November–Salvia, still goin’


Photo taken 11/5/15

This salvia (looks like a Salvia greggii cv to me or it could be S. microphylla or a cross between the two) is the woodiest old S. greggii (or one of its close kin) that I’ve ever seen. I took this photo on November 5 and it was still going strong–I’m sure it made any hummingbirds around happy. I’ve always liked these plants. I saw one planted with Ballota pseudodictamnus (not always an easy plant to find). They round, pale green, felty leaves of the Ballota and its rounded shape go well with the more upright and spiky salvias. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the Ballota. Both plants like sun and can take a fair amount of drought.

Ok, by tree or even shrub standards the trunk may not be big but for a salvia of its clan, it's impressive

Ok, by tree or even shrub standards the trunk may not be big but for this kind of salvia, it’s impressive.


November–Planning for spring, try agastache for bees

agastacheThe agastaches finally stopped blooming a month or so ago. They bloomed, with no serious deadheading, all summer. They were a bumble bee (and honey bee–see above) magnet. Check out my post on them at my other blog, Honey Bees Can’t Pollinate Tomatoes.


November–Wool carder bees in Seattle

Anthidium sex

Anthidium sex

Check out my post on the cool (albeit non-native) wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum) that can be seen patrolling flowers around Seattle once bee season returns.


November – Seattle Surprises

november1After 25 years of living in Seattle, the city still gives me these moments of surprise and small delights. I was walking down a random street the other day, having just gotten new lenses for my glasses, and I ran across a little front yard. It was the typical in-city small yard fronted by a chest-high (I’m pretty short) concrete wall and backed by a bungalow. It was the second day of November and this tiny little yard had flowers. Not one kind, not two or three, but lots. Mostly, they were summer into fall flowers that hadn’t gotten the “it’s time to stop now” message.

Looking at this yard, which was a bit of a mish-mash, made me wonder about garden design ethos. Plant fewer things in large numbers, plant in odd numbers (up to a certain point) consider form and foliage, not just flowers. Sometimes I’m paralyzed by all the possibilities. Do I want year-round good looks? Do I want serene? Do I want bodacious beauty? Do I want low maintenance? Do I want food? Do I want elegant? Regretfully, many kinds of gardens please me so, sometimes, I’m paralyzed.

november2This little garden didn’t follow many design principles other than maybe “if you don’t choose a plant for a space, mother-nature will.” It had ice plant sporting hot pink flowers and a small shrub rose (it looked like ‘The Fairy’ to me) with little pale pink flowers with a fig tree looming over it. A rugosa rose had finished blooming but had fat, red hips. A couple of heaths (pink and white) were either in bloom or on the cusp of blooming. A few little orange gaillardias were still going as was an orange nasturtium. A good-sized white-flowered aster frothed on one side of the sidewalk while a purple aster lolled on the other. Add a yellow rudbeckia, a pink mallow and one of those orangey echinaceas. That’s what this little yard had blooming in November. A happy mish-mash that made me glad that the “plant in large swathes” and “pay attention to form” are not for everyone.


October- unfortunate examples of plantus rectilinearis


Berberis (barberry) box

Outside a Whole Foods in Seattle, I saw these plants. Good plants badly pruned, and probably, wrongly planted. In a year or two I suspect anyone that has to get into those meters in front of the barberry may be cursing whoever chose the planting. Also, the bed was only about 5′ deep, and although Viburnum davidii supposedly only reaches 4′ wide, I’ve seen it wider. I’m not sure which species this evergreen barberry is but some get quite large, let’s hope it’s a smaller version!


September–Narrow planting for shade

shadeI’m always on the lookout for a nice planting that works in narrow beds. This is a super narrow bed. The problem is I snapped this but didn’t pay proper attention at the time so I’m doing all the id from the pic.