22 January 2009

Plants of Hope


Many of us have been having a blast with our Desert Island Plants, and big cheers and kudos to Shirl for having started this little discussion. Elizabeth of Gardening While Intoxicated (one of my favourite blog names ever!) took the thought a little further, suggesting three new-to-her plants she intends to plant this spring to symbolize the hope and change we’re all longing to embrace and believe in. I think that’s a splendid idea, and sat pondering my choices while watching the snow blow in off the Bay of Fundy. I decided to go with a perennial, a shrub, and a tree, because we have the room here to add many, many more shrubs and trees. But which ones?

There are heaps and heaps and heaps of plants I want to try, and I’m limited only by availability, cost, and time. I have a post upcoming on some of the new plants I’m drooling over, but these may not be available to me for a year or more, or may not be viable here. So I’m limiting my choices to things that I KNOW I can get, at Lee and John’s or Jill’s or Rob’s or Alice’s or Jane’s or a few other places I love that don’t have websites (yet).

I actually decided to claim one of Elizabeth’s choices, but I have slobbered over it in this post last fall, so it won’t be a huge surprise to some of you. Many hydrangeas grow very well for us, but the oakleaf hydrangea is one I haven’t attempted. It’s marginally hardy here. It doesn’t tolerate wet feet. But the benefits when it’s happy? Wonderful flowers, doubled in the clusters if we opt for Snowflake, which is the one I’m after (see top photograph) The flowers are just sooooo pretty, even when they're almost past like in the photo. But actually, it’s the show the foliage puts on in the fall that really floats my boat. The colours are almost indescribable. It was almost a tie between this and the equally gorgeous ‘Golden Spirit’ smoke bush.


I comfort myself that a friend has a few of these new cotinus and I can probably cajole one out of him and plant it to cold test it here. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Of course, just to madden me further, there’s a lovely golden-coloured oakleaf hydrangea called Little Honey, and Dugald Cameron of GardenImport, whose opinion I value, says it’s hardy to zone 5. Hmmmmmm….


There are a lot of trees I have yet to plant here, from the Korean fir to the golden Metasequoia (I have the regular one) to more red and sugar maples. But as I was contemplating trees, I happened upon a photo I took in a friend’s greenhouse last summer. This friend is a spectacular propagator of plants, primarily trees and shrubs. And it came to me in a flash what would be a terrific experiment as well as a tribute to my American friends: The American chestnut. My friend has seedlings of both this and the Chinese chestnut. As far as I know, we’re beyond the range of the chestnut blight that decimated the species in North America. It’s certainly worth a try putting a couple of seedlings (of both species if I can talk the grower out of them) up here and see how they do. After all, what’s planting a tree if not about planting hope?


The most challenging decision was what perennial to try. Because any one who has visited the chaos that is my garden can attest, we have a LOT Of perennials. And of those that we don’t have, chances are I’ve tried them once or twice or three or six times and they’ve defeated me each time, or else they aren’t available without mailorder and a second mortgage. Kniphofias, for example, hate my garden and come here to die. So do Stokesias, which is a great pity because they’re so beautiful and there are new cultivars that send me into bad cases of Plant-lust. Like this cultivated goldenrod, 'Little Lemon', which I also found at GardenImport. Oh, I'm tempted. Last summer I saw 'Fireworks' goldenrod planted throughout Powell Gardens in Missouri, and I've wanted that for nearly a decade and never seen it here. So I'm not holding out hope to find this goldenrod locally any time soon, probably because of the misinformation that goldenrod causes allergies, which it does not.

And then it came to me what I'd really, really like:


Meet the incredible Itoh Peony Kopper Kettle. Itoh peonies are described as having the best qualities of herbaceous and tree peonies. This one makes my head spin. They're not cheap, but they apparently sometimes rebloom if deadheaded promptly, and I know two nursery owners who have carried them in the past couple of years. I've resisted...so far. But this could be the year.

What interesting plants are you going to 'plant in hope' this year?

22 comments:

  1. I bought the oakleaf hydrangea last fall after drooling for far too long. Usually it's a question of space and $.

    I think I'd kill for that cotinus. (Well almost. You can't grow them in jail.) I'm going to look for it this spring, even though I'm clueless as to where I will plant it.

    Oh yeah! My motto is breaking dormancy: "If I'm out of room, there's always a pot."

    I soooo want to pet your cats, Jodi.

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  2. Imagine.... having to put on the thinking cap so soon after dinner! What an interesting post....
    If I could have any three plants that symbolize the hope that is within my heart they would have to be:
    1-Trillium grandiflorum 'Flore Pleno'
    -a rare truly double flowering specimen said to cost in the $90 price range! It is our Provincial flower after all!
    2-Helleborus thibetanus which has sadly not been hardy here, but I so want to try it again! Of course it's so hard to find here in Canada!
    3- I am destined to locate the flowering shrub Sophora davidii - a member of the legume family with large racemes of blue and white pea shaped flowers.

