Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘plant’

Lavender

Lavender

As you can imagine, I love gardening and getting my hands dirty, but I also like to play outside my garden, too. That’s why perennials are a big part of my garden. They afford me the freedom to come and go as I please because they get on quite well by themselves if planted in a site they like. I love the way each season brings on bigger and better growth, and more flowers. More flowers mean more garden visitors as they attract hummingbirds and butterflies alike. Below I have listed my top five faves, but I have to tell you, it was tough to whittle down my list!

Lavender • Ok, maybe Lavender is not technically a perennial as it is more of a woody shrub, but in my head I had always grouped it into that category because it plays so well in the garden with my other perennials. This is my favorite summer blooming plant of all! Have you ever seen the fields of lavender near Sequim in the summer? What an incredible sight it is! The large fields, frosted in rich purples as far as you can see and smell, are amazing. Every part of the lavender plant is saturated with aromatic oils. I just can’t get enough of the delicious aroma that lavender exudes on warm afternoons in July. Hidcote lavender is a special favorite of mine. It’s bushy and compact and I suggest it often as a ‘blooming rock’ when Plant Farm guests are looking for landscape ideas.

What a great performer to sprinkle into a landscape’s sunny, dry spaces that other plants may struggle with. Can you imagine tucking these near entryways, along paths or near your patio spaces so the heady fragrance can delight your guests and family? Grouping them in drifts for dramatic effect will add a powerful punch of color every summer. Or use them as a common color to pull areas together and unify your look.

Hosta 'Golden Tiara'

Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’

Hosta • Hostas just make me happy! I absolutely love all the different leaf textures and leaf sizes, and many of the varieties have incredible variegation that adds an extra layer of interest. The larger leaves are a must for making a statement in your shaded garden areas and combine well when planted with other shrubs and perennials. The flowers they sport in the summer months are greatly enjoyed by hummingbirds and are like “the cherry on top” of an already beautiful plant! While most Hostas love the shade there are many varieties can handle some sunny spots as well if the soil is moist enough. Check the plant label to see if the variety can handle some sun.

One of my favorite varieties is a real beauty called ‘Golden Tiara’ and it has to be one of the very best for filling in the shady spaces! Golden Tiara was selected in 1993 to receive the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its outstanding and easy to grow virtues. This sweetie has a vigorous habit growing densely to 12-15” tall by 24-30” wide, making it ideal to plant along walkways, as borders or covering large areas. They do ask for protection from the hottest afternoon sun.

Gardeners may have had experience with slugs or snails munching on the leaves of their plants but I never have a hole in my Hosta leaves or other plants for that matter! I start sprinkling ‘Slug Magic’ by Bonide (pet and people safe, made from iron phosphate) as soon as I see the leaves poking through the ground in the spring and once a month thereafter and just like ‘magic’, I have perfect, lush, totally intact Hosta leaves gracing my patio area all summer long.

Salvia 'Hot Lips'

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’

Salvia • I like almost all the beautiful varieties of Salvia, just like my hummingbirds do! Their striking flowers come in shades of blue, purple, red, pink and more, and they bloom for countless weeks if the spent flowers are removed after the first big flush of color in late spring/early summer. All Salvia is a type of Sage and the foliage is quite fragrant and reminiscent of the sage we cook with. If you want to become a little adventuresome, you should check out the salvias whose foliage smells like pineapple! Salvias are easy to grow in the sunny areas where your soil is well drained and not too fertile, as they like the leaner life.

Know what Ciscoe Morris, hummingbirds and I have in common? Our favorite Salvia is Hot Lips. This Salvia has red and white blooms. The two-toned color scheme starts out with an entirely red flower and then the top half of each blossom turns white, leaving the bottom of the blossom with two luscious pouting red lips. The effect comes off as ‘sparkling’ in the sun and the foliage is deliciously aromatic, adding in one more layer of interest.

I admit, in our wetter climate the perennial types of Salvia are sometimes thought of as a short-lived perennials and this is often because they are planted in shade and overwatered or over fed. They are of good value when planted for their long bloom time and if you plant some areas of your gardens with hummingbird attractors like Hot Lips Salvia you won’t need to hang up a feeder all summer! The Salvias as a whole are so worth planting… the Hummingbirds, Ciscoe and I will thank you!

Penstemon

Penstemon

Penstemon • Another great and easy to grow group of perennials is the genus Penstemon aka Beardtongue or Bearded Tongue. My hummingbirds love the incredibly long blooming time and I love the different foliage textures and flower colors available. While the sunny sites are preferred, part shade areas are tolerated quite well as long as the soil is not overly damp, especially in winter. The leaner soils are appreciated by Penstomen, meaning you won’t be planting in rich loamy soil or fertilizing these much at all. I have a Penstemon in my backyard garden that gets only about 4 hours of sun a day growing in Marysville sandy soil and it thrives and blooms spectacularly. In fact, as I write this, there are hundreds of blossoms opening up on one of my beauties and there are two hummingbirds jockeying for position around the flowers!

