February 5, 2011

MY Top 10 Wish list from Gardens That I Visited in 2010

Pseudolarix amabilis, The Golden Larch


I saw this growing at a botanic garden, and fell in love with it's yellow, long needles which were very lush. Up close, it looked amazing, but from a distance, it seemed to glow. Gotta get it!

Throughout the year, I see plants that I feel that I must have, but either they are annuals, and it is autumn, or they are shrubs, bulbs or trees that would need to be searched out, or started in the spring. On these cold January nights, I like to look through my notebooks, by iPad and my photos in iPhoto (since that is often how I capture what I want- an image with a tag, while walking thought a botanic garden, or someones garden). My memory just isn't that good, so it's easier to document what I want to add to my garden, digitally. I thought that I might share with you some of the plants I want to grow this year, some of these are common, and others are not. Some are trees and shrubs, others, just plain old annuals or new varieties that I have seen in person and fell in love with. A few, like the nasturtiums at the end, are just rare vintage varieties that I have been looking for, but some that might be worth growing in containers in the greenhouse since I know some retail nurseries are starting to propagate them. So, enjoy this wacky list of this and that.

The blackest of black, perfectly black mini peppers, all from this lovely variety called Black Pearl.


I photographed many, many many black peppers this year, but this one variety for absolutely the blackest. I must have it, and lots of it. I am already thinking of what I could pair it with in containers and in the garden. 'Black Pearl' seeds are available in some catalogs, I've seed them and I have already ordered them.

I am going to try more Gesneriads in Pots


OK, I want more ( since I know that there are other cultivars and colors available) but whenever I Google this, all I get is some of the photos from my own blog. What's up with that?) The fact is, these are rather new, and their roots look like potatoes and they are just as prolific ( the pot below is so full of tubers ,that I had to break it to get them all out. These are just catching on, so it will take a few years before more people grow them, but I do want more. I will be ordering more of these 'hardy' Sinningia's from Plant Delight's Nursery this year, I see they have more to choose from. 
Not truly 'hardy' here in New England, ( zone 9 is where you could keep it outdoors in the garden), but as a potted tub plant for the summer container garden, it can make a magnificent specimen if allowed to grow in a large enough tub like this one. Allow to dry off in the autumn, you could simply drag the tub into the cellar and let it go dry, this one is now in the greenhouse under a bench were it is about 38 Deg. F and dry.

Number 4 -     I am in love with  Blackberry Lily or Iris Domestica after seeing this bed planted at a botanic garden this fall.

You've all seen this in catalogs, but for whatever reason, I've never actually seen on in fruit. Belamcanda chinensis, or Blackberry Lilies are not true lilies, nor blackberries ( these fruits are not edible) but they are Iris relatives that are grown more for their flowers, than for their fall displays of seed. But we should take some lessons from our turn-of-the-century gardeners who knew and loved this border irid. In 1910, you would have found this plant common in gardens, but when was the last time you ever saw it in a garden? Their orange or yellow speckled flower is lovely, but even new varieties are being introduced by Joe-Pye Weed Garden, in colors like purple and mauve. Just be sure that when you Google this plant, you must also try looking for it under it's new genus name or Iris, or Pardanthopsis. even on source tells me that it is now Gladiolus. Regardless, it's easy enough to find if you search for it as Belamcanda or Blackberry lily. ( Officially, I think it is now Iris domestica, believe it or not) but whatever you call it, plant it in large numbers. One plant will not look like much, I suggest at least 12 plants if you can afford it.

The old-fashioned color form for Belacamda chinensis ( Iris domestica)

Number 5     - Most promising new annual, Gomphrena 'Fireworks'

Hey, it doesn't look like much in photos inside seed catalogs, and if looks even worse in nursery six packs. But in the garden? How did I ever miss this? We saw these at a botanic garden from a distance across a parking lot, and I was actually shocked once I read the label. So, this easy-to-grow annual is on my must-have list this spring. obviously, plant is large numbers.

Gomphrena 'Fireworks

Number 6       Enhance late fall plantings with Lespedeza thumbergerii, the Pink Bush Clover.

This was planted along with the above Gomphrena, and it was a perfect match that I will honestly steal! Lespedeza thunbergii

Lespedeza thunbergii cv. Gibralter


Number 7    The South African Foxglove for the late summer garden, Cerotetheca triloba

Ceratotheca triloba

South African annuals are hot right now, at least they are with the garden geeks and botanic gardens, were you will seed them plants in large sweeps, but I can see why. Ceratotheca  means "having horned capsules' which you can see here clearly. Also known as the South African Foxglove, but it is not a true foxglove. IT grows 4 -6 feet tall in one season, and is easy from seed ( if you can find it). This pink variety is on my wish list, as is the white form, you might find young plants at your most stylish and informed garden center this spring, but they will not have flowers.

