Friday, March 18, 2011

Bloggers' Dreams and Nightmares. Plant Hopes and Desires!

Taking our cue from a Denver Post article about their garden writers' desires for the garden season, here are some of our bloggers' dreams and nightmares! 


Plants I'll always plant:  Tomatoes because I enjoy making fresh salsa and blts with them; penstemons because there is such a variety, I find them easy to grow and they "go" with everything.

Plants I'm itching to try: Blueberries…in Colorado? 'nuff said.

Forget about it!  Chocolate flower.  My soil is builder's clay, poorly drained and poorly oxygenated.   I can meet the sun requirements, but it needs better drained soil than I can provide.


Plants I'll always plant: More and more floribunda roses. Many of them are perfect for Colorado's climate and they provide a beautiful bloom throughout the summer.

Plants I'm itching to try: More native plants and shrubs! Last summer I experimented with about 10 different natives and I'm anxious to see how they fared over this crazy winter.

Forget about it! Geum - that lovely perennial with yellow or orange-red blooms just doesn't do well in my yard, regardless where I put it. Bummer.


Plants I'll always plant: I like various ornamental grasses and will probably always try to include them. They come in many varieties and sizes, and provide year-round textural interest.

Plants I'm itching to try: I've never planted clematis and would like to try it. I have a spot in mind, but have to build a trellis of some sort first.

Forget about it! I really don't care much for most junipers and arbor vitae. It's not that I can't grow them, I just think there are much better choices. Juniper and arbor vitae tend to split with age and turn brown.


Plants I'll always Plant: I am a big fan of heirloom vegetables, especially tomatoes, so I will continue to plant and enjoy favorites I have grown previously and try out new ones as well. I also plant something that produces at the end of the summer, just to squeeze out a little more growing right at the end, so I also always plant pumpkins of some variety and gourds.

Plants I'm Itching to Try: Most melons are challenging to grow here, but I am determined to do it successfully this year! I have a banana melon that I can't wait to try out. It is supposed to be very succulent and aromatic, just sounds heavenly! Also am looking forward to trying the "Cinderella Pumpkin" a large, somewhat flat pumpkin that is a deep orange red and was supposed to be the model for the pumpkin coach for the Cinderella movie! Lots more I am itching to try but also want to try out Zuchinni rampicante - a large zuchinni that climbs up a trellis and is supposed to be very prolific with interesting shaped zuchinni.

Forget About It!  Not too many that I have given up on, but have to say one would be "Furry Yellow Hog" tomato. I got it as a free seed from an heirloom company. It was very prolific and has light yellow, somewhat fuzzy tomatoes (I guess along the line of the peach type tomatoes) but they lacked flavor and I couldn't even get my friends to try it (because of the name and the fuzz)!


Plants I'll always Plant: Since reading  a gardening magazine article entitled "Plants with Impact" I often find myself judging new plant possibilities on how showy, how striking, even how unusual they would appear if they got to do their thing in my yard. So I'm a fan of tall, colorful amaranth, particularly "Fat Spike," a variety with heavy thick deep-crimson seed heads. I love the huge palmate leaves of castor beans and their colorful flower/bean stalks. And directly from the magazine article, I've adopted American pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), an herbaceous shrub that grows six-foot tall stalks anew each year and produces racemes of dark purple berries.

Plants I'm itching to try: I'm itching to try a couple more plants that seem to be in the same category. One would be from among the Eremurus hybrids (Desert Candle, Foxtail lily). But it needs a spot where its tall colorful flowering spires are protected from the wind. Secondly, I have a couple of large open spaces where I would like to try an ornamental rhubarb. One of the Rheum palmatum varieties will produce six-foot stems with erect panicles of thick white, pink, or crimson flowers. Our winds might be a problem for them, too.

Forget about it! I'm very tolerant of "volunteers" and the occasional stranger turning up in my flower beds, but I dislike aggressive, takeover plants, even when I've brought them into the yard myself. I made the mistake some years ago of starting from seed a species of Yarrow I soon came to fear. It was Achillea ptarmica, which looks nothing like the more common Yarrows we all grow. It was low-growing, bore small white flowers, and spread by root stolons. It took years to get rid of it. I had a similar experience with Vinca minor, which seemed a good idea until I found it wouldn't stay in its intended place. There are many other hooligans in this category, but I'll mention only one: Campanula rapunculoides (Rover, Creeping bellflower), which bears three-foot stems of pretty violet-purple flowers, but spreads everywhere, by seed and by rhizome. It usually sneaks into your garden by piggybacking on some other plant. I once heard it described by a staffer at Denver Botanic Gardens as "the scourge of the Gardens." 


