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March 28, 2015

MY (SORT-OF) SECRET SOURCES FOR INTERESTING PLANTS FOR CONTAINERS AND MORE

IOCHROMA FUSCHIOIDES 'ROYAL QUEEN', A SPECTACULAR TROPICAL SHRUB FOR A SUMMER CONTAINER IS ONE EXAMPLE OF WHAT YOU CAN ORDER ONLINE NOW, FOR POTTING UP IN MAY.


It's nearly April and we barely have anything in the garden that seems alive, there is still 1 - 2 feet of snow on the ground - I mean, even the witch hazel has yet to to bloom. Not a snowdrop to be seen, no crocus, not even an early blossom on the Cornus mas. To top this all off - it's been snowing for 8 hours now, but at least nothing is sticking. I might even go as far as to say that it looks pretty - maybe pretty, if this was November.

BEGONIAS OF ALL TYPE GROW QUICKLY AND CAN MAKE IMPRESSIVE SUMMER CONTAINERS. THESE CANE-TYPE OR ANGELWING BEGONIAS FROM LOGEE'S GREENHOUSES OR KARTUZ GREENHOUSES ARE BEST IF PLANTED 3 TO A LARGE POT - STAKE THEM AS THEY TOWER UP TO 4-5 FEET IN ONE SUMMER.

I think I am kind of ready for spring.  So why not spend some time ordering plants for summer containers, for the summer greenhouse and for the garden. Local garden centers seem to carry more and more big-brand selections, like Proven Winners and Monrovia Nurseries, which is great, since these are  fully tested varieties, often selected for their vigor and overall performance, but if one wants something different or more unique, it will take a little more effort.

Here are some of my go-to sources on-line for interesting container plants which often cannot be found locally, as well as some sources for rare bulbs, herbs, shrubs and trees and tender plants which one might bring into a cellar, greenhouse or a cold cellar for the winter if you live where it gets cold and snowy.






TENDER TOPICALS HAVE BECOME COMMON IN MOST NORTHERN GARDENS, WHERE BANANAS, ALOCASIA AND COLOCASIA ARE AS OMNIPRESENT AS GERANIUMS. BUT WHY NOT RAISE THE BAR A BIT? THIS MOTIF IN BLACK AND DARK WAS FROM A PLANTING I CURATED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. I MAY TRY IT AGAIN THIS YEAR.


Goodwin Creek Gardens, Williams, Oregon

You all probably recognize the name Goodwin Creek, as it is a variety name for a fine Lavender (yes, it was named after them), but if you are interested in lavender plants (they had 68 named varieties as of today - really), then this is the place to go. I wish that I could grow lavender well, but in our climate, I just don't bother ( I do have a few large plants that survive on the south side of our house, but we are too humid).

GOODWIN CREEK NURSERY HAS 21 DIFFERENT VARIETIES  OF ROSEMARY, RANGING FROM CULINARY FORMS, TO UPRIGHT'S, CREEPERS, PINK, WHITE, BLUE AND VIOLET FLOWERED FORMS.
YOUR LOCAL HOME STORE? IT ONLY HAS ONE VARIETY.
What I order from Goodwin Creek are other herbs such as woody thyme varieties rich in oils  for cooking, or culinary varieties of herbs like oregano and thyme, which are usually impossible to find at local nurseries - there are particular varieties which are excellent in the kitchen, so if you want the perfect Greek oregano, this is the place to go. Then,  there are the rosemary selections, pink, white flowered, high-oil content forms, culinary forms, weeping, those best for tall topiaries  - they have 21 varieties. GO crazy.


MANY OF THESE NURSERIES CARRY DIFFERENT SELECTIONS OF CLASSIC CONTAINER PLANTS IN THE EAST, LIKE AGAPANTHUS . ONE NEVER GETS TIRED OF THESE, EITHER IN THE CALIFORNIAN LANDSCAPE, OR IN A LARGE TUB IN THE NORTH, WHERE THEY CAN BE BROUGHT INTO A COLD ROOM FOR THE WINTER.

A COLLECTION OF STANDARD FUCHIA'S LIKE MINE FROM LAST YEAR MIGHT BE A FUN PROJECT


FOR A COLLECTION, DISPLAY OR A DARING PROJECT 

Remember those fuchsia's I raised this past summer? Fuchsias  from Earthworks Fuchsias. You may remember mine from last year. So many fuchsias sold as rooted cuttings in pots that are already bushy and ready to pot up, that you could spend a week editing and placing you order. I suggest the upright varieties for standard topiary plants.