Astilbe 'Vision in Pink'

Astilbe ‘Vision in Pink’

Astilbe • What a pretty plant! Astilbe, common name ‘False Spirea’, has been a staple in shade gardens of the NW for ages and it makes sense. Most gardeners are attracted to the soft fluffy plumes of flowers and the intricately cut fern-like foliage. One of my favorite varieties of Astilbe is the yummy ‘Vision in Pink’. I absolutely love its bright flower color and, because it can tolerate more sun than some other varieties, I can plant it in more of my gardens and it will bloom again freely if sheared back after the initial flush of flowers.

Besides the pretty flowers, another reason these beauties are so popular around our part of the world is because of the damp cloudy weather which the Astilbe loves, so they perform to perfection. Astilbe will thrive in the moist damp sites in your shade garden and can even handle quite a bit of sun, as long as it’s not too hot or dry. The arid spaces under fir or cedar trees just won’t make these lovelies happy, so plant outside the big tree’s drip line, mix some compost into the soil, add H2o and watch them smile!

Did I kindle your curiosity about perennials? I hope so. As I said, it was difficult to hold the list down to five. There are so many more varieties of perennials available at The Plant Farm and we’d love to help you select some for your garden.

Read Full Post »

bare-root-trees…Bare root that is. You knowledgeable shoppers know that getting a good bargain means you skip the pretty packaging and grab the good deal when it appears. It’s exactly the same with bare root season. We’ve mentioned in previous blogs that buying the bare root version of plants is an excellent way to save money, but there’s more to it than just stretching your dollars.

Kip Litehiser

Kip Litehiser

For instance, there’s the outstanding variety of plants available in bare root form. According to Kip Litehiser, our edibles expert, bare root season is when you’ll find the best selection of your favorite edibles like cane berries, grapes and blueberries. “It’s also a superb time to start working your soil,” he says. “The soil is starting to warm up, even at night, so you can get your bare root edibles into the ground, so they can take off. And we’re all itching to get our hands in the dirt.”

Ryan Sanders

Ryan Sanders

We’ve also just heeled in the rows and rows of ornamental trees (above) and shrubs we’re offering in 2013. When I talked with our Landscape Design expert, Ryan Sanders, to get his top pick for this coming season, he said, “I like the dappled willows. They are a year-round visual interest with variegated leaves that are creamy white to soft pink in season. In the fall and winter the branches are a brilliant red; a very eye-catching ornamental specimen.” He also suggested the flowering plum and cherry trees because of their early, beautiful spring blossoms.

Dappled Willow

Dappled Willow

Another great reason to buy bare root is that the plants have a larger root mass, which means they are ready to spread out and establish themselves in the soil right away. This translates into healthier, happier, more productive plants. Ryan had a couple of other bare root tips, like picking up a transplant fertilizer. Working the fertilizer into the soil before planting helps reduce transplant shock and gives your plant a good initial food source. Staking your newly-planted bare root trees until they are firmly rooted in the soil will also increase success.

Mary Archambault

Mary Archambault

I’ll give you one more reason. My favorite, in fact: it’s so much easier to transport and handle the bare root plants. Without the extra soil and pot, even I can lift them into the car and work them into the soil at home by myself. Mary Archambault, one of our Certified Professional Horticulturists on staff, told me she was able to transport three bare root fruit trees in her little Saab recently.
One drawback to the bare root season is the limited window of opportunity. These babies are going to start waking up soon and when they do we have to send them back to our production team and start potting them up. bare-root-blueberriesThat means now is the time to grab that great deal. Come check out the selection and talk with our knowledgeable staff members like Mary, Kip and Ryan!

Read Full Post »

BareRoot Berries 001It’s time for the talk. That’s right, we need to talk about the berries and the bees because February is the month to pick up your bare-root berries and your mason bee cocoons. You know, a bowl full of fresh berries is a true summer delicacy, but growing that luscious summer fruit starts right now.

Mmmmm... fresh, healthy, delicious Blueberries!

Mmmmm… fresh, healthy, delicious Blueberries!

Have you decided what sort of berries you’d like? The Plant Farm has a huge variety of bare-root berry plants tucked into sawdust beds waiting for you to bring them home and plant them in your garden. Ripe, flavorful Raspberries; dark and juicy Blackberries; tart, fat Gooseberries; crisp, festive Cranberries or even succulent grapes… okay, they’re not berries, but they are succulent and we definitely have bare-root grape vines. And then there’s my favorite: Blueberries. Where’s the bowl and cream, am I right?

