Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Visiting Far Reaches Farm

The last stop on the Kitsap Peninsula tour with Evan and Vickie was Far Reaches Farm.  A feeling of excitement always hits when driving into the place.  Could it be that the drive is edged by a great border filled with gorgeous plants?  Maybe it's that Kelly and Sue are incredibly knowledgeable plantspeople who are kind, down to earth and have a great sense of humor?  Perhaps it's that the nursery is full of unusual and fun plants?  How about the thrill of maybe seeing mama and baby killdeer?  Could it be that it's a long drive and the porta potty is right next to the parking area?  Most likely a mix of all of these.
Green roofed gazebo on the left.  The Philadelphus microphyllus 'Charles Price' in bloom at the left of the border by the bog caught the noses of Evan and Vickie.  What smells like grape soda?  Fortunately, there were plants of this one for sale!

Having more shade than sun in my garden, I usually  head for the shade houses on the left first and then head out to the sun loving pant tables. 

Several years ago, I got a start of this aloe from Far Reaches.  Mine has grown to rival the size of it's mama and I even got mine to turn brown by stressing it a bit and giving it sufficient sun.  Look, mom is blooming! 

Off to the shade garden to be awed!  Did somebody spill the cinnamon on this rhododendron or does it just have gorgeous tomentum on the new growth? 

Cardiocrinum giganteum blooms tower above our heads.  I always think of Jack and the Beanstalk when these, after making lovely foliage for a few years, begin to send up their giant stalks lined with large leaves. 

Monocarpic, they put on quite a show before dying and leaving gorgeous seed pods at the top and lots of little bulbs at the bottom.  The bulbs should be separated and replanted fairly quickly.

Once you have these, you'll be hooked and want to add one or two each year so that you'll never be without blooms.  They take three to seven years to bloom so advance planning is a good thing.  Here in the PNW, mine have bloomed pretty reliably in three years from setting out the new bulbs. Far Reaches also has one of the only pink cardiocrinums to bloom in cultivation.  (Or so they SAY; I always miss it's blooming.)  My pal Alison bought a seedling of it so fingers are crossed!
I can never get enough of peony seed heads.  I wonder what color show is in store when they open to reveal the seeds?

Who knew that Cole Porter liked plants?
Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis is going on my list of plants to add to my garden! 

I think that if I could only grow one group of plants it would be the podophyllums.

Acetea spicata (guessing) berries.

Seeing the foliage of Ajuga incise 'Bikun' is a delight. Seeing it covered in beautiful blue flowers is a special thrill.   

Fatsia polycarpa 'Needham's Lace' or  Edward Needham form.  Fling attendees may remember seeing this plant at both Cistus Nursery and in the Danger Garden.

Combination of Cardiocrinum giganteum and Podophyllum delavayi - heavenly!

I have some lovely specimens of this in my own garden but seeing so many of them in the far reaches shade garden always causes me to swoon a bit.  Now let's see, what should I rip out this year to make more space for these?

Iris ensata 'Foreign Intrigue'

Masterful planting of Eucomis to echo the glass leaf shapes in the bog.

Back out to the border by the drive, the fragrance of this Lonicera made me want to set up a tent and live beside it for a while.

A plant for Danger.  Do you have this one D.G?

Podophyllums and Thalictrums two plants of which one can never have too many!

Here's an old friend.  (My seedling of this one is now taking off like nobody's business and has thorns as lovely as mom's)
Although grown mostly for those thorns which resemble stained glass when the sun hits them, this also has sweet little white flowers. 

"Oh my, you have lovely hips.  What's your name?"
"Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha."
"Can I just call you Rose and perhaps buy you a drink, some nice compost tea or perhaps some liquid seaweed?" 
"My friends call me Wingthorn and I'd only hurt you if we got close but that drink does sound good."

Also in the border is this dogwood putting on quite a show at the time of our visit. 
 Didja know that the pink parts are not petals but bracts, modified leaves, that protect the actual blooms at their junction?  Keep an eye on the alien-looking thing in the middle.

Still watching?

Voila, the flowers are starting to pop open.  Fun eh?  

