New for 2015

NEW FOR 2015

Highlights include:

IMG_0800Begonia grandis ‘Sparkle and Shine’  Developed here from the diminutive B. sinensis -sized Riz Reyes/Dave Demers collection ‘Nanjiang Silver’, and building upon its silver spotting and spattering, but in a much larger, full-sized package, with solid red leaf reverses, and white flowers.  We also have the counterpart ‘Bells and Whistles’, also full sized with claret undersides, but with more typical pink flowers.


Eucomis zambesiaca ‘ZZZebra’ A sprightly streaked and striped variegated strain of this petite species, named and kindly shared with me by Ellen Hornig, who originally received it from Judith Tyler- amazing that the first (to my knowledge) variegated Eucomis should take so long to become available.  Tender-ish, but a perfect container size for those north of 7b.


Kniphofia ‘Wet Dream’  O.K., outre, but it does get to the point. We’ve been selecting pokers for distinctive, glossy flowers for quite a few generations now, but haven’t had much idea of hardiness, beyond out own Zone 7. This past winter was perfect for culling out tender pokers.  This selection was unfazed, and, indeed, has thrived, flowering freely and bulking up quickly with lustrous flowers on 3-4′ stems proudly held well above narrow foliage, August into September/October.  Remarkable with Salvia uliginosa.  At least Zone 6

I suspect my Sanguisorba infatuation may be waning, as I only brought one back from the UK this past autumn (Or perhaps I now have them all?) Cant resist adding to the fray, though, with some distinctive, in house selections:

  SanguisorIMG_0940ba ‘Chorus Line’  Long legs and feather boas!  Of the obtusa/hakusanensis persuasion with pendulous tassels of  flowers , deeper in color than ‘Pink Brushes’, though softer than ‘Lilac Squirrel’, and readily distinguishable from all others as this plant reaches a towering 6′.  (Embarrassingly, just rolled this out as ‘Big Pink’ without bothering to check if the name had been allocated, which, of course, it had.)

IMG_0838Sanguisorba ‘Drama Queen’ A study in kinetic motion, like a Calder piece, with pendulous six inch white tassels swaying atop willowy 6′ stems, June to September.  We provide no supplemental irrigation to established plants, and in 6 years has never ever, not even once, required staking.  I think this is the best of all available tenuifolium types.

IMG_0296Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Humpty Dumpty’ A seedling here from ‘Fat Domino’ with remarkably ovoid flowers, so large that they will, like its namesake, take a great fall, as they are too large for its stems to support, and the whole plant will splay apart.  It is a remarkable subject for cut flowers, though, for, as with the species, it produces a constant succession from summer to frost.  This is very similar to ‘Black Adder’ which Chris Ghyselen kindly gave me, and which I’ll also have available.

IMG_0283Tanacetum vulgare ‘Golden Fleece’ A remarkably clever selection from John Tuite, who crossed ‘Isla Gold’ and var. crispum and produced a compact plant with golden yellow, ferny foliage.
























































Recent Posts

I’ve got Big Ones!

A decade ago I was thrilled to finally get to visit  Cally Gardens in Scotland, and even more excited to there obtain a plant they listed as Eucomis pole-evansii ‘Purpurea’.  Cally’s owner Michael Wickenden had brought it to the UK from Tasmania, and had just begun to offer.  At the time I was quite taken with colored foliage and size, and, as I was already growing Tony Avent’s fantastic E. comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ as well as  E. pole evansii (now E. pallidiflora , ssp. pole-evansii) I immediately recognized that the one thing better than being big or being purple was being big AND purple. Imagine my disappointment, then, when, two years later, the plant finally reached flowering size, and looked like this one flowering at Wisley:


Not terribly purple, and certainly not pole-evansii, but clearly, to my mind,  a comosa hybrid, slightly taller, but with the same floppy-flowered habit. But why be limited by plants that are, when one can dream of plants there ought to be? With my need for big AND purple unrealized, there was only one thing to do:


Eucomis ‘Rhode Island Red’

Arranging a tryst between ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ and pole- evansii , I grew out the purplest seedlings for a couple of years until they flowered, and selected the one that had the darkest foliage and sturdiest flowers.  ‘Rhode Island Red’ is definitely an improvement, but still not quite what I had in my mind’s eye for big and purple, as it’s quite short in flower – 32″ or so.  My latest attempt to realize the dream was to cross ‘Rhode Island Red’ with pole-evansii.  I culled out all but a couple of dozen dusky seedlings last year, and grew them on in pots. I planted them out in the ground this spring to give them maximum opportunity for growth, but, of those that flowered, none were a noticeable improvement on ‘Rhode Island Red’. Cleaning up this fall, I realized that as I now had eight years into this project, and, as pole-evansii is too tender to risk winter in the ground here, I should perhaps not admit defeat, but dig up those that hadn’t yet flowered, take them in for safe keeping, and try again.  Imagine my delight, then, when, amongst the un-flowered, I found bulbs like these:



A bit hard to see, but after just two years of growth,  the bulb on the right is already 17″ in circumference, and the one on the left has 24 offsets!  Perhaps this will be the year.  To paraphrase a favorite aphorism,  the limits of my plants are the limits of my garden.

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