Category Archives: months 10-12: fall

October thru December

Landscape a Driveway

I’m hurrying to a new lunch place when I stop short. I’ve never seen this before — but I like it!
How can I make my driveway more appealing?
Here is my answer — landscape the driveway itself.
Genius! And beautiful!

photo by SVSeekins

The rock garden is set smack in the middle of the driveway, leaving the planting safe from the tire tracks on either side. Here’s the following challenge: What is a good driveway plant? The succulents & mossy groundcovers grow low enough that they’re safe as the car’s undercarriage passes above them.

stonecrops, creeping sedums, succulent, driveway rock garden, rockery, crevice garden, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Perhaps the rockery itself also serves to protect the plantings from treads. Situating the creeping sedums in low planting pockets reduces their risk of compaction. Maybe that’s why they’re often called stonecrops?

hens and chicks, Sempervivum, houseleeks, common houseleek, liveforever, succulent, evergreen groundcover,stonecrops, creeping sedums,, driveway rock garden, rockery, crevice garden, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks) are tough as nails, too. They happily grow in gravel, forming such tight clumps of rosettes that weeds can rarely squeeze themselves into the party. It’s an added bonus that houseleeks come in many colour varieties.

driveway rock garden, rockery, crevice garden, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Straight through our coastal winter, the evergreen rockery has interest. And with so many foliage colours, can it be called evergreen? Isn’t it more like evercolour? Is that even a word? It should be. There’s so much variety. 🙂

creeping thyme, Thymus praecox, hens and chicks, Sempervivum, succulent, driveway rock garden, rockery, crevice garden, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The drought-tolerant creeping thyme provides background support to the showy houseleeks through the cold months. I envision its mound of bright pink flowers as the headliner through June and July.

Our garden successfully hosts all of these plants. The biggest key to our success is that the neighbourhood deer turn their noses up to all of them. (I’m always thrilled to find something pretty that they won’t browse. )

Was the hardsaper skilled enough to gently slope the bricks toward the central rock garden? The rain could irrigate the plants, soak through the gravel & replenish the water table. Cities are promoting permeable landscapes. This garden is pretty and environmentally friendly.

I’m guessing it’s also a reasonably low-maintenance bed…
occassionally pinching out weeds from between crevices,
sheering spent blooms,
blowing debris away… wouldn’t that be all?
But looks can be deceiving. Next time I pass by, I’m going to knock on the door & ask the gardener. 🙂

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Iris Foetidissima Through Four Seasons

It’s an uncommon garden plant for 2 good reasons.

Iris foetidissima, Stinking iris, Fetid Iris, Scarlet berry iris, roast beef plant, Scarlet-Seeded Iris, Coral Iris, Orange Seeded Iris, blue seggin, Gladden, Gladdon, Gladwin, Gladwyn, Stinking Gladwin, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  1. Most gardeners aren’t plant shopping in winter when this iris looks its best.
  2. Fetid in a name just puts folks off.

It’s sad, really. Stinking Iris is a harsh moniker – – uncalled for, in my humble opinion. Apparently, if you stomp on a clump, the crushed leaves reek of spoiled roast beef. I’ve gardened around it for several years now & have yet to detect any offending odour. Iris foetidissima is very welcome in our garden.

I mean, it’s not the first plant I’d buy for a new garden, but it’s a great supporting actor.

Iris foetidissima, Stinking iris, Fetid Iris, Scarlet berry iris, roast beef plant, Scarlet-Seeded Iris, Coral Iris, Orange Seeded Iris, blue seggin, Gladden, Gladdon, Gladwin, Gladwyn, Stinking Gladwin, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • It’s evergreen.
    & year-round structure is coveted in December when pretty much everything else has collapsed to the ground.
  • It happily handles the dry conditions under a shady tree where few plants survive.
  • Our hungry neighbourhood deer leave it strictly alone. 🙂
    & it’s getting harder to find something they won’t eat around here!
Iris foetidissima, Stinking iris, Fetid Iris, Scarlet berry iris, roast beef plant, Scarlet-Seeded Iris, Coral Iris, Orange Seeded Iris, blue seggin, Gladden, Gladdon, Gladwin, Gladwyn, Stinking Gladwin, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The flower is easy to miss. Pale lavender petals open in June & are overshadowed by other, more boisterous blooms. It’s pretty but not spectacular, like so many other iris. I reckon it’d be perfect potted up on a north-facing balcony where little else gives four seasons of interest. Right?

