things and places for homes and gardens


Friday 24 April 2009 - Filed under Plants

I never get tired of watching new leaves emerge. Flowers are fine, but after staring at the bare winter landscape for months, I’m most excited about being surrounded by lush green. Even the evergreens, like this pittosporum, put on a show of growing new leaves that stops me in my tracks and makes my fish my camera out of my purse.

Cornus canadensis
I have fallen head over heels for groundcover dogwoods. This is Cornus canadensis. I read somewhere that they like to grow with decaying wood, and you should push little sticks into the ground around them (if someone knows the source of that advice, or is the source of that advice, let me know, I don’t mean to not give proper credit). I don’t know if it works or not, but I’ve been doing it anyway, because I want to keep them happy. I love the fresh golden growth, but they green up over the course of the year. The tag promised mini-white flowers in early spring, and red berries in the fall. I haven’t seen either yet, but I just got them last spring, maybe they need time. They were semi-evergreen, but looked pretty beat up after winter, so I cut them back. I’m not sure if that’s the correct treatment, or if they bloom on last year’s growth, so I’ll have to do some investigating. Either way, I’m happy with them just how they are.

rhododendron macabeanum
Rhododendron macabeanum, my tiny little obsession I showed already yesterday, leaves behind this almost flower like leaf bud where the new growth emerged. I am just completely fine knowing that this plant notoriously takes years and years to start actually blooming.

New fern growth is just endlessly fascinating. I had little hope of this fern surviving. I stalled on planting it, it came out of the pot ridiculously root bound, struggled through the end of last year, heaved a little out of the ground over winter. And now it has three shoots coming up around the perimeter of the original plant.

Hakonechloa seems to grow fine for everyone but me, but I still keep trying. I see others around town already full and healthy looking, but my leaves are just emerging. I have 5 sorry tufts of it dotted around the yard. As I see it, at least one of them has to end up happy. They may have a hard time though if Marco keeps chewing on them.

Macleaya cordata (plume poppy)
This is my dangerous beauty, macleaya cordata (plume poppy). I know plenty of people won’t plant these, and they are right not to, but I’ve been taking the risk on this aggressive spreader, because I love 6 foot tall stalks of dinner plate sized leaves shaped like this. Another uncredited story, I think from a magazine, I once read about someone who was using the leaves as decoration on her dinner plates, until she realized they are poisonous. I love the misty flower plumes that end up spreading seed all over the yard. Last year, I let them go to seed because I wanted more. This year, I’m going to cut the flowers back early, I think I might have enough. Soon I’m going to have to do a post on all the plants I have in my garden that scare me a little.

2009-04-24  »  megan

Talkback x 6

  1. easygardener
    24 April 2009 @ 10:30 am

    I love watching ferns unfurl over a few days. As to the Macleaya – wonderful foliage and a statuesque plant. It’s unfortunate that it has the ability to tunnel across the garden like some crazy burrowing animal. Worth keeping it if you can be ruthless when required!

  2. tina
    24 April 2009 @ 1:13 pm

    Very nice! That plume poppy sounds intriguing. I must check it out a bit further.

  3. Victoria
    24 April 2009 @ 5:51 pm

    We’ve tried growing Hakonechloa numerous times. Never makes it.
    On the other hand, we love the Plume Poppies. The leaves are fantastic. They don’t seem long lived for us, though so we always need to allow babies to grow.

  4. Loree
    24 April 2009 @ 10:06 pm

    I have not heard of this ground cover dogwood! Where did you find it?

  5. megan
    25 April 2009 @ 5:16 am

    easygardener – I need to remember your words, “if you can be ruthless when required.” I’ve got some plants coming up out of bounds already right now, I need to go out there and be ruthless before it’s too late.
    tina – It really is a beautiful plant if you don’t mind a little extra weeding. I have so many weeds, a few more really doesn’t make a difference.
    Victoria – I’m glad I’m not the only Hakonechloa failure, but it’s just a shame. I wonder what it is that it doesn’t like? I can’t figure it out. I’m glad plume poppies aren’t too invasive for you, I sometimes have this fear that I’ve planted my entire garden with invasives.
    Loree – I think I got it at the HPSO sale, but I can’t remember which vendor I got it from. Probably someone who specializes in shaded/woodland pants. I have another that I don’t know the name of that’s bigger, darker green, and glossier, that I really like, but unfortunately, so do the slugs.

  6. Jean
    24 April 2010 @ 2:05 pm

    Two of my garden ferns have heaved out of the ground over the winter, and the foliage is brown,,,,,what do I do?