Redwood sorrel, Oxalis oregana, gets that common name because it grows prolifically under the giant redwoods in northern California. But you don’t have to have redwoods to grow this attractive groundcover. Other common names for this plant are wood sorrel and Oregon oxalis. In the wild its also common in the understory of low-elevation Douglas-fir forests. It is native from British Columbia to California. Continue reading
A few days ago my friend Annie called to say her red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) was about to burst into full bloom, inviting me to swing by and photograph it. She has a couple of nice shrubs against the fence in her backyard and when I visited on March 16 one of the two was in full bloom. Continue reading
Feathery tendrils of gold envelop rich red-purple centers, brightening a corner of the garden on dreary winter days and sending a heady sweet aroma wafting across the lawn. That’s what witchhazels (Hamamelis) will do for you. They’re one of my favorite shrubs for year-around interest in the garden, but especially in February as they come into bloom.
Witchhazels (sometimes written as two words, witch hazel) are shrubs or small trees that will ultimately reach about 15 feet tall and wide. They grow best in slightly acid to neutral, well-drained but moist soil. Plant them in full sun for the best growth form, although they’ll accept partial shade. Like many other plants, the more shade the more straggly and leggy the growth. Continue reading
My friends at The American Gardener magazine selected one of my photographs of ‘Purple Sensation’ ornamental onions for the cover of the September/October 2014 issue.
The cover photograph was made in late May, 2010 at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I have two more Allium photos inside the magazine on pages 14 & 16, plus one of western poison ivy on page 25. I’ve been contributing to The American Gardener since 1997. Thank you, David Ellis and Mary Yee, for continuing to choose my photography for the magazine.
As I look out the window to our garden the staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is beginning to turn brilliant orange, almost glowing in the soft morning light. Erect pyramidal clusters of fuzzy red seeds form soft spires against the foliage.
This large shrub is native to most of eastern North America east of the Mississippi River. It is widely planted, and thrives, in much of the rest of the continent. A mature sumac can reach 25 feet tall and equally broad. It’s often a multi-stemmed shrub, spreading by suckers arising from the roots. Staghorn sumac is often found in the wild on disturbed sites and woodland edges. Continue reading
Spiny wood fern (Dryopteris expansa), is one of our woodland plants that has continued to look good through the dry days of August while some of the other perennials have gone into summer dormancy or looked tired and droopy. We have quite a lot of wood fern growing in our woods, almost always on decaying conifer logs or stumps.
This deciduous fern is easy to recognize, although with just a quick glance you could confuse it with lady fern or male fern. Spiny wood fern has fronds that are broader at the base than at the tip, with a triangular shape that tapers to a point. It gets the spiny part of its name from the chaffy brown scales along the lower part of the leaf stems. Continue reading
Last month when I was on a bus tour of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gardens with the Garden Writers Association I got caught out without my usual rain cover for my camera. We only had 20-30 minutes in each tour garden and I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to photograph lush and beautiful gardens just because it was raining and I didn’t have proper protection for my camera. I really like the look of a garden in the rain. Continue reading
I spent several hours on this overcast Sunday at the end of the long Fourth of July weekend photographing our garden at its mid-summer peak.
Natalie and I have been enjoying watching the garden unfold with the seasons. It’s our first year at our Wynn Road home, and the garden was established by previous owners. We’re told that everyone who has lived here since the early 1960s has been an avid gardener. There’s evidence of long-term gardening.
We’ll certainly make changes and additions in the coming years, but for now we’re mostly just doing a little editing and enjoying what we find. Some of the perennials are assertive and are crowding other plants, so there’s going to be some shovel pruning in our future.
For now, come along and enjoy our garden with us in this video slideshow. It runs about 6 1/2 minutes. Click the Full Screen icon in the lower right corner for best viewing enjoyment.
If you’d like to visit in person, give us a call to arrange a time.
I watched our native red elderberries go through their spring progression back in March and April. They’re one of the first shrubs to start unfurling their leaves, beginning in mid-March. Now that summer is here, they’re covered in bright red fruit. There are some big patches of elderberries beside I-5 where they’re easy to spot (and identify) even at 70 mph. Of course, they’re easier to learn at a more leisurely pace in your backyard or along a quiet trail.
Here in the Pacific Northwest we have two species of elderberry. More common on the west side of the Cascades is the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa). It is native to much of North America, according to USDA Plants Database. The other is blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea), which grows throughout western North America. Both species of elderberry have similar cultivation requirements, as does another species found in eastern North America. Continue reading
I’ve become a fan of our native ninebark, Physocarpus capitatus. It’s a big, glorious shrub. As the common name implies, the shredding bark provides year-around interest whether it really has nine layers or not. In June it is covered with ball-like clusters of small white flowers, held just above the dark green foliage. Birds eat the mature seeds in late summer and in autumn the leaves turn golden. Continue reading