Archive for cutting flowers – Page 2

3 Colorful Shrubs for Fall

Compact Burning Bush
The most popular variety of Euonymus alata ‘Compacta’ because people think it will be small, say 3′ x 3′.  It is not the least bit small and easily grows into a beautiful small tree.  The smallest variety on the market is called ‘Rudy Haag’ 5′ x 5′.   Even the variety called ‘Pip Squeak’  is 6′ x 5′.  If Burning Bush is not placed with room to grow, these shrubs get turned into ugly muffins by frustrated gardeners.  If it is sheared properly, thinner at the top and wider at the bottom, this can be a very attractive hedge but it will need to be sheared two or three times a year.  Ugh! Too much work for me.

pipsqeck burning bush monrovia 8959268-largeI love to use this shrub as a shree (part shrub, part small tree).  A client of mine, Ruth in Scappoose has hers planted in full sun and pruned into small multi-stem trees.  They are underplanted with a hot orange summer flowering Euphorbia which is a wow combination.  These “shrees” have been in their location for over ten years and they are not irrigated at all. Other than having a professional pruning every year or three, this privacy planting is very low maintenance and simply stunning. The ridged and winged bare stems of the Burning Bush are attractive and add winter interest.  To establish this plant, water it once a week, or twice in hot weather.  Once established, it will thrive with once a week watering.  As it ages in place it needs less and less water.  A plus … The deer don’t bother this plant in Ruth’s garden.

Fothergilla 'Mt Airy', (Bottlebrush) in full fall color.

Fothergilla ‘Mt Airy’, (Bottlebrush) in full fall color.

Witch Alder (also called Bottlebrush)
This shrub has two seasons of wow, one is spring where the fragrance is heavenly, the bottle brush flowers are attractive in flower arrangements and if pruned properly, the shape of this “shree” will look good year round.  The 2nd wow is the fall color.

Fothergilla (BottleBrush) fragrant flowers on naked stems delight in spring

Fothergilla (BottleBrush) fragrant flowers on naked stems delight in spring

This plant, Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’ will need regular water until it has been in place for many years. Almost all plants, even those listed as drought tolerant, look better with some irrigation in our Pacific NW Mediterranean style summer. See fabulous colorful art made from these leaves!!!

Gatsbys Moon Hydrangea

Hydrangea Quercifolia Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Gatsby’s Moon’ is a new variety from Proven Winners.

Oakleaf Hydrangea 
I’ve written about this plant many times but that’s because it’s so great.  The full size plant may not fit in most landscapes but there are two semi dwarf plants that will.  These plants have huge white conical flowers in mid- summer that fade to a nice pink.  In fall the large and well textured leaf turn the most fabulous rich reds and stay on the plant well past Thanksgiving.  These leaves always go in my Thanksgiving table centerpiece.  Once the leaves fall, there is great rusty exfoliating bark on the stems that glow in the winter light.

Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Sikes Dwarf’ and ‘Pee Wee’ are the two varieties I use the most. They are NOT tiny shrubs, still expect a 3′ to 4′ wide and tall plant.  My experience is that ‘Sikes Dwarf’ is taller than ‘Pee Wee’.  The leaves are smaller than the species, 4 to 5 inches instead of 8 to 10 inches and they still have the interesting grainy texture and great flowers. One drawback … deer seem to like the leaves.  It is native to the South Eastern United States.

It’s easier to prune than a traditional hydrangea AND it doesn’t need as much water.  If you want you can cut it off at the ground in late winter and start over.  Here is a video “How to Prune Oak Leaf Hydrangea”  by Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty.

Hot Summer Color Flowering Plants That Last

Carol with coneflower

Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day standing in a parking strip of Cutleaf Coneflower

Here are three great plants for summer color in the Northwest.  These vibrant flowering plants are very easy to care for and come back each year as long as they have good drainage.  These won’t survive our Northwest winters planted in a low place or puddle.  If the clay is hard and dry as pottery in the summer we do have plants that will live in these conditions, but very few and not these.

Hardy Fuchsia
Flowers all summer and into late fall. I had mine inside a courtyard and used flowers for my Thanksgiving table every year. Hummingbirds love this plant.  It’s old fashioned but my 30 something clients love it too.

Fuchsia 'Chickadee'

Photo of Fuchsia magellanica ‘Chickadee’ courtesy of Jockey Hill Nursery

There is quite a variety of shrub sizes, foliage colors, and variable sizes of flowers.  Look for hot pinks, hot reds, deep purples, orchid and pinks.  Some sun is needed to get  flowers.  All day dappled sun coming through tree leaves is perfect!  Morning sun and afternoon shade also works well. Deep shade works for annual Fuchsia baskets – don’t be confused.  The plants I’m talking about are shrubs Fuchsia magellanica  that come back every year and will not flower with too little sun.

