Gardeners love new plants even when they run out of space for them
No more space for plants in the yard? That doesn't stop a gardener from drooling over rare and new shrubs and trees.
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The redbud variety Hearts of Gold is an exquisitely showy ornamental tree. The young leaves are tinged red but then stay a cheery yellow through the season, with the leaves at the branch tips brightened the most by sunlight.Skip to next paragraph
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Forest Pansy is a handsome but commonplace purple-leafed version of the redbud, and if I were planting a redbud today, it would be Hearts of Gold.
There is a lovely evergreen bush native to the Gulf Coast but hardy in areas to the north. Southern gardeners know it as the anise tree, though it is a shrub with pleasing coarse leaves and novel flowers in spring, like starbursts.
The species Illicium floridanum has maroon flowers. The variety Alba has white blossoms. It needs moist but well-drained soil and benefits from a little shade, as much perhaps as an azalea or rhododendron. In time, it will grow to about six feet tall and four feet across.
Mr. Popham also pointed out several perennials that he feels are little known but valuable for their long blooming season and ease of care.
There is widespread agreement that the best stokesia out there is a variety named Peachie's Pick, a compact, blue-flowering perennial that blooms continuously until November. "A lot of them die out," says Popham, "but this one seems OK."
I loved a helenium named Mardi Gras. Another recent introduction, it is smothered in distinctive petals that are yellow splashed with orange and deep red. It needs a sunny site with moist soil. "This came into bloom in late May, and it hasn't been out of bloom since," says Popham.
Coneflower hybrids are one of the hottest perennials these days, and many of them are gorgeous in their saturated colors. I was taken by a variety named Emily Saul, a sturdy, low-growing coneflower with petals a rich and vibrant rose-purple.
The bizarre but beautiful pitcher plant, Sarracenia, is a great conversation piece, though you have to build a little bog for it. This can be achieved, however, in something as simple as a large pot.
Pitcher plants produce extraordinarily weird flowers, but it is the form and markings of the insect-trapping pitchers that most catches the eye.
Some varieties shine in the spring, others in the fall. One of the loveliest (for us, not the flies) is the white trumpet, whose tubes and hoods are white with raspberry-colored veining in autumn.
At Fairweather, I encountered a hybrid new to me, with stout pitchers a lime green but heavily netted with maroon. It is the naturally occurring offspring of the purple pitcher plant and the yellow trumpet, known botanically as Sarracenia x catesbaei.
As they say, a pitcher is worth a thousand words.
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