(Photos from GardenImport or Terra Nova Nurseries)
Ohhhhhhhhh nooooooeeessss. It's that time of year again. I've kept a pretty tight rein on my emotions, but the fact of the matter is, calendar spring, if not real spring, is almost upon us. And in the spring a gardener's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of...
New plants, of course. Luscious, heartwarming, plant-lust-inciting new varieties like Hot Papaya coneflower above, new-to-us varieties like Candy Mountain Digitalis below, old favourites...I simply need new plants. Never mind that my OLD beloved plants (some of which are relatively new plants) are still buried for the most part under the slowly-diminishing glaciers in our yard. Tonight while walking in Bridgewater, I caught the scent of spring on the air, and that tripped me from garden-denial into instant plant-seeking frenzy.
Of course, it's way too early for garden centres to be open or new plants to be beckoning to me from nurseries and greenhouses. Doesn't matter. I saw green shoots of crocus coming up in the garden at the house where I stay in Liverpool, and that did the trick. I started thinking in earnest about what I'd NEED to get this year, and started compiling a list of things that may or may not make it into our garden. Here's a few of them.
You've seen a few of my latest plant obsessions in recent posts, from the huge collection of gotta-have coneflowers to a green primula (and other greenflowered whimsies). But now, we're going to delve a bit deeper into the wonderful world of new plants.
Before I go on, a clarification. I grow a LOT of heirloom, heritage and native plants in my garden. It's easy for me to do because I have a LOT of room, and our garden (in my mind) includes the edges of the paddock and pasture, the perimeter of our very wild and grown-in pond, and the boundaries of our acreage. But I do love exploring new plants and resist absolutism in almost everything, including eschewing the 'only native' or 'only heritage' mindset. That's find for those who choose that route, just not my way. My only absolutism is in despising goutweed. And federal conservatives (by which I mean OUR federal cons, not those of other countries. Chacun a son gout!)
Oakleaf Hydrangea 'Little Honey'. Oakleaf hydrangeas have been on my want list for about five years now, ever since I saw one don its fall foliage finery in a garden a little further down the Valley. This goldleafed variety sent me into a tailspin, I was so charmed by it,. Will I go for this one? Probably not this year, even if easily available. What I'll do instead: Try one of the older varieties and see how it fares.
Scabiosa 'Beaujolais'. I love pincushion flowers, which we normally see in blue, white, or a sort of tepid pink. This is none of those colours, is it? Will I go for it? Absolutely, although at the moment I only know of it as available by mailorder; from a reputable company, GardenImport, who I wholeheartedly recommend. My only problem (and it's not the nursery's) as everyone knows, my microclimate here on the high hill means that spring puts in a later appearance here than in much of the province, and then there's the whole 'will it accept my clay?" issue.
Never met an agastache, or hummingbird mint, that I didn't adore. For the past few years I've been buying several from a greenhouse I like in Waterville, and attempting to overwinter it outdoors without much success. (But to be honest I haven't been trying all that hard.) This new colour variety is 'Summer Glow', and while it might not attract hummingbirds as strongly as red or orange-flowered ones, I bet that the bees and butterflies will also love it. Will I go for it? If I can find it, absolutely. If I can't? The salmon and hot pink varieties will do for now.
Ohhhhhh, this is too pretty for words. Meet Cercis 'Hearts of Gold', a truly well-named redbud cultivar. Those luminous gold leaves make MY heart happy, and of course prompt me to sing Neil Young. Will I go for it? Unlikely at this point. I don't have a redbud and think they're a bit marginal for my hill, though not for other parts of the province. I'll let someone else try this first and report on it.
Hypericum 'Mystical Red Star'. St. John's worts are just awesome plants, whether they are herbaceous or shrubby. I have several different shrubby varieties in the garden now, and they've done well for me, although I sadly abandoned trying to grow 'Brigadoon', a gold-bronze-leaved perennial, because it wouldn't overwinter for me. There are four or five in the 'Star' series of hypericum, and I'd gladly try any of them. So if I see any of them around the nurseries in NS, I'll be dragging them home in the PlantMobile.
Nigella 'Moody Blues'. I love Nigella, also called 'Love in a Mist.' I've long been a fan of The Moody Blues. Will I plant this? Absolutely, along with every other nigella variety I can find from seed. They tend to self-seed for a few years but last year I had very few, so it's time to cast around some seed again.
Helleborus 'Jade Tiger'. Oh. My. Goodness! This made my heart quiver with plant-envy. As faithful readers know, I've been not-hugely successful with hellebores, but last year saw success thanks to the wisdom of other gardeners who do hellebores very very well. So far, mine are still buried in snow this winter, but I expect they'll emerge from the glacer one of these days, and then it'll be time to protect them with evergreen boughs til the weather levels out. Will I be seduced by the jade tiger? Probably not, but I've had another hellebore called 'Gold Finch' on my mind since last spring when I saw it at Briar Patch, so maybe, just maybe, I'll succumb to that temptation instead.
Heucherella 'Sweet Tea'. Heucherellas are interesting plants, crossbreds between Tiarella (foamflowers) and Heucheras (coral-bells, alumroots). Breeders have gotten quite exuberant about hybridizing them in funky new colours, same as with heucheras, and this one is certainly a pretty pretty thing. Will I go for it? Unlikely at this time. The orange/salmon/yellow-leafed heucheras, in my experience, have been the least hardy at overwintering in my abrupt climate, and while I do have several Tiarella/heucherella varieties now, I'm going to wait a year or two on this plant, pretty as its foliage is.
Or so I say now. Who knows what will happen if I see any of these plants at one of my favourite nurseries. You'll all back me when I tell longsuffering spouse I needed them, won't you?