As you may know, our new patio has created some new shady space for garden plants. Most of those I’ve put in so far are familiar to me – Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica). But I’m also trying a couple that are new to my garden: Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) and Eastern Star Sedge (Carex radiata).

Newly planted Bush Honeysuckle in my garden, showing some fall color.

Newly planted Bush Honeysuckle in my garden, showing some fall color.

Bush honeysuckle is a small Midwestern native shrub with yellow honeysuckle-like flowers and good fall color. It’s supposed to grow to only 3′, though Judy skeptically observed that ours had arrived already 2′ tall in its container.

Bush Honeysuckle flowers. Photo from prairienursery.com.

Bush Honeysuckle flowers. Photo from prairienursery.com.

Its early to mid-summer flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, while the seeds are eaten by some songbirds.

Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from Prairenursery.com.

Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from Prairenursery.com.

Eastern Star Sedge is a finely textured sedge that likes moist shade. It grows only 1-2′ tall. Star-like flower clusters emerge in spring.

Eastern Star Sedge, newly planted along the edge of the patio.

Eastern Star Sedge, newly planted along the edge of the patio.

This plant is another source of seeds eaten by songbirds.

Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from Prairienursery.com.

Eastern Star Sedge. Photo from Prairienursery.com.

Have you had any experience with either of these plants?

As we near the end of October, fall seems to be ambling rather than marching on. We have yet to see a frost, and the warm weather means colors have shifted only slowly.

Northern Sea Oats and Bluestar

Northern Sea Oats and Bluestar

Seedheads of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are no longer green, but seem to shimmer like hundreds of tiny goldfish. They look good with the yellowing foliage of Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana).

2014-10-20 09.22.36 northern sea oats and bluestar

A closer look.

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The ‘Northwind’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is still almost entirely green, though the seed panicles are turning tan.

2014-10-20 09.25.03 sunflower and Joe Pye weed

‘Italian White’ sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are making a last stand, set off by the fluffy seedheads of ‘Gateway’ Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum ssp. maculatum).

2014-10-20 09.26.15 spicebush fall foliage

In the back garden, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) has turned a bright orange-yellow.

2014-10-20 09.26.54 purple dome new england aster

The only flower still newly opened is the dwarf New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) ‘Purple Dome’. I admit to being a bit disappointed in ‘Purple Dome’. It’s not as floriferous as I had hoped, and is a bit too scraggly to be considered a dome.

2014-10-20 09.29.28 beautyberry

Last year I planted a small Asian Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma), ‘Early Amethyst’. It has a modest display of berries this year, though they look nice close up.

2014-10-20 09.34.07 darlow's enigma hips

Speaking of fruits, I showed some ‘Cassie’ rose hips in my last post. Here are some ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ hips, more red and than ‘Cassie’, and more oval-shaped.

2014-10-20 09.29.53 virginia creeper

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) smothers the telephone pole in the alley, providing a colorful seasonal display.

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And ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry (Amelanchier xgrandiflora) leaves shimmer like jewels.

I am posting this as part of Garden Bloggers Foliage Day, sponsored by Christina at My Hesperides Garden. How is the fall color in your garden?

It’s October 20th, and everybody in the garden is winding down. Everybody but ‘Cassie’, that is.

'Cassie' blooming in late October.

‘Cassie’ blooming in late October.

‘Cassie’ is a medium-sized shrub rose that refuses to acknowledge the change of seasons. She just keeps pumping out small, semi-double white flowers.

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She even keeps the flower buds coming.

'Cassie' hips.

‘Cassie’ hips.

All this while her canes fill with small orange hips that gradually disappear down the gullets of birds.

'Cassie' overflows with small white flowers in June and July.

‘Cassie’ overflows with small white flowers in June and July.

Of course, ‘Cassie’ is at her peak in June and July, when she is covered with mildly fragrant blooms.

‘Cassie’ is about as close to trouble-free as a rose can get. I give her absolutely no coddling, and every year she comes back with vigor and clean foliage. Cut back in early spring, she grows to about four feet high.

Do you have any roses or other plants that don’t know when to quit?

Portland gardeners are lucky ducks. They seem to have an unusual concentration of high quality nurseries in their area, nurseries whose display gardens would make them worthwhile destinations even if they had nothing for sale.

Blue Hydrangea and grasses at the Joy Creek display garden.

