Friday, September 12, 2014

Colocasia fontanesii is my favorite plant in the garden, this week…

Who doesn't love a colocasia? Those big leaves are welcome in most every garden.

I'm usually pretty successful overwintering them in the basement. They lose most of their leaves by spring, but they're still alive and usually leaf out when the temperatures warm in the garden, late June to early July. This last winter I lost several, perhaps I was too caught up in caring for the plants outdoors (it was a tough winter) and didn't give the colocasia enough water to keep them alive. Whatever the reason earlier this summer I bought this dark stemmed beauty, Colocasia fontanesii, to fill the gap. This is the view when I'm sitting on the patio and glance up towards the shade pavilion...

I've been admiring it for weeks and finally decided it deserved the "fav" spotlight. Taking these photos I was surprised to see that bright chartreuse point behind the shortest leaf.

It's going to bloom! A very rare occurrence for me. It won't be a showy flower but it's still a nice development.

The stats on Colocasia fontanesii:
  • tropical in the Araceae family
  • 4-6 ft tall, and up to 5 ft wide in wet soils, or shallow water (and when planted in the ground where it can over-winter outdoors)
  • leaves can be up to 3 ft across
  • needs dappled shade to part sun
  • stems die back at freezing but should resprout from base if mulched well (down to USDA Zone 8, maybe 7)
Another thing I love about colocasia in general are the great photos you can take when the sun hits their big leaves and magically illuminates them. Pretty dreamy right? Anything you're admiring in your garden this week?

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Discovering new plants...

As I'm sure I've said a dozen times or more, I am very lucky to live in an area rich with amazing nurseries. Just last week I decided to visit Cistus Nursery, no real purpose in mind, just the luxury of a free afternoon. I wandered and enjoyed, knowing perhaps I'd fall in love with something I had to have. Naturally I did, Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown'...

It has a similar airy soft feel to that of Adenanthos sericeus (Coastal Woollybush) and Phylica pubescens (from Annie's Annuals, loved and lost), but it's different. The description: "handsome medium-sized South African shrub with gray-green, red-tipped rainbow foliage and very cool pink to maroon cones. Height and width to 4-6'. Prunes easily into a low hedge or border planting. Feeding promotes faster growth, but avoid phosphorous at all costs. Water well to establish; after that, extremely drought tolerant. Full sun. Well-drained soil or container. Frost hardy to USDA Zone 9."

I also picked up a Caesalpinia gilliesii, my second this year (third plant "ever" if you count the one I lost last year). I wrote more about this one yesterday, on the plant lust blog.

If there was one plant I thought I'd be coming home with it's this, Delosperma sp. 'Leea Koppie'. I spied it in passing last time I was at Cistus, just for a moment. I don't know why but ice plants just don't grab me like they should. Even this one with the electric orange flower. I stood there looking at it, knowing I should just buy it, but I didn't.

This however, Ficus afghanistanica 'Silver Lyre', I've lusted after for awhile and finally came home with. Check out the photos on and you'll understand why: "A Cistus introduction...yet another hardy fig. We wonder where it's been all our lives. Native from Northern India to western Iran and Afghanistan and a delicacy there with its small, dark, very sweet fruit. We have selected this form from seed for its entrancing, filigreed, silver-green leaves of about 5-7". So far, ours have been for external use only as we have not tasted the fruit. Eventually might reach 15-20' in height; can easily be kept smaller with pruning. Sun to part shade. Very drought tolerant once established. Frost hardy to the upper edge of USDA Zone 7 so far."

So that title, "discovering new plants," is really about these next three treasures which Sean Hogan pulled out of the greenhouses and handed to me. First is Dendroseris macrophylla, which I thought looked a little like Euphorbia stygiana. Instead it's a flowering plant in the Asteraceae family, from Chile. Sean says it can form rosettes two-feet across, you know what talk like that does for me! There is not much to be found about this plant online, although it is offered on the Cistus Mail Order list for Fall 2014. I think I'll be planting it in the front garden where the departed Brachyglottis greyi was growing. Love those leaves...

Perhaps this Bommeria hispida will be tucked in nearby, maybe snugged up to the Agave ovatifolia.

Native to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (according to the USDA) the Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences says "Bommeria hispida is a somewhat leafy appearing, hairy low, creeping fern. The younger fronds are dark green, but as they age they turn copper and red. The top surface of each frond is covered with short, straight hairs. The bottom surface of the fronds is very crowded with not only straight hairs, but also hairs that are curly, like wood shavings." It is a mat-forming evergreen fern which can grow to 5-ft across, collected at 6200 ft in the Peloncillo Mountains of Arizona by Sean, hardy to USDA Zone 7. So fury!

One more, Cheilanthes lindheimeri, it's a bad photo but a cool little desert fern which I am thrilled to plant and (hopefully) watch grow. From a collection made along the border between Arizona and Mexico (by Sean) it was found growing tucked up against pink boulders, and under various cactus and Agave palmeri. Also hardy to USDA Zone 7. And in case you were wondering, the ferns are also on the Fall Mail Order list. New plants, there's really nothing better...

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A little Hollywood in Portland’s Cully Neighborhood

Last Saturday night, through the magic of the internet, I became aware of an interesting property quite near me which is up for sale. We’re not house hunting but the photos of the garden caught my attention. As luck would have it my plant lust partner Patricia is a real estate junkie and noticed there was an open house/garden tour the very next morning. We were there at 10 am...

Driftwood is a common landscape element at the beach in Oregon, not so much in NE Portland.

Further indication that something unique exists here…

The walkway to the front door is lined with great built-in brick planters. However a sign informed us that this is not the way to enter the property.

This is…

I considered just cutting right through to the pool.

But had to go investigate the formed earth couch first, I think that’s creeping thyme on the back.

Approaching the pool from the north side. The decking is made from salvaged boards from old decks on the nearby river.

Wow. Pools are not common here in Portland, especially ones that make you feel like you’re in California, as this one does.

The tall wall of plantings behind the trio of red cushioned lounge chairs (photo above) concealed an open space next door, basically a second lot (this property measures 253’ x 255’), with a commercial greenhouse…

Love the Paulownia tomentosa.

There's also a grape vine arbor...

Lots of tetrapanax and amaranth...

And another couch, this one with a echium end table and double sided…

With a view of the volleyball court, all completely out of sight of the home and pool area.

Back pool side…

The east end of the pool has a covered seating area with big hanging chairs.

The west end is where you’ll find a hefty table surrounded by boxwood balls and a driftwood fence.

The fountain is made of a pipe surrounded by curvy driftwood. Did you notice that rusted vertically slatted planter?

It’s a spinning roof vent (actually called a turbine vent) and I’ve been infatuated with them since I was a kid, my grandparent’s neighbor had them on their roof. I always thought they would make excellent planters and here’s proof!

Guess they make good fire-stick holders too. I'm on the hunt! (but would prefer galvanized metal).

This seating (and sleeping) area is off the daylight basement of the house and tucked under the deck above.

This is the deck…

And the view down.

You can see the greenhouse above the lounge chairs, through a break in the trees.

And this is a view of where I entered the garden to begin with.

After snapping the deck photos I entered the house and toured through, coming back out on the lower level.

Love the different materials in the paving.

Another photo looking west from the house side of the pool…

And of the plantings between the sleeping area under the deck and the pool.

If you’re curious about the house and want to know more the listing is here. At the point we left on Sunday morning there were offers coming in so who knows it might already be sold, or it might be waiting for you!

As I was leaving I spotted this set-up across the road, this looks like something I could afford, maybe I’ll be making an offer on this one, we could be neighbors!

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.