Last Sunday, I finally got to go plant shopping up in Portland. At the top of my want list was getting a quick-growing evergreen vine. Ideally something with scented flowers or other interesting feature. But really, I just need something to hide the deer fence and the view beyond. Oh, and it has to take dry shade. First stop, Xera Plants. Xera is one of my favorite nurseries in Oregon. Their plants are reasonably sized (mostly in sensible 3.5 inch or 6 inch square pots, making them easy to transplant), healthy, and I have a high success rate with their plants in my garden. Not only that, but they have a great selection of natives, dry shade plants, and exotic, unusual species. I didn’t get any pictures at the nursery. I honestly was a little in shock about finally being out and about after being fairly restricted in where we could go because of COVID-19. It was also just so exciting to be buying plants again that I forgot to take pictures while I was there. I was very surprised to see that their inventory was low. Apparently, this is the new normal nowadays. Throngs of shoppers come in on the weekend and are so desperate for plants that they buy them all up. This is good news! More people are gardening and more people are buying plants. I sure hope it lasts so that the nursery industry continues to grow. Here’s my haul from Xera Plants.
Two Diablo’s Blush manzanita (Arctostaphylos auriculata) in the lower left and a variegated sedge (Carex siderostricha ‘Variegata’) on the lower right. In the top row, a Wetland’s Challenged Mutant bottlebrush (Callistemon pityoides hybrid) in the upper left, a hairy manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana var. sonomensis) in the middle, and a Fuchsia hatschbachii in the upper right, Of all of these, I am most excited about the three manzanitas and the Wetland’s Challenge Mutant bottlebrush. I’ve been searching for more blue-leaved manzanitas and one of these will be going in the new rock garden I made last year. I have no idea where I will put the other two yet. I will wedge them in somewhere. One of the constant problems I run into as a gardener is that I tend to buy a lot of shrubs, but we only have a limited amount of space to grow them. For example, I was interested to read about the sweet ponderosa pine smell of the flowers of the Wetland’s Challenged Mutant on Paul Bonine’s Facebook post the other day. So, I bought one and now have to figure out where to put it. I also picked up the other two plants on a whim. The fuchsia has unusual, shiny willow-like leaves and is supposed to be super hardy and the sedge has variegated leaves (I gravitate to variegated plants) and is supposed to be long lived. Fuchsias, those should be small, right? No, this one can get up to 8 feet tall! Hmmm, maybe this would be good to try for screening the fence…but it needs more water.
Next, I headed out to Cistus Nursery. Cistus is another nursery that specializes in unusual plants and it is a great place to go to see mature plants on display in the show garden. This helps me see how big some plants will get over time and gives a better perspective on their overall performance. The most interesting plant I saw for sale here was Helwingia chinensis, which gets tiny little green flowers on the leaves! For some reason, I thought I read that it was only hardy to zone 8 or 9 on the tag and I left it behind. But now that I am researching it online, it looks like it might have been hardy in my zone 7 garden! Argh! I wish I had bought it.
Oh well. Here are the plants I did end up buying.
I am most excited about the plant in the upper left, snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus). I first encountered this plant when I first moved to Oregon in 2008 while I was driving around on the logging roads getting a sense of the land. Beautiful, shiny, round evergreen leaves. I love it. But, of course, it’s another shrub that I need to find a site for.
The other two plants are Dyckia ‘Nickel Silver’ on the left and Agave schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi’. I am going to blame Danger Garden blog a bit for these two (http://www.thedangergarden.com/search/label/Dyckia). I kept seeing the Dyckia over on Loree’s blog, and I don’t know…, something just clicked…, or broke…., or short circuited…or something, and I just sort of ended up with one. And how could I not after seeing this one in the Cistus greenhouse? Silvery symmetry perfection.
I had also sort of given up completely on agaves. After living in the desert southwest for a number of years, it looked like I was going to be able to grow them again here in Oregon. But every single one I have tried has ended up as much despite all the mounding and gravel. I think our site is still too wet and cold in the winter. But, this one is sooo small and cute, surely it can be a little pot plant that I can keep over winter in our greenhouse without too much trouble?
Last plant I got there was this little Aristolochia fimbriata, a little groundcover plant with silvery veined leaves from Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina. The real showstopper for me will be if I can get it to survive and flower. I’ve not seen this in people’s gardens, so I hope it does well here.
This cycad was also in the Cistus greenhouse. Huge.
Next time, what did I buy from Portland Nursery on Stark?
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Come by for some Helwingia chinensis cuttings.
That sounds like a good idea!
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