Number 8     Tropaeolum moritzianum from John McFarlane's site on collectable Tropaeolum

Finally, rare, or rarely grown or lost-to-the-trade, Nasturtiums, or Tropaeolum. It seems that I keep adding more and more Tropaeolum to my collection, especially in the greenhouse, but I was surprised to find that some of the more annual cultivars and species are just as interesting. Tropaeoli, moritzianum from Mexico has fringed blossoms and lush, lobed foliage. I have seen photos of it in collections at Kew in England, but I have yet to find seeds for it.

Two vintage varieties that were once common with collectors in the late eighteenth century are rumored to be available again. These two may look like simple Nasturtiums for the annual garden, but they are actually clones that are named, and thus, must be vegetativly propagated from cuttings. These both have ruffled, double blossoms and were both conservatory plants from the old glasshouses of estates and royalty. Of course, I must have them for my greenhouse, so again, if anyone can find them, please let me know. I do know that a wholesale grower was marketing cutting this winter for commercial use, so I know that they are still available. 
Nasturtium 'Hermine Grashoff'

 Nasturtium ' Darjeeling Gold' - old conservatory varieties of nasturtiums grown in containers under glass, are making a comeback.

Number 9      Hybiscus acetosella

Not rare, but I don't want to forget looking for this tropical for planting in some of my color schemes in containers and in the garden. Pink and Merlot foliage? Bring on the coral flowers!

Number 10       Gladiolus 'STAR PERFORMER'

I know! A gladiolus!  But as many of you know, we went to a gladiolus society show this summer, and I have to admit, there were many amazing varieties there that are not commercially available yet, unless you order from one of the small, micro growers who breed their own plants, cross their own varieties and then enter them in shows like this. My want list is long, and includes colors like chocolate, and bronze, but one variety captured my attentions, simple because, it was extraordinary. The variety named 'Star Performer' has been winning gladiolus society shows everywhere, and I could see why. Sure, it's magenta and pink, but I don't care, I have to find a place for this bulb in my garden, maybe even in my purple and yellow garden, for once you see this variety live, it will change your life.

It was taller, more floriferous, more flowers open than any other Glad, and it grows strong. This plant is alot like a dog who is winning all of the dog shows around the country, and you just know that it will will Westminster. Look for this plant, if you want to impress your neighbors! ( not available retail it seems, and not at Home Depot or any garden centers). Try Pleasant Valley Glads and order it now before it sells out, but it may not, it's still a secret.! I mean, who buys glads? I do, that's who.

Other glads from Gladiolus nurseries are just as awesome. Try some of these newer varieties rather than ordering them from bulb sites or bulb catalogs.


  1. Those nasturtiums are beauties!

  2. I love the Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl'. I grew it last year in with some lime hostas, 'Fragrant Bouquet', I believe and Stewardia. They were a knock out everybody wanted to know what they were.

    They didn't look like much until August, even with a 10 week head start in the green house.

    This year I've got them again plus a variety called 'Pairie Fire' and 'Embers'.

  3. Anonymous11:30 AM

    You should check Yucca Do for Sinningia, as they've offered many more in the past then Plant Delights

  4. Well done. I have/had several in my garden. The South African foxgloves bloomed steadily from June to November

    Blackberry lilies. Check.

    Black pearl peppers. Double check.

    The rest of your list looks so interesting. I will have to check the plants out,

  5. My blackberry lilies bloomed for the first time this summer (they languished the first year as seeds started and transplanted a little too late) and I'm hooked. I love the way the flowers twist up as they die. Fascinating.

    This year I have seed chilling for their hybrid cousins the candy lily - they promise to be rainbow colored blackberry lilies. I'm very excited.

    Just a note. The 'blackberries' aren't fruit, they just resemble them. Instead they are very shiny seeds.

  6. Some truly lovely plants...I alway love seeing new plants (even if they are just "new" to me)! I've been looking for seed of that Gomphrena this spring and haven't had any luck...time to start checking out the online seed sellers.

  7. What a great post. Truly, some fantastic plants here. I'm glad to have found your blog (and am a Holy Cross alum, so I know Worcester well!). Good luck with the garden this year. Spring will be here soon!

  8. webcook8:11 PM

    I saw those very unique nasturtiums in hanging baskets this past week in Parksville on Vancouver Island B.C. Canada. I took photos and found your site by looking for similar photos on line.
    Searches I did for unusual nasturtiums didn't give me any information. Thank you for providing names. They were beautiful in the baskets and looked like marigolds and maybe chrysanthemums. I will try to get my photos on line somewhere.

  9. here are the photos I took of those beautiful nasturtiums in British Columbia

  10. Matt, the Blackberry and Black pearl are amazing. I've never seen them before. Even though my sole objective has been to grow edible plants in my small square foot gardens, you've got me thinking about how to incorporate more esoteric varieties in gardens.


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