Blue Hydrangea and grasses at the Joy Creek display garden.

We don’t have that in Chicago, where land is at too much of a premium to be used that way by a retail nursery. By the way, I took these pictures as Judy missed the first day of the Fling. So they may not be up to the usual quality.

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta

We visited two such nurseries during the Fling: Joy Creek and Cistus. One of the Portlanders told me that these two nurseries define two local styles of gardening. “You’re either a Joy Creek gardener or a Cistus gardener,” she told me.

Matilija Poppy. Wish we could grow these in Chicago.

Matilija Poppy. Wish we could grow these in Chicago.

If I lived in Portland, I would definitely be a Joy Creek gardener.

2014-07-11 15.55.43 joy creek

Joy Creek has over four acres of display and stock gardens.

2014-07-11 16.09.46 joy creek

And by the way, they also do mail order. Here’s the Joy Creek website.

Bee Balm, I think it's 'Jacob Cline'.

Bee Balm, I think it’s ‘Jacob Cline’.

Joy Creek specializes in Clematis, and their garden has an amazing selection.

2014-07-11 16.36.05 joy creek clematis

2014-07-11 16.30.35 joy creek clematis

2014-07-11 16.31.37 joy creek clematis

2014-07-11 16.29.16 joy creek clematis

2014-07-11 16.30.18joy creek clematis

This one reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me!

This one reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me!

2014-07-11 16.24.58 joy creek clematis

Now if only I could get them to open a branch in the Chicago area.

Monday was a holiday, and I spent it planting 160 Tulips into 11 containers. Plus a 12th container I planted with ‘City of Haarlem’ Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis).

12 containers full of tulip and other bulbs.

12 containers full of tulip and other bulbs.

There seems to be a fair amount of interest in planting Tulips in containers, so I’m doing this post even though I did a very similar one last ¬†year.

So why would anybody want to do this? For me, there are three main reasons.

First, I find it easier to work with hybrid tulips in containers rather than in beds and borders. The bulbs are relatively large and sometimes short-lived and the post-bloom foliage gets in the way. For beds and borders I prefer smaller bulbs like Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), Snowdrops (Galanthus), and Species Tulips.

Tulips in Containers on the front steps.

Tulips blooming on the front steps.

Second, you can move your tulips in containers to wherever your heart desires – for example, to create a welcoming splash of color for your front door.

And last, this approach allows me to indulge my Tulip lust. There are 3,000 varieties of tulips out there, how can I be happy stuck forever with the same measly 10 or 12? I treat my container tulips as annuals, they go on the compost pile after blooming. Then I can order whatever I fancy for next year.

Plants waiting to be dislodged. The Mexican Petunia put up massive resistance. I took most of these pics with my phone.

Plants waiting to be dislodged. The Mexican Petunia put up massive resistance. I took most of these pics with my phone.

Planting tulips in containers is not complicated, but it is a bit of work. Of course, I had to start with pulling out all the summer annuals. And let me say, if you want to plant Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittonniana) in containers, be aware that they are way easier to plant than they are to pull out. You’ve been warned. Then there are the following steps:

  • Dump most of the planting mix into a bucket. You leave the container mix at the level where you want to plant your tulips. I generally plant the bulbs at least 8″ deep. But before planting I refresh the mix with a couple of handfuls of compost.

uncovered bulbs in containers

  • Set the Tulip bulbs into the container. I plant them pretty close together – just an inch or two apart. Actually, they get closer together as the number of remaining containers dwindles.
  • Fill the remainder of the container with the planting mix. I like to mix in another handful of compost at this point.

Now the question is where to leave the planted containers for the winter. You need a place that gets cold but not brutally cold. Year before last I left them in the garage, then last year I buried them in the Cuttings and Edibles Bed. You just have to bury them so that their tops are level with the ground. I’m going with burying again this year, though I didn’t get around to it on Monday.

Ad hoc critter defense

Ad hoc critter defense

Either way, it’s smart to put something on the containers to deter critters. I had leftover bits of hardware cloth and chicken wire that I secured with bricks.

In past years I’ve put a mix of early, mid-season, and late tulips in each container. This year the containers were a mix of either only early, early and mid, mid and late, or only late season bulbs.

Want to know what kind of tulips I planted? Sure you do!

