Showing posts with label mahonia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mahonia. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Not that we're counting

Last week Loree inventoried her mahonia collection. Mahonia is my favorite genus of plants (I wouldn’t kick most of Berberidaceae out of bed) so I was very excited. As I read on I realized that Loree probably has more mahonia than me and how could that be? I love mahonia so much that I made up a hashtag to mock one of our friends who doesn’t care for it (#graceiswrongaboutmahonia). Let’s take a look at what I have.

The first mahonia I ever bought was ‘Dan Hinkley.’ It grew slowly, it was leggy . . . I moved it twice and then ultimately composted it. I am now trying it again in the front garden but if it doesn’t perform well it will get the green bin.

The next one I purchased was Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies.’ I grow this in full south-facing sun in lean soil with not a lot of supplemental water. As a result it’s shorter and chonkier than it would be normally. Arthur is my earliest Chinese hybrid to bloom, starting in November and lasting through February. It’s a bright shining beacon in winter. Sadly, because it’s grown in so much sun, it drops far more leaves . . . right into my agaves. For that reason I think I may remove it soon and replace it with a palm tree (my second favorite group of plants). But it’s still a good one.

I have Mahonia nervosa smattered everywhere throughout my garden because it spreads by runners and it takes almost any conditions. I have it in my front rain garden where it gets cooked in the summer and in the driest, deepest shade. It has fabulous winter color and needs almost no care. No notes.

Mahonia nervosa var. mendocinoensis. I got this from Xera, who promises it could be 9 feet tall if I keep it happy. This one is native so I can be smug at dinner parties.

Kate Bryant introduced me to Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun.’ It apparently has a bluer cast when grown in deep shade. This one has stayed on the petite side for me.

Good old 'Charity.' This one is probably leggy because I grow it too lean, too dry, and too shady. Literally every one I’ve seen growing looks better than mine.

Mahonia x media 'Underway.' Maybe my favorite of the Chinese crosses? It grows tall and narrow, it’s very tidy and has berries that ripen unequally. Like I like my men.

Mahonia confusa 'Narihira'. This has been smashed multiple times by gigantic fallen branches off of our neighbors’ doug fir. We’ll forgive it for looking a little worse for the wear, it should grow out of it.

Mahonia gracilipes. This got regularly leaned on by my Datisca cannabina, so it had posture issues from the jump (in this photo it's being held up by that large stone). Then our late wet snow storm in April completely put it on the ground. I pruned it rather harshly and moved it to another spot in the bed. I think it’s time to admit that it just needs to be replaced. Otherwise a perfect plant.

Mahonia 'Cabaret.' I got this from Far Reaches. It notably has pink to purple blooms like you’d find in Mahonia gracilipes (one of its parents). It has been eaten within an inch of its life by some critter and I’ve been too forgetful/lazy to figure out how to treat it. It looks awful through no fault of its own.

Mahonia x savilliana. I saw this at The Elisabeth Miller Garden and dreamed about it for years. I finally wrote Richie Steffens and was like, “How do I get one?” He said to check with Far Reaches because they took cuttings years back. I contacted them and sure enough, they had some tucked in the back of a hoophouse. It’s one of my favorites.

Mahonia confusa ‘Cistus Silvers.’ Another favorite, I think this one looks dramatically better when grown in quite a bit of sun. I have two of these, one grown in morning sun (leggy and anemic) and one grown in almost full sun (lush and full, seen below).

Mahonia x media ‘JC.’ This was a cultivar grown in JC Raulston’s mad laboratory that Sean Hogan took home and planted in his garden. In my memory it was taller than his two-story house. I asked him if he’d ever consider propagating it and HE DID. Maybe he was already planning on it, but I felt like he did this just for me and I appreciated it so much. Plant people are the best people. Mine is only 6' thus far, and it has stubbier flower spikes than the other Chinese crosses. It’s great.

I should mention that I planted Mahonia haematocarpus ‘Santa Fe Landscape,’ a diminutive form. It was so small and in such an overplanted area that it was trampled or pulled up by accident. I would buy this one again and be more careful.

