Plants to drool over, part I

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today I realized that I never followed up with the post-GWA post that I promised. I hate not coming through on a promise that I've made, so here's the first recap of the trip.

Before we even got out on the garden tours, I was drooling over plants. Check out this beautiful "floral" arrangement that was in the lobby of our hotel. There's nary a bloom in sight! That's the kind of creativity I like to see when it comes to gardening.

Our first tour was of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University. I remember visiting these gardens years ago when my family lived in Durham and seeing beds and beds of spring bulbs that took my breath away. Thankfully, the garden was equally captivating at summer's end.

I was especially in love with the area known as the Terrace Gardens, since they used a host of great tropicals in striking combinations. Here's a beautiful Ensete ventricosum, aka Abyssinian banana. Big surprise that I was drawn to it, eh?

The afternoon light was absolutely amazing the way it danced through the elephant ear leaves. I have no idea what species or cultivar they were, but wow were they pretty!

And as long as we're talking about elephant ears, check out this speckled one. I'm thinking it might have been Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty.' You can just see some of the other bronze-leaved elephant ears from above in the background of this shot.

The Terrace Gardens also included red-leaved castor beans, possibly Ricinus communis 'Carmencita' I know I've definitely mentioned wanting a red-leaved castor bean at least once before. I love the bronze foliage and spiky seed pods.

Okay, enough about specific plants for now. Let's talk about form. It was magical the way the various plant forms in this scene played against each other -- the tall hollies, the broad junipers, and the round mums. It was so energetic, even though all the plants were basically in the same color palette. I think there's a design lesson in there somewhere.

I'll put up another post soon with photos of our visit to Plant Delights Nursery, the Raleigh Farmers' Market, and the JC Raulston Arboretum. The full set of photos is available on Flickr, in case you're craving more before then. Happy gardening!


Christine B. said...

My jealousy knows no bounds. Not only do you get to grow great houseplants outside, you visited PDN. I have ordered from them before and love their inventory and the owner's sense of humor. Never read another garden catalog quite like it. Can't wait to get the lowdown on your tour.

Christine in Alaska

Wicked Gardener said...

Just when you thought you were out... they pull you back in! Love to see the posts you said you weren't writing any more!! ;D

Susan said...

You were very lucky to visit PDN. How did you ever restrain yourself from buying only 5 plants? I love that last photo. It is a striking design. Looking forward to more.

kim taylor - - - the sassy crafter said...

Thanks everyone for the warm welcome back! Regarding PDN, they offer a few public open houses every year. I think it's well worth it to swing by, if you can!

And Christine, I'm impressed that you garden in Alaska. Wow! I've visited Anchorage, Denali, and Fairbanks and have seen firsthand how tough it must be to garden there. Kudos to you!