Horticulture Report: Yellow-wax Bells

Plant Name: Kirengeshoma palmatayellow-wax-bells
Common Name:  Yellow-wax Bells
Plant type:  
Herbaceous perennial
3 -4.5 ft
Bloom Time:
Late Summer
Flower Color:
Yellow -Bell shaped
Full to Part Shade
Soil Requirements: Humus rich acidic, well-drained soils
Water Needs:  Regular: keep moist
Large Maple-shaped leaves, Clusters of yellow flowers, Pearl-sized buds, Dainty nodding bells, Showy fruit, Year-round interest
Highly prized
Mass plantings, Woodland Gardens, Shade Gardens,  Specimen plant, Winter Interest
Native to:
Mountainous regions of Japan to Korea
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Seed Heads for Winter Interest

After an exuberant display of flowers during spring and summer, the fall and winter    mofrosted-seedhead1nths leave gardeners longing for sunnier days.  A way to help overcome the winter blues is to plant winter interest in your garden.  Most gardeners know about adding texture, berries, branch color and bark, to a garden, but often flower seed heads are overlooked as a winter interest.

Leaving seed heads standing in your garden provides shelter and food for birds and insects in your yard, but seed heads also provide visual interest.  There is a quiet beauty when frost lies upon a seed head displaying its delicate wispy patterns.  Even those spider webs covering the seed heads put on a display like tiny garlands, then add frost… and those threads sparkle like crystals in a breeze. So while you’re combing through the garden catalogs during  February, look for perennials and annuals which produce interesting longstanding seed heads and distinctive structures.

A few to consider….
Anethum graveolens– Dill – Zone 2-11
Aster cordifolius– Blue wood aster (many other species) – Zone 3-820151111_072856
Coreopsis grandiflora – Tickseed -Zone 4-9
Celosia cristata – Cockscomb – Zone 3-11
Echinacea purpurea– Coneflowers – Zone 3-9
Eupatorium maculatum – Joe Pye Weed – Zone 4-9
Foeniculum vulgare – Fennel- Zone 4-9

Phlomis russeliana-  Jerusalem sage-  Zone 5-9
Pot Marigolds – tall – Zone 3-10
Monarda – Bee balms  – Zone 4-9
Muhlenbergia capillaries- Pink Muhly Grass – Zone 6-9
Ornamental grasses (all varieties & zones)
Rudbeckia hirta– Black-Eyed Susans – Zone 3-7
Sanguisorba- Burnets  – Zone 3-8
Solidago – Goldenrod   – Zone  5-9
Zinnia elegans – Zone 3-10

Gardening Tips

February:  Preparing to plant in the Rogue Valley


Soil: too wet

Grab a handful of your soil, if you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet for planting and chances are the seeds will rot in the ground. Plant only when the soil crumbles and falls apart after you squeeze it.

Soil pH: Use a pH soil test kit to test your soil. Kits are available at most garden centers. If you soil is too alkaline, above ph7, then incorporate lime into your soil. Lime is best added in the fall, but you can still do this in early spring. Apply Lime early in February, then a week later add in fertilizer.  Both materials should be incorporated into the soil 6 to 8 inches. Wait at least a week after applying fertilizer before planting seeds.

More about modifying soil pH here…

You can direct sow the following seeds in your garden mid-to-late February, if the soil is no too wet and temperatures are staying above 20 degrees!
Peas, non-enation resistant varieties
Early varieties radish
Spring Spinach
Fave beans
Spanish Onions (the most common onion is the USA),

Sow the seeds listed below, indoors or in a greenhouse in February for transplanting into the garden in 6-8 weeks:
Bok Choy
Pac Choi

Article by Carlotta Lucas
Reference: Gardening Year ‘Round, Month by Month in the Rogue Valley and environs, A guide for Family Food Production by the Jackson County Master Gardeners Association
Wet soil photo courtesy of The Sedgwick County Extension Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden, Wichita KS


Madrona Trees

‘Tis tmadrone-drawinghe Season for Madrona

Stand in a clump of Pacific madrone or madrona trees during a winter storm, the trunks wet and luscious, creamy green and burnished red, and feast on the beauty. Children pull off the beckoning curly bark strips and stroke the underlying pale green bark, smooth and soothing. Mature trees can support many bark colors and textures: the older rough brown-gray squares, dark weathered curlicues, strips of fresh reds, and the young green underbark. The Klamath Indians tell a beautiful story about Madrone Girl, who lured her lover the North Wind back from the embraces of another native tree girl, Chinquapin, by scrubbing her skin pure and new in the Klamath River. She sang a love song while standing proud and gorgeous from a mountaintop; North Wind immediately returned. It has since become a tradition, this sloughing off of flecks and puzzle pieces of bark during the summer, decorating the forest floor.

The first Euro-American explorer and naturalist to describe madrone was Dr. Archibald Menzies who explored the Puget Sound with Captain Vancouver in 1792. The scientific name, Arbutus menziesii, commemorates Dr. Menzies.  In his journal he aptly described the species:

“a peculiar ornament to the Forest by its large clusters of whitish flowers & ever green leaves but its peculiar smooth bark of a reddish brown colour will at times attract the Notice of the most superficial observer”.

While a common understory tree in lower-elevation forests in Southwest Oregon, each mardone-berriesmadrone tree sports a different wondrous shape from multi-stem octopus trees that have re-sprouted after a fire to grand “girthy” older beauties.  The leaves are sclerophyllous – thick and sturdy broadleaf leaves that conserve water during hot summers. Second year leaves drop off during the summer, adding yellows to the bark chip forest floor, while younger leaves provide a canopy of green light all year-round. The leaves also provide a holiday-style contrast to the red pitted berries that droop from branches in the fall.

Local indigenous people, like the Takelma, harvest the berries. Band-tailed Pigeons, American Robins, and many other critters eat them, dispersing the seeds to feed future generations. Little kids and crafters make necklaces of dried madrone berries. Like other plants in the heath family, such as manazanita, the sweet urn-shaped flowers bloom in the spring and are visited by bumble bees.

Madrona feeds all of us – poets, dreamers, explorers, birds, and bees.

Author: Kristi Mergenthaller, Stewardship Directory Southern Oregon Land Conservancy
Article from Southern Oregon Land Conservancy Newsletter- Winter 2016


Posted by: Carlotta Lucas – Ashland Garden Club