Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jungle Fever Exotics

I've been meaning to do another post about a local nursery for Pam Penick's Support Your Independent Nursery Month meme, which has been running every Wednesday for the month of October (I know, it's Saturday, I'm a few days late, but at least it's still October). To read Pam's final post in the series, go here.

I did one post earlier this month about Christianson's Nursery, but for most of the rest of the month the stars just haven't aligned for me to visit and write about another. Either the weather has been too cold and rainy, or I've been trying to take advantage of the confluence of a good night's sleep and good weather (i.e. no rain) to work on my own garden. But this morning I woke to blue skies, puffy clouds, and the cool, crisp, golden air of a perfect autumn day. After a quick planting of some seeds, and performing a few cursory chores in my garden, I decided it was time for a journey to Jungle Fever Exotics, in Tacoma, Washington, less than a half-hour drive from my house.

I first read about Jungle Fever Exotics over a year ago, when Loree of danger garden wrote about her visit there. Although I haven't actually started working on the gravel garden that I want to install, I've been doing plenty of research online about plants that might thrive there, and I thought Jungle Fever might be just the place to find some suitable plants. Although the nursery is small, taking up an urban plot in the center of Tacoma, the experience was overwhelming. It reminded me of my first visit to a nursery when we moved here to Washington. There were so many plants that I was unfamiliar with!

I was tempted by this girly pink Abutilon!

I really was drawn to this Abutilon, but I've been moving plants into the house lately to overwinter, and I didn't want to have to find yet more space indoors for another plant that wouldn't survive a full year outside.

I thought at first this was an Agave -- it's not, it's a Bromeliad! And it's not hardy either. But it's cool.

I might have to go back and buy this Ochagavia litoralis. I researched it after I got home, and it has a truly amazing flower! I am planning to leave space for potted plants in the gravel garden, that will have to be overwintered inside, so this one is not out of the question. The flower makes it worth finding the space.

I meant to buy this!

The first thing I did when I arrived was a circuit of the nursery with my camera out, taking photos of what I found interesting. I meant to go back and pick this Lobelia tupa up, but I forgot. Oh well, I just have to go back, I guess. We saw Lobelia tupa in flower during the Garden Bloggers' Fling in July, in more than one garden. My first Fling post included a picture of it flowering in Shelagh Tucker's garden. Even though it might not be hardy for me (I'm at a higher elevation than Seattle), it's such a striking plant, that I'm willing to take a chance on it.

Gingko biloba in autumn yellow

I've already bought two Trachycarpus fortunei for the gravel garden, but there is room for probably one more tree or shrub. I love the prehistoric foliage of gingko trees, but I'm afraid that it will just get way too big.

This Acacia pravissima caught my eye!

I was intrigued by the triangular foliage of this Australian native tree, but, once again, almost certainly not reliably hardy for my Zone 7b garden. While I'm willing to take a chance on a perennial, digging out a dead tree is not my cup of tea.

Are you beginning to sense a theme? Finding hardy plants for this gravel garden is going to be a challenge. I'm facing a steep learning curve. But learning is a large part of the fun of gardening.

So....what did I buy?

Agave parryi 'J. C. Raulston'
Agave parryi is one of the hardiest Agaves. Look at those red spikes! Do they not completely creep you out? What an appropriate purchase for Halloween weekend. They scare me.

This is protruding from the drainage hole. I thought at first it was a root, but I'm wondering if it might be a pup/offset.

Tetrapanax papyriferus

Love that leaf!'s going to have to go in a stock tank. According to what I've read, it's hardy, but it runs like crazy.

Kniphofia caulescens

I've been wanting a Kniphofia/Red hot poker for a while. This might not even go in the gravel garden. Plus, how could I resist that enormous seedhead?

That's only three plants, but according to my husband who was waiting for me in the car, as I made my way back to him, I looked like a kid who had just come from a visit to Santa.

So far, this look at Jungle Fever has been a very personal, close-up look. I'm afraid it hasn't really given you a true feel for the funky flavor of the place.

Maybe this will help set the scene.

Besides its specialty of drought-tolerant and exotic plants, the nursery also features some pretty exotic sculptures and garden art.

I want this Nessie head for my water feature. It might scare away the raccoons.

I love this Venus statue too.

This mosaic head was hard to ignore.

There was a plain vanilla version too.

I'm not quite sure what this is meant to represent, but something about its organic, wavy shapes appeals to me.

While I only participated twice now in Support Your Independent Nursery, I do have a couple of other looks at local nurseries from previous blog posts. In case you're interested, here are links to them.

A Visit to Windmill Gardens Nursery

A Visit to Dig Floral and Garden