June 12, 2013
One of my 'Blue Moon' wisterias is blooming for the first time this spring. I planted two back in 2010, and I nearly killed the other one last month after adjusting the sprinklers and forgetting to check that it was still getting water. Ugh. At least one of them is doing well.
This one is planted on the southwest corner of our home to camouflage a drain pipe and provide a little more shade to this hot area. I'm being careful to keep the stems from wrapping around the pipe since the plant will eventually get heavy enough to pull the pipe over. If I keep wrapping the stems around each other, I think they'll grow sturdy enough to support themselves, since wisteria can be trained into a tree with enough patience. Or I might have to get creative with other supports attached to the house.
After waiting three years to see the flowers, I was very excited to notice a bunch of buds on the plant a couple of weeks ago. A little more patience and then . . .
. . . aren't these flowers gorgeous? I wish you could smell them. I keep trying to figure out how to describe the fragrance, but it's hard. Very sweet and strong. There's no need to get up close, as you can definitely smell it if you're downwind.
Many wisterias are not quite hardy enough to withstand Spokane winters, but Blue Moon is hardy to zone 3. When I decided to plant wisteria and spent time researching different varieties, this one seemed like the best for areas with cold winters. It can rebloom several times each year, though I don't know if our growing season will be long enough for that to happen.
Wisteria machrostachya is is native to America and is a less aggressive grower than Japanese or Chinese types, though it can reach 25 feet in height. The flower clusters may grow up to a foot long. The best flowering occurs in full sun, though mine is obviously blooming and it only gets afternoon sun. Too much nitrogen fertilizer or poor pruning practices (cutting off the ends of the stems with all the flower buds) can also prevent flowering.
I ordered my plants from ForestFarm.com, but a local nursery might be able to find it for you. I haven't seen it at any of the big box garden centers. If you live in a cold climate or just want a repeat blooming wisteria, this one might be perfect for you.
Labels: plant mugshots
June 5, 2013
Here are some photos showing some May blooms around the garden. Above are fragrant 'Asao' clematis flowers surrounded by buds on a 'Francine Austine' rose. I don't think there will be any clematis blooms left by the time the miniature white flowers of this rose open, or they'd make a nice combo.
'Absolute Amethyst' candytuft is a vividly colored alternative to the common white form of this plant. The color will be great next to the lime heuchera and spirea leaves in this part of the garden, as soon as the other plants grow big enough to make it into a photo.
'Evening Tidings' iris are blooming on the west of the house, tying the lavender blooms of 'Walker's Low' catmint together with the deep violet flowers of 'May Night' salvia.
'Pure as Gold' iris are vibrant next to deep violet 'May Night' salvia flowers. This photo was taken a week or two ago, and by now the salvia flowers have opened enough to make a really strong color statement. Love the drama!
The reddish leaves of 'Lady Emma Hamilton' rose make a nice backdrop for the iris. The leaves are so showy that I'd grow this rose even if it didn't bloom . . . but soon it will start putting out loads of fragrant rosy-orange flowers that keep coming all summer. LEH is a great rose. I wish you could smell it by blog.
'Foxtrot' tulips and another darker variety whose name I can't remember have been blooming next to the back patio. My friends keep exclaiming in surprise when I tell them these are tulips. The masses of petals make them look more like peonies.
Here's another shot of 'Foxtrot' with a new 'Tuff Stuff' hydrangea ready to start blooming in the background. There will be lots of first-time bloomers in the garden this year. It's fun to look forward to the show.
May 29, 2013
I was calling this the seventy shrub spring - enjoying the alliteration - but we've planted over eighty by now. Included in that number are some with feathery leaves that sway in the breeze and add movement to the view, even when birds and butterflies aren't around. Above is a shot of newly emerging leaves on one of the two 'Sutherland Gold' elderberries (Sambucus, 6-10' tall/wide, full or partial sun) we planted by the swing set. You can see the new foliage is copper before it brightens to gold.
I also found room for a 'Black Lace' elderberry (Sambucus, 6-8' tall/wide, full sun), which fits its name well. Finely dissected new leaves are greenish before darkening to almost black. The color is darkest with sull sun and stays more green in partial shade.
In addition to the showy leaves, this shrub makes pinkish flower heads in spring that ripen into berries later in the year.
'Fine Line' buckthorn (Rhamnus, 5-7' tall, 2-3' wide, full sun) is a newer introduction from Monrovia. It's such an interesting shrub. Here are the emerging leaves . . .
. . . and here is what it looks like right now, a month later. This shrub is supposed to turn showy gold in fall before loosing its leaves. I suspect it's one of those super-sturdy, drought-tolerant, hard-to-kill shrubs that make life easier for gardeners. This cultivar doesn't reseed and become invasive like its relatives.
Other gardeners rave about 'Ogon' Spirea (3-5' tall/wide, full sun), even though it gets leggy after a few years and needs to be sheared back occasionally. So I made room for three on the east side of the home. Its bright lime-gold leaves brighten the area, and its leaves are supposed to hang on for a long time in the fall before it goes dormant for winter. Small white flowers bloom in early spring before it leafs out.
We also planted a dwarf Arctic willow (Salix 'Nana', 5-7' tall/wide, full sun). 'We' meaning I picked it out and bought it, then my husband pickaxed a hole in the rocky soil. Thanks honey. Its blue-green leaves will provide a contrast in texture to the giant leaves of an 'Empress Wu' hosta planted nearby, and it can be sheared back annually to produce new branches that hold their maroon coloring through the winter.
After spending many, many hours researching shrubs to find the best ones for my garden, I'm planning to write more about the ones I picked. Stay tuned for posts about viburnums, hydrangeas and a few others.