mukdenia karasuba

mukdenia karasuba
mukdenia karasuba

mukdenia karasuba




Asarum caudatum f ‘album’
This evergreen groundcover, also known as long-tailed wild ginger, has beautiful heart-shaped leaves. The flowers peek out from beneath the leaf canopy. Our plants originated from western Oregon and the flowers on individual plants vary in color from purple to a less common greenish white color called “Album”.

It’s a very hardy ground cover that is best grown in a shady location.

Rheum ‘tanguticum’

Sometimes photos say more than words.  It’s a strange and beautiful presence in the yard.   This plant continues to amaze me. (We have 3 of them and they look different in everyplace we have it.)

rheum tanguticum3wm  rheum tanguticum2wmrheum tanguticum1wm  rheum tanguticum4wm


  • I love to find a great deal.
  • I love to re-purpose something someone might just add to a landfill.
  • I love to see my plant treasures thriving in my garden

Sometimes you just need a ‘mini-greenhouse’ to get some tender plants a bit of a start in the spring.   We’ve done it forever in the vegetable garden in the form of cold frames.

mini greenhouseswm
a few converted lights

I have an ‘interesting’ assortment of ‘mini-greenhouses’.   I am always looking for hanging light fixtures at garage sales.  There are lots of 70’s glass and brass fixtures being upgraded to something current.  The people selling them are usually as enthusiastic about finding someone that wants them  as I am when I see them, so I don’t ever pay more than a few bucks.


I bring them home and take the electrical ‘guts’ out.  This usually just requires about 15 minutes and a pair of pliers.  If there is a ring for hanging the fixture, I put it back on so I have an easy way to carry it around.  After throwing out the ‘guts’ what you are left with is a mini-greenhouse.  If there are a few screw holes in the top, it’s no problem, it just adds a bit of ventilation.

primula auricula ‘marmalon’

The delicate blooms of this primula auricula ‘marmalon’ have been protected against the bunnies, deer, elk, heavy rain, hail, and high winds that surely would have damaged or destroyed it.

Do be careful on sunny days.   Your delicate plants can sunburn.  I take them all off and store them when our weather turns warm.

The Elusive Blue Poppy – Meconopsis

Last summer I bought a blue poppy from Dan Hinkley.   BluePoppy02 The blue poppies were among the other unique and interesting plants he had for sale.  We got to talking about the poppy and I explained that over the last few years,  I have tried growing them twice before and they did not survive in our gardens, despite having what should be the ideal conditions.  I decided to try it one more time after listening to him talk about how ‘easy’ they are to grow.   So… I bought it, discussed with my husband where the perfect spot would be to plant it.  It’s on the north-east side of the house where it gets just a bit of direct sun, mid-morning in the rare event that we have sun,  remember I garden in the pacific northwest.   I was so optimistic that it would be there for years, I made a permanent label for it.   light fixture greenhouse Update:  This spring it popped up,  we sprinkled a bit of slug bait around it and covered it with a mini-greenhouse.  This mini-greenhouse has helped to warm the soil on the bright days and has protected it from temps in the low 30’s as well as several hard rains and two hail storms and some high winds. This afternoon I pulled it off to reveal this (so far) perfect specimen of the elusive blue poppy. blue poppy I’ll update with photos of the blooms…. (she said optimistically)

OMPHALODES – pretty perennial that sounds like a disease

OMPHALODES:   aka:  the creeping forget-me-not

A member of the borage family

It’s a semi rare perennial, it’s easy to grow.

omphalodes in the garden
omphalodes in the garden

What makes it interesting:   A plant is interesting to me if I have never seen it before.  We first came across this plant at Heronswood.    It continues to be a good performer in the garden and best of all… it is of  little or no interest to deer, elk, rabbits or slugs.  This is an important consideration in the wet Northwest springs.

How it grows and blooms:  It makes a thick ground cover, thick enough to choke out weeds.   The leaves are a dry semi sticky consistency.  The plants form clumps that can be wide-spreading over time, but grow slowly and are not invasive or aggressive.   These will grow to a height of 6-8″.

blue eyed mary
blue eyed mary

In early spring, the flowers rise above the leaves in small clusters. The flowers are about a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide.  The flowers can range from white to true blue.  The green leaves are pointed and have a hairy surface.

These are similar to forget-me-nots, but is not as invasive.

