Plants to drool over, part II

Monday, April 5, 2010

As promised, here's the second installment of the recap of the cool plants I saw during the 2009 Garden Writers Association Conference.

Our second set of tours took us to holy ground -- Juniper Level Botanic Garden at Plant Delights Nursery. If you don't know, the Plant Delights catalog is THE catalog to drool over every spring. Plantsman Tony Avent keeps it packed full of interesting and exotic plants that plant geeks everywhere love to covet. Plus, he has a great sense of humor. How many other catalogs do you know that stock cultivars like 'Get Nekkid', 'Red Neck Heaven', 'Elvis Lives', and 'Bubba'?

Needless to say, we were all pretty excited to see the nursery and garden, and few of us left without buying a plant or two. The first picture is me proudly holding my purchases:

Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston'
+ Chasmanthium latifolium 'River Mist'
Canna indica 'Red Stripe'
+ Canna 'Intrigue'
Solidago stricta

Interestingly, I wasn't the only one to be smitten by the solidago. Several people I know picked up this plant. It's funny because the plant was not on my must-have list at the beginning of the morning. I've never so much as circled it in the catalog. (Note: I just realized that's because it's only offered at PDN open houses and online.) But we saw it in bloom in the garden and it was just gorgeous. The leaves are much less prominent than what I usually associate with goldenrods (even less so than the image on the PDN page), so the form is much more striking. Plus it was in bloom, and any nurseryman knows that customers are suckers for plants in bloom.

I had plenty of cannas to choose from. In fact, this entire aisle was full of cannas! It's a wonder that I came back with only two varieties. Damn budget.

The garden featured several whimsical touches, like this dragon coming out of a grouping of yuccas. Apologies for the blurriness, but this was an early morning tour. I'll say that it's because the lighting was low, but it could've been that I was still waking up.

Speaking of whimsy, Tony Avent even created his own mountain on premises, dubbing it "Mount Michelle" after the famous Mount Mitchell in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. Here's a shot of Emily and Tom walking under that waterfall on Mount Michelle.

Tom insisted that we take his photo in front of this variegated ligustrum. Yes, the light coloring isn't flowers -- it's the leaves. And can you get over how big it is?

And speaking of big plants, check out this agave. Sure, Emily and I aren't exactly the tallest gals around, but this thing really was huge, I swear!

I really liked this plant, which was just around the corner from the agave. I think it might be Curcuma zedoaria 'Bicolor Wonder'. If so, it should get up to 72" tall. I might have to try this in the shady part of my front bed to give it a tropical punch.

Well, those are my favorite photos from PDN. We spent the other half of the tour at the North Carolina Farmers' Market. I bought a small Albizia julibrissen 'Chocolate Summer' there, which made me sooooo happy, despite the $40 price. I have wanted to have a 'Chocolate Summer' mimosa since 2007 when I first saw one in Oklahoma City. Yes, I know that the species type is invasive here in Florida. I'm hoping that the fancy cultivar will be less aggressive. If need be, I'll cut off the flowers before they set seed. I just had to have it!

I didn't take many photos at the farmers market -- just a few fall-inspired shots of pumpkins for sale. I'm not going to bother posting those, since I know that you guys don't come here for pumpkins. You want photos of bold and beautiful plants! Swing by later and I'll have another post that's chock full of beautiful plant photos from our visit to the J.C. Raulston Arboretum.


Steve Asbell said...

I'm so glad you're back! I'll have to see some photos of the mimosa because it sounds absolutely beautiful... Speaking of cannas, my species canna edulis that i started from seed has come back already! since you seem to be a canna collector could you tell me anything about it?

Christine B. said...

Where is my pencil? Writing Solidago on the I just have to figure out if it's hardy here.

Christine in Alaska

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

Steve: While I do love cannas and gush about them all the time on my blog here, I have to confess that I'm not really than much of an expert. You might try the great reference book "The Gardener's Guide to Growing Cannas" by Ian Cooke for help.

Steve Asbell said...

will do! Thanks for the recommendation!

keewee said...

slobber, drool.I would love to have some of those gorgeous plants in my garden. I see the one and only canna I have, is starting to sprout. That is a yippee!!! as our winter has been very wet and I was afraid it may have rotted out.

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

keewee: Ah, but I see from your blog that you can grow tulips, which are our of our zonal reality here in Florida!

Meems said...

What a great fun tour! Do you know the name of that Agave? I want one!

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

Sure, Meems! It's Agave ovatifolia and they have it for sale at PDN: