Gardens in spring

I am in heat dome denial. The next few posts will be about things that caught my eye when I visited various nurseries and neighborhoods this last spring, when it was cooler. First up, Gossler Farms Nursery in Springfield, OR on 5/29/2021.

I’ve always wanted to grow mountain laurels (Kalmia varieties). They have one of the most architectural flower buds of the ericaceae family and the flowers are often in a contrasting shade of color or have intricate patterns. Unfortunately mountain laurels don’t do well here in western Oregon with our dry, warm (or sometimes hot!) summers. They also prefer acidic, humus-rich soils. Something they wouldn’t get in my yard. Roger Gossler, however, must have the perfect conditions for them in his extensive display garden. Here is one of my favorites, perhaps Minuet (Kalmia latifolia ‘Minuet’)?

The intricately patterned flowers of Kalmia latifolia 'Minuet'
Kalmia latifolia 'Minuet'

Next up, what looks like a hardy geranium, but with three-lobed leaves. All of the hardy geraniums that I grow, as well as the weedy annual ones that I rip out by the thousands, have five-lobed leaves. Anyone know what this geranium is?

Pop of purple against chartreuse leaves on an unknown hardy geranium
Geranium x

I can’t decide if I like this hardy orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) or not. The red and white pattern is neat, but something about the color combination is off-putting.

The runny red and white peppermint stick effect on the flowers of Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Dactylorhiza fuchsii

There were several pollarded sycamore trees (Platanus species) that anchored this part of the garden. Hard to get a good picture with all of the sun but they added a definite structural component. Pollarding is a way of pruning trees so that they stay small. Basically, you keep pruning back the small branches every year to the same spot on the tree until the trunk and main branches achieve this grotesque, muscular look. This is very popular in Europe, especially with London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia), but nos so common here in the U.S.

When I was 12, I wanted a sycamore tree more than any other tree in the world. They were one of the largest trees I had encountered up to that point and I loved their smooth, patterned bark and the scent of their leaves. I planted one, but moved away before I got to see it grow.

I dream of having a patch of yellow and orange candelabra primulas like these along the creek at home, but the bank is too steep. Still, every few years, I grow a few from seed and plant them out in the hopes that they will take off. They never do. Just shrivel up and die. Not sure what the identity of these primulas are, maybe P. chungensis or P. aurantiaca?

This is what I ended up buying.

Picking up on an earlier theme of selecting garden plants that are related to local native plant species (South stream garden part 2), I picked up a cutleaf hazelnut (Corylus avellana ‘Burgundy Lace’. Oregon is the top commercial hazelnut producer in the nation and there is also a local, native hazelnut species (Corylus cornuta), so it stands to reason that ornamental hazelnut varieties should also do well here. Roger was puzzled why more people aren’t buying Burgundy Lace. Developed at Oregon State University, the leaves start out as a shade of purple and mature to green. I am hoping it will be somewhat tolerant of dry clay like our native western hazelnut.

Burgundy Lace hazelnut with new leaves tinted purple
Corylus avellana 'Burgundy Lace'

The leaves of Epimedium ‘Simple Beauty’ are huge, shiny, and prickly. The picture doesn’t do it justice. This is apparently a new species discovered in China. In the background are the willowy leaves of Stachyurus salicifolia. I can’t wait until this thing blooms. If I can keep it alive, that is. 

Giant prickly leaves of Epidedium 'Simple Beauty' and the willowy leaves of Stachyurus salicifolius
Epimedium 'Simple Beauty' and Stachyurus salicifolius

Lastly, an evergreen (everyellow?) vine for the deer fence. It is a variegated star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Orido Nishiki’. The new leaves emerge with an orange sheen and mature to a more chartreuse color with patches of dark green. Bonus scented white flowers in the summer. I hope it grows fast.

Variegation bomb of yellow, green, and orange on the leaves of Trachelospermum 'Orido Nishiki'

Leave a Reply