walking the neighborhood 6/12/22

It seems at least every house has a specimen rhododendron…or two. Japanese maples and Pieris japonica abound as well. And since the rhodies are just about bloomed out, I grabbed a few photos before the party is over and reduced to petal confetti on the lawn. For weather junkies like gardeners and dog walkers, dry walks are possible by checking the hourly forecasts. It’s a rare day that rains all day long. And it’s a very long day — twilight hits around 9 p.m.!

Lots of horticultural classics like peonies, iris, and lupins are having a moment too.


The blue-flowered shrubby ground cover is another plant with ubiquitous status: Lithodora diffusa.

Evergreen Lithodora diffusa is a ground cover of choice in the neighborhood
With Lysimachia nummularia and some ancient CMU I’ve been coveting.
there’s always a few sempervivums tucked into rock retaining walls
conifers with Japanese Maple — I’m researching a few dwarf conifers for the front garden, partly inspired by Sara Malone’s garden in Petaluma, California.
The vigor of cut-leaf sumac Rhus typhina seems even more alarming than tetrapanax. (Note the baby sumacs lining the walkway — yikes!) And it’s late to leaf out and early to bed in fall, so I’ll probably say no, but I did seriously consider it
Corylopsis? Laburnum? I often have no idea what I’m looking at.
Anchusa? The leaves appeared very early in spring when much else was still dormant
It might look like forget-me-nots, but it’s a big, coarse plant with rough leaves
You might not be able to ripen a tomato, but artichokes flourish here
Even with all the rain, the fields are still being worked
lupins seem to love the heavy soil and cool, wet spring
The rain does take a toll on the posture of the Oriental poppies — flopsville!
Papaver somniferum escaping under the fence
Iris sibirica?
Maybe a biennial like hesperis? And there’s a clematis camouflaged near the porch of similar color
unmistakably acanthus! Note the trachycarpus palm down the street
Acanthus mollis
Linaria purpurea is a miserable thing in my zone 10 garden, whereas here it verges on weedy status

And lucky you, for this photo walk, no need for mudboots!

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9 Responses to walking the neighborhood 6/12/22

  1. Elaine says:

    It’s always fun walking around the neighborhood to see what’s blooming. Spring is always glorious in the PNW but kind of fades away afterwards. You will be able to show them a thing or two on how to make the garden look great through the dry summer heat. Yes to Laburnum and Siberian Iris. We had a sumac fort as kids, the walls made up of suckers allowed to grow up. It was pretty cool.

  2. Denise Maher says:

    @Elaine, thanks for the IDs. The only laburnum I’ve seen was at Barnsley House in England, grown to drape over a pergola, with alliums in bloom underneath. I didn’t know it was a tree! Not too sure how much of that heat we’ll get on the coast, but a sumac fort sounds pretty cool!

  3. Kris P says:

    That was a nice change of scene! How I wish I could keep Lithodora alive for a season, much less have it grow thick as a blanket. I envy the lupins, as well as the peonies. We’re still very dry down this way but the marine layer gave us a tenth of an inch of rain on Monday.

  4. Heather says:

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Darcy Daniels but she’s a designer in Portland (she’s been to a couple of Flings) that does incredible work with dwarf conifers. She has a neat site called eGardenGo that gives plant combinations too—it might be helpful in your research.

    My house came with six rhodies, a pieris, and a camellia, all placed six inches from the foundation or property line. Every once in a while I see an appropriately placed rhody that’s been allowed to be a tree and they are MAGNIFICENT!

  5. hb says:

    So that’s what 90″ of rain can do.


    Here the hills are already grey. Not brown. Past brown, to grey.

  6. Denise says:

    @Kris, that lithodora grows like rosemary here! Which tells you everything you need to know about why you can’t keep it alive…
    @Heather, thank you for the rec, yes, I remember Darcy and have been checking out her website. Slamming shrubs up against the foundation is such a common urge when landscaping!
    @Hoov, yes, so green here! I love the golden Calif look, but grey so soon is not a good look at all.

  7. ks says:

    I was so excited when I moved to Norcal and realized I could grow Rhodies-first house we bought (next door) even came with one ! Don’t have them any more-we are kind of on the edge of their preferred climate -just a tad too hot and dry. I can always go to Mendo if I want to see them, they grow just fine out there. Better get you some Sanguisorbas !

  8. Denise says:

    @ks, got me some sanguisorbas already! ‘Red Thunder’ is already showing some thimbly blooms. Mendo reminds me a lot of this part of the coast too. It’s rainier here but there’s a lot of overlap in plants that like it. So far I’m okay with admiring rhodies from afar…

  9. Gerhard Bock says:

    Laburnums! Peonies! Those were the plants that made my heart beat faster when I was at the Butchart Gardens last week. The plantings in your photos are actually quite similar to what I saw at Butchart.

    The sempervivums tucked into a rock wall, well, ROCK!

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