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

Monday, October 13, 2014

"To Bed, To Bed," Says Sleepyhead!

On Saturday I attended a Northwest Perennial Alliance class on "Fall Renewal and Division," led by George Lasch, who manages the NPA border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Appropriately, the class took place at the BBG NPA border, which is the largest perennial border in the U.S. maintained by volunteers. We arrived at about 10 and the class lasted 2 hours, during which George demonstrated how to dig and divide a handful of perennials, and talked about the best time to cut back perennials and various grasses to put the garden to bed for the winter. The focus of the class wasn't specifically on putting the garden to bed, but there were many questions among the participants about those issues, and the class devolved somewhat into that territory.

If I had half a brain I would remember what he said, specifically, about when to cut back cool season vs. warm season grasses. But I do remember he said to never cut back evergreen grasses. And a quick search of the intarwebs shows that cool season grasses should normally be cut back in very early spring, and warm season grasses in fall or mid to late spring. I pretty much cut back all of mine in late winter here in the PNW, and that works for me. I trim the tips of evergreens like Carex and Nasella if they're looking ratty, and also comb them with my gloved hands to remove as many dead stalks as possible.

One of the many paths through the enormous NPA border at the BBG.

Although not close to fading, many of those grasses will be cut "to the ground!" very soon. At this time of year, George and his army of volunteers are in a race to get plants cut back before the Garden d'Lights crew invade to string lights for their holiday show. Working around the lights is difficult, so work that many gardeners normally wait till winter or early spring to do has to be done early here.

This Chrysanthemum was such a luscious orange! I wish I had taken note of the name.

Asarum surrounded by maidenhair fern

NPA Border Manager George Lasch points out a favorite flower, Amarcrinum -- a cross between Amaryllis belladonna and Crinum moorei.

George demonstrates how to divide a Hosta clump using two garden forks back to back. He made it look easy!

After the class ended, we were told we could dig starts of some of the perennials. I took the time to dig a small clump of an orange-flowered Epimedium, and then to take a few pictures.  This gorgeous Hydrangea grabbed my attention. Lately I seem to be highly enamored of these colors, and want to add more Hydrangeas with flowers that fade to these wonderful shades of mauve/plum/purple and dusky metallic blue. Fortunately I remembered to take a picture of the nametag. Looks like it's available at Digging Dog Nursery, by mail order.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Enziandom'

George also will be leading Saturday work parties at the NPA border from 9 a.m. to noon on October 18, November 15, and December 20.

By the time we left, it was just starting to rain. I wish I could have stayed to take more photos of the border. The BBG is about a 45-minute drive from my house, and I always feel I should spend more time there during the growing season. It's a large garden and a great resource with well-labeled plants.

Ah well, there's always next year!

For previous posts about the Bellevue Botanical Garden, check here and here.