Exhibition Chrysanthemums are very difficult to find in North America, but for those of us who are addicted to their beauty, we can rejoice in that King's Mums is back again. Chrysanthemums from Kings Mums - Now under new management by a young couple who are not only chrysanthemum experts, but they took care of the collection at  Longwood. King's is just about the only source in the US for exhibition mums (if you know of another, let me know). All raised by cuttings, and shipped every two weeks. You gotta try them - get all the info you need from the National Chrysanthemum Society or from old  books found on auction sites. Be a part of the trend to bring back this lost art of trained chrysanthemums.

Geraniums are not boring at all. Truly they are Pelargoniums, and they include the scented ones, unique species and selections that go back to the 1700's. The finest source in the US is  Geraniaceae.com
I warn you though - Geraniums and Pelargoniums are addicting,. Geraniaceae specialize in hybrid types, and heirloom ornamentals. These are the sort often seen only in collections in England or in botanic gardens but there is no reason why you can't raise them in this way, too.


ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT GARDENING IS CURATING REALLY UNIQUE COMBINATIONS OF PLANTS IN CONTAINERS. THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER, I MOVE THEM AROUND, GROUPING TOGETHER INTERESTING COLORS AND TEXTURES.

SOURCES FOR TENDER AND TROPICAL PLANTS TO USE FOR SUMMER CONTAINERS


Joy Creek Nursery - interesting perennials, hardy and tender shrubs that can be used in containers too. Far too many different types of plants to list here. Go explore ( and spend).


SALVIA AZUREA WAS SO BEAUTIFUL IN THE GARDEN OF ROBIN MAGOWAN AND JULIET MATTILA IN SANTE FE, NEW MEXICO. WILL I DARE TO TRY IT IN MY NEW ENGLAND GARDEN? YOU BET. IT'S PERIWINKLE /MORNING GLORY BLUE COLOR WAS  BREATHTAKING. I HAVE TO TRY IT.


Digging Dog Nursery - for rare shrubs, container plants, greenhouse plants in the North, and summer container plants of which, I am trying many Kniphopia selections and species, since we are just out of zone for many. Digging Dog has a superb selection of many found no where else. They also have the most beautiful plant I saw last year - Salvia azurea, I saw it growing in a garden in Sante Fe. It's Morning Glory blue blossoms forming a cloud of azure - and buzzing in honey bees . Still, I am going to try this sky blue beauty in a pot or in the rock garden.





Far Reaches Farm - Dare I admit that this is my favorite source of all, right now? Not only great, unusual plants for containers ( at least for us here in the east), but this nursery comes closes to the old Heronswood, in that they often carry plants found really at nurseries where there are explorer's.  Woodland plants, woodies, perennials, ferns, shrubs, alpines, bulbs, truly for the collector. Like the others sources here, the selection is random but all are incredibly interesting.  They carry my beloved Cardamine, which spread so beautifully in our woodland garden. Crocossmia? They have 45 types.


THERE ARE DOZENS OF VARIETIES OF ABULTILON OR FLOWERING MAPLE, BUT COMMERCIALLY ONLY A HANDFUL ARE GROWN. KARTUZ GREENHOUSES AND LOGEES, AS WELL AS DIGGINGDOG AND ANNIES ANNUALS CAN GET YOU HOOKED ON VARIETIES THAT NO ONE ELSE WILL BE OFFERING.

Kartuz Greenhouses - This is my go-to choice for tender greenhouse plants  (like Logee's) but even more odd and interesting things - loads of gesneriads, unusual tropical shrubs worthy of a container and many begonias for that special collection that will look like Martha's. I am ordering a Bakeridesia integerrima for a pot, Begonia 'Earth tones' , this abutilon that has coloring like fire, they have Asclepias  physocarpus - the 'Hairy Balls' plant which is always worth it for a LOL garden moment, and Clerodendron bungei of which 3 planted in a 40" tub will out shine any container by late August, I promise. It's what many botanic gardens plant to place near their front entrances. Plant them in June, pinch them and fertilize well.  And Boom. You're welcome.

Cistus Nursery - It's hard to explain all that Cistus Nursery carries, but aside from Cistus which we just cannot grow here in the North East, there are many plants to lust for. I find treasures here that do well in the cool greenhouse,  like Australian shrubs and trees, or perennials that will be hardy in my garden if sited well. A fine source for Agave's that no one else has shrubby Coprosma, Impatiens omeiana varieties, Libertia for striking containers, Opuntia varieties that defy description,  and lots of interesting succulents.



