Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Of pulmonarias, hellebores, hydrangeas, and an exotic cycad

Last weekend I was finally able to spend some time in the garden. Most of it was dedicated to winter cleanup and an emergency drip irrigation fix—too boring for a blog post—but I also did a bit of planting in the backyard. But before I did any work, I noticed a beautiful sight: one of the Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ I planted last fall is in bloom!

130310_Pulmonaria-Raspberry-Splash_01

Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’

130310_Pulmonaria-Raspberry-Splash_07

Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’

I love the flower color. Not quite raspberry, but close.

130310_Pulmonaria-Raspberry-Splash_06

Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’

The other pulmonaria (next photo) isn’t quite blooming yet, but it shouldn’t be much longer. When I planted it, I forgot that this spot is also home to an Arum italicum. Since the arum goes dormant in the late spring, there is no trace of it in all summer and fall. Its leaves don’t come up until late winter.

130310_Pulmonaria-Raspberry-Splash_05

Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ and Arum italicum

In yesterday’s post I raved about a hellebore I’d spotted at Lowes, Helleborus × ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’. I bought a nice specimen and planted it near a clump of variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’). In the next couple of photos you can see the ginger’s leaf stalks in the background.

130310_Helleborus-Pink-Frost_01

Helleborus × ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’

130310_Helleborus-Pink-Frost_02

Helleborus × ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’

This hellebore hybrid not only has sublime flowers, but also attractive foliage. One description I found referred to the leaves as having a pewter overlay—I can definitely see that.

130310_Helleborus-Pink-Frost_03

Helleborus × ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’

130310_Helleborus-Pink-Frost_06

Helleborus × ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’

A couple of months ago I mentioned that A&A Cycads was having a huge moving sale. I took advantage of the savings and bought a Cycas debaoensis. This extraordinary cycad from China has multi-pinnate leaves, i.e. the leaves are split into multiple levels of leaflets (I count three levels of leaflets on mine). This produces a light and feathery effect and makes this cycad highly desirable.

130310_Cycas-debaoensis_03

Cycas debaoensis

Unlike its relative, the sago palm (Cycas revoluta) the caudex of Cycas debaoensis is mostly underground—not like my juvenile plant has much of a caudex yet. According to reports from collectors, this is one the fastest growing cycads. This person reports cone production and 10 ft. leaves in just five years.

130310_Cycas-debaoensis_02

Cycas debaoensis

I don’t really expect this kind of growth in my garden, but I picked a spot that has room for the long and graceful leaves that will hopefully be produced in the years to come.

130310_Cycas-debaoensis_01

Cycas debaoensis

As you can see in the photo below, I planted my Cycas debaoensis near two bamboos: an in-ground Borinda papyrifera and a potted Phyllostachys nigra. The leaves of these three plants should harmonize beautifully.

130310_Cycas-debaoensis_05

Cycas debaoensis

The last plant I planted was a variegated hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Tricolor’). I picked it up last fall because I was attracted to the stunning foliage. Initially I didn’t know where to put it so I left it in its nursery pot through the winter. It suffered a bit because I forgot to water it regularly but it did survive. I finally decided to put it in a large urn that had previously been occupied by a moribund Fargesia apicirubens ‘White Dragon’ which I finally put out of its misery.

130310_Hydrangea-macrophylla-Tricolor_03

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Tricolor’

I must admit I have no clue whether hydrangeas do well in pots over the long term, but I’m willing to give it a shot. The leaves of this Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Tricolor’ will definitely brighten up this spot under the bay trees in the backyard.

130310_Hydrangea-macrophylla-Tricolor_02

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Tricolor’

4 comments:

  1. Things have been very busy for you recently, glad to see you managed to spend some time in the garden. That Cycad is a beauty, I want one!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The weather has been so perfect, I've been wanting nothing more than to play outside!

      Yes, that Cycas debaoensis is a beauty. I've been wanting one for years. If it hadn't been for that sale, I wouldn't have bought one. Now keep your fingers crossed that it won't die. It's in a bright but shady spot with relatively decent drainage. Hardiness should be OK in our zone.

      Delete
  2. I've stopped thinking "ooh, I want one of those" when seeing the cool plants you stick in the ground -- like the cycad. Too discouraging when I read about the "hardiness".

    BTW, who says cleanup and irrigation fixes are boring?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It may sound funny, but I envy gardeners who can grow "boring" plants like hostas. To me they're as exotic as cycads (well, almost).

      >>BTW, who says cleanup and irrigation fixes are boring?<<

      Why am I not surprised by you saying that, LOL! We have hundreds of feet of irrigation line throughout the front and backyard and every year I manage to sever it in multiple places as I dig holes or remove plants. I've invested a small fortune in couplers to hold it all together--not to mention the drip emitters I keep breaking by stepping on them :-).

      Delete