    PS:
    I have the Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' but warn that it needs very careful siting and a good layer of mulch (I even added an overturned 1 gallon pot) to safely overwinter!
    Keep looking around for the Itoh peonies as there are more and more entering commerce. The nursery where I work had them for $100, and people were snapping them up left and right!

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  3. I can't even think of just one. I have a list. Every time I see something on someones blog that sounds and looks good I write it down. Finding it will be another matter I am sure but I will try going through my list and hope that I find everything.

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  4. That 'Little Lemon' is just gorgeous! Quite a find...

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  5. Why did you write such a good post that now I have to stay up all night following along. I'm not satisfied with just reading about all your lusting and money problems....I have to go read them all. I want to see what everyone else is picking this year.

    Kopper Kettle...love that name and it just screams to the countrified redneck North Carolinian in me. I have a Kopper Kettle but it's not this pretty. It's tarnished.

    I do hope you get a Chestnut. I have cried over the death of ours. Our Hemlocks are sick too.

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  6. ... and there you go again, you 'Temptress'! Oh, if only we could have it all, I'd choose your 2 tempting new Oakleafs, jodi. You MUST give them a try, I insist :) I have one here that delights me through all seasons and a happy one at the lake (and told it would NEVER make it)! Stunning through all seasons, like Amelanchier canadensis, (a must in your garden).

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  7. The American Chestnut is a magnificent tree; how I wish I had one of those rather than the Norway maples that blight my front yard.

    We'll have to pot about the progress of our quercifolias. I plan on buying a rather large one; that works best for my space.

    Thanks for linking!

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  8. Thank you for visiting my blog - yesterday was great and amazing so many took part - love your choice of plants by the way - this desert island would be a wonderful place for a holiday! Miranda

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  9. Hi Jodi - what great choices! I've got a tiny oak leaf hydrangea tucked up in the coldframe ready to plant out this spring. They're really gorgeous aren't they? I think Hydrangeas are set to make a comeback here in the UK.

    I've gone for 3 very practical choices having taken part in a similar theme last year, but one of them represents the future, just like yours do.

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  10. The Oak leaf hydrangea is an awesome plant. I planted two small ones last year and I can't wait to watch them grow larger.

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  11. I love Fireworks too. That may be on my list of things to order this spring. I know my chances of finding it locally are slim
    Marnie

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  12. I don't mean to make you jealous, but I have the Cotinus 'Ancot' (Golden Spirit), the Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' and the Solidagos 'Dansolitlem' (Little Lemon) and 'Fireworks.' All great plants. What I do not have is an Itoh Peony, which I also long for. 'Kopper Kettle' would make a great addition to your garden. I say, go for it!

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  13. I love all your choices, especially the gorgeous peony:)

    I chose poppies, geraniums and a liquidamber tree. I found it very difficult to narrow it down to only three...I wanted to cheat and ask for a wild flower meadow :)

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  14. I have such horrible luck with Peonies. I haven't tried to grow them in a long time. Maybe I should give it another shot.--Randy

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  15. Amazing collection! 'Little Lemon' and 'Kopper Kettle' look like must-haves to me! Of course, working in a garden center may prove too much for both self-control and wallet./Deb

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  16. I have seen Snowflake on a garden tour and I am in love! It is awesome! All of these plants are so lovely. That peony is gorgeous! I think you should go for it the next time you see it. You'll thank yourself down the road.

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  17. Jodi,

    Tempting plants! I tend to stick with natives...the difficult conditions here in my garden,make them a better choice. You just dangled the best carrot in front of me! Two .gorgeous native plants that will be happy here! I am heading over to order Little Honey and maybe the goldenrod. It is so good looking. I feel down right heady and decadent. gail

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  18. All wonderful new selections! I ordered Little Honey a couple of days ago myself. :)

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  19. I am a huge fan of peonies and your choice of Itoh Peony Kopper Kettle has me aching for some more.

    I also love the cultivated goldenrod.

    See, that's the problem with reading garden blogs. Feeds the plant lust.

    Robin Wedewer, Examiner
    also at bumblebeeblog.com

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  20. Everything I plant is a plant of hope, Jodi:) I, too, would like more hydrangeas--I planted a Limelight last year and hope it survived our winter. As soon as I can find just the right place for an oakleaf, I would like one of those as well. This year one of my main goals is to plant more of a native garden--maybe that will be my garden of hope.

    I didn't get a chance to see your desert island choices until today--great ideas, Jodi. I, too, would have to have the echinaceas:)

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  21. The Itoh Peony Kopper Kettle is beautiful.
    My garden is comparatively new (to me) and I planted day lilies and blue poppies last year, these are the plants that I hope survive the wet winter.
    K

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  22. Oh--that peony is breathtakingly gorgeous!!!!

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