134 posts in Plant Profiles

January 2010 Plant Profile: Viola odorata ‘Lianne’

The charmingly dainty Sweet Violet seems to have disappeared off the list of garden perennial favorites over the years. Having garnered the reputation of seeding themselves aggressively and being difficult to eradicate from lawns, many gardeners have come to despise violets. But modern gardeners are missing out by overlooking violets long history, their early spring show, and of course, their richly scented blooms that are best admired by taking gentle whiffs like Victorian young ladies were taught to smell their nosegays. 

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December 2009 Plant Profile: Garrya x issaquahensis ‘Pat Ballard’

Discovered in the garden of Pat Ballard in Issaquah as a cross between G. fremontii and the more common G. elliptica, this is one of the most spectacular broadleaf evergreen shrubs to have in the winter landscape. It is truly exquisite in January-February with its semi-glossy medium green leaves adorned with elegant 12-inch “silk tassels”. It is a very tough shrub that is relatively pest and disease free and it is remarkably drought tolerant once it has established. 

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November 2009 Plant Profile: Berberis (Mahonia) x ‘Charity’

This month’s plant profile strays away from the usual herbaceous perennials featured here, but the plant looks so tremendous at this time of year, it is very deserving of a place in the perennial garden as a “backbone” plant. Its size, color, texture, and form make it an ideal backdrop for spring, summer and fall perennials plants, but as everything lays low for winter, this shrub takes center stage. 

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October 2009 Plant Profile: Eryngium leavenworthii

Recommended by our own restoration ecologist, Kern Ewing, who saw this species at a restoration site in Texas, seed was obtained and sown as an experiment and transplanted into Bed 6 of the Soest Garden where it has thrived and looked absolutely spectacular as it began to do its thing. Considered an annual or short lived perennial; this striking sea holly flowers very late in the season producing a profusion of thistle-like silvery blooms that mature to a fluorescent violet pink. 

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September 2009 Plant Profile: Tricyrtis ‘Taipei Silk’

Probably because of the common name of “Toad Lily”, Tricyrtis is a genus that is still highly underutilized in the fall landscape. They are adaptable, easy to grow and just require moist shade and protection from slugs. While some selections tend to be somewhat floppy and unattractive, ‘Taipei Silk’ stays relatively tidy and in late summer into early fall, it is absolutely loaded with deep purple buds and lovely 1″ blooms that burst open to reveal a lovely blend of violet pink, blending to white in the center with a hint of blue at the tips. 

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August 2009 Plant Profile: Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’

If there was a so called “workhorse” perennial in the late summer into fall garden, it would have to be the Perennial Plant Association’s 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’. Beginning in late August, these so-called Black-Eyed Susans, begin to burst into bloom atop stiff, upright stems that are perfect for cutting or leaving on the plant as the dried stems and remaining seedheads are not only striking to look at in the winter landscape, they provide food to various birds and other wildlife. 

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July 2009 Plant Profile: Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Coleton Fishacre’

Much sought after for its cool grey green bronzy foliage and warm sunny flowers; it fits into just about any perennial border scheme.

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June 2009 Plant Profile: Datisca cannabina

A stately new plant for plant collectors in the Pacific Northwest, this very elegant perennial is marginally hardy for some, but it has survived our harsh winter with flying colors as the plant (a one gallon specimen only a year ago) towering near 10ft with the most incredible pendulous racemes. It was probably best planted in the middle of the bed or used behind a border, but it’s quite enchanting to walk through the massive stalks and elegant flowers that sway in the gentle breezes. 

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May 2009 Plant Profile: Beschorneria septentrionalis

Dubbed as the “False Red Agave”, this Mexican native is slowly making a presence as a architectural, hardy perennial plant for the Pacific Northwest. We received this as a donation from Far Reaches Farms (www.farreachesfarm.com) and decided to grow it in a container. Fearing that it didn’t survive our exceptionally cold and wet winter, it came through just fine in a sheltered location. 

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April 2009 Plant Profile: Muscari armeniacum

A somewhat rampant, but stunningly beautiful spring bloomer when planted in mass, this grape hyacinth creates a stunning drift of blue and once established in the garden, it is relatively care free and comes back reliably each year. In the South Slope of the Soest Garden , it has spread happily and looks absolutely smashing with the dried foliage of Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’) as shown. 

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