I'll never forget the giggles that spontaneously erupted when we were walking back to the plant mobile.  Only fellow plant fanatics would understand the feeling of triumph after a day of plant shopping.

Looks like there's still lots of room for more plants!
Thanks again Evan and Vickie for such a fun day and bless you Sue and Kelly for providing a great fix for us plant junkies!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Visiting Dragonfly Farms and Celestial Dream Gardens

The next stops on the Geek, the Nut, and  the Outlaw tour of cool nurseries (after Valley Nursery and Windcliff) were Dragonfly  Farms and Celestial Dream Gardens.

Where's Waldo Evan?  Watch out Vickie, that gunnera is trying to get you too!

Dragonfly Farms always has a great assortment of plants and cool garden art.  Notice the Wollemia nobilis in the black square container!  ( From Wikipedia - Wollemia is a genus of coniferous tree in the family Araucariaceae.  Wollemia was only known through fossil records until the Australian species Wollemia nobilis was discovered in 1994 in a temperate rainforest wilderness area of the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, in a remote series of narrow, steep-sided sandstone gorge 150 kilometres north-west of Sydney.
In both botanical and popular literature the tree has been almost universally dubbed the Wollemi Pine, although it is not a true pine (genus Pinus) nor a member of the pine family (Pinaceae), but rather is related to Agathis and Araucaria in the family Araucariaceae. The oldest fossil of the Wollemi tree has been dated to 200 million years ago.
The Wollemi pine is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, and is legally protected in Australia. A Recovery Plan has been drawn up, outlining strategies for the management of this fragile population; the overall objective is to ensure that this species remains viable in the long-term) 

It's always exciting to see this "living fossil" tree.  Just to the right of the tree is another rare sight, Heidi, the nursery owner, actually standing still.  Heidi is so full of energy and enthusiasm for plants and gardening that she's most often leading a lucky customer to see a cool plant or keeping the gardens and nursery looking great!

At the time of our visit, the annual poppies were spectacular.  Such lovely and carefree plants!

Mosaic hat anyone?

These would make beautiful hose guards at the edges of beds!

The dish desert was in bloom!

If I had the space, this would be an idea that I'd definitely copy, maybe with a big agave in the center.

'Drama Queen' living up to her name!

Notice how few flowers are in this shot and yet how much color is present - masterful!

And, as Loree says, if you just believe hard enough, there's always an agave.  The great thing about the metal ones is that they're hardy in any climate and take our wet winters in stride!

Ditto for their cacti friends!

It's a joy to walk through the gardens and see what new scenes Heidi has put together.  This poppy field with a rusty piece of farm equipment was especially delightful!

The branch shadows make this area even more lovely.

Sweet and shy Lilium canadense var. coccineum from Edelweiss Perennials

has a surprising  interior!

Eryngium 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' which we'd later see in many of the gardens at the Portland Garden Bloggers' Fling.

Jeff at Celestial Dream Gardens was kind enough to open for us.  I was so busy enjoying the many cool plants that I forgot to take pictures of them (bad blogger!) That didn't stop us from buying quite a few!  Here's Jeff behind one of our boxes of plants.

It never ceases to amaze me that there can be so many fabulous nurseries in our area, each of them carrying slightly different inventory so that they all must be visited! 

Celestial Dream's Facebook page says that they'll be at the Fronderosa Frolic on August 9 so I'll start nagging now.  Do plan to attend this cool event which "has become the horticultural equivalent of Woodstock."  It's a great sale which includes independent growers and yard artists (some who only sell here)  from Port Townsend to Eugene!  Not only is the sale itself great but the setting is gorgeous and you are encouraged to pack a picnic and eat either at tables in a forest glade or on the sandy river bank below.  There are interesting produce/plant stands, antique stores, and yard art places on the way in (or out) and we always get at least one case of fresh peaches to freeze for the winter on this trip.  I hope to see you there this year.  Also, you can hit Flower world and Molbak's on the way back to Interstate five. (And Wells Medina if you still have the energy!)  Portlanders, come on up for the day,  spend the night and explore Seattle (Bedrock Industries, Swanson's Nursery, City People's, The arboretum, Sky Nursery) the next day before heading home!