Plants I’ll Always Plant: Mohave Sage, Salvia pachyphylla, is an eye-catching flowering evergreen perennial with silver green leaves and violet-blue petals surrounded by rosy bracts. European Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, sometimes coming up through the snow.  It always lets me know that warm temperatures are not far behind.  This perennial comes in white, lavender-blue and mauve-red.
Pyracantha angustifolia ‘Monon’, Yukon Belle Pyracantha, is a hardy evergreen providing green color in the winter with white spring flowers and then persistent orange fall-winter berries.  This is a great shrub for birds providing berries for food and safety from predators as it has thorns.
Western Sand Cherry, Prunus besseyi, is an all-season shrub.  It offers sweet smelling white flowers covering the stems in the spring, followed by attractive green leaves, gorgeous fiery red and purple fall color and then a nice winter shape. 
Silky-Spike Melic Grass, Melica aff. ciliata, is a grass that once you grow you’ll want to add more and more.  It is very showy with white fluffy seed heads which mature in late spring to early summer unlike most other ornamental grasses which develop in the fall. The grass catches the light so well and adds sparkle to your garden

Plant I’m Itching to Try: Top on my list because I’ve seen it grow with such beauty in other gardens is Alleghany Viburnum, Viburnum xrhytidopylloides.  It’s a broad-leaf evergreen that looks good in formal or informal gardens. It has an upright arching shape with white late spring flowers and thick quilted looking leaves that are dark green on top and tan or gray underneath giving the plant an interesting look.  It was a Plant Select pick for 1997.

Forget About It! I fell in love with Gaillardia, Blanket Flower, the first time I saw it growing on the side of the road.  I have since tried to grow it myself with complete failure.  It is a plant that likes it dry with not much extra care and its also a short-lived perennial so doesn’t stick around for long - letting it reseed will give you new plants. However, if you can grow this is it so eye-catching and worth it. 


Plants I'll always plant:  Red Birds in a Tree (Scrophularia macrantha).  The name says is all.  This beautiful 36" x 18 inch Penstemon relative has small flowers that really do look like little red birds sitting in a tree.  Hummingbirds love this plant and it blooms from early summer through fall.  Red Birds in a Tree just makes me smile whenever I see it.  This is a Plant Select from 2008.  Green Zebra tomatoes.  Wow, did Green Zebras perform in my garden last year!  The fruit on this tomato plant are about green with yellow stripes and about 2 inches in diameter,  They have a great tomato taste and are very sweet.  I'm not much of a vegetable gardener, but Green Zebras made me look good.

Green Zebra tomatoes
Plants I'm itching to try: Green Doctors tomatoes.  I have heard that these tomatoes win all the taste tests.  I purchased seeds this year and I'm going to give these a try!  I can't believe they could be better than the Green Zebras.  I hope to have a side by side comparison later this summer.
(Photo from Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco, CA)
I would also to try a little vertical garden this summer.  While traveling in California last week I saw examples of succulents planted in small boxes and hung on a wall.  Art with plants.  I have to research this more, but I'd love to give it a try.

Forget about it!  My garden is just too exposed to successfully grow tall, stately delphiniums.  They struggle along for a season and never come back.  I leave this one to gardeners who have more sheltered gardens.


Plants I’ll always plant:  Heuchera!  I have probably 15 varieties and growing.  I have a lot of shade and the colorful foliage looks fabulous and I can’t resist the names: Apple Crisp, Berry Smoothie, Chocolate Ruffles, Lime Rickey, Sparkling Burgundy to name a few!

Plants I’m itching to try:  Curley Fries hosta! It almost looks like yucca and of course the foodie name has me hooked. There is also a new hakonechloa I want to try: Fubuki.

Forget about it! Echinacea! I love the colors, the shape and the personality of this lovely native but I don’t have enough sun; they tend to get aster yellows and just don’t like me!

Dream big, dear gardener! Planting time is almost here.