March 28, 2011

Pink Roses, English & Otherwise

Roses won't be blooming in my garden until late June, but I pulled out some photos from last year for this post. Above is my very un-artsy display of five of the english roses in my yard. I thought it would be interesting to compare the shapes, colors and sizes of the different blooms all in a row. From left to right: Sister Elizabeth, Eglantyne, William Shakespeare 2000, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Countryman. Too bad you can't sniff them - Sis Eliz and CR Mackintosh have a myrrh scent, The Countryman is sweet strawberries, Eglantyne doesn't have much of a scent for me, and Wm Shakespeare is true, rich, old rose fragrance.

Above and below are shots of Princess Alexandria of Kent, a new english rose in my garden last year. The color was surprising - the young flowers have a definite coral-salmon tint, then they age to almost pure pink.

The flowers are large and their shape is lovely. I can't remember exactly how they smelled, except that they did have a fragrance and I liked it (so it couldn't have been myrrh, which isn't my favorite).

This is a close up of the button eye in a Sister Elizabeth bloom. Those buttons are just adorable. The color is such a pretty mauve-pink.

These next two are of Double Pink Knockout rose, which is not growing in my garden. I was assigned to buy a new rose bush for the elementary school rose garden, and my local nursery strongly suggested that a knockout rose would be the most sturdy, hardy, easy-to-grow plant for the school. So I picked this one and took a few pictures before we planted it at the school.

The color of this pink knockout is a gorgeous deep, true pink - slightly on the cooler side. I don't especially love the shape of single knockout roses, but this double form is handsome. I'm not sure that I'll make room for any in my garden, though, since I'm stuck on english roses.

And here is a final picture of soft cotton candy pink Englantyne, which will most likely be the first rose to bloom in my garden again this year. I don't wish to rush through the next few months, as I wouldn't want to miss the tulips, peonies, delphiniums and iris . . . but I'm looking forward to rose season for sure.

March 22, 2011

Pink and White Crabapples in Bloom

Here are some pictures of my 'Spring Snow' and 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees. Of course they are from last year, since we're still about 2 months too early for crabapple blooms this season. But I never got around to posting them last year.

'Spring Snow' is supposedly the only fruitless crabapple tree. Its dimensions are estimated at 20' x 20', but it grows in a columnar form - so maybe a bit narrower than the estimate? I had a hard time picking between this tree and one of the flowering pears, but ended up with a Spring Snow since it stays smaller and smells much better in bloom than a pear. I also like how the flowers come out with the leaves to enhance them, while pears flower before the leaves emerge. But pears have glossy leaves and better fall color . . . there just isn't a perfect tree, is there?

Here is what I thought was a 'Prairie Fire' crab, but I now think it's a 'Royal Raindrops' - see this link for more info about RR, plus pictures. Aren't the flowers a pretty color? The leaves are dark maroon and are shaped like hawthorne tree leaves with pretty cut edges.

I have three of these baby trees in the back (plus six of the Spring Snows). Their dimensions are estimated at 20' tall by 15' wide. They're supposed to get berry-like red fruit and orange-red leaves in the fall, though none of them did last year. I'm excited to see the fall color and fruit when the trees mature more.

I keep meaning to prune off some branches and try to force them into bloom in a vase, but haven't done it yet. How early can you cut crab branches for forcing? I'm sure the answer is on the internet somewhere and I just need to look it up.

One of the 'Royal Raindrops' trees looks like a cat scratched up the trunk. I'm worried that the deepest wound (shown above) will continue to pull apart and disfigure the trunk as it grows. The wound is on the north side of the trunk, so it's protected from winter sunscald. Should I replace it now, while it's small and easier to match to the size of the other two trees, or wait and see what the trunk does? What do you think, fellow gardeners?

March 14, 2011

Flowers from California that I Miss

This is the time of year when I wish we still lived in sunny, warm California. So I pulled out some photos taken at the Santa Barbara Zoo when we visited over the Christmas holiday. Above is Clivia miniata, which only grows as a houseplant here. Our neighbor in Santa Clara had several - including a yellow one - growing happily in the ground.

Well do I remember sitting in the park with friends while watching our preschoolers playing on the toys and exclaiming, "This is why we pay such high rent! So we can sit at the park in March with 70 degree weather." Above and below are pictures of California Lilac, or Ceanothus.

The rent is cheaper in Spokane, but we stay indoors and away from parks in March. Although this week we are supposed to reach 50 degrees a few times, which is fabulous weather for this time of year in Spokane.

I have no idea what plant produces the pink flower above (any guesses?), but the fact that it was evergreen and blooming over Christmas break was charming.

I think Agapanthus is the plant I miss most from California, with Zantedeschia aethiopica (Calla lily) a close second. They both grew like weeds in full sun or shade in my California garden, and they seemed so exotic to eyes used to colder climates. I don't think I ever mentioned that neither of the 'hardy' agapanthus that I planted in my garden (see this post) survived the first winter here. I piled some bark over top to help protect them, but it wasn't enough.

I have gradually realized that my garden at the bottom of the Spokane valley is in a harsh microclimate, despite being rated at zone 5. We trap the heat in the late afternoon if the sun is out, then all the cold air sinks down at night. That makes for wider extremes of temperature (and more late spring and early fall frosts) than the areas farther up on the hills. Plus our looong winters are stressful for many plants. Above is a grouping of succulents: jade plant and Echevaria, perhaps?

But enough moaning about my microclimate. The good news is that the 'Golden Bunch' crocus started blooming last week (above), and yesterday the kids and I were happy to notice some of the lavender Crocus tommasinianus starting to bloom as well. Early or late, spring does come eventually.

March 8, 2011

Garden Tour: Northwest Woodland Garden in Spring

During my hellebore-buying trip, I took these photos of the gardens surrounding the Northwest Garden Nursery. I believe the gorgeous tree above is an old moss-covered Corkscrew Hazel (which I misidentified as a willow at first), also known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corylus avellana.

Of course there were plenty of hellebores dotting the garden, including these by the creek.

Here is a closeup of those hellebores from above. There were plenty of white snowdrops (Galanthus species) in bloom as well, and you can see a few in this shot if you look closely.

This is my favorite scene - all those ferns and mossy tree branches are the essence of a Pacific Northwest garden, don't you think? As I drove from Portland to Eugene and back, I loved it that even though the deciduous trees along the freeway hadn't leafed out yet, they were already green from all the moss on their branches. Spokane trees don't look like that!

The pond was restful with a hundred shades of green surrounding it and a fountain trickling in the center.

I'm pretty sure that the yellow pine is supposed to be that color, probably a rare and valuable form, but it just looks sick to me. However the color is cheerful next to all the other green conifers.

I'll end with the shot of several hypertufa pots filled with succulents, which were colorful despite the earliness of the season. This garden was a delightful backdrop for the hellebore stars of the show.
Meanwhile, in my garden there are four golden crocus in bloom, finally, though nothing else yet. Spring will come!