Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reliable 'True Blues' for Your Garden

I was at our local nursery yesterday.  Kordell's Produce on the corner of Stafford and Rosemont in West Linn, has a great selection of plants.  Everything is grouped in an easy to find way, so I spent a lot of time in the greenhouses, while it poured rain outside.  I'm not sure how the 'official' rain totals compare with other rainy May's, but truly most of us who live in the Portland area are on our last nerve, and have lost count of the rainy, icy, hail ridden days.
 This was my first shopping foray to a garden center since fall.  I even resisted plant shopping at the Spring Garden Show in Canby, earlier this month, where I helped set up the sale and got some much needed Master Gardner volunteer hours. Anyway, my garden pots are weed filled and moss covered, so I thought I'd take one pot at a time and fill it.  That is, if my tender plants survived the major hailstorm we had today that covered my patio in washed out bark dust and left two inches of ice pellets on the deck.   
While I was planning out what plants to use in my garden and in containers, I thought of some of the background mainstays that I love. They're not the flashy flowering plants, but these tend to blend in anywhere. They remind me of your favorite pair of shoes that are both comfortable and stylish. This combination of perennials and annuals are my 'true blues.'   
One of my favorites is the Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' although it's a little darker than the 'Marmalade' shown here.  All the purples work well with the 'Citronella' below:
I think my absolute favorite is 'Dolce Peach Melba' since it looks lovely all summer but the three of the above are so beautiful in the fall.
My grandmother and Dad were big fans of Coleus plants, and I always thought of them as an old fashioned plant, but I've been amazed that the number of varieties available.  I use them in containers and in places in my yard where I won't get direct sun.  Here's a few of my favorites:
See the cute ladybug!
Below, another favorite is the Astilbe.  It comes in red, pink and white.  It's blooms in summer, but even as the plant dies back it's still attractive until the first frost.
Another one of my favorites is Euphorbia.  I mostly see them in green, but this one below with red hues, I found at a test garden. They grow really tall, so I often clip a few stems for bouquets.
I think my all time favorite is Hens and Chicks, which are a Succulent.  They are so versatile, love sun and work well for in both the ground and in containers.  There are so many varieties to choose from, although many are not all that hardy in a wet climate.  be sure to bring in the less hardy
ones inside during the winter.  This is Sempervivum, is one of the most common:
Once I can get my shovel in the ground, I'm sure I'll be posting a lot more about my adventures in gardening so check back.  It's got to stop raining sometime!

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