Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where the Melianthus blooms…

It’s not a completely unheard of occurrence here in the Pacific Northwest but it is just rare enough to make it extra special…

Blooming Melianthus major! So when I was invited over to see the blooms "in person" how could I say no? They (and the garden) did not disappoint…

Lisa (the owner/creator of this garden) and I first began our conversation about growing Melianthus major last fall. I mentioned in a blog post having just cutting back and covered mine for the winter and she commented saying why cut it back? Just pile a little much over the crown and let the branches and leaves stay. Well who can argue with the result? Mine had to start growing from the ground this spring and hers began with last season’s growth. Now granted not every winter is going to allow for this (many years they’ll be knocked back to the ground either way), but when we have a mellow winter why deny yourself this?

Phlomis, one of those plants I like in other people’s gardens but never have planted in mine.

When I posted a picture of Parahebe perfoliata last December and lamented that its label said zone 9 Lisa commented urging me to try it out, as it had performed very well in her garden. Here it is…

Yikes! I bought two…I might have to give one away if mine ever get this big.

I visited Lisa’s garden a couple of weeks ago. She lives in a part of Beaverton (a Portland suburb) Portland (shows you what I know, I thought I was in Beaverton but turns out actually still in Portland!) that I had not been to before. Approaching her garden I was struck by how very stereotypical Pacific Northwest the area was. All the homes had huge Rhododendrons, Japanese Maples, Fir trees, lots and lots of Arborvitae and of course big lawns. She had given me the house numbers but also said I’d know it because it was the house with the “garden”…in other words it stood out (one of these things is not like the other). That’s how I feel when I give directions to my house, it’s the one with no lawn and lots of plants.

Lisa opened her garden to fellow members of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon a few years ago (every summer members get a good sized book with open gardens listed for virtually every weekend, March through October). I forget the exact phrase she used but basically that open garden was to allow people to see the garden in it's early days. When she started gardening here there was not the extensive plant palette you see now. Hopefully she'll be opening it again soon so folks can see the progress she's made.

Two words kept coming up over and over as we walked through the garden…divide and move. As in she has built this garden by finding a desired plant (often tracking it down via mail order) and then dividing it to create more plants. And if she (or it) isn’t happy with its location she thinks nothing of moving it, and moving it, and moving it…until she finds the right spot. This is a large lot and it has very little bare soil. She’s been busy.

Her new Yucca rostrata (yay!)…

Eryngium agavifolium (the spiky business)…

The largest Kniphofia caulescens I’ve ever seen.

It was interesting timing, visiting this garden, as I had just mentioned a couple of days prior (in a blog post) that I didn’t care much for Heuchera. Guess what there were lots and lots of here?

And they were all beautiful, really. If they always looked this good I would be rethinking my stance on this plant!

This is a huge amazing Rosa glauca which I unfortunately didn't get a great shot of...

Beautiful combinations were everywhere I looked…

Heading out to the back garden the first thing I saw was a pair of these bright orange chairs (ordered from Digs Inside & Out, of course)…love them!

A close up of the long single terraced back garden border…huge!

And looking back the opposite direction…

Back on the patio a wonderful succulent grouping backed by more beautiful Heuchera (I can’t believe I’m saying that)…

In the small shady area, Rodgersia!

An Agave (A. bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost') and its succulent friends…

Yes, it’s another blooming Melianthus! This one made a lovely combination with the burgundy bark on the Manzanita next to it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture the beauty very well…

Love the foliage on the Joe-Pye-Weed!

Pineapple Guava, another plant I wish I had a space for.

Now we are coming around the side of the house and looking at the border along the driveway. Another Eryngium agavifolium and Euphorbia 'Excalibur' (I believe).

Mullein/Verbascum…but I have no idea which one…

That’s it, time to leave...thank you so much Lisa for letting me visit your wonderful garden and snap a bunch of photos. Next fall when I don’t cut back my Melianthus I’ll be thinking of your garden and praying for a mild winter (well, I do that every year) and flowers on my Melianthus…

Oh…one more thing about the HPSO Open Garden’s program. Lisa and I were talking about upcoming opportunities to tour great gardens and she mentioned the garden I posted about here (belonging to Lance Wright) is scheduled to be open in July (the 21st and then again on August 25th). So if you are a HPSO member be sure to check it out. Also coming up in August (11th, 12th and 13th) the garden of JJ De Sousa (shared in this blog post) will be open…you won’t want to miss it!