But don’t be too quick to tidy those flower stems!
They morph into heavy seedheads that curl open in autumn with the actual show. 🙂

Iris foetidissima, Stinking iris, Fetid Iris, Scarlet berry iris, roast beef plant, Scarlet-Seeded Iris, Coral Iris, Orange Seeded Iris, blue seggin, Gladden, Gladdon, Gladwin, Gladwyn, Stinking Gladwin, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Those bright orange berries are just so funky looking!
    & it’s so gratifying to have interest through fall & winter.

The seed doesn’t seem to appeal to the birds – – and it turns out to be toxic to cats, dogs & humans… even cattle will sicken if they chew on the roots. So, Scarlet Berry Iris might be an issue if I plant it on the woodland edge of pastureland. I’m surprised cows would take a nibble when the deer clearly don’t.

Iris foetidissima‘s native range is southern Europe & northern Africa. I’ve never heard of it going astray in North America. Still, it’s considered invasive in parts of New Zealand & Australia. I found some berries dropped onto the lawn edge so I tucked them in the soil around the plants. I’d be happy a bigger show next year.

Iris foetidissima, Stinking iris, Fetid Iris, Scarlet berry iris, roast beef plant, Scarlet-Seeded Iris, Coral Iris, Orange Seeded Iris, blue seggin, Gladden, Gladdon, Gladwin, Gladwyn, Stinking Gladwin, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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Jade Tree Blooming

The Jade Tree became a favourite houseplant back in the ’70s when I first grew one in a terrarium. I liked that Crassula ovata is such a funky, almost fake-looking, evergreen plant.

Jade plant, Crassula ovata, Crassula portulacea, Crassula argentea, Jade plant, jade tree, money plant, money tree, succulent, friendship tree, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s so tough & forgiving that it’s perfect for the newbie grower. I forgot to water every once in a while and it didn’t die. (Aren’t drought-tolerant succulents great?)

The Jade tree propagates like a dream – who would guess that accidentally knocking off a leaf or a branch would result in a whole new plant? Yup — it’s just that easy. 🙂

It seems to be happy in a tiny pot for years. Happy plants are beneficial for newbies. Success is almost like drugs. I bravely added other succulents & tropicals to the big glass jar. Perhaps that’s where my addiction started?

It wasn’t until I saw a Jade in an Australian garden that it even occurred to me that these houseplants could grow outside
and that it could get big ! (Over waist-high.)
much less bloom !! (Even the flowers look fake.)
I had new goals to strive for.

Jade plant, Crassula ovata, Crassula portulacea, Crassula argentea,  Jade plant, jade tree, money plant, money tree, succulent, friendship tree,  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Yup – these South African natives can grow outside in our Pacific Northwest, if only for the summer. I bring the pot outside in May after the last frost & set it in dappled shade for a few weeks. Like me, The Jade tree sunburns easily.

Jade plant, Crassula ovata, Crassula portulacea, Crassula argentea, Jade plant, jade tree, money plant, money tree, succulent, friendship tree, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Eventually, I shift it into full sun & the sucker starts to grow like mad.

Ahead of autumn’s first frost, I carefully spray the plant, removing any insects, before moving it inside the house.

After a of couple weeks inside I was stoked to discover our Jade Tree coming into flower!

Jade plant, Crassula ovata, Crassula portulacea, Crassula argentea, Jade plant, jade tree, money plant, money tree, succulent, friendship tree, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The pot sat beside the cool basement window where it only got sunlight during the day. I rarely go into that room in the evening, so the Jade Tree was in the dark for long periods. It acts just like a poinsettia! They won’t flower either unless the light is limited for a while. What a happy outcome – – I wasn’t even trying to get blooms! (That dream died long ago.)

Jade plant, Crassula ovata, Crassula portulacea, Crassula argentea, Jade plant, jade tree, money plant, money tree, succulent, friendship tree, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The circle of buds open slowly, one by one, giving me weeks of enjoyment. Now my plan is to repeat this process next year – – then, just maybe, if it’s blooming even more profusely… we can call the Jade our Christmas tree.

Do you think C would go for that?

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