25 January 2008
Dream plants...only in my dreams.
Mr. McGregor's Daughter posted the other day about her dream garden plants. You know the kind...those wonderful plants we love but might not necessarily ever have, for one reason or another. We all have some of those. Here's a collection of plants I love, but that are very unlikely to ever be seen here on Sunflower Hill.
I have several blue spruces, and am getting another one in the spring, but I don't expect to ever have a weeping blue spruce in our garden. They're expensive, hard to find, expensive, and I only know of a couple in my circle of gardening friends in the province. This one is at a nursery owner friend's display garden, so I visit it every now and again to track its growth.
Take a deep breath before you say this name...it's Paeonia mlokosewitschii, a species peony also known as "Molly the Witch". Everything about this peony thrills me, from those luscious yellow flowers to its glaucous, bluegreen foliage tinged with bronze in spring. But again, it's hard to find unless you want to spend a lot of money, and the blooms only last a few short days. I think if I'm going to make the plunge and spend a lot of money on one peony...it will be...
....an ITOH (Intersectional) peony, preferably this exquisite 'Kopper Kettle'. (I can't remember where I pulled this image from some time ago, apologies). These beauties are a cross between tree peonies and your basic herbaceous variety, and are named after Japanese breeder Toichi Itoh. They're known for their floriferous nature, hardiness, and the exquisite colours like this. I dunno...my friend Alice at Ouestville Perennials in West Pubnico carried this one last year. I resisted..but that was last year.
There are certainly dogwood species I can grow, mostly natives. Cornus kousa, however, isn't for my garden. I have friends with such exquisite dogwoods in other parts of Nova Scotia, where the climate is a little more temperate in winter. Sigh. I can dream, and do.
Daphne hates me. I have had two of the plain variety, and both of them went to sleep, never to wake up again. So there's no way I'm going to try 'Carol Mackie' or any other expensive but finicky plant. I'll just admire it elsewhere.
One of my friends in Yarmouth has the lovely Viburnum plicatum 'Popcorn' and I went into raptures when it flowered during one of my visits last summer. I figured it was going to be too finicky for here, until I talked to my nursery buddy Rob Baldwin (soon to have a website!) earlier this week and guess what? He's ordered some in! And if they'll grow in Windsor...they'll grow here. So this dream plant is going to make it to my garden come May.
This red broom, on the other hand, will have to remain in my dreams. The ordinary broom doesn't do well here--it's that lovely wet heavy clay of ours--so there's no point in torturing myself by bringing home one to watch it dwindle away.
I love the look of eggplant. Beautiful deep purple, shiny plant, a sort of musical sound to it when we tap one. I like to eat it too. But growing it? Hah! Anything that needs a lot of heat units--corn, squash, peppers, eggplants--isn't going to be happy with our fog, cool temperatures and wind in the summer. I can grow tomatoes in the greenhouse, but the other argument against growing eggplant is that my longsuffering spouse doesn't like it...so I'll just buy an eggplant when I feel the need for moussaka.
I'm cold-testing a few seedling Japanese maples up here this winter, young plants that are crosses from Bloodgood, which does do fine here most years. But then there's the ever so glorious Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum', or Full Golden Moon maple....it has such incredible colours in the foliage, and we all know what a fixation I have about foliage. It's supposed to be hardy to zone 5, and it would work in a sheltered location, but here? In the land of much wind? Noooooo.
Meet the glorious yellow ladyslipper, Cypripedium calceolus, a gypsum-soil-loving native of Nova Scotia. It grows round Windsor, near the gypsum quarry----or did, before the ravages on the Avon Peninsula from the expansion of the quarry, and I first saw it in the wild in 1979. My friend Dick Steele of Bayport Plant Farm (the leader of the trek to Labrador in September) grows it from seed he collected years ago, and I might JUST try one from him this year, provided we can dig up enough soil around it to make it move successfully. But probably I'll just visit Dick's each year, admire them intensely, and plant other things that will do well here.
Ahhhh, welll. At least I CAN grow blue poppies...and cheer others on to grow them too!