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All Shades of Green—-A Plant Perspective


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Azara

I wouldn’t have noticed this tree unless I saw the sign right in front of it.  Most signs aren’t very interesting but when they’re in front of plants I stop and read them.  This one stated that when in flower, Azara smells like milk chocolate. What?! A chocolate plant? Yum….I immediately stepped into the under story of this suddenly fascinating plant and was surrounded by the warm delightful smell of chocolate.  It was 7:30 in the morning on a brisk March day and I was experiencing the unexpected. What a surprise to catch the scent of chocolate coming from a plant instead of from the kitchen.  What a strange and sweet species.  Azara is named after an eighteenth century Spanish patron of botany, JN Azara.  It comprises a genus of 10 species of evergreen shrubs and trees from South America. The azara tree usually grows on the edge of woodlands and near lakesides.  The leaves are simple, alternate  and glossy and the fragrant flowers are small and petalless with showy stamens. Azara microphylla is one of the hardiest species for our region and was introduced from Argentina to Europe in 1861.  It’s a favorite to those with limited space, only growing 3-12′ tall.  It’s described as having ‘vanilla’ scented yellow spring flowers.  Vanilla or chocolate?  Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle of our imagination.  Either way, it’s a great addition to the scented garden.

 


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A Day in Seattle

Acer palmatumIt’s not fair that this Japanese Maple in Seattle is slowly unfurling it’s soft colorful leaves while my Japanese Maples in my new hometown of Duvall, a mere 25 miles East, are still holding their buds winter-tight.  I recently moved to Duvall and now I’m having gardeners remorse.  Too far from the water! Too many deer! Not enough sun!!! Somehow I’ll have to make the best of it.  I’m looking forward to watching how the sun hits the property and considering my options for garden beds.  ‘Let’s not be hasty’ I keep telling myself, I want to get this right. Before I start planting and digging I need time to plan.  So while my plants are in a holding pattern here in Duvall, I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle today. Here is a little plant happiness:

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Swainson’s Thrush

Swainson’s Thrush

It was summertime, deep into July.  I heard this haunting melody and was captivated.  I wondered if we had a visitor from another world.  With some help from a good friend I discovered it was the Swainson’s Thrush, a visitor in our woods for only a few months.  The call is heard in the early morning and late evening, just when the sun in making it’s entrance and exit to the day.  This bird is rarely seen, but the the song is not soon forgotten.  It has an upward, spiraling melody that is haunting and beautiful.  It’s a happy reflection on a cold and dark winter day.  To learn more, visit All About Birds, from Cornell as we wait for the days filled with light and the Swainson’s Thrush to return again.

 


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3 Trees—New Varieties for 2015

Variegated Stellar Pink Dogwood (Cornus kousa x Cornus florida)  I’ve seen trees like this before.  On the Monrovia site you can find three variegated Cornus kousa; Samaritan, Wolf Eyes and Summer Fun, but they all have white flowers.  As the human race is constantly searching for the next new thing, now arrives the variegated dogwood with a Pink flower.  Dogwoods always look so spindly and minimal when they are young, but a mature dogwood can take your breath away.  It has to be in the top three for spring flowering trees.  Flowering cherries, Magnolias and Dogwoods.  Three reasons why spring is the best.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this one grows.  It has green leaves with white margins and mottled hues of green and white in several shades turn multi-colored in the fall — pink, yellow, purple and green simultaneously. Flowers are profuse, large and pink, covering the small tree in spring for several weeks. It is said to be highly pest and disease resistant. Grow in full sun in northern climates and part shade in warmer areas. Grows 10–15 tall and wide.

Marley’s Pink Snowbell (Styrax japonicus ‘JL Weeping’)  The world will never have enough snowbell trees, so I welcome any new varieties.  You may know that I have a thing for this tree.  I love a mature spreading canopy of a traditional Snowbell, but I”m intrigued with this new little one. Marley’s Pink Snowbell has a weeping habit, pink flowers and leaves that are significantly larger, glossier and less pubescent than other known cultivars. June flowers are vibrant pink and bell-shaped.  It grows up to 8 feet tall and 4–5 feet wide at maturity.  Out of these three new trees, this is the one I want!

Winchester Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)  Another lovely little thing that I’m curious to see in its mature state.  There are an amazing variety of Pines and I think they provide an essential element to the garden. Green in winter, structural and a contrasting texture to broad leaf plants. This petite mugo seems to be bursting with life. ‘Winchester’ is a dwarf mugo pine chosen for its tidy, semi-upright form, which differs from other dwarf mugo cultivars. It maintains its dense body, making it suitable for small spaces. Tiny, short needles add year-round color and texture to the garden or container. Grows 3–4 inches annually, reaching a mature height of 2–3 feet in 10 years. Tolerates poor soils and dry conditions, as well as full or part sun.

 

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