Plants to drool over, part III

Monday, April 12, 2010

Welcome to the third and final post about the cool plants I saw at the 2009 Garden Writers Association conference!

This time I'll be recapping what we saw at the JC Raulston Arboretum on the NC State University campus. I'll start by saying that we saw a ton of cool things, and I'll do my best to highlight them all. I'll also say that it was pretty nasty while we were there -- overcast and drizzly -- so not all of the photos are the best.

The first photo shows some inventive planters that we eventually saw in the trials garden. I'm pretty sure they were just sections of drainage pipe that had been painted. Colorful, cheap, and affordable -- all good things in my gardening world!

Emily and I officially started our tour looking at some of the trees, including this cool magnolia. Can you believe that it has variegated leaves? It was hard to get a good picture since it is a full-sized tree, but I think you can see some of the yellowish leaves.

Once we made it to the bedding plant trials garden, I fell in love with Gomphrena spp. 'Fireworks'. The flower heads had much more interest than a typical round Gomphrena flower, and the plants themselves were quite thick and robust. I might need to buy myself some seeds from Burpee next year and give this one a try.

This orange bulbine was really beautiful. It was taller than the yellow bulbine that I'm used to seeing around here and had denser foliage. I could totally see myself using it in my garden somewhere.

And check out this odd-looking plant! Apparently it's a milkweed family plant called Gomphocarpus physocarpus. The seed pods were really cool, so much so that Emily and I both ran over to look at it as soon as we laid eyes on it. It was pretty tall, too -- maybe 6 or 8 feet. Very striking.

This is what they called the lath house. I liked that it seemed like a clever and easy way to create a shade house by creating a framework with standard lumber and then topping it off with wood and wire snow fencing. Again, easy and affordable -- both good things.

We saw Illicium mexicanum 'Aztec Fire' in the lath house, and boy, was it hot! The leaves of the plant looked like our own native Florida anise, but the red flowers made it so much better. The sign said that it's native to Northeast Mexico. Apparently it's commercially available and is suited for Zones 8-9, so maybe I'll have to give it a try.

Finally, we saw a lot of cool succulents in the rooftop garden and the xeric garden. The one on the left is similar to the one that I bought at Plant Delights Nursery. It was only a foot or so tall. The one on the right was Agave 'Mr. Ripple'.

That's all for the 2009 GWA updates. Come September, I'll be heading to Dallas for this year's conference. Can't wait!


Susan said...

I love those colorful containers. What an awesome idea! The orange bulbine is a really neat plant that I can see in the garden, too. And, that last succulent...really neat. Looks like you had a terrific time.

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

I know! I keep thinking I'll try the container idea. I've spray painted plastic planters before with good results, so it's worth a try.

And yes, it's was a great trip. I feel so fortunate to have the job I do!

Kimberly said...

Hi, Kim (great name)! I LOVE the lath house! Beautiful! Wonderful post.

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

Thanks, Kimberly! I know -- doesn't the lath house seem like such a great and easy design idea?