Monthly Top 10 Plants at Campiello Maurizio (August 2022)

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Ok, let’s do a plant post! I’m writing posts more often, so I should have started monthly posts like this back in January, but I didn’t, so I will now. It’s not like I don’t have enough plants, I think many just have not looked nice enough but I’m over that. The garden has looked pretty nice all summer other than my piles of unplanted things.

But that’s a whole other post…

Acanthus mollis ‘Hollard’s Gold’. This baby is parked on a little island in my back garden. I purchased it at Xera Plants at least a year or two ago.

1.) Acanthus mollis ‘Hollard’s Gold’

I kind of avoided Acanthus for fear of it eating the back garden, but then I was talked into this golden from since it’s allegedly not as vigorous. Well, so far, it’s been very well behaved and that flower stalk has lasted for months. It just won’t stop and it makes for a lovely display. I’m even ok with it spreading a bit more. There is only a small walkway behind it and I am tired of the weedy low Dicentra cultivar that’s been there. I blooms, looks great, and then it’s ratty and fried for the rest of the summer.

Aspidistra elatior ‘Asahi’. I planted this plant last year and it’s not yet fully established in the north walkway border.

2.) Aspidistra elatior ‘Asahi’

When I first started working at Secret Garden Growers I divided some of these plants. What settled into the pots was quickly sold, and there were no more left for me to purchase. When I divided some more, that second time I made sure to grab one for myself. While this doesn’t look like much, blame the gardener in this case, and not the plant. I kind of let this one get gobbled up by some weeds all of last summer so it’s only now really coming into its own. I was thrilled to see this white tip emerge just recently. (And yes, I will apply some Sluggo soon.

Columnea schiedeana. This is one of my gesneriads that’s really been putting on a show this summer. It hangs above my hammock in the living willow arbor.

3.) Columnea schiedeana

Gesneriads can take years to grow out from small starts. As they grow, you need to take addition cuttings to add to their containers just to bulk them up a bit. Little by little this work will pay off for you, but it requires a great deal of patience and skill. At any point, it’s not unusual for one of these to croak on you. In this climate, keeping them happy enough for this long takes some finesse so seeing this plant in full bloom right now makes all of the fussing worth it. I think this one came from a member of our Gesneriad Society chapter, Mt Hood Gesneriad Society.

Darlingtonia californica with other hardy carnivorous plants. These plants are in a plant bog planter on the south side of my house.

4.) Darlingtonia californica

While this little patch of Darlingtonia doesn’t look like a lot, they are the newest babies that have grown off of my older little colony. I started with one purchased colony from Sarracenia Northwest and then as second group came along when I was able to grow some from seed. Of all of the hardy carnivorous plants, these are my favorite.

It breaks my heart though to have seen poaching of them in Southern Oregon in the wild this last year. It’s one of my favorite native plants and I hope that you can see why. Please, if you want one, purchase them only from growers who are growing crops in cultivation. It’s my hope that eventually, I’ll be able to sell a few, but with this being of low priority, don’t expect those to be available from me anytime soon.

Lobelia tupa-orange. This is one that I was waiting for after having seen in in the garden at Heronswood. It can be purchased from Dan Hinkley’s Windcliff if you’re able to get to that location. They don’t do mail order.

5.) Lobelia tupa – orange

Well, this should look more orange I think. I haven’t had the time to compare it to the photos I have from Heronswood, but I will be patient with it. While it is not as red as the straight species, I don’t think that this division (what I can only assume it is) is as orange as the ones I saw when I fell in love with it there. This plant needs room and sunshine. I’ve sort of allotted it a nice spot in the garden. Even if the color is mediocre, I am sure that I will forgive the meh factor. This is a great species plant no matter what and I might just accept it. I have waited so long to have it here, it is a relief to see it in bloom.

Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Cistus Silvers’. Still in a container, this plant will get it’s own special location soon.

