13 January 2008
Wishlists in the wind, part 1
One of the most important activities of the winter gardening season is salivating over catalogues and websites, looking at new plants. Okay, perhaps we shouldn’t salivate on our computer keyboards, which aren’t keen about moisture, but more nurseries are going paper catalogue free, so many of us are turning to the Web to check out new offerings. I should be outdoors mulching before the temperature drops and more snow comes, but it's windy and I'd rather write about plants than deal with the weather today.
I wrote my own list of gardening trends for 2008—Nova Scotia style—in today’s Sunday Chronicle Herald, and I’ll talk more about that in future posts as well as articles. But right now, my mind is on yummy new plants that my garden longs for. To be specific, some of these might not be (the newest of the new; there are plants out there that I’ve loved and longed for, and just haven’t gotten around to planting yet. But at this time of year when we’re having the dingies in our gardens, I do find myself looking at new cultivars as well as plants that are new-to-me, thanks to fellow bloggers and garden writers from around the world.
Regular readers know that I love heritage plants, native plants AND new cultivars too, and happily have lots of room for some of all of the above. My next few postings will be about new plants I’ve been hearing about that I really, really REALLY want—my Echinacea 'Green Envy’ plants for this year.
(photo Terra Nova Nurseries)
Kylee at Our Little Acre set me off a week or so back with some of the plants she spotted in Tony Avent’s great Plant Delights Nursery catalogue. Two of the plants she mentions also set me into raptures. I noticed Corydalis ‘Berry Exciting’ in Terra Nova Nurseries lists last year, but didn’t see it offered anywhere locally. Having great success with a few other corydalis species and cultivars (C. lutea, C. elata, and Corydalis quantmeyerana 'Chocolate Star') I’m really longing for this one because of the luminous gold foliage setting such a nice contrast against the yummy purple flowers. I don’t know if this one is fragrant, but that’s okay—it’s the foliage that really has me thinking.
Like Kylee, I’m also very fond of lilies and lily-like plants (daylilies, fritillaria, toad lilies, etc), so the Sandhills fire lily (Lilium pyrophilum) also sounds like a winner to me. Tony Avent’s catalogue calls this a butterfly magnet, and given my love of butterflies and pollinators, it’s a must-try for our garden.
One of my favourite informative blogs written by a professional plantsman is Graham Rice’s Transatlantic Plantsman. I haven’t met Graham but we’ve corresponded a tiny bit via his blog, and I have several of his books in my library, and have reviewed them favourably. He’s an engaging and affable-sounding writer—and probably as affable in person, if his photo is any indication—he knows his stuff, and presents it in an encouraging and friendly way, in his articles, books and postings. AND he answers his commentors, unlike some professional writers who apparently can’t be bothered responding to blog comments.
He wrote several delectable posts on echinaceas—including on some that are in production but not available yet, inciting more echinacea-lust in me—but currently I’m obsessing over epimediums (bishop’s cap) thanks to Graham’s recent post on them. He mentions three dandy new cultivars, but the one I’m quite sure I can’t live without is called ‘Fire Dragon’, with purple and yellow nodding flowers. Epimediums work well in shaded gardens, although in the past I killed several by planting them where the winter drainage was less than terrific. Having found the right site and given it better drainage, my bishop’s caps are now doing just fine; and since I’ve discovered that Dominion Seed House is carrying both ‘Fire Dragon’ and ‘Amber Queen’, I am hopeful a more local nursery will have one or several of the new plants too. If not, I’ll have to order from Ontario!
(photo from Gardenimport website)
Graham also alerted me to another plant that is near the top of my wishlist. I’ve written before about my deep fondness for Eryngiums, or sea hollies, and they do surprisingly well here, especially E. planum. That’s great, because E. ‘Jade Frost’ is a sport of E. planum, and while the flowers are wonderful, once again it’s the foliage that tempts me; blue-green edged with cream and tinted with pink, somewhat reminiscent of Weigela ‘My Monet’, or ‘Nishiki’ willow, both of which I love. Dugald Cameron’s wonderful Gardenimport nursery in Ontario has ‘Jade Frost’, so I can see making an order with him this year, something I haven’t done in a number of years.
(photo Terra Nova Nurseries)
No post about plants that obsess me is complete without at least one echinacea! Layanee at Ledges and Gardens also talked about new coneflowers as she went through new catalogues, and while I know some gardeners don’t like the double forms, the colour and shape of ‘Coconut Lime’ really looks tempting to me. I’m also hoping that ‘Tiki Torch’ (both developed by Terra Nova Nurseries) will be available here this year, but if not, I have my Itsaul echinaceas from the Big Sky series to keep me happy—and maybe I’ll find ‘Summer Sky’ (Katie Saul) in the province this year.
What new plants do you have on your must-have lists? Remember—no drooling on the keyboard!