Herbstonne rudbeckia

Our client Mary loves her cutleaf coneflower!

Rudebeckia Lacinata ‘Autumn Sun
Common Name: Cutleaf coneflower
Syn: Herbstonne

Here’s an easy plant on the other end of the spectrum in every way. Oh how to tell you??? Initially I used this plant to fill in planting areas while my clients wait for their new slower long term plants to grow in.  After 3 years when it was time to remove the 5′ to 6′ tall Rudebeckia, my clients tended to say……….”noooooo,  I love it so, it just means summer to me!”

So we found ways to keep the plant in the garden and the client happy.  Rudebeckia Herbstonne  grows to 6′ tall and softens the view of a fence beautifully, it loves hot sun, but will cope with perhaps as little as 4 hours of sun.  The flowers are drop dead georgeus.  The plant is low water needs and you won’t need to stake it!  It stands on it’s own!

Kims knee high coneflower

Photo courtesy of Monrovia

Color! Color! Color! is what Echinacea purpurea ‘Kim’s Knee High’ and E. p. ‘Kims Knee High Red’ are all about.  They start flowering in June and keep going through August.  In September, coneflowers turn cool burnt colors and if you are willing to leave the flower heads overwinter … the chickadees will make a nice meal of the seeds in late winter.

This plant is easy once you get the soil prepped for it.  The only way to lose it is have slugs eat it all the first year while it’s just shooting up out of the ground in spring. Many varieties of coneflower get too tall and floppy.  The Knee High varieties do not flop and is one of my personal favorites!

Satisfy Summer Color Cravings with Easy Care Crocosmia

Croscosmia Explosion flowers

A parking strip garden in SE Portland, OR across from Laurelhurst Park. The gardener used to work for a huge wholesale company that sold unusual bulbs.

Crocosmia flowers mean summer has arrived!

Having grown up in Oregon I can’t really trust summer is here until I see those intense red, orange or yellow trumpets!

In Portland,  they typically start to flower in late June into early July. The variety Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the local favorite because of the intense crimson hummingbird attracting flower. Plus it’s one tough plant that comes back even in adverse situations.

The Good News
Crocosmia are perfect for color cravers. The long, strappy stems are great in a vase and beloved by hummingbirds. They are tough and clients think they are extremely low maintenance.

So What’s Not to Love?
Crocosmia as a group can be aggressive spreaders – especially for small urban gardens. Lucifer reaches 36″-42” tall and has a tendency to flop halfway through summer. The corms need to be divided frequently to keep these issues in line. To me, that is not low maintenance.  I have better, findable replacements to add to your summer garden before you give Lucifer the “Get thee behind me”! hiss.

Croscosmia Explosion flowers

This crocosmia mimics the color of a juicy tangerine.

Other Crocosmia Options
Better varieties are 10 to 15 inches shorter than Lucifer, don’t crowd out their own flowers and don’t flop to the ground.  Lucifer lovers will complain that none of the other red varieties spread as fast as Lucifer . . . but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Joy Creek NurseryJoy Creek Nursery in Scappoose, Oregon  grows many of the good varieties of crocosmia.  I talked with Maurice Horn, Co-owner and plantsman extraordinaire and all three Crocosmia listed below are currently available:

Hellfire’ available now (6/15/14) at Joy Creek Nursery is 24″-30” and is an intense orange red.

‘Walburton Red‘ is closer to the rich red of ‘Lucifer’ but will increase very slowly compared to ‘Lucifer’. This is where I compare cheap chocolate to real chocolate, by the way.

‘Golden Fleece’ is 24″-30″, an amazing color of deep clean yellow. It starts flowering late in the summer and will carry through to fall.

Croscosmia Explosion flowers

I love to see a mix of different varieties of crocosmia flowers together.

Other good varieties that are hard to find but worthy of your garden
These corms (bulbs) don’t overcrowd and therefore continue to flower freely:

  • Bright Eyes
  • Burnt Umber
  • Little Devil
  • Little Red Head
  • Miss Scarlet
  • Walburton Yellow

Please don’t feel you have to rip out your Lucifer even though I have compared it to bad chocolate! Feel free to try a few of these other varieties and then if you are tired of giving up space to “Mr. Spread and Flop”, you won’t have any problem giving him away to a friend or containing him. Perhaps ‘Lucifer’ is a really great first crocosmia, sort of like a first love James Dean bad boy that you can’t part with.


Hydrangeas: More Popular Than Ever!

So much it deserves repeating: hydrangeas are more popular than ever! They belong on the list of plants for new gardeners who demand low care plants and also on the lists of seasoned gardeners who live to be working in their garden. They are easy care. Some people do almost nothing at all and the plants give them lots of satisfaction. Some gardeners fine tune their hydrangeas with thoughtful but simple pruning and applying the correct fertilizer to create the most vivid colored flowers.