35 comments:

  1. It looks like Lisa has a beautifully sunny exposure for her gardens, and she has apparently done gorgeous things with them. I'll be hoping for Melianthus flowers myself next year - no more cutting back for me, either!

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    1. Oddly I don't remember reading any predictions for what this winter holds (yet). Seems by now people are usually starting to "predict"...

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  2. I think this might be my favorite garden tour you've ever done. WOW.

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    1. Glad you like...if I ever bump into you and Lisa at the same HPSO event I'll introduce you.

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  3. Lisa's garden is beautifully done. Love all the plant combinations and containers. Just gorgeous!

    One of those cement planters looks familiar, very similar to yours from Potted.

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    1. Similar, but much much bigger (probably hard to tell from the photos) mine I can hold in my hand, hers I doubt I could lift.

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  4. *drooling* That is a really fantastic garden. You can tell much love and attention has gone into that space. The orange chairs ... epic. And the Yucca Rostrata is a beauty.

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    1. I do covet those chairs! And I should have mentioned that she planted the Yucca with an eye to the day it starts to trunk. Which obviously (for all of us with Y. rostrata) can't come soon enough!

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  5. What a great eye Lisa has for designing with beautiful plants, and all so well grown. I can vouch that Parahebe perfoliata does indeed grow large and sprawling but is still a great plant. Wonderful choice by Lisa to grow it spilling down the retaining wall. And no need to apologize for heuchera inconsistency -- I like them best in other people's gardens too!

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    1. I loved the blue/purple Parahebe flowers collecting in the spaces between the stones and steps. Its the kind of thing that would probably drive me crazy in my own garden but I love seeing in others (uhm, yes like the Heuchera).

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  6. I am sated (a nice form of envious) and inspired. My Mother's Day Aeonium, lonely in its pot, will be getting some companions suggested by this post.

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  7. What a marvelous garden! She has some really cool combos.

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  8. Why are there no holes in any of the leaves? Do you have no slugs or caterpillars or leaf munchers of any kind out there? Wow!

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    1. Ha! I wish. I've got plenty of leaves with polka dots and chunks missing to prove we've got'em. Maybe Lisa is an early morning bug/slug picker?

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  9. She has a lovely garden, pristine with loads of choice plants. Gorgeous! I won't be surprised if you end up introducing more heucheras in your garden despite not liking them :)

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    1. Hey, do you guys have Heucheras?

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  10. The pics are surreal....the orange chair is very eclectic and the array of plant varieties is grand.

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    1. And of course there were even more plant varieties that I didn't photograph...

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  11. Awesome garden. You must have gone crazy with the camera trying to capture it all. Yeah, Heuchera never look that good in my garden either. Why are they always fabulous everywhere but home? Pineapple guava is such a lovely small tree, but here they are plagued with fruit, which they produce like crazy and which apparently no one wants to eat.

    One thing I would love in that garden would be a great honking monster Gunnera or huge Agave ovatifolia. The scale of everything was so perfectly and tastefully balanced, something ridiculously over sized seems called for.

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    1. Lisa mentioned that her Pineapple guava hadn't yet bloomed, so fruit isn't much of a problem...I wonder if our growing season is long enough up here in the cool PNW for fruit to develop?

      I'm trying to think if there was anything ridiculously over sized that I didn't photograph...the only thing that comes to mind are the huge happy Hydrangeas between her house and the neighbor. Don't suppose that counts.

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  12. sandy lawrenceJune 13, 2012

    I'm not given to superlatives, but this may be the most perfectly gorgeous garden (to my own taste preferences) that I have ever seen. Thanks for the tour!

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  13. Luscious photos Miss Danger! Loved that melianthus. Especially grand that I could sit here at my desk and take it all in! Thanks.

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    1. Glad I could provide a little at the desk entertainment.

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  14. Wow! What a great garden tour, you sure have an eye for highlighting the best parts of the green scene. Very nice! I too feel the same way about phlomis, love the way it looks in other people's garden but haven't bothered with it in my own. Plenty of chances to acquire it and still....

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    1. Maybe when you get rid of some "extra" plants at your upcoming sale (oh how I wish I could attend) you'll then run across the "perfect" Phlomis and buy it...

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  15. What a great garden, and I like how she said "the one with the garden". I use "the one with the jungle out front". Interesting how a different setting can change your opinion of a plant, i.e. Huchera.

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    1. Do your neighbors mind the jungle?

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  16. What a very beautiful garden. I love the mix of soft and spiky, and she seems to have so much room for large shrubs and interesting groupings. Thanks for the tour!

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  17. Super impressive garden. Thanks for the tour.

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