Like many Portland area gardeners before me—and likely after—I’ve tried to grow Geranium maderense in my garden with little success. Yes, those experiments could have been successful if I’d been lucky enough to own a larger garden with a greenhouse for overwintering large specimens, but I don’t have that kind of setup, so I need to work with what I have available at this time, and because of this, I just gave up on it.
Enter Geranium palmatum, also a large species plant, but one which I was talked into trying by a few of my garden blogging friends. My first impulse was to say no to the free starts. I was terribly reluctant because of the previous failures and disappointments. But then the prospect of it actually working took hold, and I wanted to save seeds from the experiment, so I committed to it for 2 years to see if it would work (it’s a biennial or short-lived perennial).
The fact that I was offered seedlings from someone else’s garden in the Willamette Valley said to me that I might have a chance with it.
The first year it was just lush foliage—but it grew well. The plant start I’d received had been in a 3″ pot so I didn’t know what to expect but I was told that it would get large quickly. And it did.
Last winter wasn’t too cold or rough for it. The plant began to take off as we warmed up, and I was surprised that during the winter it had remained semi-evergreen for me.
Then it bloomed its head off last summer, and I enjoyed the show.
So overall, I wouldn’t call this an easy beginner’s plant. It will require some more advanced gardening skills to plant it in the correct site, but it’s worth the additional light mental effort.
(If you’d like to read a nice post about the two different species mentioned written by someone else, I really recommend this one.)
You don’t see this plant offered often at nurseries since it’s really just a small start of a plant that will look much different later in the garden. Nurseries can’t keep plants like this in containers for long, and they’re a bit of a financial gamble.
This plant is not yet in my garden—but I have quite a few of its seeds. Evan collected them for me for several years, I sold them in my old shop, and I will grow all of the ones that I have left of it. It’s a species from South Africa with incredibly lovely silver veined leaves. We took cuttings to take to Cistus Nursery too. Let’s hope that both of our crops work out so we can get this one into cultivation around here.
This is a small slow-growing Japanese maple for me. To be honest, I’ve had it so long now, I’m not even sure where I bought it. For a few years I thought about moving it, but each autumn it does this and I’m in love with its location all over again.
If you didn’t know that I love begonias, then you don’t know me well. I don’t even grow that many well, but I grow a lot of them to learn more about them as a group of plants. Gesneriads and begonias are my favorites, and honestly, there are enough of each to keep me interested for the rest of my days.
This dissected variety of this African species that is hardy here for us, is just stunning. I’m not sure yet if this form is hardy as well, so I’m trying to make as many of these as I can to try them out in the ground in the garden, but it takes time.
(We can’t just plant these anywhere though and have them come back. More on that next year!)
Oh look! Another begonia!
A friend bought this during a visit to Far Reaches Farm and was concerned he might kill it over the winter in his house so I offered to care for it in exchange for a propagation from it. For now, I just plan to figure out how to grow it well, and I love the fuzzy leaves. It’s one of the fuzziest I’ve seen yet.
Around here the hardy cyclamens are a tried-and-true go-to for fall blooms. They look to me like flocks of winged magical little creatures falling to the ground. Clustering around the garden in different spots, they’re always welcome and you cannot have enough of them.
Not necessarily a hardy plant, I’m growing this in one of the most protected spots in my garden and I’m thrilled to say we’ve made it through one mild winter, so maybe we can keep it going for another year. I do NOT want to claim it’s hardy though—because it is not. Many “non hardy” plants can survive mild winters, but this does not make them hardy by any means.
This fun tree was found during one of our gardening friend expeditions driving around to nurseries we’d not yet visited with friends from out of town. It’s in a container and is not probably living its best life, but I planted it there so that I could see it out of the large window in my kitchen door. I love its nearly year-round color. It sparks much joy.
My wood aster came from Secret Garden Growers. I loved how it looked in a container with its flush of star-like blooms, but I honestly did NOT know where to plant it in my garden. (This is a habit I must break in the coming year since caring for plants in pots while I do so much away from home is just KILLING me physically. I wish there were more hours in the day.)
In a rush to go on a trip somewhere, I “rapid planted”. That’s what I do when I am in a time crunch. I just go crazy planting things without overthinking them and it’s honestly kind of fun. Maybe even therapeutic for this virgo lol.
This plant was part of a combo that really worked out. This perennial blooms for a long time, and a fluffy cloud of white at the base of my palm tree is just lovely when I look out my dining room window.
A gift from a friend who loves gesneriads, this is a fragrant and tough beauty. Not hardy in my climate, it lives in the garden for many months in its container, but then it comes back indoors to keep me company during the colder months. Most of my sinningia collection does this and I’m still calculating the best migration plan for them. Bringing them in too early led to lots of plants dying back too harshly last year. This year, I waited until later, and oddly, they’re still pretty perky. I’ve turned down the temperature as well in the Seed Studio so that may be helping too.
Lastly, who doesn’t love a holiday jungle cactus that’s not pink or red? Damn I love this hybrid but I have no clue what its name is…
Check back in another 4 weeks to see what’s caught my eye around here. I’m really enjoying these monthly posts. I hope you are too.