Logee's Greenhouses - What can I say? So many delights at Logee's. A little bit of everything, and they are my neighbors. This Connecticut greenhouse is ancient, and most of my plants seems to hail from here.
A DAVIDIA INVOLUCRATA, OR FABELLED GHOST TREE  - A ZONE 7 TREE FROM GOSSLER FARMS WHICH  I PLANTED OUT IN OUR ZONE 5 GARDEN 20 YEARS AGO. IT BLOOMS AFTER MILD WINTERS.

Gossler Farms - A classic nursery known by many serious plant collectors. Magnolia's are king here but so are rare shrubs, and perennials. Always, the finest selections for unusual plant collectors. It's an obvious choice if you live in the Pacific NW, but as many of these nurseries are there, don't feel that these plants won't live elsewhere. You may need to give them some protection, you may even need to just let them freeze and replace them in the spring, as we are getting used to adding tender sub-tropicals like Brugmansia and alocasia to our gardens now. Here in the Boston area, I have many plants from Gossler Farms planted outdoors, including a 20 year old blooming Davidia invollucrata tree and some magnolia's, of which they are renown for. My Phormium, or New Zealand flax come from here.

THIS LOVELY HARDY SINNINGIA TUBIFLORA IS FROM PLANT DELIGHTS NURSERY - THEY HAVE MANY, AND IT GROWS AND MULTIPLIES LIKE CRAZY - FROM POTATO-LIKE TUBERS. WINTER IT OVER IN THE CELLAR OR COLD, FROST FREE GARAGE, AND YOU WILL SOON HAVE MANY TO SHARE.

For potted olive trees, with many interesting varieties which are often difficult to find, try Santa Cruz Olive Nurseries. I have never ordered, but I keep this source bookmarked for some reason.



Plant Delights Nursery - Naturally, what can I say? Awesome. Plus, they have Brugmansia 'Snowbank' this year - just about the most magnificent Brugmansia available, I think. On my Facebook page you can see a leaf of one I had 8 years ago in the masthead. It's a must-get, if it isn't sold out. It is a variety which is hard to find, but the variegation is so showy, that everyone will ask you where you got it.

OH, IF ONLY THIS LOOKED THIS SUMMERY TODAY! I AM THINKING OF ADDING MANY WHITE HYDRANGEAS TO THE GARDEN THIS YEAR - A LITTLE CLICHE, I KNOW, BUT I WANT EASE OF CARE. WHAT DO YOU THINK? HEDGES OF WHITE HYDRANGEAS AND BOXWOOD CLIPPED IN ROWS? DOES IT WORK?


ALPINE TROUGHS AND HIGH ELEVATION PLANTS RAISED IN ROCK GARDENS AND ROCK WALLS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK, ONCE SO POPULAR IN THE VICTORIAN ERA, TODAY, THESE ENDANGERED AND THREATENED RARE ALPINES THRIVE IN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF PEOPLE WHO CARE.


ALPINE AND ROCK GARDEN PLANTS

I am addicted to many plants, but I have a soft spot for alpine and high elevation plants. Many of you know that I am currently president of the North American Rock Garden Society, which I will be talking about soon in a future post, but I wanted to share with you some sources for these incredibly interesting and often - drought tolerant alpines . Alpines is a broad term today, often encompassing most any plant that will stay small, sometimes so small, that they are grown in hypertufa troughs. True alpines are plants from the mountaintops of the world - high elevation plants that grow above the tree-line ( you know, on the black diamond ski trails and above). One can get very geeky about such plants, raising them from seed, planting them limestone tufa rock, but one can also raise alpines which are practically care free - sempervivums and hens and chicks are true alpine succulents - I saw them growing high in the alps along with rare saxifrages. I'll write more about rock gardens and alpines soon, but until then, if you are bored with what you are growing, why not raise the bar?


Wrightman Alpines - Harvey is a good friend, but this is a fine mail-order grower in Canada who ships to the US.

Arrowhead Alpines - One of the last remaining nurseries who sell Primula allionii and other precious plants. A wide selection.

Siskiyou Nursery - Well known in the North West, and a gold standard alpine and interesting plant nursery.  Every alpine gardener shops here.

Sequim Rare Plants - I just discovered this gem, thanks to a reader. They carry many of those Primula auricula which I wrote about recently a few posts back.


