Begonia luxurians “A Begonia that Looks Like a Palm Tree”

I was out in the garden doing my fall cleanup before summer is even over. Our gardening season has been unusual to say the least. Here in the South Puget Sound it has been hot, hotter and hottest since May, highly unusual.  Thankfully we’re on the side of the mountains without wildfires but the smoke from them is drifting to our side of the mountains and covering the sun enough to make an eery rose-colored light. The whole summer has been eery. The weather requires a new plant care learning curve.

We have been moving these Brugmansias in and out of the house for 4 years and they’re too large now but I found out that they will live through the winter if you just mulch them.


Pink Ecuador

                              Brugmansia ‘Pink Ecuador’


        I call this one Brugmansia ‘It was supposed to be red’


Really cool cutting from friend, Erik. Begonia luxurians. I guess it isn’t hardy so I have to bring it inside but it gets big really fast and looks very much like a palm tree.

My absolute favorite new (for me) plant this year was Crocosmia ‘Miss Scarlett’. I had planted it 2 years ago and it didn’t bloom so I put it in more sun and it has been spectacular. It bloomed later than other Crocosmias and is a beautiful dark red with a shaded lighter eye. The best part is the foliage. It isn’t floppy. It stands straight, needs no support and has a pretty bluish cast. From the way it’s growing I don’t think it will be invasive, just spread slowly. It’s stunning.

Crocosmia 'Miss Scarlett'

                           Crocosmia ‘Miss Scarlett’


Bartlett Pears were not only a bumper crop this year, they are clean and without any disease or bugs. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have rain.


And lastly…my first Eucomis, E. ‘Rhode Island Red’ from Windcliff. They were planted all over the place there and were so beautiful. I had no idea the leaves collapsed.

The Full Mediterranean and “How Plants Work” by Linda Chalker-Scott

Sage-ish Advice

     August and September are typically warm and dry in the South Sound. However, this year it has been mostly hot and dry since June. It  has been more like Sorrento than the South Sound. Now we can truly boast about our Mediterranean climate. Plants like rosemary, lavender and sage thrive.

Dark green-leaved Rosemary ‘Arp’, silvery-leaved Lavender ‘Silver Frost’ and the wide leaves of gray ornamental sage, Salvia ‘Berggarten’ make a good combination. Throw in a couple of potted red geraniums in terra cotta pots, grab a good book and have a glass of Washington wine. Enjoy our extended new Mediterranean climate.

Midsummer GoldenRAIN Tree

That’s Golden RAIN tree, not Golden CHAIN tree…why these beautiful trees aren’t grown more, I’ll never know. Koelreuteria paniculata (easier to grow than to say) is blooming now. It has panicles of fragrant yellow flowers and ash-like leaves. The medium-sized tree grows in zones 5-9 in full sun or a little shade. That means it’s perfect for the South Sound. The best part about the tree is the fruit that eventually swells into little pink balloons. They make a popping sound when you step on them. Kids love it. Popping fruit may not be the BEST reason to grow this too rarely grown tree but it helps. You can see one up close in Tacoma at S. 11th and Tacoma Ave S. or E. 26th St. near Freighthouse Square. Stunning trees.Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 8.19.45 PM











  “How Plants Work” by Linda Chalker-Scott

Linda Chalker-Scott is our local “mythbuster”. Reading her earlier books, “The Informed Gardener” and “The Informed Gardener Blooms Again”, gives you a sense of Chalker-Scott’s mission…to set us all straight about the science behind our gardening questions…nothing is anecdotal. All of the information in “How Plants Work” is backed up by scientific research.

If you follow The Garden Professors on Facebook you will recognize the Chalker-Scott name. Advice and answers are “no nonsense” to say the least.

“How Plants Work” is Chalker-Scott’s referential science for gardeners book. Just like in her previous books, she debunks many of the commonly held “facts” but supports others. She names names and explains why some of the more popular home gardening methods and products simply don’t work.

Along with setting us straight about our long-held and at times totally false beliefs about Unknowngardening the author provides some very understandable layman’s lessons in home gardening botany. She explains the science behind plant growth, water movement, light importance, night bloomers, twining and vining and more.

You know those sensitive plants? You touch a leaf and it folds up? That’s “thigmonasty”. Oh…the things you’ll learn…

Timber Press, $19.95, 220 p.