Thursday, November 15, 2012

Two Plant Sales

'Dawn Star' rose by Dr. Griffith Buck, plus a bonus 'Green Rose' bloom in front
I've been really, really awol.  No idea why, really--somehow, I just wasn't in the mood to blog anymore. For  about 5 months.

However, everything is so very nice out that failing to document feels vaguely criminal. Plus: two plant sales!

One of the nice things: a rose we got for free and never cared about, but that has been a real trooper.  And those wine-colored petals with white reverse are really outstanding. 'Burgundy Iceberg.' (I still think it's a stoopid name, though.)
The first was a series of releases by a propagator of rare and antique roses called Vintage Gardens in CA. They (if memory serves) collaborate with both the Huntington Garden and the rose garden in Sacramento. They have a huge inventory of source plants, but they rotate actual propagules in and out--it being too expensive to keep every variety in stock all the time.  Anyway, they had--I think--4 big releases this year at which they sold both rare old garden roses and a bunch of nifty found roses from the west coast.  My rose-growing experience has been very Texas- and ARE-centric, so I had never heard of many of these.

Unfortunately, they don't share my love of Chinas or Bourbons (too cool and moist in their area?), but they do have an extensive inventory of Teas. (And Centifolias and Gallicas, for those with the climate for it.)

To Matt's dismay, I ended up with 7 "bands" (which are extra-deep 4-inch pots, a common way to sell rose propagules):

Miraculously, I found room for 5 of them; the other two will have to wait till we finish prepping the Great Wall bed between ourselves and our neighbor's property.

My next desires (but where will we put them?!?) are 'Oneto Home Saffron' and 'Korbel Canyon Red'.  Here's hoping for an early spring release.

Then it was time for the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center's fall sale.  Somehow, the theme of this sale (for me) ended up being Mistflowers. We've been trying to enhance the wildlife-friendliness of our yard, and a friend of Matt's calls mistflower "butterfly crack," so it was an obvious choice.  The only difficulty was that it turns out there are (at least) 3 different species of bluey-periwinklish mistflowers: Conoclinium greggii, C. betonicifolium, and C. coelestinum. I hate making decisions of this kind, so I bought them all.

The greggii was the only one I knew beforehand, but I think it is actually going to be my least favorite--it's a bit gangly, and the blue is comparatively washy. Meh.  The betony-leaf mistflower and the "blue" mistflower (coelestinum) appear much more satisfactory.  So far (after about 2 weeks in the ground!) they are very similar in color and habit--pleasantly moundy compared to the greggii.  And a lovely, deep glowy blue that really stands out toward dusk.  I haven't actually seen any butterflies around, but then the plants are just babies and it isn't really peak butterfly season anymore.  Am very much looking forward to next summer, though.

I also got:

  • Whiteleaf mountainmint (Pycnanthemum albescens)
  • Southern wood fern  (Thelypteris kunthii)
  • Fall aster (Symphotrichum oblongifolium)
  • Agave havardiana

Other than unchecked plant greed on my part, the principle news from the garden is that a number of this year's earlier plantings are doing quite well.

'White Cloud' is finally in bloom, and it is even more luminous than I remembered. The traditional pink Gulf Coast Muhly is all very well and good, but to my mind, 'White Cloud' is on a whole other level of numinous beauty.  The picture below sucks, but it's all I have on hand.

Pennisetum 'Black Moudry' in front; Muhlenbergia capillaris 'White Cloud' in back; Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition' on right - colors a bit muted by dew
'Black Moudry' Pennisetum was a bit of a wild card for me--I had no idea what to expect, and it turned out to be a rather remarkable grass.  The habit is low, very symmetrical, and squatty, with bright leaves, so that it looks rather like a very green pincushion.  Or a doughnut.  Out of this doughnut bristle long, fat, stiff spikes in the most difficult-to-describe combination of colors--sort of like black mixed with purple and brown and aluminum.  Because that's the odd part--to me, the color looks curiously industrial, almost metallic (but not as shiny as the word "metallic" would suggest).  We'll need to move it--like pretty much everything else in the grass bed--but it really is dramatic and eye-catching.  Landscape architects must love it--that weirdly artificial and symmetrical form, those fascinatingly peculiar flower spikes.  It would be perfect in one of those industrial-chic gardens with containers made out of pipes and lots of rectangles and steel and concrete.  It doesn't really match the mood of the grass-n-roses bed, which is more naturalistic and nativey, but it's much too interesting to replace.

This isn't a picture of 'Cream Falls," but it does grow  in the same bed as 'Cream Falls' - unknown miniature yellow climber
'Cream Falls' Pennisetum--I really had no idea how interesting pennisetums have become these days.  'Cream Falls' is wide, fine-leaved, and amorphous, with very large, very fuzzy fat cream-colored caterpillar-shaped spikes, which it bears in heavy profusion.  It's a great grass to anchor a bed or to draw attention from far away, which is how I plan to use it in the G-n-R bed 2.0.  Right smack in the middle, where it can dominate and also breathe a bit.

You can sort of see Pennisetum 'Cream Falls' blooms in this picture--but mostly you're seeing 'Caldwell Pink' and an unknown climbing yellow miniature
Chandler's craglily (Echeandia chandleri)--I bought this interesting native lily at last year's LBJ sale, and it's put on a lot of growth in one year.  It has low-growing rosettes of stiff, pointed foliage and great, tall 3+-foot flower spikes of airy yellow flowers, vaguely reminiscent of gaura, only much taller, a pleasant gold color, and a slightly greater density of blooms.  It's blooming away cheerfully now (its 3rd week of blooms?), so it adds some interest at the end of the season, which is nice.

On the negative side, we yanked Mme Alfred Carriere.  I really hated her habit, which was to grow straight up, 4 or 5 feet above the roof of the gazebo, in a collection of stiff, off-center spikes that gave the gazebo the look of a 1980s haircut.
I gather these things are actually back in style now.  Sigh.
And she was a most reluctant bloomer, and was shading the dear little Ambridge Rose.  So she's gone to the great roserie in the sky.

Also negative: I'm reassessing 'Hot Cocoa'--when it blooms heavily (as it's doing now), I love the color, but the shape of the shrub has become too gangly and rigid for the G-n-R bed.  And Matt hates it relentlessly.  So we're going to transplant it to the spot where Ferdinand Pichard bit it.  If it lives, great; if not, well, I'll be sad, anyway.

Last bit of news: I just learned about two rose institutions here in Texas: the Chambersville Rose Garden, 5 acres of mostly antiques north of Dallas (planning for up to 22 acres in the future).  Tours are by appointment, but they also have an annual festival:

Also north of Dallas, the town of Farmer's Branch has an annual rose festival: had Bill Welch, Gregg Lowry (of Vintage Gardens) and Greg Grant for speakers.

This year, the two festivals were Oct 20-21; we'll have to make a weekend pilgrimage next year.

Interestingly, this makes 3 centers of rose activity (that I know of) in Texas: Tyler (home to Chamblee's roses, the TX branch of David Austin, and a very large municipal rose garden), north Dallas, home to the two festivals above, and Independence/Texas A&M (home of the Antique Rose Emporium and the TAMU rose breeding program--including Ralph Moore's collection).  I wonder what others I don't know about?

'Dawn Star' rose in background; 'Green Rose' in front

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