Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mahonia X media 'Winter Sun'

Plant of the Week is back! (POTW #7)
Mahonia X media 'Winter Sun'

(Sorry POTW's have been on hiatus since June, I'll try and get this going again on a more regular basis. I got distracted with a little project I like to call The Porch Nightmare.)

Here's another plant in our drought-tolerant parking strips. I actually ordered Mahonia lomarifolia, Burmese mahonia. The Burmese Mahonia is even more rare, stays very narrow and can get 15' tall. Burmese is so striking in the garden, it's almost gothic with its narrow stalks shooting skyward and spiky foliage. But the nursery dropped off these 'Winter Sun' instead and it took me a year before I realized I had the wrong ones. Oh well.

The 'Winter Sun' are working out great though. Because I didn't know what I had, they're planted too close together, but for now the massing looks pretty good. They'll get much taller however, possibly 10', and at that point they'll be much wider than the Burmese I planned for, so we'll have to move some plants around.

These photos were shot December 7, 2008. The shrubs have been blooming for two weeks and I've got at least 3 more to go. We've got hummingbirds that visit our house just to drink the nectar out of our ten specimens. Other than the Salvia elegans (next week's POTW) these are the only flowers in the garden right now.

Mahonia X media 'Winter Sun' will grow in USDA zones 7-9. It's a blast of color on the shortest days of the year. New growth in the spring is bronze or coppery, by summer the fruits have turned purple and other birds are feasting on those. The books say these need afternoon shade, but mine get full, hot sun (reflected heat from the street and sidewalk too) all day. They've been in the ground for 2 years. The first summer I watered them, last summer they got nothing and I think we can agree that they're thriving.

These brighten up the typical December day in Seattle. It's cold and gray, with a slight drizzle, so the 'Winter Sun' seem aptly named.

Next week Salvia elegans, Pineapple Sage.

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