South creek garden

Continuing with flowers in June, today we hit the south creek garden.

This garden is established between the creek (on the east) and the driveway (on the west) and lies partially underneath a giant poplar (center of photo) and some conifers. You can just see the edge of the new bridge in the lower left as well as the leaves of the new Gunnera (from Loree over at danger garden) to the lower right of the green post. This area has some of the heaviest clay on the property, though it is rockier down along the creek bed. The water table is obviously high, but things still dry out horribly if I don’t water periodically during the summer. Looking at it through the camera’s eye, I see an undifferentiated mass of green – I need to introduce more plants with high contrast color.

Skipping past the area nearest the bridge, which has yet to be planted, we start midway up the driveway. The star of the show is center stage – the devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus). Supporting characters, from left to right, are a golden currant (Ribes aureum), flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), the purple flowers of Geranium ‘Rozanne’, white flowers of Aconitum lycoctonum, and a patch of Allium cyathophorum mixed with Fuchsia procumbens.

The devil’s club is just finishing up with the last of its flowers.

Closeup of the Allium cyathophorum flowers. This is a prolific seeder. Even though I harvest the seed and send it to NARGS (the North American Rock Garden Society) each year, it still seems to be spreading. It’s cute for a week or two in June though.

Also down in front is a little patch of Alchemilla alpina. The chartreuse yellow flowers match the needles of the Podocarpus nivalis ‘Otari’ in the background.

Wandering throughout this entire bed are occasional patches of our native Pacific waterleaf, Hydrophyllum tenuipes.

View behind the Oplopanax. That’s a Mahonia x media cultivar to the right of the Oplopanax. No idea which one as it came labeled as ‘Cistus Silvers’, which it obviously isn’t. In the foreground, another mahonia, this one Mahonia repens. Background is our native Maianthemum racemosum and a Rhododendron ‘Cunningham’s White’. The heart-shaped green leaves and purple flowers are Lamium orvale, featured in my May bloom day post (here).

Tucked up underneath the Oplopanax is this Melittis melissophyllum, also affectionately known as bastard balm. The latin name basically means the bee beeplant, redundantly named because it is supposed to be extremely attractive to bees. I’ve never seen them that interested in it though. This is a tough plant taking quite a bit of dry shade.

If you’ve got an eagle eye, you also probably saw a white flower in the background, which is our native Ligusticum apiifolium. First time blooming here. I like it enough that I am going to let it go to seed.

Also in this section of the garden is a Cacalia delphinifolia, which I am relieved to see re-emerge this spring. It was one that I thought died last year after I didn’t water for a couple of months. The whole thing just shriveled up and disappeared. Luckily, it’s back, though not quite as vigorous as I remember. Admittedly, not very exciting, looking more like an herbaceous maple than anything else.

Heading up the driveway a little further, you can see the trunk of the poplar on the left. That’s Mahonia fortunei ‘Dan Hinkley and Persicaria ‘Purple Fantasy’ with a hart’s tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) on the left. In the center foreground, I just chopped back my Pacific wax myrtle (Morello californica) as it was getting too big again (bare spot/bunch of sticks in center foreground). Surprising how much it had regrown after being crushed by falling poplar branches in an ice storm back in February 2021 (here). Just behind that is an Epimedium x peralchicum ‘Wisley’ and a perpetually beleagured Garrya x issaquahensis ‘Glasnevin Wine’ on the right. The latter gets leaf spots in winter due to its location under the trees, which is why it looks a little grey in its nether regions. Geranium phaeum var. phaeum (green leaves with dark purple patterning in right foreground) is starting to seed around in several spots. I need to deadhead that soon. Not shown are fairly sizeable patches of Vancouveria chrysantha and striped lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis ‘albo-stricta’).

Another view of the Persicaria ‘Purple Fantasy’ and Mahonia ‘Dan Hinkley’ combo, Mahonia repens off to the left. I’ve had this M. ‘Dan Hinkley’ since 2016 and it was a spindly, floppy mess. Last year, I pruned out the leggy stems and it resprouted into a more full, attractive plant. Bonus that the cut stems rooted easily and I’ve spread it to a couple other locations around the yard.

I accidentally skipped over the Geranium stapfianum, which is blooming right now with its typical, pink geranium flowers.

I prefer the leaves, which are vibrantly patterned when they first emerge in early spring.

At the top of the driveway are Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ and Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. Letting the latter go to seed because I heard it reseeds quite readily and I am too cheap to buy more. There are a lot of named varieties of Brunnera, most of which look exactly the same. Behind Jack Frost is a prickly green Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Sasaba’ with a couple branches that are losing their leaves. Osmanthus don’t do particularly well for me, they suffer from a lot of dieback and just sort of decline over time.

