things and places for homes and gardens


Sunday 10 January 2010 - Filed under Plants

The house is oh so cozy, and the garden is chilly and uninviting, but I’m about ready for some winter color to get me back in the mood for gardening. Portland weather seems to think it’s done with freezing temperatures, and garden cleanup chores are calling, so I’m procrastinating looking back on the year’s pictures for the plants that still look good now.

Anemanthele lessoniana (Pheasant Tail Grass)
I usually have a reasonable memory for latin names, but I’ve been drawing a blank on a grass I picked up in fall. I came across the original tag, so I can finally share the details. Anemanthele lessonia – something about that name just doesn’t roll off the tongue. But it has all kinds of tricks up its sleeve. Evergreen, black/green leaves in summer, with fiery red fall color that sticks around through the winter. Yes, a winner.

santolina virens lemon fizz
A happy bright yellow Santolina virens lemon fizz. I can personally verify that, even if a 45 pound dog decides this baby plant is his bed, it bounces right back.

pinus parvifolia bergmanii (bergman's japanese white pine)
I can’t guarantee these are the colors in winter, since I snapped the pine cones last May, but pretty good color with a decent chance it also looks good this time of year, so it made the cut. I unexpectedly loved the color combination of this Bergman’s Japanese White Pine next to the following agave photo – they share the same blushed tones.

agave parryi truncata (artichoke agave)
My first ever Agave crush, A. parryi truncata. There’s no time of year it doesn’t look good, but it’s fun to take a minute to appreciate now anyway. Mine is small, the size of a grapefruit, so cute!

Abies nord 'golden spreader' (fir nordman's golden spreader)
I find there’s nothing like a plant that’s out of my plant budget + rumors that it’s difficult to grow to make me REALLY need it. Abies Nordman’s Golden Spreader fits the bill. The one in the picture was maybe 2 feet tall and wide, $175. That’s not plant experimenting money for me, that is firmly in the territory of coveting from afar.

Rhododendron 'Northern Starburst'
Glossy evergreen brown (everbrown?) leaves planted next to something golden would make a lovely pair. The tag alleges it’s a Rhododendron ‘Northern Starburst’ but it doesn’t look much like the others I see when I look it up online.

Gold and blue conifers
I don’t know what they are, something in the display gardens at Cistus if my memory can be trusted, but I love the mingling textures, and the pendulous needles of the golden tree against the backdrop of the blue tree below it.

Cistus nursery display garden
And so the color doesn’t steal the show, the form of the plants in the display garden at Cistus also deserve some attention as a planting with winter interest done especially right. If you’re really dying for some garden eye candy in the Portland area right about now, Cistus is the place to head. Nobody does January in a zone denial garden better.

2010-01-10  »  megan

Talkback x 6

  1. Karen
    10 January 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Nice choices, Megan. Am I turned around or is that first one, the nifty unpronounceable grass, in your parking strip? That agave’s a stunner, I love the red edges and points. Seems like it came through the freeze fine – did you bring it indoors? Yes, winter seems a distant memory – today was so spring-like! We’d better be careful, though, since there’s always the possibility of a late freeze…

  2. Janet
    11 January 2010 @ 5:59 am

    Your agave looks great! Looks like fingernails painted. I like that brown Rhodie, any idea about zonal hardiness on it? You are right, paired with some gold foliage would be striking.

  3. Loree
    11 January 2010 @ 12:32 pm

    Uhm….good reminder about a January visit to Cistus. Something I’ve really enjoyed doing in the past.

  4. ricki - sprig to twig
    11 January 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    Now why didn’t I think of that? Cistus is not far from us. I’m goin’. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Jane
    11 January 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    Agave parryi var. truncata is my current agave heartthrob, too. Wish I had realized it would withstand the cold better than the poor a. scabra currently expiring in a messy pile in the garden.
    I like that rhododendron: it looks a lot like like PMJ, whose flowers I can do without, but whose bark and leaves are a yummy reddish brown.
    Please don’t tease me with thoughts that we’re over the worst of the weather: it’s only January 12th, and I don’t dare to hope yet.

  6. Victoria
    12 January 2010 @ 8:41 am

    Loving the agave and the Santolina. Great pine cone shot!