a romp though the garden

‘Common’ Mahonia Deserves Another Look March 7, 2014

Mahonia × media ‘Charity’
Today we had a brief respite between rain and wind storms. As I was strolling the yard making the pre-spring assessment of what needs to be done… a sweet fragrance caught my attention.mahonia 'charity' 2

We love to collect the rare and interesting flora, often taking for granted the ‘common’ plant materials that provide the bones of the garden. This Oregon grape is found commonly in many Northwest Nurseries. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ stands quietly in the garden most of the year, going unnoticed, while adding shape and structure. In early March it come to life with blooms in whorls of delicate and fragrant yellow flowers. It was such a treat to smell the sweet fragrance of ‘Charity’ and see the delicate blooms on such a study plant that I wanted to share the outstanding qualities of this wonderfully common hybrid Mahonia.mahonia 'charity' 3

mahonia 'charity' 1

The flowers will be replaced by waxy dark berries in grape like clusters in late summer into early fall. The evergreen foliage has an upright growth habit, with deep green, prickly leaves in arranged in whorls. In my part of the world, one of the most redeeming features to this shrub is that it is of no interest to rabbits, deer or elk, but the hummingbirds find it appealing.

CARE: In our yard we have used it in several places. Charity has thrived in a variety of light, moisture and soil situations. We may prune occasionally for shape. Our winter temperatures get down to single digits most years and wind speeds over 35 mph are not unusual. Charity takes it all in stride, showing few signs of wear and no signs of stress. No wonder it is among the ‘great plant picks’ collection.

We have collected several different varieties of mahonias, from common to exotic. In the back yard, in the spring….the 6-7 foot tall sturdy deep green leaves of Charity are beautifully contrasted with delicate sprays of pale pink candelabra primroses and the deeper rose double blooming perennial ’Corporal Baxter’ primroses. As summer approaches and the primrose blooms fade, they are replaced with a ground cover of dusty blue hostas and miniature ‘Twist of Lime’ hostas. To its left stands a vigorous ‘Coppertina’ physocarpus (ninebark) providing wonderful color contrast. mahonia 'charity' 4

Mahonia × media ‘Charity’ prefers full sun to dappled shade, is drought tolerant once established, but also does well in our very damp weather -3/4 of the year. It prefers a well-drained soil, but will tolerate sandy sites and clay. Charity’ is hardy in USDA zones 7-9.


Great New NINEBARK – ‘Amber Jubilee’ July 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourhomeinthewoods @ 9:57 pm

Great New NINEBARK – ‘Amber Jubilee’.


Great New NINEBARK – ‘Amber Jubilee’

The newest ninebark member in my collection is Physocarpus ‘Amber Jubilee’, also known as Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Jefam’.   ‘Amber Jubilee’ ninebark was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.  The queen took part in the ceremonial planting of this new shrub while visiting Winnipeg.
It is beautiful, and as amber, golden, glowing and colorful as the name suggests.  It is the seedling of the cross ‘Diabolo’ x ‘Dart’s Gold’ made by Rick Durand of Jeffries Nurseries in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba (Canada).

foliage variations on our new Ninebark 'Amber Jubilee'

foliage variations on our new Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’

I was so pleased to find this and add it to our collection.    It came in a two gallon pot and cost $38.00 in one of our local nurseries.  The cost was a bit on the high side, but not enough to prevent me from buying it.

I’m really fond of ninebarks and the color they bring to the garden.  Last year I wrote a post about ninebarks, here’s the link http://wp.me/p2kNeQ-aB  since then we have added ‘summerwine’ and now Amberglow to the gardens.

When doing some internet research on this great new shrub, I found this great description of the foliage.  :According to this nursery the new ninebark offers a unique blend of foliage colors including new growth that takes on shades of yellow and orange in summer before turning purple in the fall. “Foliage on mature sections of the plant is lime-green. Amber Jubilee is distinct from purple-foliaged ninebarks such as ‘CenterGlow’, ‘Coppertina’ and ‘Summer Wine’. Its foliage is an improvement over long-time cultivar ‘Dart’s Gold’. ‘Amber Jubilee’ will be effective as a medium shrub in the landscape, whether massed or planted in small groupings.” 

The Details:

The common name: Amber Jubilee® Ninebark

True botanical Name: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Jefam’

A member of the Rosaceae family

Light: full to partial sun

Hardy to: USDA Zone 2

Soils: adaptable to a wide variety of soil types

Growth Rate: A vigorous shrub reaching a mature height of 5-6’ (2 m) and a width of 4’ (1.5 m).

Pest and Disease: No specific problems.  (In my yard- we have to protect them from the deer and elk who find them very tasty)

Propagation: Cuttings from established plants. Propagation by First Editions license only.

Landscape Value: Amber Jubilee® is distinct from purple-foliaged ninebarks such as Center Glow®, Coppertina® and Summer Wine®. Its foliage is an improvement over long-time cultivar Dart’s Gold. Amber Jubilee® will be effective as a medium shrub in the landscape, whether massed or planted in small groupings.


Ever Wonder Who Visits Your Yard? FIND OUT… UPDATE July 29, 2013

Filed under: Wildlife Photos — ourhomeinthewoods @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,
Bull Elk

Bull Elk

The trail camera failed several months ago.

