Okay – this past weekend was a holiday weekend in my world! The occasion? It happens twice a year, once in spring and once in fall – the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon’s plant sale at the Expo Center! The first time I went, I was like a kid let loose in a land built of candy. I took a bite out of everything! We had just moved from the equivalent of a Zone 5, and just about everything seemed marvelously exotic! By now, six years later, I like to think that I’m a little more discerning. I am successfully able to move past things that would have stopped me in my tracks a few years ago.
As so many times before, I swore I would not buy even a single thing. But, never trust the assurances of a plantoholic! I broke down – even if just a little. Prepared for all occurrences – including my feeble mind – I brought along a basket. Whatever it was that would make my good intentions dissipate, it surely couldn’t be bigger than what would fit in that basket, and carried home from the MAX-stop!
For the most part, I wandered the isles happily taking it all in, but with this knowing air of jaded dismissal. I really have gotten better at this game of resistance… So, what was it then, that caused my demise this time around? Well, actually it was four things, two of which are really small. Around the month of May, Swedish woodlands are carpeted with this lovely little wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) – a spectacular sight! Even if my garden will probably never resemble a vernal Swedish woodland, having even a small clump of this spring time marvel, will make me happy. So will shade tolerant European Wild Ginger (Asarum Europaeum), whose shiny, rounded leaves eventually form a fantastic carpet with great texture. I have the Canadian variety growing beautifully in the dry shade under my gigantic Magnolia tree, but its leaves are quite a bit larger. Its European cousin is a bit tidier, more manicured, in appearance. As another indulgence, I finally acquired a couple of Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). I have a soft spot for ferns of all kinds, but this one has so far not been part of the collection. I have held off because I’m trying to build up more shade in my yard, so I can plant more of these graceful treasures. Lastly, which was a total splurge – not in terms of money, but in precious garden space – I bought a small sapling of a black pussy willow (Salix gracistyla var. melanostachys). I know I’m going to regret that as, despite being a slow – moderate grower, it may eventually reach 10’. But it is just so cool looking, I couldn’t help myself. In spring it has fuzzy, black catkins on coral red stems and looks just spectacular in rainy, gray weather. What a pick-me-up!
There was one thing I was drooling over, but managed to tear myself away from – the amazing Chilean Lantern Tree (Crinodendron hookerianum). Even though it generally is supposed to survive in Portland, I don’t think it would make it through a winter in the harsher micro-climate of my part of town. Being close to the Columbia, the eastern winds barrel down the river from the Cascades with an almost wind tunnel effect, which makes many species – otherwise hardy here – freeze their buds off. Besides, there was no room – either in my basket, or in my yard. For now, I’ll make do with my priced Enkianthus – it too flowers with lovely red bells in the spring, and isn’t half the primadonna that the Crinodendron is – so there! But, maybe for my next garden…?