  • ‘Annie Schilder': fragrant, orange, mid-season.
  • ‘Ballerina': lily-flowering, orange-scarlet, late.
  • ‘Blushing Lady': yellow-rose, late.
  • ‘Couleur Cardinal': fragrant, red-plum, early.
  • ‘Early Harvest': orange-scarlet, very early.
  • ‘Elegant Lady': lily-flowering, yellow-rose, late.
  • ‘Keizerskroon': fragrant, red-yellow, early.
  • ‘Kingsblood': deep red, late.
  • ‘King’s Orange': red-orange, mid.
  • ‘Princess Irene': fragrant, orange-purple, early.
  • ‘Salmon Pearl': fragrant, pink-yellow, mid.
'Couleur Cardinal'. This is a Jason picture, please excuse the hubcap.

‘Couleur Cardinal’. This is a Jason picture, please excuse the hubcap.

You could say I’m not putting a big emphasis on subtle colors here. These will be tulips to wake you up in the morning. I am emphasizing fragrant tulips for the first time, something I’ve ignored in the past.

Of the 11 varieties here, eight are new to my garden.

You could make a pretty good case that this approach is expensive and wasteful. I think of it as my version of doing an elaborate Christmas lights display or Fourth of July Fireworks.

Already I can’t wait until Spring.

We saw a lot of wonderful gardens during the 2014 Garden Bloggers’ Fling in Portland this past July. If I had to pick one favorite, however, it would be Rhone Street Gardens.

Rhone Street Gardens

Rhone Street Gardens

This is a garden where it seems every square inch is bursting with exuberant plant life.

2014-07-13 11.53.01

The resident gardener at Rhone Street Gardens is Scott, who was also a principal organizer of the Portland Fling.

2014-07-13 11.27.07 rhone street gardens

Scott is well known for his love of grasses. His garden has its share of colorful flowers, but your attention is really captured by the rich and varied textures of the grasses, with their movement, varying shades of green, and subtle flowers and seed heads. All this tall grass makes me think of Rhone Street Gardens as the Little House on the Portland Prairie.

2014-07-13 11.55.17 rhone street gardens

Raised beds are used to make even the hell strips into bountiful gardens.

2014-07-13 11.35.43 rhone street gardens

Rhone Street Garden also provides habitat for wildlife.

Pay no attention to the person behind the Rudbeckia.

Pay no attention to the person behind the Rudbeckia.

The colorful wildlife provides contrast to the flowers and grasses.

2014-07-13 12.04.51 Joe Pye Weed Rhone Street Gardens

Scott is not afraid of tall plants. Here’s a happy clump of Joe Pye Weed.

Joe Pye Weed and Fireweed.

Joe Pye Weed and Fireweed.

Indeed, it is fair to say that Rhone Street Gardens does not neglect the vertical element in its selection of plants. I wonder if I could convince Scott to give Cup Plant a try.

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There are many fine plant combinations, not all of them tall.

2014-07-13 11.38.33 Astrantia and Persicaria

Such as Astrantia and – I’m not sure – Veronica?

2014-07-13 11.35.19 geranium and persicaria

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Persicaria. Scott has inspired me to plant more grasses, but his garden also makes me want to acquire some Persicaria. Looks like some Agastache mixed in there also.

2014-07-13 12.07.05

Persicaria with Allium seedheads.

2014-07-13 11.53.31 rhone street gardens

Containers with perennials cover ground that is not hospitable to plants.

Overall, the visit to Rhone Street Gardens was definitely one highlight of the Portland Fling.

Just a random selection of recent photos, starting with Brown Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) in the back garden.

2014-10-05 13.37.19 Brown Eyed susan

Clove currant (Ribes odorata).

2014-10-05 14.05.56 clove currant

Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii).

2014-10-05 13.37.51 short's aster

Butterflyweed seed pods (Asclepias tuberosa).

2014-10-05 13.40.21 Butterflyweed seed pods

Swamp Milkweed seeds (Asclepias incarnata).

2014-10-05 13.41.03 swamp milkweed

Salvia with Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia).

2014-10-05 14.01.27 Salvia with bluestem goldenrod

The front garden viewed from the back.

2014-10-05 14.05.34 front garden

The sidewalk border.

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Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).

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Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

2014-10-05 14.09.13 northern sea oats

Nasturtiums (Tropaeoleum majus).

2014-10-05 14.10.31 nasturtiums

Happy October!


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