping them in the nursery until they can be replanted in the same bed. Signs will be posted describing the project and further notice will be made when the date of renovation is determined.

CUH Grounds Staff

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