What it needs:   It will tolerate a range of areas, from hot afternoon sun to part shade.  It seems to be the happiest in part shade, in an area that doesn’t dry out too much.

How to propagate:    It has a clump form and features stolons, which are stems that grow horizontally along the soil and connect several plants together.  You can gently tear the divisions from the outer borders of the clumps,   pot them up or plant them directly into the garden and keep them cool and moist until they take root.   This is best done in the early spring of fall.  You can put umbrellas over them to protect them from hot sun.  ( I often mention the umbrellas because I have a tendency to divide my plants when it’s convenient for me, not when its the ‘best’ time for the plants.  Umbrellas are my work-around for dividing in warmer, sunnier weather. )

starry eyes
starry eyes

Problems:  They may develop some powdery mildew in consistently wet weather.

How to use it in the landscape:
Use it as a ground cover, under trees or in areas that you want to mitigate summer soil temperatures and where you want some spring color and as a backdrop for later bloomers.

Some favorite varieties:
1.)  Blue Eyed Mary:  true blue small 5 petal star-shaped flower
2.)  Starry eyes: very pale blue, almost white background with darker blue stripes on the small 5 petal star-shaped flower.

There is a white blooming variety that is now on my WISH LIST… verna alba.  I will be on the lookout for it in my local nurseries this spring.

Big Monster Perennial, BUTTERBUR aka PETASITES


A member of the Aster family

Addie under petacites wmAKA: butterbur, coltswold

It’s a Monster!  This leaf was over 36″ across.  That beautiful little 2-year-old is standing underneath it.  She called it her umbrella.  WOW!  Leaves like this just don’t happen in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s crazy (but fun) in our part of the world.  🙂

Some interesting facts:   It was
used by Native Americans as a remedy for headache and inflammation,  Some species contain the chemicals
petasin and isopetasin  which are believed to have potential benefits in treating headaches and can be an effective treatment for hay fever without the sedative effect of the antihistamines.

petacites gigantica bloomspike
petacites gigantica bloomspike

It’s a bold, textural, monster of a plant.  It arrives in the early spring with a strange alien looking bloom spike, followed by leaves that increase in size, until they are too large to be ignored, making them interesting from the time they appear until the end of the season.

How it grows and blooms:  In early spring there is a bloom spike, followed by leaves as the bloom dies out.  They are robust plants with thick, creeping underground rhizomes and large leaves during the growing season.   Some varieties will  grow up to 5’ tall, spreading up to 4’ wide.

petacites varigatus wm
petacites varigatus, tri-color leaf

What it needs:    Plant in full sun to shade. It is very tolerant of most soils, as long it is kept from moist to wet.   All of these petacites have done well in for the last 5 or more years in our yard.  Our winter temperatures have been down to 8*f, so they can take it pretty cold.

How to propagate:  gently separate the clumps.  Potting them up or planting them directly into the garden and keep them cool and moist until they take root.   This is best done in the early spring of fall.  You can put umbrellas over them to protect them from hot sun.

petacites purpureus wmProblems:   A real favorite of slugs.  We bait regularly in wet weather.

Place carefully: this is an aggressive spreader and difficult to eradicate once established. Spreading can be controlled by using bamboo barrier or sinking a heavy plastic or metal tub into the ground and planting within the tub.

How to use it in the landscape:  Petacites are great in large containers, beds or borders.  They will do beautifully at the edges of ponds, streams and wetland areas, since they will tolerate shallow standing water.    Maybe we should add it to our vegetable gardens:  Young leaf stems are used as a vegetable in Japan.  ( I haven’t tried it yet )

Some varieties:    

petasites japonicus var. giganteus,  petasites japonicus var. varigatus,  petasites japonicus var. purpureus, petasites palmatus ‘Golden Palms’

petacites golden palms wm

Photo notes:  All of these photos were taken in our yard, 2012 & 2013.

The umbrella leaf  photo and the bloom spike are both photos of petasites japonicus var. giganteus.

The tri-colored leaf is a very early spring  leaf from petasites japonicus var. varigatus.

The   petasites japonicus var purpureus   has stems and veins that are much more purple than the photo reflects.

The petasites palmatus ‘Golden Palms’  was stuck into the rotted center of a stump several years ago and now is growing all through the stump.  It’s in a very shady spot and it very happy.  The slugs seem to find it less interesting than some of the other varieties.

Any of these would be an exiting and unusual perennial addition to your garden!