Alaska Trip

I didn’t intend to write about the plants I encountered on our recent trip to Alaska, since this trip was primarily to see and visit with one of our indexing clients and to hike and kayak.

Nevertheless I stumbled on the Pratt Museum in Homer, which had a sweet native plant garden

I was pleased to see this native geranium still blooming in mid September, and snapped this shot.  More proof that natives can be just as stunning, nuanced and lovely as any “new” hybrid or cultivar peddled in the garden trade.


Wild Alaskan Geranium (Geranium erianthum)

That said, here’s a post on some of those hardy geranium cultivars I grow. Compare it to Geranium erianthum!

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

Crested Gentian from the Caucasus Mountains

Blue is the color between violet and green on the optical spectrum of visible light. I love having blue plants in the garden, probably because of my tendency to red-green color blindness. To my eye, and unlike some reddish hues surrounded by green (especially at a distance), blue stands out.

Gentiana septemfida v. lagodechiana 'Select'

Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana ‘Select’

Most of the flowers in the genus Gentiana are blue. This large genus (around 400 species) is known especially for its blue, trumpet shaped flowers.

My plant was purchased from Edelweiss Perennials, a small family run mail-order nursery located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, in Canby, Oregon.  This alpine gentian is a great little plant for the rock garden or front of a border. It’s easy to grow, thrives in all kinds of soil and (unlike many alpines) doesn’t seem to mind our wet rainy winters here in the lowlands of the Pacific Northwest.

I planted it in front of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Sike’s Dwarf’,which is known for foliage and blooms that extend all the way to the ground.

gentian-hydrangeaThe following plant description is courtesy of Hill Farm Nursery located north of McLeese Lake in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana ‘Select’. CRESTED GENTIAN, SUMMER GENTIAN. Perennial. Zone 3. Caucasus Mountains, alpine regions of Iran, Iraq, Turkey. This selected variety is originally from the Lagodekhi region of the Republic of Georgia (former U.S.S.R.). A beautiful and encouragingly easy alpine, which is also known as the “everyman’s gentian” because of its wide tolerance to various growing conditions. Low growing, slightly sprawling clumps of 6-inch stems are starred in summer by many clusters of rich blue flowers with white and purple highlights. Close examination reveals a cluster of intricate hairs and speckles within the trumpet throats of each small bloom. Prefers a bit of shade in hot summer regions, average soil and moisture.

Pot Bound: Too Many Pots?

When it comes to plants I’m prone to excess: I have a surfeit of plants in pots. And that can be both a joy and a vexing problem. Pot bound often leads directly to root bound, which tends to make it hard to keep your potted treasure healthy.

balloon flower

Balloon Flower Platycoden grandiflorous

Appropriately chosen for the climate and micro conditions (and happily ensconced in the ground) most plants are self-sufficient after starting out in pots. On the other hand, potted plants suffering from neglect are often lost causes bound for the compost heap, rather than bound for glory in the landscape.

Some, like the balloon flower at left, consigned (happily) to the same pot now for four years, carry on, provided that during the growing season their water and nutrient needs are met. But now and then after a long winter, I’m bound to forget where I stashed the deciduous ones languishing in ubiquitous black plastic containers dotting my yard.


Bamboo (fargesia nitida) in foreground, grasses in black plastic pots behind


Echeveria with Hens and Chicks & Rose ‘Hot ‘N Spicy’

kenilworth ivy grouping



grape arbor

Agapanthus, Cherry Tomato and Fletcher

Agapanthus, Cherry Tomato and Fletcher