September 21, 2012

I Made A List

I made a list of the plants I'd like to add to my garden.

I don't go to the garden center, spot a plant and bring it home. I shop the other way around.

I decide the exact form, shape and color needed to fill a particular spot or complete a design, then I make a list, and proceed to go around looking for exactly those items.

Frustration is my companion in this.

(There is always mail order.  You can find anything anywhere and have it shipped. Gardening in the time of the interweb is grand. But mail order plants can be expensive -- the shipping -- and very small, especially if the item you want is a forest tree.)

So, with the usual possibility of disappointment, I made a list this summer, and then I went around to the local garden centers.

            And I scored.  Big time.

First on my list
I wanted a red buckeye, Aesculus pavia, which is a tree that I saw on garden tours this spring. I saw it in May, in bloom, and knew that this small (to 20 feet tall) unusual tree would be in my yard soon.

But it was nowhere to be found, until I came across this specimen at Silver Spring Nursery right here in town.  (A couple miles from my house, after looking out of state and everywhere.) Now this red buckeye, already coloring up for fall, is in my garden.
Aesculus pavia will have red flowers in May, yellow foliage in fall, and 
it will remain a small and shapely tree in the gravel garden by the side of the house.

Second on my list
Hypericum inodorum 'Ignite Scarlet Red' is now filling the empty spot where tall grasses were inappropriately planted. I moved them, the area was then vacant and calling for a two foot high rounded shrub (with red berries if not too much to ask) and this cool St. Johnswort presented itself as the solution. I found it at a local nursery. Score.
A small, tidy St. Johnswort.  The flowers are sunshine yellow trumpets in summer,
and then these fine red berries dress it up for fall.

My third find
Caryopteris divaricata, which is related to the woody bluebeard that I already have in my garden (and love, as do the bees), was a find at Natureworks near my home. Score again!
Caryopteris divaricata 'Snow Fairy' has wonderfully clean, clear, white edged leaves, 
and the most incredible odor when touched!
It's a caryopteris, but an herbaceous one, not woody.  It has clear, bright variegated foliage, it's small and rounded upright, and it smells like green pepper, only sharper, when you touch the leaves. Love it, love the look, love the odd stinky smell of the foliage.

A fourth score
Opuntia is the only cactus that grows in New England (who knew? A prickly pear cactus here?) Not a potted plant to be coddled over winter, it grows outdoors in our acid, wet, cold, rocky soil, and it is native.  I had to have this, but it is not a commonly found plant.

Lee May has opuntia in his dry, rocky garden. And I found a nice one at a local nursery last week. It will go in my gravel garden. What a find.
Opuntia humifusa growing in Lee's Connecticut garden.

I also found sweet autumn clematis -- not rare, but out of fashion I think, as few nurseries carry it and it has a reputation for invasive or at least rampant growth further south. Here in northern Connecticut it is better behaved, but still a flashy, big, robust grower and I have a spot that could use an exclamation.  Found a nice sized one, inexpensive.
Even sitting in its pot waiting to be planted, this Clematis paniculata smells so sweet.

I scored a lovely native wildflower anemone, called thimbleweed, or Anemone virginiana that I have wanted.
Thimbleweed in my garden already. I moved and divided this tall anemone,
and now with the addition of the one I just found, I'll have a stand of them.

And I found a wonderful glossy abelia with chartreuse foliage and pretty pink flowers, very mardi gras looking. I have 'Edward Goucher' already, but this is Abelia x grandiflora 'Francis Mason' and it was a find -- just what I was looking for to plant under a young smokebush and drape over a small berm.
Abelia 'Francis Mason' fills an open spot under a smokebush Cotinus coggygria 'Grace'

My list still has plants on it that I think I need. But I found several already, I found them locally, I found them reasonably priced at the end of the season, and I am really happy with that.

 

28 comments:

  1. That is how I shop too...which explains why it may just take me a life
    time to fill it all in! I really enjoy autumn clematis for its vigor and beauty. My brother gave me one but after moving it this summer I think I lost it. I really like the shape of your red buckeye and I am making note of the Caryopteris divaricata 'Snow Fairy'...I like the foliage on this one! Great scores!

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    1. Nicole, if you get 'Snow Fairy' caryopteris, let me know if you find the stinky foliage appealing. I like it, but many do not!! You will just have to replant your sweet autumn clematis if you killed it -- it is too lovely to be without.

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  2. That is a really good Idea. It helps you get a clear idea in your mind of the look you want and how to achieve it. I am going to adopt that!

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    1. Ruth, it is hard to shop this way. I have such a difficult time finding just the plant I want for a spot!

