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Summer Gardening & Plants

Summer Garden & Plants

The summer is losing steam and I’m still not gardening. Unless you count buying plants, which I guess you’d have to since you can’t garden without plants. Duh.

The date my sod (just a bit for the dog) and sprinkler system is being put in has been pushed again. Another summer without gardening. Anyway, I’m a little – no, a lot – depressed about it. Know what I do on the weekends when I should be gardening? I sit around writing down the names of must-have plants, which only makes me feel more impatient.

OK, enough of that. Feeling sorry for myself is a waste of time. Dreaming about plants is not such a bad thing. I’ve started keeping track on 3-by-5 cards. I write down the name (botanical and common) and later I’ll add where and when I bought the plant. I’ll also include the hardiness zone and size. When I used this system for my old garden, I sometimes wrote down a little tidbit like “drought tolerant” or “good for rock gardens.” Once I buy it and plant it, I’ll note where the plant ended up in the garden. Finally, I file them by area: front, left side, under maple, for example.

One of the first plants I wrote down was Daphne ‘Jim’s Pride.’ Did you know it blooms upward of six months starting in April and working hard until November? The flowers are cotton white and fragrant enough to perfume the air up to 10 feet away. It’s so easy, too. In my former garden, I never pruned it, gave it moderate water and that’s it. I adore this plant. I’ve got a place next to the front door where I’ll give it center stage. It’s an open, lightly shaded spot where its chubby 4-by-6 shape will fit perfectly.

I’m struggling to find something to give my vignette a vertical spark. I’m thinking a Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’) because it will probably do well in shade, at least in light shade. I’m also thinking Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ or Buxus ‘Graham Blandy.’

To add to the texture, I’m going to back it up with a hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracillis’). Its 5 feet stretch and fairly narrow form will fit well and the dark green, fan-like foliage will play friendly with the daphne and plum yew.

But now I need a shot of of color. Too much green, even plants with different textures and forms, makes for a boring garden. At least, it does in my view. So, I’m going to stick in a Fatsia ‘Camouflage,’ a fancy pants plant with leaves like giant’s hands. Well, at least a giant with more than five fingers, which since it’s a giant and we’ve never seen a giant, that’s possible. The gold and lime variegation illuminates a shady spot and mine needs it. I’ll throw in some dark burgundy ajuga – maybe ‘Black Scallop’ — to cover the ground so I have fewer weeds to yank out.

I’ve got to do a little midnight gardening for this one since I’m in an HOA that doesn’t want anything unapproved planted in the front yard. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not a big rule follower. Most of all, don’t turn me in. I’ll have to go to HOA jail … and how would you feel?

Kym Pokorny
Kym Pokorny

Kym grew up on a wholesale nursery in California and worked with plants since a very early age. She went on the get a degree in journalism and natural resources and ended up writing about horticulture for The Oregonian for 16 years. Now she works for Oregon State University Extension Service and still writes about gardening. She lives in her new home in Corvallis.

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