August 23, 2012

Strange and Wonderful

Last week I was in Denver, and spent one delightful, cool, sunny morning walking the Denver Botanic Garden.  That was where I saw a strange and wonderful honeysuckle that I simply must have in my garden.

What, you say?  That old classic?  You went all the way to Colorado and came home enamored with a honeysuckle?

Well, this one stopped me in my tracks. It is Lonicera reticulata 'Kintzley's Ghost'.


                                   Denver Botanic Garden   (Landscape Architect Jocelyn H. Chilvers)

Flat white discs covered a small vine, and although they appeared green tinged in the shade of the pergola, in the light the round bracts looked like a eucalyptus, very powdery silver, and arranged stiffly up and down the trailing vine stems.

I came home and did some research on this grape honeysuckle, and found this great write up by the Dirt Diva, Mary Ann Newcomer at Gardens of the Wild Wild West.

She says it all -- the color of the perfectly round discs is eerie, and a real addition to the night garden. It gets no aphids (unlike Lonicera sempervirens), it grows robustly in part shade or sun and it is covered with yellow tubular honeysuckle flowers in spring.

After the flowers, the silver dollar sized bracts turn white and keep their shimmery pale color all summer.

Yep, I gotta have this.

High Country Gardens has it.

The plant was first found by William Kintzley in the 1880s at Iowa State University greenhouses. Over the years he propagated it and gave plants away to family, but it was never introduced into the nursery trade. In 2001 a nurseryman in Ft. Collins, Colorado spotted it growing in the yard of a family member as he drove down the street, and he stopped to knock on the door and ask what it was.

That was how this special honeysuckle became available.  It's relatively new to gardeners, but was an old family heirloom, grown and treasured in Kintzley family gardens for over 100 years.

How strange and wonderful.
from Sugar Creek Gardens

28 comments:

  1. What an interesting looking plant. I wonder, do the flowers smell as sweet as common honeysuckle?
    PS Loved the Denver Botanical Garden.

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    1. Barbara, the plant was not in flower when we were there, but I have read that it does not have the fragrance of other honeysuckles. Too bad --- it has everything else!

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  2. Such an interesting plant,so unique and quirky. I can understand why you must get your hands on it.

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    1. Stiletto, I am not usually crazy about having weird and different plants, but this one caught my interest. It really is quirky --- that's a good word for it!

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  3. I want that one too. I am vine challenged and that one is supposed to be quite easy to grow.

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    1. Heather, I am not sure what vine challenged is!! Usually the problem is getting a vine to behave and stop growing. Go for it, I think this one will do you nicely.

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  4. I gotta have it too. The bracts alone make me need it. You order yours yet?

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    1. Lee, no, I have not ordered yet, but I will by early September. I can definitely see this ghostly vine in your garden!

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  5. Gee, I want one too. What a beauty. I have never laid eyes on such a honeysuckle. Great find.

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    1. Lisa, I had never seen anything like this either, and was surprised to learn it was a honeysuckle. I hope you get one too, and several of us can compare notes on growing it next season.

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  6. So unusual, but most striking. I can understand why you had to stop in your tracks when you spotted it. I've never seen anything like it.

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    1. Bernie, It was so unusual I actually wasn't sure the tag was the right one. A honeysuckle? But it was!

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  7. Hey stranger,
    I was able to visit DBG but only during spring break with my kids so I only saw the bones. I love these types of stories. Hope you can successfully grow it.

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    1. Patrick, Denver Botanic is a great visit. I was surprised at how many water features and ponds they have, being in such an arid spot. I'm glad you got to see it, even just the "bones"!

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  8. This is a beautiful plant, so unique. I like how they potted it up too.

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    1. Donna, they had several lonicera reticulata plants, and the others were in the ground. The planted ones were a little bigger and more robust and eye catching. I plan to put mine in the ground.

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  9. Wow! I have never seen this plant before! It does have an interesting quality that makes it both unique and surreal! Sounds like you had a lovely trip!

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    1. Garden Diaries, surreal is a great word to describe the look of the white bracts. In flower, when the bracts are green and the flowers are yellow, it must have a whole different quality.

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  10. This certainly is unusual--I've never seen anything like it before! I would have been searching for a tag right away, too, to find out what it is. Looking forward to seeing how it does in your garden. Hope you enjoyed Denver!

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    1. Rose, that's what I love about touring botanic gardens, the unusual things you see are well labeled! I did enjoy Denver thoroughly -- a visit with my youngest son, who I don't see nearly enough. It was great.

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  11. How nice that you've found and fallen in love with a plant that will grow well in your region! The design of the container is beautiful. I really like the combination of plants they've chosen. Especially the way the honeysuckle complements that pergola. Very nice.

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    1. Cat, it is fun to find a new love : ) I don't have a great pergola to grow this vine on, but I still think it will be great growing on a metal obelisk.

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  12. Always fun to find new plants or new planting approaches while traveling.
    This one is fun.

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock, I often see plants in my travels that are exotic and really interesting, but not for my garden. This honeysuckle was an exception --- I could picture growing it myself.

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  13. What an interesting way to become the hot, new thing! Thank goodness for gardeners who give their extra plants away. I saw it in their catalog but a full write up like this one makes it more intriguing.

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    1. Tammy, I too was intrigued by the story of how this plant was propagated and passed along for so many years until it was discovered by random!

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  14. Just looking at the flowers I never would have guess that's a honeysuckle. The flowers remind me of Euphorbia. Strange and wonderful indeed!

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    1. Sweetbay, I know, I had the same reaction --- that's a honeysuckle? It's actually the bracts that surround the flower that are so distinctive, the yellow flower itself is more like a typical honeysuckle trumpet.

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