Okay, it wasn’t really Santa Claus. It was just the mail lady and the UPS man, bringing my two plant orders of the season on the same day. But I felt the same excitement I had felt as a kid on Christmas morning as I made my way down the stairs, wondering if Santa had brought me my heart’s desire.
Well, I knew my heart’s desire was in those boxes. Hadn’t I pored over catalogs, agonized over prices, and checked and rechecked my bank balance? Shoot, I even created some spreadsheets so that the total automatically incremented as I added each plant to the order. That’ll keep your feet grounded like nothing else will, believe me. The other big reality check is to have a column for where you’re going to plant each coveted botanical treasure.
This is your cue to say, “So, whadja get, whadja get?” I had a twenty dollar credit due me from White Flower Farm, but after carefully going through their print catalog page by page and not finding anything suitable (which means, there were things I wanted but I knew I could get them cheaper elsewhere), I decided to look on their website. I really wanted to get this credit out of my hair, and I was hoping to search by price, so I could find something that fit my credit without going over too much. You can search by just about any criterion imaginable–except price. I imagine they don’t want you thinking too much about how much money you’re spending. So I gave up on that and clicked Web Specials. Still underwhelmed. Then I clicked Web Exclusives. Ahh, now we were getting somewhere! I finally settled on Brunnera ‘Looking Glass,’ which WFF claims “is an even more silvery selection of ‘Jack Frost,’ one of the more exciting perennials for shade in recent memory.” I had tried–and failed–with another variegated brunnera twice now, and I am hoping that third time is the charm. I am going to plant this on the north side of the house where I have some spring ephemerals. I expect the brunnera to cover up some of the area when the native plants go dormant. This one plant by itself would have exhausted my credit and then some. (And, let me tell you, when it arrived it didn’t look like any twenty-six dollar perennial, but we all know that what the market will bear counts for a lot more than the pot size of the plant.) But I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, and I was feeling reckless. (Or was it extravagant? I think when a frugal person makes an extravagant purchase, it feels reckless.) At any rate, I fell hard for Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings.’. I had long wanted to get Thalictrum aquilegiifolium for the north side of the house, and ‘Black Stockings’ looks like T. aquilegiifolium, but with a deeper colored flower and a dark flower stalk. (Since they don’t give the species name, I wonder if it is a hybrid?) I’m hoping its deeper color will play off the purple-leaved coral bells that I already have growing there.
The other box was from Seneca Hill Perennials. I had the opportunity to visit this nursery last spring during the open days, and had made notes of plants I wanted to add to my garden. One of the plants that really took my fancy was Iris sibirica ‘Jaybird.’ This iris has the deepest blue color of any I’ve ever seen (which admittedly isn’t an awful lot). This will join the peonies in the peony bed. I’m hoping it will multiply rapidly so it can eventually escort all the grand dames in this bed. Another plant that I saw in situ was Cynanchum ascyrifolium. Neither my photo nor owner Ellen Hornig’s in the catalog does justice to the abundance of bloom on this plant. I don’t think I would have bought it if I hadn’t seen it in person, where it just grabs your attention. According to my spreadsheet, I intended to put this by the purple-leaved smokebush, but since I’ve decided to make that strictly a shrub bed, I think I’ll plant it in the purple-and-gold bed (which is really purple, gold, and white). It should hold its own against the Heliopsis scabra ‘Summer Sun’ and Monarda ‘Blue Stocking’ already there. Centaurea montana ‘Dot Purple’ was another one I saw there. This is a common plant with a unique flower color. I was on my way back to the car when I almost passed this by, and then did a double take. I didn’t take a photo as the camera was already zipped back up in its case, and frankly, I don’t do very well describing this color range. I’ve already got plenty of the passalong Mountain Bluet, so I hope to keep this isolated. Lychnis viscaria ‘Plena’ was the final plant of this order that I got to meet in person. Yeah, hot pink–a lot of bang for the buck. This is going in the southwest corner of the birthday garden, which is badly in need of renovation.
Well, I’d just love to tell you about the other five plants in the order, but time is getting away from me. Perhaps another day. You really should check out Seneca Hills as you consider your fall planting. There’s always something unusual and good being offered there. (Perhaps you’ve discovered, as I have, that not all unusual plants are good garden plants?)