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  3. Reading your list makes me want to go shopping. I am one of "those" that don't often make a list. I love those buckeye trees too. I have the autumn clematis growing up a trellis by the back door. When I let Luna in and out this time of year it is a pleasure because it smells so good. Happy planting...

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    1. Lisa, I like to hear of others growing sweet autumn clematis near doors and close by. There are so many reports of it being too aggressive for such uses, but I think in our colder climates it is ok. I trust you haven't had problems with it overtaking your back door!!

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  4. Way to go, Laurrie! Looks like you have some great finds. I love buckeyes, and I'm sure you're going to enjoy this addition. I make a list every spring, too, and try to buy everything locally if I can. I agree about the expense of shipping, and I also like to support my local garden centers. One thing, though, about having to search several nurseries for a particular plant--a few extras that weren't on my list always manage to come home with me:)

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    1. Rose, that happened to me too... a some pretty extras wound up in the cart after I scored a few finds! Can't help it.

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  5. I'm so glad I can enjoy your garden vicariously. I don't have room for much more in my garden. The clematis runs amok here on Long Island but it is gorgeous for 2 weeks in SEptember!

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    1. Barbara, thanks so much! I am worried about the sweet autumn clematis running amok here too, but I am assured it will behave if I talk to it very sternly.

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  6. Hey, Laurrie. Congratulations; you done good! Weirdly interesting how we subconsciously believe we won't find treasures close to home. You did, including opuntia. Welcome to the Cactus Club.

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    1. Lee, my opuntia plant does not look very much like your little grove of cacti. It was very big and floppy in its pot, overwatered and quite soggy actually. Will it firm up and dry out and create a little desert cactus scene for me in the pea gravel? .... time will tell.

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  7. The way I control sweet autumn clematis is to cut it to the ground in early winter -- with a tarp underneath to catch the seeds. The cuttings and the seeds go in the trash. (It's real problem is self-seeding.) You may get scared in the spring when it's just stubble, but, believe me: in a month, it will be full and it will flower profusely in the fall.

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    1. Anonymous, good to know about using a tarp to catch the seeds when the vines are pruned. Thanks!

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  8. I garden shop exactly the same way. :o) The only time I impulse shop is with annuals or sale table perennials. I'm a research based gardener and it's torture sometimes! Keep a close eye on the St John's wort and anemones. They may end up conquering the entire bed. Perhaps your cooler climate will keep them in check. In zone 7, they're thugs. I love Sweet Autumn clematis.

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    1. Tammy, I have another St. Johnswort that seeds around, but the seedlings are easy to pull. I hope the little Magical Fire one isn't too magical with its seeding! The anemones are the sweet little native ones, (A. virginiana) and not the aggressive seeders that other anemones can be, so they stay where they are put, thankfully.

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  9. Those of us who shop the bass akwards way have a different sort of frustration, trying to find the perfect spot for a plant after we bought it. lol Congrats on your finds!

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    1. Sweetbay, that can certainly be a problem. . . finding a place to put all those impulse plant buys will challenge any gardener : )

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  10. All great additions to your garden. I've been thinking about adding Aesculus pavia to my garden, too. They seemed especially colorful when in bloom this spring. Do you know if it's deer resistant?

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    1. Debbie, the deer do not touch my other buckeyes -- the bottlebrush shrubs Aesculus parviflora -- even when they were new baby plants the deer left them completely alone, so I am thinking the A. pavia should be passed by as well.

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  11. I try to buy plants this way, it is my preference, but even using mail order, I can only ever get a fraction of the plants on my list, so compromises have to be made. You really hit the jackpot getting so many of the plants you wanted locally.

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    1. Lyn, mail order has been a godsend to me, for the unusual and specific plants I want. But it is so much more rewarding to find big specimens locally, that's for sure!

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  12. I make lists too. Finding them in local nurseries is the best. I keep my wish list in my phone so I always have it with me! Your finds look good.

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock, keeping the list on the phone is an awesome idea. I need to do that!

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  13. These are all wonderful, but a cactus that will grow in cold, wet conditions? That is amazing! I also love the variegated caryopteris. I am always happy when I find a desired plant at a local nursery. As you say, internet purchases tend to be small and pricey.

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    1. Deborah, it really is rewarding to find so much that I wanted in big pots right here locally!

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  14. Hi there, Opuntia is by no means the only cactus that will grow outside here - just the most common. If you are looking for more check out the ct cactus and succulent society and to see a whole garden either go to Quackin' Grass Nursery in Brooklyn CT(he is also on the web) or wrangle an invitation to see John Spain's.

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    1. Anonymous, I am a newbie to growing hardy cacti, so I am eager to check out the sources you mention. Thanks!

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