Whoops – forgot the foxglove flower (Digitalis purpurea), which is naturalized throughout most of the Willamette Valley.

Hidden behind the Garrya is one of the few rhododendrons left in the garden, R. ‘Yaku Princess’. I like the fuzzy, silvery new leaves, but I can tell that it doesn’t appreciate our pH10 water as the older leaves become increasingly yellow over time.

Underneath the Yaku Princess is a small patch of goldthread, Coptis laciniata. I realize I forgot to post a photo of the flowers earlier in April, so you get those here, as well as a photo of the golden stolons that give rise to the common name for this plant.

Moving back closer to the poplar is a Persicaria ‘Brushstrokes’.

And, next to that, the flowers of the Maianthemum dilatatum are just finishing up. Here is a picture of the flowers earlier in June.

The blooms of the bamboo iris, Iris confusa.

I am beginning to appreciate this plant more as an anchor for dry shade. The disappointing thing about this iris, though, is its foliage, which is yellow and tattered by the time it blooms. Photo on the right shows the new stems arching up from underneath, which gives the plant its common name.

Also pictured are a rock fern, Cyrtomium falcatum ‘Rochfordianum’ in front of the iris and an Isodon (syn. Plectranthus or Rabdosia) longitubus on the left.

Last, is the newest area underneath the ponderosa pines and spruce. There are a few rooted cuttings of Oplopanax horridus, Danae racemosa, Aucuba japonica ‘Rozannie’, Helwingia chinensis, a Mahonia x media hybrid (I’m embarassed I lost the tag, maybe Charity?), Triosteum pinnatifidum, lots of Tolmiea menziesii and Tellima grandiflora, and bowman’s root (Gillenia trifolium). 

Most of them are too small to be very interesting, but the bowman’s root is in bloom. This is a reasonably nice, if not somewhat boring plant for dry shade. At least it stays green and doesn’t need much water.

Ok, that’s it for this post, which ended up focusing more on foliage rather than flowers. Going out to wreak havoc in the garden.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Kris P

    So many wonderful plants, many (most!) I’m not familiar with. I love the Hydrophyllum, Melittis and the “fancy” Persicarias, ‘Brushstrokes’ and ‘Purple Fantasy’. I’ve managed to keep a Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ alive but the only member of the genus that does really well here is P. capitata, which is a sneaky seld-seeder.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Ooh, Persicaria capitata is pretty. I like it because it is short, but I just took out another short variety, Persicaria ‘Langhorn’s Variety’, because it was too assertive and was sending runners everywhere. I probably don’t need one that reseeds too.

  2. Tracy

    I feel like I’ve had a nice walk in the woods after seeing your garden. The geranium leaves are especially pretty!

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thanks! It is nice to have a small bit of woods to keep things looking green.

  3. danger garden

    Love the Persicaria ‘Purple Fantasy’ and Mahonia ‘Dan Hinkley’ combo area shot, great mix of plants. Those Geranium stapfianum leaves! WOW! Your Persicaria ‘Brushstrokes’ looks great, mine just kind of faded away.

    You mentioned Fuchsia procumbens in one of the photos, I was under the impression this plant wasn’t hardy up here (Zone 8), has your experience been different?

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I have had my Fuchsia procumbens in the ground since 2015 and we are a solid zone 7. It made it through a couple 18F days in separate years without any damage at all. Mine was from Out in the Garden Nursery, which also described it as zone 7. I think you’re safe. Does extremely well in dry shade too.

  4. Anna K

    One of my favorite combos in my garden is Geranium phaeum with the Purple Fantasy Persicaria – they play off each other spectacularly. I miss it this year, because somehow it seems to have died off. True to form, I probably pushed it too far into the shade for its liking.

    You have so many great plants! I love the Helwingia and its wonky flowers, and Geranium stapfianum leaves are nothing short of delicious. My Iris confusa looks like crap, too. It was a rough winter all around, it seems.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Interesting how several people have mentioned that some Persicarias seem to die off over time. I had a massive die-off of Alchemilla ellenbeckii, but luckily enough small patches survived that I think I can get it to go again. Yes, this was a terrible winter for several of our stalwart plants. I can’t wait for my Helwingia to get bigger so I can see it bloom. It’s just a tiny little thing at the moment.

  5. Linda Brazill

    What a lot of fabulous foliage plants. Have to say I agree about the similarity of many Brunneras. They do well for me so I’ve added all kinds of different ones and now don’t know who’s who. A fabulous Geranium that I’ve never heard of and Bowman’s root which I love. Great post.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Thank you Linda! I am glad I’m not the only one that has a hard time telling the Brunneras apart. They seem to do well with the drought we have been having though. They went almost 4 months without needing any water until the last few weeks.

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