Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rare Plant Research sale

So. The plan for the front yard has always been to have a lot of evergreen elements so the yard would look nice in every season. I wasn't going to use a lot of perennials. I really meant it. And I was only going to buy things that were drought tolerant so I wouldn't be watering every day in the summer. I swear I meant it.

But then I went to the Rare Plant Research sale.

Does it remind you of Italy? Greg asked me. No. California.

It started out okay. I bought Lewisia! These will go in the berm with the agaves since they both like sharp drainage and full sun. Good job, me! These will probably look pretty sad and soggy in the winter but they are technically evergreen.

Ditto this Dasylirion. Sharp drainage, full sun, great in the berm. I've wanted one of these since I saw a mature specimen in the Amsterdam Botanical garden.

Dasylirion texanum

Then I saw the cannas. I loved this one with the red-rimmed leaves so much I didn't even grab a tag! But I know it wants consistently moist soil.

Seriously, anyone know what I am?

And then I saw these lovely red cannas. They make orange flowers "all summer long." BOOM. Now I have Lionel Ritchie stuck in my head.

Canna durban

Cannas are neither evergreen nor drought tolerant. But they are so pretty and colorful. And Greg really liked them and he doesn't get excited about plants, ever. I put them next to the house where I can run over them with the hose, which is very likely since I'll be watering them every day. I'm going to blame my non-plan following on the enormous glass of wine I had (I think it was 10 ounces at least--I had to take a nap when we got home) and the fact that I was kind of amped up because I ran into Ryan and Patricia (and her daughter Megan). I have never felt so warmly embraced by a community as I have by the gardeners in Portland and online. Gardeners are the best.

I also bought a castor bean plant, an annual which can get seven feet tall . . . in very hot locations. I'm just hoping for three or four to fill in this blank spot next to the Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies'. Fine Gardening featured it this month and just the night before I had earmarked it and showed it to Greg. The next day he had no recollection of this. It's almost like he's not listening when I natter on about plants!

When I warned him that all parts of the plant are poisonous, he asked why I put it in the front yard, when a child/dog/goat could wander up and . . . eat it, I guess?

Ricinus communis

I may just park an agave in front of it as a warning. Get off my not-lawn!


  1. Oh my god those Lewisia are so cool!

  2. Right? I don't know why I haven't known about them before.

  3. Hahahahaha...well, as they say, plans (and promises) are made to be broken ;-) Honestly, it never seems to matter how well I've planned out a space (or how much I've sworn to only use a certain, limited palette of plants), I will inevitably spot a plant I can't live without on my next trip to a nursery and have to re-arrange a whole portion of the garden to accomodate my new's the nature of the beast, I daresay :-)

  4. Well if we weren't constantly rearranging our gardens we'd be stuck with just weeding (shudder). Wouldn't want that to happen. :)

  5. I think you made the most excellent choices! And you've got me kind of wishing I would have picked up one of those Dasylirion...

  6. All the cool kids are doing it. :)

  7. How were you able to choose a Lewisa many! I feel the same about the Caster Oil plant , I won't plant it in the back yard , my dogs !
    You've got some nice plants there, I haven't found Canna's too needy, water wise , they don't seem to mind my sandy soil.

  8. It was really hard selecting Lewisia! And I'm so happy to hear that your cannas aren't too needy. I'll still run them over with the house, I'm sure, but maybe a little less . . .

  9. Your going to run over your Cannas with the house? That's a good trick!

    I wanted to second Linda's remark. In fact I didn't water the ones in the front garden hardly at all last summer and they did fine. A little shorter than they would have otherwise been but fine.

  10. Ha! I don't mess around when I'm running things over. That is excellent news, although I'm going to be watering everything in the front yard this summer, since it's their first year, so I don't know why I'm worried. I should be worried about all those plants in the rain garden that aren't going to get any rain.

  11. I bought two packets of Castor bean seeds and am experimenting with various methods (indoors, directly in the ground, soaking overnight, etc.) Let's check back at the end of the season to see if any of them reach seven feet. That would be something! Yours looks like it has quite a head start. We want lots, because someone said they keep the gophers away.

  12. I think you have to poke the gophers with an umbrella and implant a seed? ;) I really hope it works for you!

  13. I have been intrigued with the Lewisias since I saw them on another blog. They really look like charmers. I will be following your experience with interest before I try growing anything that needs sharp drainage, which I don't have. I hope they do well for you!

  14. I hope they do well too! I'm so completely encamped of them already, and they are still in the pot!