6.) Mahonia eurybrachteata ‘Cistus Silvers’

Well, here we finally have a lovely plant from Cistus Nursery that was grown by me. Seeds are sown at work by me (after I clean the berries) and only the best seedlings are selected out from the nursery crops. Our parent plants are planted in the garden. Sean is of course in charge of making all of the best selections but it’s a process I’ve most certainly learned from over the years.

This last year I’ve been better about planting my “babies” out in my own garden, and this was a plant I just knew I had to have at home.

Nicotiana sylvestris. I call this Nicotiana sylvestris ‘Badunkadunk’ but that is not its technical name. It is basically a reseeding annual.

7.) Nicotiana sylvestris

Not sure where the original seeds came from for this plant, but it’s been in my garden for years now. I just let it pour out seeds each year and it is enough for me to pick a few to keep once they germinate in the spring. Nicotiana always makes me think of Grandma Virginia. I keep talking about her own reseeding patch of the jasmine tobacco (Nicotiana alata), but I’ve not yet been able to establish a patch of it. But this, well, it has its spot on the south side of the house.

It’s part of the white theme I have to give off a bit of the whitecaps allusion. It’s the only theme I sort of keep in the garden. This area is part of the Venetian area so of course I need to have a theme to tie all of the garden areas together here. (The back garden is about my childhood and being in my raft beneath the native willows over the creek.)

Phygelius ‘Snow Queen’.

8.) Phygelius Croftwayâ„¢ Snow Queen PP18366 or Phygelius ‘Crosnoque’

Whatever the name (see above), this Phygelius is a beauty. It’s also planted in the south side garden along with the Nicotiana sylvesteris. It’s my whitecap plant that blooms almost all summer long, and the gondola (hammock) is behind it.

This plant is very low maintenance. I need to water it and chop it back to keep it fresh, but that’s how some perennials need to be treated and that’s it. Freshening up with a nice chop is also how we make so many plants in containers look good. Not all plants need a nice chop at all, but it is a thing and I tent to enjoy it more now than ever.

It’s just that cherry on top of it all I guess when the plants grow back nicely filled in with fresh foliage.

Pittosporum divaricatum. This shrub is in my front garden, the most xeric portion of the property.

9.) Pittosporum divaricatum

Many years ago I had my first Open Garden with The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. I had not been working at Cistus Nursery for very long, and I had not been strong for long after two rather invasive surgeries, so friends stepped in to help me. Sean and my former coworker John from Cistus suggested this Pittosporum divaricatum and I’m really glad that they did. It’s a beauty.

With so many great foliage plants at Cistus, I’m sad sometimes that I’ve not planted more of the unusual ones that we have to offer. I keep trying to add more of them, but if only I’d planted them all back when I started all of this I’d be so much happier now with how things look.

If you’re just starting out and want a great garden, and not just a good one, make sure to add some absolutely stunning foliage plants. These will be the bones of your garden throughout the year and you can use clippings from them in arrangements too. I love that I can make wreaths from mine.

The fun (and the hard work) never ends!

Punica granatum ‘Nana’. This older large shrub of mine greats folks near the sidewalk. I look forward to its cheerful color each summer.

10.) Punica granatum ‘Nana’

Back in the first days here at this house I ordered seeds for this small shrub. I know now that they are not supposed to be great from seed, and that most are propagated from cuttings, but this one worked out from seed for me. It was great for many years, and then I kind of neglected the front garden, then it was great again, then I neglected it again, but now it is back and it looks great this year. It’s a low water plant but it does better with some regular irrigation. Sadly, this is not the climate for growing pomegranate fruit, so I am not disappointed that I cannot eat lots of its fruit, but this is the climate for growing beautiful ornamental pomegranates so I suggest that you try one if you like them as much as I do. If I had more space, I would plant a larger one. There are several great ornamental cultivars.

For the Love of Seeds

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Sometimes I miss the early days of this blog and my life here at home playing with my own plants. With my bed nearby in the house I could crawl in and sleep, and my cats were always by my side. Back then I had little to no income, and my parents provided the monthly payments for the roof over our heads after my first husband and I married.

