Photo taken 12/4/2013
Autumn into winter – the season of death. In early autumn, with the leaves turning, we may be less likely to notice some of the less beautiful death throes happening in our garden but now, with the leaves all off, well, it’s all lying there: twiggy, black, wizened and mushy. Herbaceous (non-woody) plants tend to die back particularly poorly so it’s always fun to be on the lookout for ones that do manage to go prettily into winter.The photo above shows one plant looking quite nice and another looking a bit like it’s melting. The fine-textured, puffy-looking plant is an aster, I expect it is Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ (aka Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) or ‘Prince.’ The melty one is an Agapanthus.
I have rarely grown asters and I’m not sure why. Some definitely tend to flop and get bare, naked bottom parts and some have that regrettable tendency to mildew, but the clear, bright springy Easter egg colors so typical of asters coming in the fall do help one deny a little longer that the gloomy days of winter are coming up. Asters are seldom Scrooge-ish with their flowers and the A. lateriflorus hybrids in particular tend to run amuck with a zillion tiny white flowers with cheerful pink centers. The tiny, dark leaves can make a nice foil for many other types of foliage. The A. laterflorus hybrids seems less prone to flop and mildew than some others.
Asters are prairie plants and that prefer reasonably well-drained soils, sun and some water. Letting them dry out tends to be a recipe for mildew (perhaps explaining why I don’t usually grow them since I am historically an erratic waterer). The tome entitled Perennials A Gardener’s Reference by local garden experts Susan Carter, Carrie Becker and Bob Lilly, has a list of about 50 asters with their key characteristics including if they are notable for their tendency to mildew, flop and run. Their info may be a bit terse at times but it is to the point. Of Aster divaricatus they say, “White wood aster, tolerates shade and dry soil, flops but nicely.”
ASTER LATERIFLORUS FAST FACTS
- sun, well-drained soil best
- some summer water, allowing to dry out can lead to mildew
- ‘Lady in Black’ 3-4.5′H x 1.5′+W; ‘Prince’ 2-3′x1.5′+
- prone to slug and rabbit nibbling, mildew
- needs dividing every few years
- butterflies and bees like asters
I’ve always lusted a bit after this tree and when I looked I saw that the only time I’ve written about it was in October – not its best time. So here it is at one of its finest moments, glowing -in a subdued, autumnal way – wearing nothing but its berries. You can see why its common name is Golden Raindrops. I’ll try to remember to get one of the spring flowers next year!
For my original post on this crabapple, go here.
Photo taken 10/15/2013
My daughter has been taxed with analyzing a book chock full of metaphors for school and they really piss her off so I’m sure she’d find a plant called love-lies-bleeding worthy of an eye roll whereas most people find it charming. It certainly comes across as very Victorian. Read more »
C. lacteus nicely pruned into a tree form.
The berry period for Cotoneaster lacteus is pretty long, clearly it is well-started now and if you go to this post, you can see it in December and February as well. Clearly, this plant calls to my attention when there are berries more than when there are flowers (not that the flowering period is bad). I’ll try hard to get out and get some shots of the plant in flower this spring.
I thought this was it – the summer of Seattle crape myrtles. With all the delightful heat (see table) if there was ever a summer to actually have crape myrtles put on a flower show this would be it. Read more »
Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’
I’m not a huge fan of some of the pendulous conifers – it seems sad to turn a massive majestic tree like a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) or blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) into something that looks like an afghan hound or an octopus (google them and see for yourself) BUT I have to say this was a pretty cool way to divide the garden and provide screening.
To learn more about Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ go here.
Attractive late summer planting. Isn’t that purple-leaved plum in the background a nice touch?
At times in my life I’ve been good at keeping notes about plants I grow and occasionally I’m really greatful for my diligence because I instantly recognized the airy grass billowing so beautifully and pinkly in the above picture but the name – anath.. something. Usually that’s enough for google but not this time so I actually went hunting through my old notecards and there it was, Anemanthele lessoniana, pheasant grass (aka Stipa arundinacea). Read more »
An institutional planting that almost does everything right. Someone chose a varied plant palette for this apartment/condo complex on 24th NW in Ballard. Banana (Musa sp), Hydrangea aspera, purple-leaved elderberry (Sambucus), weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca ‘Pendula’) and a host of other plants give provide color and texture to the planting beds around this building. It looks great now, in another year or so, they will have a problem. The planting width is a few feet and many of these plants will get 8-10′ wide. Read more »
July 5, 2013
Koelreuteria paniculata, aka the golden rain tree – the more I watch this tree through the seasons, the better I like it. Here it is in bountiful bloom - in July – one of the rare summer-blooming trees to be found. Add nice form, fabulous fall color, salmon pink leaves in the spring that are like a seasonal bloom in themselves, manageable size and nice bark and you’ve got one great tree. The single potential flaw for this tree are the large brown seedpods which I actually find interesting (unlike those of the similarly named golden chain tree, Laburnum anagyroides). This is a tree that should definitely be on Seattle city dweller’s short list. Read more »
photo taken 5/31/2013
I suspect this is Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty.’ I had ‘Guincho Purple’ once upon a time – I think it may have been the first purple leaved cultivar of European elderberry. It died a mysterious death. The problem with ‘Guincho Purple’ was it tended to lose its purple-ness as the summer went on, apparently that doesn’t happen with two newer cultivars, ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Black Lace.’ I’ll check back with this one over the course of the summer and we’ll see. Read more »