Photo from

I’d never purchased ‘Soft Caress,’ I think because I equated it with the poor performance of ‘Dan Hinkley’ even though I’ve seen it countless times in other gardens looking great. Reading Loree’s post it became imperative that I get one right away. I started texting her and calling around and she pointed me to Cornell Farm. Within the hour I had called them, sped over there, and purchased two. Greg immediately declared them “super cool” and asked why I didn’t buy more. I’ll probably buy more.

Sean and the Cistus team have been experimenting with seedlings and posting teasers on Instagram. I look forward to buying many more from them. Am I missing any great cultivars or seed strains? And please, feel free to harass Grace and let her know that she's wrong about mahonia. It's a great genus of plants.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day January 2016

Happy new year! I've been pretty content that it's winter. I know a lot of people hate winter and I know the weather sucks, but do you know about butter and parmesan? Cooking rich, satisfying food and watching a lot of TV? Hot toddies and snowshoeing? Going for long walks when it's very cold and feeling very virtuous? I don't think winter is so bad, especially since it's so mild here.

The other day I ran across some photos of my garden in April and I got excited to garden and now I'm actually looking forward to spring. It's still a ways off, so I'll be over here with my bowl of rag├╣ and my Netflix. It's not so bad.

My mahonias are still going, which means we have lots of hummingbirds.

Mahonia x 'Charity'

 This witch hazel smells so good I feel like my neighbors should be thanking me.

Hamamelis I. 'Early Bright'

This silly self-seeded Calendula

And the award for bloomiest year-round performer goes to Othonna cheirifolia. Even under snow it was blooming.

Othonna cheirifolia

Happy bloom day! Thanks to our host Carol, over at May Dreams Gardens.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day December 2015

The Meiji shinto shrine in Tokyo

At the end of October Greg and I flew to Japan for our honeymoon. We had one full perfect day in Tokyo under our belts when I got a call that my brother had passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. He was 42 and an exceptionally good human being. We are completely devastated by the loss of him. I think almost everyone knows this already (and you've all been so nice, thank you for that) but I'm posting it here for those last far-flung friends of mine who don't have a Facebook account. (Which is so annoying, guys. Everyone is on there; please get an account already.) In-person social interactions are exhausting and I can't handle talking on the phone, so I find myself very grateful for social media, which has allowed me to interact with the living without getting out of sweatpants or this fort I've made from used kleenex.

I am also grateful for my mahonias, which are bright, cheery beacons in the winter.

Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies'

Mahonia x media 'Charity', which bloomed for the first time!

And this clematis, which I put in the ground in July, forgot to water, and thought I killed. It defied me by blooming through a hard frost and some of the heaviest rain we've had in ten years. Thank you Xera, for growing bullet-proof plants. This one is evergreen, turns bronze in the winter, and blooms November through February. I planted it outside my kitchen window where I can appreciate the hummingbirds covering it.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream'

Thank you to our host Carol at May Dreams Gardens. We really can have flowers almost any month of the year.

Friday, March 14, 2014

I did a bad, bad thing

Last fall I bought a Mahonia x media 'Underway' from Cistus at their "tough love" sale. It was gorgeous. I tucked it, still in its nursery pot, into one of the beds so we could mow the lawn. Unfortunately I tucked it too far under the eaves of the house and it got totally dried out. And then the poor thing lost most of its branches.

Now it's the Charlie Brown Mahonia. Uggggggghhhh. This is why we can't have nice things.

Eventually it will put out new growth from the top and fill out that way but I don't think it will produce any new shoots below. Am I wrong? Should I cut my losses and buy a new one?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Garden bloggers' bloom day February 2014

I've always felt that February is the cruelest month. The only bright side is that it's also the shortest. Thank goodness for bright spots like crocuses.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance'

Mahonia 'Underway'

Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Pink Frost'

Sarcococca ruscifolia

The last of the blooms are clinging to Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies', which got pretty beat up by the snow.

I'm so ready for spring and more blooms. I think the hummingbirds are too, they're sick of fighting over my slim pickings.

Happy bloom day! Be sure to check out the fun over at May Dreams Garden.