I wasn’t well and I was a mess.

Seseli gummiferum, or moon carrot, in the island rock garden at Cistus Nursery last week. I grew this plant from seed and we collect from it for crops of it.

I came into all of this with some serious privilege, but I was humiliated by it to the core of my being. I wanted nothing more than to be on my own and to be as strong as I could possibly be, and it is funny now to look back at how I got to feeling like this today. I’m proud of the journey and grateful for those I’ve met who’ve helped me.

But today, after 5 years, I’ve finally been released from physical therapy, and for me, this is a huge milestone. I will always deal with chronic ongoing pain from injuries sustained during two falls down stairs, but in a sense, this is yet another new beginning. I feel tonight like I get to try again at a few things.

Harvesting the Stipa barbata at Cistus Nursery this week.

But it is a struggle to earn a living doing what I do in the way that I do it. I have to do it this way because I’m still kind of handicapped although I don’t say that often. Nowadays my heart is filled with so much happiness and pleasure from being able to live as I need to live that I feel badly when I talk to friends and they’re feeling low.

My life though is always growing, changing, blooming, drying, being harvested, and germinated all over again. It keeps morphing into different things. I too am growing, changing, blooming, aging, and one day I will be gone like many of the thousands of plants that I’ve germinated.

Like my cats, I guess I needed routine.

My life revolves around seeds.

That’s pretty much the way it has been, is, and will be.

Digitalis lanata in the garden this week. The blooms are fading and I’ll have seeds soon.

Last year I closed my online seed shop on a popular site. It hurt to do so, but the company had advertised my goods on a third party site and I was flooded with people who didn’t understand that many of my seeds were not easy to grow. I couldn’t weed out the difficult customers, they wasted my time by repeatedly telling me they wanted all of their money back after telling me again and again that they had not followed the directions.

Next time around my shop policies will be stronger and clearly stated.

NOT MY PROBLEM. No Returns. Read the descriptions AND the directions next time.

Ferns grown from spores. I won’t be selling spores, but I encourage you to attempt this if you’ve extremely patient.

It was a time suck, and I’m not good at customer service when customers are NOT understanding that I’m a woman working hard, under unusual circumstances, to do what I do. I work more than full-time between the nurseries, seed sales, plants sales, and garden coaching/design work.

At the time that I closed the old shop, I knew I’d open a shop again, but it would be my own site. While I have not yet reached that goal, it will happen this fall. Once again, I will be selling seeds. They will be in small batches, but they will be fresh, harvested here at home, or they’ll be from gardens I know, or from friends’ gardens.

I really miss being a seed seller.

A chance seedling at work. When I first began at Cistus Nursery I tried to grow all of the seeds I found just so that I could learn. I collected batches of random Abutilon seeds just to see if there’d be a hybrid of some kind. Well, it turns out, this has been the only one. I asked to name her Abutilon ‘Victorian Vamp’. We should have many more of these ready to sell next spring.

Observing, collecting, and cleaning, can be a lot of fun if you’re like me. It can also be tedious if you’re not like me. Potting up my babies, after seed batches have germinated and been grown on for a bit, is empowering. It’s a skill that comes to us from the center of our being.

Sure, I don’t grow lots of food from seed, but my skills come to me from my relatives who worked on their own farms, or whom toiled on leased land. I spend my days feeling connected to their lives, and to the rhythm of my own.

Aristolochia sempervirens on the fence and up close while in bloom this week. This plant is one of the first that I grew large batches of at Cistus Nursery.

Moving forward I will continue to learn. I will continue to grow during ensuing seasons. Sometimes crops will fail, but it is life, and that is to be expected.

And while I don’t hybridize plants often, I’m learning from friends who do, and I intend to work harder at that since it’s not so difficult for me. I just need to try more often. And I intend to work harder to pollinate and collect seeds from rare and unusual plants in my own collection in an effort to better understand, share, and conserve them.

Seeds matter.

So let’s start the process all over again and stay on track.

Reap what you sow.