Blueberries are delicious and they are also very nutritious. They are a low glycemic impact food, which is great if you’re watching your sugar (or if you’re going to drown them in cream). They are an excellent source of the essential dietary mineral manganese as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals have the potential to affect diseases such as cancer, stroke or metabolic syndrome. Did I sell you on the Blueberries? The Plant Farm has over 16 varieties of Blueberries to choose from. I encourage you to check out our Blueberry information sheet.

bee-in-handTalking about Blueberries reminds me that we need to talk about the bees, too. Mason Bees that is. You probably know that Mason Bees are a great pollinating partner for your Fruit Trees, but did you know that they will also pollinate your Blueberry shrubs? Mason Bees are great little pollinators because they don’t discriminate as to where they gather pollen and because, ironically, they aren’t very efficient in gathering their pollen. It’s gathered dry on their hair, which means it’s more easily scattered to each flower they visit. Mason bees are easy to raise and interestingly they don’t usually sting because they are solitary bees with no hive or queen to protect.

Mason Bee expert Dave Hunter

Mason Bee expert Dave Hunter

If you’d like to know more, Dave Hunter is giving a fascinating seminar this Sunday at The Plant Farm, where he’ll discuss the threat to traditional bee populations and what you can do to help. When you come in for the seminar, you can pick up your bare-root berries!

Read Full Post »

tulips and sunSpring anticipation is such a delicious agony.  Daydreams about warmer temperatures and the sun feeding the garden, the occasional hint of spring flowers have you marking the days off on the calendar.  Your heart is beating out a chant: “How soon can I start? How soon can I dig in? How soon can I start?”  Big events like the Northwest Flower & Garden Show have you making lists and it’s so hard to wait.  I have to tell you, The Plant Farm isn’t going to make it any easier on you.  We have way too many excellent new plants and products this year.

Dark Night RoseNew for 2013!

Dark Night Rose – New for 2013!

In the coming weeks, we’ll take a more in-depth look at colorful new annuals, exciting new container and basket combinations, and share garden ideas from local gardening masters and our own staff experts. Stories like The Berries & the Bees and Herbs: Beyond Spice will delight you and give you food for thought; pun intended. This coming week, we’ll focus our spotlight on the gorgeous new roses we’ve added to The Plant Farm’s Rose List. I can’t wait to tell you about the new roses!

Plant Bare Root and Save!

Plant Bare Root and Save!

Oh, and if you’re a savvy shopper, you will want to know that in about two weeks we’ll bring in a huge selection of Bare Root ornamental trees and shrubs. We offer them bare root for a couple of weeks and then they go to our production crew to be potted up. Buying bare root is an excellent way to save money and it’s much easier to get the plant in the ground.

Ryan Sanders, TPF's Landscape Design Expert

Ryan Sanders, TPF’s Landscape Design Expert

You may have to wait for spring to arrive, but right now, you can do more than daydream at The Plant Farm.  You can come check out the plants arriving every day, sit down with our Landscape Design expert, Ryan Sanders, or hire the Pruning Services crew to get your trees and shrubs into tip top shape.

Read Full Post »

While I appreciate the necessity of winter’s slumber before the rebirth of spring, it does not take long for winter’s frosty charm to wear thin.  When we are deep into the grey palette and bone-chilling cold of winter, my heart longs for bright color and fresh, sweet spring fragrances.  My eyes are drawn to those winter garden treasures: winter-blooming plants.

Yuletide Camellia

Yuletide Camellia

Camellias are a perfect example of a winter garden treasure.  With graceful, eye-catching blooms in a variety of colors, easily trainable foliage and rapid growth-rate, camellias are highly adaptable evergreen shrubs.  They are at home in garden styles from Asian to French or English cottage.  They work in a variety of landscape forms, for example, hedges, privacy screens, decorative espalier on a wall or along a fence, or individual border shrubs.  Camellias are ideal for our local gardens, as they prefer sandy, loamy, clay soil and are rated for cold hardiness zones 7-10; for lay gardeners like me, this means they are happy even if the weather drops as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pink Yuletide Camellia

Pink Yuletide Camellia

The Plant Farm has many camellias in stock right now; the brilliant white Setsugekka, blushing pink Jean May, the very popular Yuletide, a fiery red color, and Pink Yuletide, which is new in 2011, and going out the door fast! Pink Yuletide is a sport from the Yuletide camellia.  It is a truly lovely, fragrant, mid-winter bloomer, featuring elegantly shaped pink blooms that are centered with vivid yellow stamens and deep, jade green foliage.

Something else to consider is that our native Anna’s Hummingbirds are attracted to camellias, especially those with prominent stamens like Yuletide or Setsugekka, for the nectar and protective nesting opportunities they provide in winter.  Jewel-toned feathers of green, grey and bronze characterize the Anna’s Hummingbirds as well as the male’s crimson red crown.  What a feast for the eyes it will be to find these iridescent beauties enjoying your camellias in winter!
Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Remember, it is still an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs now.  In our part of the world, if you can dig a hole in the soil, you can still plant. Roots will still grow a little all winter long, so getting them in now will allow some root development during winter months.

You won’t need to escape to warmer climates to experience gorgeous blooms and bright foliage when you include camellias into your winter garden.

Read Full Post »