Monday, May 5, 2008

An Oregon Garden Visit

This last week we went to visit my mother-in-law in Oregon. She has built up her garden in sunny Grants Pass over the past ten years. Since our last visit the garden had really grown. She gave me the names of a number of plants she was using in the garden. I have to say I need to verify exactly what plants she mentioned so forgive me if in my haste I mistake one plant for another when describing them.

My mother-in-law has a number of madrone trees growing on her large property. I found them to be very beautiful, tall with the warm red bark of the tree and large rhododendron like leaves. When the day comes that our holly trees die I hope we can plant the space with madrones. Of course I need to research to be sure they are able to tolerate the cool coastal climate.

My mother-in-law is making liberal use of conifers and heathers, which are growing beautifully in the raised step borders sitting below the base of the house. Heathers are one of my favorite plants; my heather plants are smaller in size and younger, so it was good to see the full sized versions at maturity. One of the conifers is called birds nest and that is just what it looks like: round shaped with conifer branches spiraling out in a neat circle. My mother-in-law pointed out vinca as a ground cover, growing well in the partial shade of the pines and madrones; she called another ground cover bugle, a plant I've seen but never identified; I'm guessing it is bugleweed. The colors of the ground cover went from deep to medium purple tinges to paler pinks, with short spires of the cover growing upward. I will have to research to make sure of the plant name. This plant would be perfect as a ground cover in the hotter area beneath the pink climbing roses in our front yard.

My mother-in-law showed me a plant that I had seen before but she didn't know the name of it, I think it is Japonica. Still more research needed on my part because I can't be absolutely sure until I look it up in my gardening books. The bell shaped cream colored flowers hung like heath blooms off the short bowed branches of the green plant.

My favorite ground cover plant she had in place was one she called St. John's Wort. I need to research this as well since I am not familiar with this plant but know it is medicinal and have heard of it. The St. John's Wort was growing in big bunches as a ground cover in the beds. I can see this plant would be ideal for the sunny area in our backyard below the butterfly bushes. I didn't get to see flowers on it yet as it wasn't time for it to bloom but my mother-in-law said they had a number of yellow flowers when blooming. I loved the varying colors of green and healthy bush shaped growth out and upward. I can't wait to find St. John's Wort in our local nursery and try planting it out this summer.

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