A POT OF PERUVIANDAFFODILS OR HYMENOCALLIS CAN BE FOUND IN EITHER RARE OR COMMON FORMS, EVEN GARDEN CENTERS WILL HAVE BAGS OF DUTCH RAISED BULBS. THEY ARE FRAGRANT! NATIVE TO SUBTROPICAL AMERICA, THEY ARE EASY.

UNUSUAL OR EVEN RARE BULBS FOR CONTAINERS 

There are so many bulbs that you can raise in pots, and it's something we often don't think about when picking up some 6 packs or geraniums at the garden center, but plants such as lilies and gladiolus (especially the smaller species and relatives) are perhaps even better when raised in pots than in the garden. I'll share with you that after reading Sarah Raven's book about Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst this past autumn. I marked it up with lots of post-its  about what bulbs I could raise in pots, something she really promoted. Like her, I'll be adding pots of Tigridia, Sparaxis, Gladiolus species and Ixia to my summer container collections. But don't forget lilies - go right now to your garden center and buy a few just for pots - they are terrific grown this way. Just be sure to plant them into the garden once autumn arrives, as they won't survive in pots through the winter.

THIS RED SCDOXUS MULTIFLORUS IS EASY BOTH AS A HOUSEPLANT, AND AS A SUMMER POTTED PLANT. MINE SPEND THE WINTER DORMANT, COOL AND DAMP UNDER A BENCH IN THE GREENHOUSE, BUT THEY ALWAYS EMERGE IN THE SPRING. A CELLAR OR COLD GARAGE WOULD DO AS WELL.

Old House Heirloom Bulbs - I really need to thank these guys for sending me a very nice gift this past fall - I have friends who swear by this Vermont nursery, which is well known amongst the collector crowd. Their catalog and site is so tempting, and a bit like reading a catalog from the 19th century.

I WAS FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE GENUS ROSCOEA IN THIS TORONTO GARDEN OWNED BY MY
 FRIENDS BARBARA AND BELLA.

Paul Christian Rare Plants - UK Here is what I ordered ( for the greenhouse really, but if you have one, these are ridiculously rare - as in - botanic-garden-rare.  My order included Canorina, which is more of a winter houseplant, but I saw it on my winter trip to the UCONN greenhouses, had to order it now, I also suggest Dipcadi serotinum, which essentially is a brown hyacinth relative that can bloom at anytime, last year, mine bloomed in a clay pot set out for the summer - just interesting, insanely rare and odd, I ordered some Ranzania japonica, because a Ranzania was featured on the cover of the North American Rock Garden Society quarterly this past winter, and many species and selections of Roscoea, these relatives of the ginger family that I saw growing a couple of years ago in a Toronto garden some friends, and once I spotted them in the alpine house at Kew, but just try to find any bulbs anywhere. I finally was able to find some here this year.

Ruksans Bulb Nursery, Latvia - OK, super plant geek site, but Janus has the best of many things like Corydalis solida and garden bulbs for autumn. Just listing it here to remind you collectors that you often need to order early for late summer delivery. I always forget!

CALADIUMS CAN BRIGHTEN UP SHADE GARDENS, BUT START THEM INDOORS WHERE IT IS WARM, THEY ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO COOL SOIL, EVEN MY GREENHOUSE IN JUNE WAS TOO COOL.

Caladium bulbs4less   This site may seem out of character for me, and I know, it sounds like one of those sites that would have pop-up porn, but the bulbs I ordered were nearly 7 inches in diameter, and the quality was incredible. You need to buy in volume, but I highly recommend them.



SNOW CONTINUES, TODAY HERE IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND. I CAN'T REMEMBER ANY YEAR ASIDE FROM 1996 WHEN SPRING CAME THIS LATE.





16 comments :

  1. For more humid eastern growing options consider?

    http://www.nearlynativenursery.com/

    http://www.lazyssfarm.com/

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    1. LOL< I thought you wrote Lazy Ass Farm! Thanks Johnny, I will check these out - always up for a new source.

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  2. I believe the Sinningia is 'Carolyn', a hybrid (not my own) that I shared with Tony Avent several years ago. Very nicely-grown plant and a very nice photo as well; I've tried several times to get good photos of this cultivar but something about the way it grows just doesn't work with my camera!

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    1. I only have three of these Sinningia, and yes, this is 'Carolyn', at them moment, it is my favorite. Are there any others that I should have? raising them in deep clay pots here in the North East.

