GREAT EVERGREEN GROUNDCOVER – Blechnum penna-marina

This small-scale hardy fern is very adaptable in the Pacific Northwest and makes a great year-round groundcover.  Blechnum penna-marina, is happy in light shade but will grow in deeper shade as well as full sun if the soil is kept moist.

Blechnum penna-marina

The new foliage emerges bronzy-red, aging to deep green.  The tightly packed fronds slowly spread by creeping rhizomes to form a very effective groundcover.  Its variety B. ‘Cristatum’ is similar and its tips are curiously crested.  In both forms the fertile fronds are reddish brown, thin and upright.

FAMILY NAME:  Blechnaceae

COMMON NAME:  Hardfern, alpine water fern

ORIGIN:  New Zealand, South America

PREFERRED GROWING CONDITIONS:  Moist, shady woodland spot in well-drained, acidic, humus-rich soil. Shade to part shade is perfect but will take full sun in the Pacific NW if kept moist.

MANAGEMENT:  Groom in late winter or early spring.  Remove old fronds as necessary.  Cut well established plants to ground in late winter to fully appreciate the new foliage; recommended only on older clumps that have become ratty or are badly damaged by winter wet or snow cover.

PROPAGATION:  Division in spring; sow spores in late summer

PESTS & DISEASES:  None

COMPANIONS & USES:  Heuchera, ajuga, dwarf polygonatum.  Amongst rocks, in rockeries, niches, and walls.

IDEAL SPACING AT PLANTING TIME FOR FULL COVERAGE IN 2-3 YEARS:  8” on center or less.  It can be a bit slow to spread in the beginning.

FOOT TRAFFIC:  no

B. penna-marina, Little Hard Fern, is an evergreen fern with a Royal Horticulture Society Award of Merit. It’s height and spread in one year are 4” x 5” and in five years will reach 4-6” x 24”+. The foliage is dark green, small, leathery and glossy.  Zone 5-8.

B. penna-marina ‘Cristatum’ is a bit smaller than the species.

JANUARY – Del Webber – Vegetable Gardening

[Important update]

RESCHEDULED for Monday, January 23rd, 7-9 pm in the Douglas Classroom at CUH (the west side of the main parking lot)

Del Webber

Vegetable Gardening and our New Relationship with Food

Monday January 16th, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

NHS Hall Section A, Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St. Seattle, WA 98105 Map
Vee Garden Tower

Vee Garden Tower

The Vee Garden offers convenient container gardening systems and easy vertical garden kits.  It takes 15 square feet of traditional garden space to grow what a Vee Garden kit can produce in an 18″ square footprint. Imagine, your kitchen garden could be just outside the door!

http://www.vee-garden.com

 

FALL AND WINTER DIVISIONS

Dividing perennials is an easy way to obtain plants for your garden or to share with friends.  Some plants become overcrowded and may die out in the center, become sparse, or stop blooming and then it’s time to divide them.  While we generally think of dividing plants in the early fall or spring, many plants can be divided in late fall or winter.

If you have to dig up parts of your garden at this time of the year, there are certain perennials that can be divided at anytime. You can even leave hosta and daylily plants that have been dug up on the lawn to freeze and it won’t hurt them.

Asters and mums can be dug and divided now, as long as you replant them immediately.  Lighter-weight divisions like these should be left to spring if you have a problem with frost-heaving areas east of the Cascades and north of Mt. Vernon away from Puget Sound.

Appetizer for Rabbits

Hosta, hemerocallis, astrantia, astilbe, darmera and helianthus can all be dug up, halved or quartered, with a sharp shovel (or axe) and replanted.  It’s best to remove any damaged or broken bits.  If the crowns come apart easily or smaller pieces come loose, pot them to give away.  Protect these pots from a hard freeze, placing them close to the house, in a cold frame, or covered with evergreen branches under trees.

While you’re dividing your hosta plants, make certain to protect the newly emerging tender pips not only from slugs but from local bunnies.

November and early December is the best time to dig and divide peonies and true lilies.  The lilies are dormant in November and will move best then. Peony divisions are usually taken down to 2-3 or 3-5 eyepieces.  They will reliably bloom the following spring; spring divisions less so.

Other perennials that can be divided now include brunnera, eupatorium, lamium, and omphalodes. trollius, and vancouveria.

So, go forth and divide!

Bob Lilly

 

 

OH, IT’S DREARY OUTSIDE!

Tips for Managing the Winter Garden

As Rosemary Verey said, “A garden in winter is the absolute test of the true gardener”.  I’m sitting here watching the rain come down and feeling very guilty that I’m not outside in my rain gear.  So, I guess I’ll think about what needs to be done and make my “to-do” list.

Waiting for my Sarcococco to come into full bloom

Many of the winter jobs would prefer fair weather as opposed to mucking around in the mud and compacting the soil.  There are a few jobs, however, like cleaning and sharpening your tools, that don’t mind the weather.  Winter weeds are a continual problem in the Pacific Northwest, especially shotweed (Cardamine oligosperma), so keep control of these throughout the year.  These are easiest to pull after the frost heaves the soil a bit.

Some of the grasses are still looking good and won’t be pruned back until later when the weather gets to them and they start making a mess. Pruning some vines now, such as the grapes, is a good idea while you can see where they’ve grown to, or where you don’t want them to go.

Now, is a good time to clean up leaves and litter around the evergreen crowns of many plants, especially aster, chrysanthemum, solidago, melissa, monardo, Cardamine pratensis, Digitalis ferruginea, Lobelia x speciosa, Lobelia cardinalis, Primula ‘Wanda’, and Pulmonaria angustifolia.  Evergreen groundcovers, such as galax, saxifraga, ajuga, bolax, lamium, thyme,Mentha requienii, and Oxalis mabellanica, should also be kept clean of litter and leaves .

Mulching is one of the most important jobs we do in the garden.  Winter is the ideal time for this project after the deciduous plants have died back and the gardens have been cleaned of leaves and debris.

Before we know it, spring will be here and time to start planting again.

Our First Work Party!

Entrance Bed scraped of soil with Magnolia rootball exposed

Entrance Bed scraped of soil

Thursday Dec 22 2011, 10am

Please join us at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St. Seattle, WA 98105 Map on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 10 am for the first work party of our new public garden.  The diggers have been hard at work removing the horse-tail infested soil, and the new soil, EnviroMix from Pacific Topsoils will be delivered this week.  Come help us spread it out and get ready for planting.  Please bring work clothes and tools for spreading soil, if you have them.  We’ll bring some wheelbarrows.