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Whidbey Island Landscapes


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Sarcococca

Sarcococca

Sarcococca

I stopped at Bayview Farm and Garden Nursery this week just to walk down this covered walkway where Sarcococca or Sweetbox is traditionally on display this time of year.  This is a perfect spot for it –  shaded, cool and right near the doorway where all can enjoy the intoxicating fragrance.

The three species most commonly available are Sarcococca confusa, Sarcococca ruscifolia and Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis.  Sarcococca confusa and ruscifolia mature into evergreen shrubs about 4 feet tall and wide. S. confusa has blue-black berries and S. ruscifolia has red berries.   Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis is a slowly suckering shrub, also evergreen, that matures to about 18″ tall and makes a nice little hedge.  A new species in my garden,  Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’  has paler and longer leaves, more noticeable pink in the flowers, a purple cast to the stems and is stol0niferous (spreads by underground runners).   All like shade and must have protection from direct sun. Sarcococca prefers rich, moist soil but will  tolerate drought – even under eaves once  established –  which can take a few years.  All should be perfectly hardy in our climate.

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Don’t go to the store without a list

In an attempt to banish the post wedding doldrums, we took a trip to Port Townsend and of course, ended up at Far Reaches Farm, a nearby mecca of sorts for plant collectors.  With a sunny display border, a lath shade house, a new bog garden, and tables and houses full of unusual plants for sale – what’s not to be cheerful about?

Of course, I always succumb to a plant purchase.  This time it was Garrya.  I am collecting native and native-seeming plants for a hedgerow along our road (see post from May 18) and actually was looking for hardier Garry x issaquahhensis, but who could resist this very funny plant tag?

“Garry elliptica ‘James Roof’ is a man among boys when you are talking west coast Silktassels.  This is a well-hung male cultivar (they have the longest appendages) with tassels that dangle nearly a foot in length producing catkin-envy in the garden.”  Some sources indicate it is hardy to zone 7, some say it will get winter burn in single digit weather.  I need to be better about sticking to my list.

I believe the nursery is now on summer hiatus, but check the website http://www.farreachesfarm.com/ for area plant sales they might be attending.

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Himalayan Huckleberry

I treated myself to a leisurely morning at Bayview Farm and Garden Nursery this week on one of our sunny days – no errands to do afterward and no deadlines to get home to.  I’ve been working on a garden design where we will need to rely heavily on a transitional zone of plants that will connect the garden to it’s wooded surroundings – not an uncommon challenge in our island gardens.  I came across this plant, Vaccinium glauco-album.

While, as its name suggests, it’s not a Northwest native, it certainly reminds me of salal, with pink flowers followed by black-blue berries.   The foliage is very nice  – blue green above and white on the underside.  Size is 3′ x 3′ and hardy to zone 7 – as is confirmed by a friend who grew it evergreen here over the past few winters.

I also saw some evergreen huckleberry / Vacciumium ovatum in four inch pots, which would be a great way to start your own transitional zone.

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