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!


  1. You have a nice list of dream plants. I dream of having more evergreen plants. I love those with chartruese foilage. It seems I don't have enough sun for most of them where I have room for them.

    Now really Jodi, you mustn't brag about being able to grow blue poppies. I green up every time you say so since I can't grow them. Pout...

  2. Oh, what a teaser post! You are making me long even more for spring. I bought a Kousa dogwood this past fall and can't wait to see it bloom. I just hope we don't have a late freeze like last year.

    I love that 'Popcorn' Viburnum. It's lovely.

  3. Jodi - What are the blue poppies called? I'd love to have some in my garden - Would they grow in New England? And how's Leggo and his little donkey buddy?

  4. I know that Aureum !! :-)

    I love that Daphne, such beautiful foliage.

    My dream plant is the Wollemia nobilis, The Wollemi Pine, old and rare and quite out of my price range, but a boy can dream.

  5. Exquisite plants! I would grow them all too, if only I could. My yard is the size of a postage stamp and I've about gardened it to death. However, this year I must make some changes and your blog, and other's here, are very inspirational! Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work, dear!

  6. I'm a sucker for persisting on trying to grow plants which i know aren't right for the conditions here. And of course it never works. But I dream on. Maybe next year will be different...

  7. 'Popcorn' is so lovely - I have to look for it :) Viburnums in general are so arrtactive to me - most of them :)

    I love that Kousa as well. I managed to lkill one 2 year ago - didn't want to grow - but maybe I shall give a try again.

    BTW there is very strong wind here and birds dont want to fly :(

  8. 'Popcorn' is so lovely - I have to look for it :) Viburnums in general are so arrtactive to me - most of them :)

    I love that Kousa as well. I managed to lkill one 2 year ago - didn't want to grow - but maybe I shall give a try again.

    BTW there is very strong wind here and birds dont want to fly :(

  9. Cheers gladly accepted! LOL. They're under a nice coating of snow out there in their milk jugs right now.

    I had a 'Carol Mackie' daphne a couple of years ago and it just sort of sat there, did nothing and didn't survive its first winter. I did love the looks of it, though.

    Love your list. I can relate to so many of them. That ladyslipper orchid.....mmmmmmmmm!!!

  10. All good choices! Yes, Jodi, I forgot to put in my Pipe Dream Plants post those fabulous, super-expensive conifers, such as that gorgeous weeping Blue Spruce. Come Spring I'll make a pilgrimage to that Midwest conifer mecca, Rich's Foxwillow Pines.
    I'm having a premature Senior Moment, so I can't remember where I read that a different cultivar of the same cross as 'Carol Mackie' is much less finicky or prone to vanish for no reason. If I come across it, I'll let you know.

  11. Well if you're gonna dream, might as well do it up right. Wonderful flowers in your dreams, Jodi !

  12. MMG ~ I read that, too, about another daphne. Could it be 'Silveredge'?

  13. Hi Jodi, thank you so much for visiting my blog and for commenting on it. I' m sorry, my English isn' t good, but I' m working to do it better one day.
    Are you my younger sister? I dream from the same plants as you! But I think it's good to keep dreams??
    Have a good Sunday Wurzerl

  14. Hi Jodi,

    'Kopper Kettle' and 'Molly the Witch' are pretty wonderful. The Weeping Spruce looks worth dreaming about. La la, the Yellow Ladyslipper is spectacular.

  15. i'm not a blogger but i love gardening, and i read your blog everyday.

    i just wanted to say that i am with you on the weeping blue spruce. it's gorgeous in colour and form.


  16. What a great list! I have the weeping 'Atlas' spruce on my wishlist, too... it's so interesting to read the reasons these things are on our wishlists instead of gardens, isn't it?

  17. If the yellow ladyslipper loves gypsum here in Windsor, I wonder if there are any around the quarries in Walton? It's my hometown...I'll investigate that for sure this summer. There are several large and small quarries with fairly good access.

    All these plants are wonderful -- I've always admired Japanese maples, and that yellow peony is so unique!

  18. Lisa, your chartreuse-foliaged plants should do well in part shade--less apt to burn. Reminds me I have a post to do on that, when I get a chance. As for the blue poppies...they're a challenge but I'm going to do a post on them, too.

    Robin, I too hope you don't have a late freeze; the Kousas and C. florida are so nice when they get to bloom. Lucky you--and a Popcorn, too!

    Victoria, blue poppies are Meconopsis genus, various species and crosses; M. betonicifolia is one, M. grandis another. I'm going to do a post soon answering the questions about growing them. Leggo and stundo-donkeyo are fine...got out today after a couple of days indoors, so they got the 'stink' blown off them.

    Adrian, yeah, I thought you might recognize that plant...how's it doing in your garden, anyway? The Wollemi is a bit pricy, but coming down--I'd be more worried about its zonal hardiness, I think it's only 7 and even where you are would be pushing it. Okay in Liverpool, though.

    Debi, hope you have fun making changes to your garden--there's lots of online encouragement and help.

    Sue, I hear you...I like pushing the limits here, and if something dies...I just plant something else.

    Ewa, hopefully you'll get a good Kousa--might have been a bad plant, as they should do okay for you there, I think.

    Kylee, I'm rootin' for those seeds, snuggled in their snowblankies!

    MMD, the other conifer I gotta have, and it's not tooooo pricy, is the Japanese Umbrella Pine. I just love it. Kylee probably has the right cultivar suggestion on the daphne..I haven't checked yet.

    Carolyn, yup, might as well go whole hawg or go on home when it comes to dreaming!

    Wurzerl, your English is much better than my German, and your photos definitely speak all languages.

    Kate, I think you oughta do a post of your pie-plants too. You can grow so many things that surprised me, so what gives you a challenge?

    Joanne high, glad you enjoy gardening and reading blogs. Do check out some of the other terrific blogs listed on the left side of my layout!

    Kim, with me it's either a question of hardiness or cost; although if a plant is hardy to my zone I'll often bite the bullet and pay quite a bit for it, especially if it has multiseason interests.

    Nancy, I would think there are yellow ladyslippers around Walton, though I've not been in the woods investigating. I first found them 30 years ago while a student at AC, down near Sherman Hines' place in Poplar Grove, or Mantua, whichever place it is.

  19. The popcorn viburnum is quite pretty. Congrats on getting that (soon) into your garden.

    My dream plants include Mexican weeping bamboo, bottlebrush tree, dwarf Japanese blueberry tree...

  20. Oh, get a Carol Mackie! I had one in my old garden for years, and it prospered, despite being completely ignored in my acid soil; its fragrance is in my top five. I have also grown d. genkwa and the solid form of d. x burkwoodii somerset, and they did fine; I am very fond of my d. somerset, in fact, and dug it up and transplanted it--there's courage for you, since they don't like to be transplanted, "they" say. We'll see in the spring, but the somerset blooms, a few at a time, from May to November, and I couldn't bear to be without it. So try a small one.


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