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  3. Ah well, just looking at those photos has lifted the spirits ! Spring is slow here in the uk and things hardly seem to be moving due to a cold March. However, there has been no snow, so I can't really complain.
    Love your photo of the banana and the black Alocacia/calocacia. Joys yet to come ...

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    1. I felt the same way when I started finding these old photos from summer's past. They lift my spirits - oh, and again? It's snowing today now, too. (Monday!).

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  4. I am looking forward to checking out your sources. We have not had a lot of snow but it was very cold. My snowdrops did not come out as early as usual but they eventually did bloom at the same time as the crocus. The wood hyacinth leaves are also quite large. I don't remember all of this happening at the same time before.

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  5. Anonymous12:31 AM

    Great list Matt. Thank you. I would add Odyssey Bulbs to your Bulb Section. Russell does a great job and carries many hard-to-find bulbs. Odyssey and Old House Gardens (BTW, they are located in Michigan) are my two favorite bulb suppliers. Brent and Becky's Bulbs is a close third. May I please suggest one other mail order nursery? You have to check out Grassy Knoll Plants. They are now located in Oregon and specialize in Passiflora, but also have lots of very hard to find and cool succulents. A faithful reader in Seattle.

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    1. How could I forget Russells great bulb catalog - Odyssey Bulbs http://odysseybulbs.com I think because I think of him as a fall order, that he dropped off of my list - but I would start there, then move to the Ruksans list. Russell is a neighbor of mine, too, so there is no excuse. He will surely smack me the next time I see him. Naturally, Brent and Becky's, I just didn't include them assuming that everyone already knows about the bigger companies like this, and McClure & Zimmerman, White Flower Farm, and Scheepers - all on my annual list for bulbs. Silly that I thought that Old House was in Vermont - where did that come from? My crazy head! Never heard of Grassy Knoll - going to check that one out now - tanks!

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  6. Thanks for this list. It is mixed with some old favorites (Gosslers) and many new nurseries to try.

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  7. Add to your order Kirengeshoma palmata from Digging Dog if you don't already grow it! Not many gardeners grow this beautiful perennial.
    Thanks for all the beautiful photos, info and sites you shop at!

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  8. Kirengeshoma makes it on my list each year, as I have been adding to a colony I have near our long border. What a lovely plant, from late spring until autumn. I agree, everyone should grow it if they have damp shade.

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  9. S. azurea is a TERRIFIC plant. I've been growing it for years here in Michigan, and it is a tough, no-fuss, hardy perennial. It is, however, inclined to be very floppy, so plan to stake or cut back before bloom, or put it somewhere it can flop with grace.

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  10. Joseph - shouldn't you be working on your next book rather than cruising the blogs? Will you be attending the NARGS Annual Meeting in Ann Arbor in May? Maybe we can catch up - I am planning on driving out - needed some trillium therapy after this winter, but I never made it onto any of the tours… So encouraging to see that you are growing S. azurea - Panayoti said that I should have no problem with it in my death strip - but then, he says that about most plants that he grows in Colorado - will try a few! Lata

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  11. Thanks for that astounding picture of Iochroma 'Royal Queen'. I just ordered one from the most delightful woman named Joan Davis who owns a nursery in NC. Unbelievable selection of these unknown plants on her website. Beautiful pictures.
    I love your website/blog and find your comments insightful and 'right on'. I love my garden...both indoors and out and this plant will take it's place in a big pot on my back porch where I can see it everyday. Again, thanks for sharing. Mary Forte

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  12. Hi Matt, love this page. I wanted to ask you about your Hymenocallis. We get quite a few species out here in Asia used as reliable garden plants, both for the flowers and foliage but I've never seen your one which looks to be the hybrid called H. "Advance". Do you know if this is it? I love the reduced spider petals and larger flute on yours. Im not so keen on the long "spidering" petaled kinds for some reason, think because these petals always senesce first leaving something of a ratty looking half dead flower or they're just too skinny to be of any lasting impact. I also like the foliage on yours, its so neatly upright broad and fecund looking.

    Can you remember where you got yours? I've been looking at various sites and only found one Hymenocallis that looks like yours, H. Advance available at Ty Ty nursery. Most other sites don't have one that looks like yours even those calling them "Advance". So Im thinking yours is also a specific selection or clone of the cross which must otherwise be quite variable.

    Yours is the one Im after anyway! Would be nice to make sure before I order......assuming Ty Ty will send to Hong Kong.

    Any help would be well received. Anton

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