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.


September – Laurus nobilis, sweet bay


The ravine bay, limbed up so I could actually fit a little table on the patio.

I once thought of bay trees as tender, delicate things. I had one in a pot that I moved from house to house. It scarcely grew in the years I carted it around. Occasionally, I would fearfully relieve it of one of its few leaves for use in spaghetti sauce. The tree would probably have fared better under anyone else’s care. I have a laissez-faire attitude toward plants which is reasonable when a plant is grown in the yard but not very fair to plants confined to pots in the house. I confess that plants may go a year (or possibly more) with no fertilizer and ones that need frequent watering soon die. So my bay tree’s slow growth over the years is no surprise although its survival indicates that my perception of its delicate nature was way off.


PLANT UPDATE–September-Viburnum rhytidophyllum

viburnumOh, I just discovered the evil underbelly of Viburnum rhytidophyllum (leatherleaf viburnum). When I started to prune it, a nasty dust-like material began to fly and then, the sneezing commenced. Soon the inside of my arms began to itch as well, not terribly, but clearly this pruning job is not one of those pleasant, crawl into the shrub and snip away ones. I love crawling inside a weeping Japanese laceleaf maple to prune. It’s like being a kid, hiding out again. But leatherleaf viburnum? Long sleeves and a mask required for me. Yuck.

For the original V. rhytidophyllum post, go here.


August-PLANT UPDATE – Crape Myrtles

'Tuscarora' Crape Myrtle

Crape myrtles are a tree from my Georgia childhood, found in planted along many a road, often pollarded (hacked back in late winter the the main branches so new whips form). Here, in the land of cool summers, I have found it wise to pick crape myrtles for their bark, often lovely, rather than their bloom, frequently non-existent.


July-Unexpected lesson on the power of the sun

basilI’m not much into planting in rows but i planted a row of purple basil along a walkway. They were all approximately the same size when I planted them in early-mid June. Now look.

Basil loves heat. You’re really not supposed to put it out until the night time temps are above 55F–which never happens some summers in Seattle. This year has been different nevertheless, basil clearly wants all the sun and heat  we can give it.

The walkway runs from the north side of the house (left) to the street. The basil nearest the house actually gets a fair amount of sun but it obviously gets less than the plants further from the house. Who knew that a few hours of extra sun would make such a difference over a six week period? (Note: the zinnias behind are slightly smaller in the shade but it’s nowhere near as noticeable as it is for the basil.)