Finding plants with interesting foliage is always a treat, but if they’re discouragingly expensive or too fussy to grow successfully, the thrill can go off pretty quickly. So these days, I turn first to seed catalogs to see what I can grow for myself before I start hunting through online nursery listings or visiting local garden centers. Here are a few of my favorite foliage finds that are easy to start from seed and easy to grow in the garden, too.
Archive for the ‘Cool Plants’ Category
Sometimes it takes a new pair of eyes (or nearly 200 new pairs of eyes) to make you appreciate a plant that you walk past every day with hardly a second glance. Of all the bright flowers and in-your-face foliage plants I have here, one of the stars of this past weekend’s garden tour was a rather subtle, plain green annual with the common name of widow’s tears.
I’m honored and delighted to be taking part in April’s Garden Designers Roundtable as a guest blogger. I’d feel out of place contributing on a design-specific subject in the company of all these professional designers, but I never run out of things to say about my favorite plants, so I jumped at the chance to join in on this topic. The hard part was deciding which plants would make the cut. Going with the “landscape” aspect, and attempting to keep this post a semi-reasonable length, I settled on three of my favorite woody plants.
Inspired by some recent posts by Thomas over at Grounded Design, I’ve been thinking a good bit about the gardening trends I’ve seen come and go over the past 25-plus years. I’ve enjoyed exploring many of them myself, and even those that now seem rather boring or impractical have left traces on the garden I have today.
Back in the early to mid-90s, for instance, when I was developing my previous garden, mixed borders were a hot topic at lectures and conferences, and I totally bought into the idea. Trying to incorporate shrubs into my plantings was a real challenge, though, because that garden was very small. Then, I started hearing about the great “new” idea of cut-back shrubs, and wow – that made all the difference. Who knew that there were shrubs that would tolerate being cut back almost to the ground each year? They’d give height and mass and winter structure, and it took only one simple pruning step to keep them from taking up too much valuable border space.
It was tempting to go another direction with this post: along the lines of “be careful what you wish for.” After desperately wishing for rain all summer, we ended up getting all of that missing rain yesterday: 9 inches in just one day. So much for the one day this year that I had agreed to open the garden for a tour.
This morning’s reality included a toppled arbor, washed-out paths, and bedraggled asters. But really, fussing about too much rain isn’t any more helpful than all of the previous whining about too little, so I’d rather think about some new plants that have performed well this year, despite the adversity.