Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Winter Gardens

Today's photos are a 'snapshot' of one winter garden but also a reminder that there are many types of winter gardens. Some of these are very cultivated, with that person's particular interest in plants showing itself in her or his choices, and some are wilder, a reflection perhaps of plants found in their natural ecosystem. I sometimes get asked as a nurseryman what is the right way to plant a garden. I tell them that apart from choosing appropriate plants given the light conditions and allowing for mature sizes, the choices and overall design is of their making. Yes, there are design recommendations that have some validity to them but a garden should, environmental issues aside, please its caretaker. While landscaping one's yard in one fell swoop has its appeal, there's also something to be said for letting it develop organically. And there are advantages to the latter approach. It's not uncommon for ones tastes to change over time. Building your garden a little at a time allows for these evolving tastes.

For sheer petal count, not much can top Camellia reticulata Bill Woodruff. If you didn't know better, you'd swear it was a peony and a pretty full one at that. Reticulatas are the 'Queens' of the camellia world, known for their wavy petals and rich colors.

Camellia Lila Naff. I was trying to get a backlit shot of this dreamy camellia and the sun only partially cooperated. Still, the luminescent coral color is lovely.

One last Camellia.  After almost losing this C. reticulata Francie L Variegated to thrips last year, it has rebounded enough to have half a dozen flower buds. Here's its first pink and white flower. I love the fact that the flowers on variegated varieties are all slightly different. It's like a roulette wheel, spinning, spinning and it stops on ... THIS color combination.

One last shot of my amazing Canarina canariensis. I swear, I should do a column on plants that die the first time you try them, die the second time too but then go crazy on the third try. That was the case with me growing this intriguing Canary Islands deciduous bulbous perennial.

Nothing says 'lemon-scented' like Pelargonium crispum Variegated Lemon. I swear, the foliage smells more intensely of lemons than lemons do! Love it.

This Agastache Raspberry Summer flowering stem is tilting sideways so it looks kind of funny to this eye. Then again you really see the individual tubular flowers. One of the great hummingbird and bee plants, and long blooming in our milder zones, Agastache is near the top of the list of my favorite plants.

Nope, this plant definitely doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies. It's an Hebe ochracea EC Stirling and it's one of the so-called whipcord hebes. I love that fine, needle-like foliage and the orangish-chartreuse color. Good things do indeed come in small packages sometimes.

One more shot of my rare Abelia species 'Chiapas.' As mentioned before, it features three unique qualities for an Abelia - it cascades, it features lavender-purple flowers and those flowers are sweetly fragrant. Too bad it's largely disappeared from the trade.

Sometimes you really DO need to read the label. It wasn't until year four of my Melianthus pectinatus doing poorly that I went back and read the label. 'Likes regular moisture.' Ahh. The extra H2O has really livened up the plant, especially during its growth season in the winter. 

Although people of course grow Arugula for the leaves, it's the simple 'flag' (four corners) white flowers that appeal to me. A prolific bloomer, it's bloomed continuously since early October and has yet to let up. 

Speaking of Abelias, here's my A. 'Kaleidoscope.' This variegated form is the one people ask for in our nursery and the multi-colored foliage is the reason why. Like all Abelias, it's a tough shrub, able to handle a variety of situations.

This unknown Lachenalia variety looks to be a L. aloides of some sort. Rosy-red tubes are tipped in green. 

Antirrhinum 'Chantilly Bronze.' This snapdragon from Annie's has performed beyond my expectations. It blooms heavily, I cut it back, it regrows then starts blooming again. And I've discovered that bees adore snapdragons. So, it's all good.

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