Saturday, May 2, 2009

What I did on my gardening vacation - Part I

A long overdue account of what I accomplished the week before last...

Questing after shrub borders against the fence, I've been reading "Continuous Color" by Pam Duthie.

She recommends shrubs with more than one season's interest. For each one she lists all the relevant details, including some gushing comments that undercut her authority just a bit. Nevertheless, based on her recommendations, I headed first to Merrifield and then to Colesville Nursery.

At Merrifield (in the pouring rain), I ended up with a Kerria japonica 'Golden Guinea,' which has single yellow roselike blooms and offers "bright green stems showy in winter." It's not an exciting shrub, but its yellow flowers are sweet. I was heartened to read Henry Mitchell calling it "common and unexciting" but going on to say,
And yet I well recall decades ago when I first saw this bright canary-yellow creature - golden quarters spangled the length of bright lime-green stems - in a Mississippi garden...I could not think of many good plants that would survive in dry shade, and besides, I wanted the green stems to be there in winter. Indeed, they are just as cheerful on a January day as I expected they would be.

Also at Merrifield, after surveying the yews



and the English laurels
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with an interested eye, I came away with a Kirengeshoma, something I'd been interested in since planning the refurbished front garden. I've planted it under the oak tree in back and look forward to its leaves and blooms. It doesn't hurt to see Henry Mitchell saying
What could be grown in such a space, dampish and half shady, between brick pavement and the concrete wall of the pool? Well, if I moved the wild irises (Iris versicolor from a local swamp) out and dug in a barrowful of leaf mold and some peat moss and let it all settle down nicely, I could grow Kirengeshoma palmata. This is a perennial posing as a small shrub, growing three feet or so, with leaves like a Norway maple's and hanging yellow bells or trumpet flowers in October. I have never seen a photograph of it that would make anybody desire it. And yet I have never heard of any gardener who, seeing it in the flesh, did not want it. It's not the leaves and it's not the flowers -- it's the way the plant is put together with such refinement and freshness.

Here it is:
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Also five Mahogany bugleweed to go under the oak leaf hydrangea, three white caladiums for pots, a Rex begonia, and a 'White Lady' hellebore to go somewhere...
Here's the wagon full:
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