They can look so exotic and foreign that I think many shoppers might think they would be impossible to have in the garden. Although they do have some specific growing requirements (consistent moisture, sun) these cool plants aren’t so different from other plants, except, they eat bugs!! I have them at my front door where everyone walking by asks about the strange spring flowers and the bracts continue to look good after the petals fall. By then, the leaves are pushing up with a crazy diversity of colors and forms. They come tall, short, red, yellow, white, fat, skinny and each phase of growth is equally fabulous. A funny thing happened when I first put the plants in the ground. As soon as the empty pots were cleared away a bee flew right down one of the tube-shaped leaves. I happened to have my camera to catch it for my DIY talk on what else: building a raised bog planter at your front door! Since Saracennias never get fertilizer and rain fills the reservoir under the soil line, I consider it a very low maintenance planter. It’s quite pleasant to occasionally sit on the stone edge and clean it of fallen leaves or spent flowers. The plants look cool and the flowers are unbelievable. What more could you want?
Hydrangea ‘Lemon Wave’
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Wave’
When you have a chartreuse garden, you tend to look for matching plants. This broken stick in a pot was in the year-end discount area of a nursery with a tag showing a yellow variegated hydrangea so I thought, perfect! My friends said that it wouldn’t bloom and would revert. Neither of those things has happened, in fact, it has been fully fabulously variegated with bright yellow to cream splashes every year and sets pale lilac trusses of flowers.
Two years ago today I was in Japan waiting for the Ume (Mume in the USA) to bloom. Finally, in the last week, I was able to enjoy this lovely walk through an iconic Japanese scene.
From their website: “Atami Plum Garden, famous for Japan’s earliest plum blossoms and latest autumn leaves since it was opened in 1886. It is the site of 454 trees of 60 species including a ancient plum tree more than 100 years old. You can enjoy it year round, not just in the plum blossom season.”
This super fragrant gardenia makes a perfect small shrub for my small garden.
Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleim’s Hardy’
When you grow up in the south, gardenias are second nature to you. Thank goodness for microclimates because I have been able to enjoy this beautifully fragrant gardenia for many years. If there is frost damage, I am careful to remove stems and leaves without losing any healthy flower buds for summer flowers. The shrub is certainly shorter than it could be a couple zones south but it is covered with flowers and glossy attractive foliage is summer nonetheless. Listed for Zones 7 to 11, I’ve been heaping snow all winter trying to cover mine for this extraordinary winter we are having so it will be interesting to see what happens come spring.
The second page of the article by Virginia Smith showing my photo of Clematis on my front porch and a few thoughts I shared about favorite clematis and rose picks from my garden that have been reliable performers for years.
Thank you to Virginia Smith for including two of my photos along with quotes in today’s Home and Design cover story. (I’ll post it as two separate pages)
These shrub-type clematis are not so common but this one has been around for a long time and is absolutely worth having. For one thing, it is indestructible. Forget about the confusing pruning regimens, just cut as much or little as you like, even taking it to the ground won’t matter. I like leaving a couple feet of woody stems so it has some buds left in the spring to send it vertically up my porch. Have some twine in your hand when it zooms out because you’ll want to keep tying the stiff stems to the porch where it will set a million flowers in full view. Small, stamen-filled, light blue bells keep blooming for at least a month and the foliage stays perfectly lovely the whole time.
The hot plant I saw last year for retail customers to look for this spring was Digitalis ‘Illumination.’ The heavy stalks with masses of two-toned flowers are traffic-stopping gorgeous. It’s no wonder this was the 2012 Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and, judging by the smiles in photographs, Thomson and Morgan couldn’t be more pleased with the breeding honors. By some miracle, this Digitalis has the genus Isoplexis in its phloem so it is sterile which translates to very long-blooming, lush displays of this exotically-colored foxglove. It will be in my front planters this year and I know everyone who walks by will be drooling.
Here it is with my friend Barbara Katz, London Landscapes LLC, as we visit in the hotel lobby. She had the attention of everyone who passed by.