A cautionary tale:  I won’t go into all the details, but these can also be a security camera.  Unfortunately, the camera had failed, so it wasn’t working the morning that we had an un-welcome man looking in the bedroom window and ringing the doorbell.   I had never seen him before and didn’t answer the door.  Later it turned out that it was most likely the same man who broke into a nearby house, beat up and robbed a woman, then fled.  He came back later that night,  fought with the homeowners and was killed by one of the homeowners with a kitchen knife.  He had items with him that indicated that he had very bad intent.  If my camera had been working I would have had a good photo of him for the police, and we might have been able to identify him before this happened.  I will always make sure that we have at least one working camera at all times.  We bought another Bushnell trophy cam.  It’s working perfectly.  Pay attention to your instincts.  If something doesn’t feel right, listen.  If I had ignored my instincts that day, things might have been very different.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk

On a lighter note:  here is the most pesky critter that has visited in the last week or so.  This elk has eaten literally hundreds of daylily blooms, over a dozen large hostas,  lots of hydrangea blooms and even a gunnera, Yes I said a gunnera!  Nothing eats those, this elk is crazy!  He has been coming round the clock and often with a doe.  He stands a couple of feet taller than our pick up truck.  I have a netting over some of the hydrangeas now.

Who visits your yard?

Here’s a link to the original post:  http://wp.me/p2kNeQ-fQ  There are lots of wildlife candid camera photos.



Filed under: Garden Tour — ourhomeinthewoods @ 9:19 am
Tags: , , ,

I don’t know about you, but I always feel that my garden isn’t quite ready to be seen.  I see all the things that need to be done instead of being able to appreciate how far we have come.

This 'river' is 7' deep, varies between 5'-10' wide and was almost 140' long.

This ‘river’ is 7′ deep, varies between 5′-10′ wide and was almost 140′ long.

We were pretty happy with our 10 years of landscaping. January of 2009, Mother Nature called for a do over in the form of a flood and landslide coming off the mountain across the street.  Many areas of our landscape are still suffering.   In one section that we haven’t rehabbed yet, the weeds, mostly alder trees are taller than I am.  That’s pretty overwhelming.   Every once in a while I venture into that area to rescue some botanical treasure that has been buried by the weeds.  I don’t know if we will get to that area, this year or next.

landslide compilation1sm

A few front yard photos.

All these rocks…. where do you even start?

We’ve all heard it… when mother nature gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Well, we have been, but it’s a lot of hard work.

We started by trying to rescue the lawn.

Re-landscaping…   As difficult as all the rebuilding has been, it is better than it was before.   OMG -We used to buy landscape rock, but Mother Nature delivered all sort of wonderful rocks.  Sizes varied from small boulders to sand.   We were able to fill the huge whole in the driveway without bringing in rock.  We ‘shop’ around the property for rocks to define pathways.  So many plants washed away or died over the next year from the trauma, since we weren’t able to un-earth every plant right away.  The flooding also had some interesting side effects.  We keep finding special plants in places that we didn’t put them.  Flood waters distributed things in interesting places.  There is also a new distribution of weeds.  We never had stinging nettles on our property before, but they are here now.  I want to learn to cook with them, but they scare me.  I still remember exactly how much the stinging hurt from my childhood misadventures running into stinging nettles in the woods.

landslide compilation2sm

entry area garden, after the flood and now

Since so much soil washed away, while we had the track hoe here, we had him dig a large hole that will become a pond.  We used the soil to build new gardens and hopefully will build the pond in the next few years.   It will be our biggest most challenging landscape project.

My takeaway from all this has been…

  • be grateful for what you have, things can always be worse.
  • enjoy the planning and process, not just the end result.
  • work together
  • keep shopping for plants ;-)  there is always room for another
  • a glass of Bailey’s Irish Cream and a long soak in a Jacuzzi tub is a great way to recover from a hard days work in the garden. ( My husband would prefer a cold beer.)

It’s going to be hot today, so I’m going to go out and work in the garden before  the sun comes over the mountain.  I’m planning to work hard and I’m already looking forward to the Bailey’s and a bath.

Have a great day, appreciate what you have!


Rhododendron ‘ruby parasol’ June 20, 2013

It’s funny how many times you can walk past something then one day you actually SEE it.  That’s what happened when I walked through the garden today.   Rhododendron ‘ruby parasol’ is an attractive little background shrub in our garden.  We’ve had it for several years, but admittedly, I have never really paid attention to it, it was just there.  This year it has distinguished itself and made me notice why we selected it and the very reason it was named ‘ruby parasol’.

Rhododendron 'ruby parasol'

Rhododendron ‘ruby parasol’

This is a very young plant, as rhodies go.  It has put on a lot of new growth this year and that is what makes it so interesting.  The new growth emerges with  a thick coating of gray velvety hairs and a blush of ruby color,  before it fades to

a typical rhododendron leaf, later in the season.  It’s a subtle evergreen beauty.  I think the flowers are a medium pink, but I honestly don’t remember for sure.  While writing this post, I searched it online and couldn’t find this particular variety.  I don’t remember where we bought it.  It’s been about 3 years ago and I can’t always remember what I had for breakfast.  ;-)

It’s one of the ‘bones’ of the garden, quietly giving structure, shape and character to the garden all year.  Today, it’s my favorite.






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