The selection and diversity of hydrangeas has expanded to a dizzying level. You probably will need me to help you find the right plant for your location, and personal style.  Fall is an excellent time to plant hydrangea.

That said, here is a list of most kinds of hydrangeas available at nurseries and garden centers:

Oak Leaf Hydrangeas
Rustic good looks followed by dazzling fall color on leaves, a backbone garden plant and easy care. Select a dwarf variety unless you are among the rare homeowner with tons of land. The species can easily be 8′ x 8′ given time. There are dwarf and semi dwarf plants to fit every landscape. I will repeat myself, this is a very low maintenance plant IF you get the right size. Its a sad day and a no win situation if you get one that gets too big. You’ll chop on it and spoil it and it will have to go. It is low water once established but must have good drainage. No fertilizer is needed, I would use garden mulch or compost each fall for the nutrients needed.

Basic Mop Head Hydrangea
The old tried and true Hydrangea macrophylla is beloved by old and young, in modern and cottage garden styles.

Mop heads need a special fertilizer called Nitroform Blue if you want the intense blue flowers they are so well known for. It can take a few years to accomplish so be sure no other fertilizers get near these plants. Joy Creek Nursery stocks it.  The new thing with this plant is the twice blooming or ever blooming hydrangea such as Endless Summer and Blushing Bride. The 2nd flowering of fresh flowers in the fall is beautiful. It was developed for areas that are so cold you can lose the first flowering.  Here on the west coast the price you pay however, is you lose the subtle and yummy intense coloring of the flower that ages in place.

Hydrangea paniculata
The biggest changes in hydrangeas have occurred in this species. We now have many varieties that require nearly full sun. The size of the flower has also increased dramatically. They use to only come in whitish green (such as the old Pee Gee Hydrangea) but now they have created varieties of palest pink to raspberry sherbet.

Here is my list of hydrangeas you should know about.

Lace-cap Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blaumiese’)

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blaumeise'This vase shaped hydrangea can take a great deal of shade but don’t get crazy. There are no hydrangeas for deep shade.

Mine was attractive in deeply dappled afternoon sun.

It’s also listed as a Great Plant Pick so other experts have picked it out of the crowd.

Mountain Hydrangea (Hydrangea preziosa ‘Serratta’)

Hydrangea serrata 'Preziosa'
This smaller hydrangea (highlighted in my October enewsletter) takes a lot of sun, has intense fall flower color changes and the leaf has strong fall color which is unusual for a mop head.


Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea Quercifolia ‘Sikes Dwarf’)
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sikes Dwarf' at The Morton ArboretumThis hydrangea will mature at 24 to 30” tall. Be sure to plant it where it has excellent winter drainage, so never in a low or a heavy clay area. Hydrangea ‘Pee Wee’ is larger, more like 4’ x 6’, so don’t be fooled by the name Pee Wee. (Pee Wee can also take a lot of sun.)  Sikes Dwarf is best with some afternoon shade.

Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum

Mop head Hydrangea Pistachio (Hydrangea Macrophylla ‘Pistachio’) 
Hydrangea Pistachio
This is a new “over the top” chartreuse and raspberry sherbet colored flower and has to be seen to comprehend. Portland’s own famous garden writer, Kym Pokorny loves it!

I am not sure about it using it casually in a design.  It needs integration and special placement.

Photo courtesy of Ball Ornamentals

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’

hydrangea paniculata pinky winky

Its roots will mature into taking a full sun position but the plant will show sun damage for several years even with much needed regular irrigation.

For more fun and less fear, plant it where it will get shade at the hottest part of the day.

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Bowl of heavenly hellebores

Check out this bowlful of hellebore beauties

Check out this bowlful of hellebore beauties

Hellebores are trendy but we don’t hold that against them.  Notice some of the flowers are doubles.  This photo is from the Hardy Plant Society Display at the Yard Garden and Patio Show.  Many flowers these days now hold their faces up, not nodding down.  This new attribute adds to their winter and spring drama.

Many Hellebore are still blooming strong as of April 10th, so get out to your local nursery and see what’s available.  They can be a bit addictive and you could end up bringing too many home……so make your budget decision before you go is all I can advise.  Also remember there are many Hellebore that like lots of sun, even the shadier varieties do better where they can get at least some morning sun.  Also, here is a link to the coolest Hellebore designer ever, Marietta O’Byrne of Northwest Garden Nursery in Eugene.  She is the guru I have followed for nearly 20 years now.  Go to the link to see how she selects and crosses the many varieties of Hellebore and also see their gallery.  You will be stunned.