2006 Plant Delights Nursery October Newsletter

It’s starting out to be a great fall at PDN. It’s actually hard to believe that it’s already fall…especially since we still haven’t seen those major hurricanes that we’ve been promised! Not only has the weather been superb, but fall has brought out garden visitors en mass. We just finished the best attended fall open house in our history, followed by a wonderful visit from participants at the 30th Anniversary J.C. Raulston Arboretum Symposium. It was great to have so many folks visiting for the first time and seeing others returning for the first time in a decade. We would like to personally thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend either of these events.

We’d also like to welcome a great new crop of PDN volunteers. Our volunteer program, which started in 2003, has swelled to 12 people, including some that have been here since our program began. Volunteers spend their time helping in either the botanic garden or research divisions. In exchange for their invaluable hard work, they not only go home with excess plants and knowledge, but know that they have contributed to making the gardens even better for the next group of visitors. It is our hope that in the next few years we’ll begin laying the groundwork for a foundation and friends group to assist in the eventual transition of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens to a public garden (hopefully a long time from now). We’ll keep you posted.

From the nursery end, we have a couple of plant snafues to report regarding plants shipped early in the year as Hemerocallis multiflora. Due to a vendor error, the plants that we shipped are Hemerocallis fulva instead of the plant pictured in our catalog, which also turned out not to be H. multiflora. We got the original plant from China and thought we had it identified correctly…guess not. The plant we pictured is now most likely an exceptional form of H. citrina. Also, we had a few of the Echinacea ‘Sunset’ to flower with distorted petals. If you have Hemerocallis multiflora and your plant flowered orange, or an Echinacea ‘Sunset’ with distorted petals, simply contact our Customer Service Department at office@plantdelights.com for a credit or refund. Please accept our apologies for this error.

We’ve made quite a few production changes that have helped us produce even better plants for the upcoming season. Due to our hot summers, we have very high losses on some plants that do not fare well in containers. This year, we switched many of our production houses to a new silver reflective shade cloth… the one that many open house visitors asked about. This has made a huge difference in over-summering plants such as hellebores. Where we lost virtually our entire crop in 2005, this year was the exact opposite due to the new reflective shade. I think you are going to be amazed when you attend our winter open house in February.

In the jobs department, we have an opening and are looking to fill our Propagation/Production Supervisor position with a very special person. This is the person who propagates and overseas the potting of every plant that we sell, so it goes without saying that this is a very important position. If you have an interest in learning more or to forward an application, please email Heather Brameyer in our HR Department at heather@plantdelights.com.

Last month, I talked about some of the plants in flower this fall, but I didn’t have time to write about all the ones I wanted to mention, so here’s a little follow-up.

Fall is certainly the season for salvia… especially the S. greggii and S. microphylla types. These desert salvias simply love the cooler nights and begin to flower equally or better than they do in spring. The range of colors is from reds through to whites. If blue is your color, then Salvia guaranitica is your plant. S. guaranitica ‘Argentina Skies’ (light blue) and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ (dark cobalt blue) are both still in full flower. Need lavender?…no problem, the range of Salvia leucantha cultivars are ready and flowering. If yellow is your color, Salvia madrensis ‘Red Neck Girl’ is just what the doctor ordered. The huge spikes of butter yellow will be opening shortly. If this is too tall, Salvia nipponica and Salvia koyamae are woodland groundcover salvias…very cool.

One of my favorite groups of the fall garden is the hardy gesneriads (African Violet cousins). For purples, try the colorful achimenes with their pansy-like flowers. If orange is your color, the continuous-flowering Sinningia sellovii is just waiting for the hummingbirds… birds not included in the shipment. If you like your plants a little on the bright and gaudy side, the brilliantly stunning Gloxinia ‘Evita’ is one of those plants that you just have to see to believe – just ask anyone who has attended our fall open house. For a little more demure shade of red, Gloxinia ‘Chic’ is just perfect. One last favorite gesneriad is the breathtakingly beautiful Titanotrichum oldhammii with its long tubular yellow flowers highlighted by an orange-red throat.

While many of the hardy hibiscus are still producing a few scattered flowers, several other mallows are still in full swing. The US native, Malvaviscus drummondii with its unusual reddish-orange turban-like flowers is a hummingbirds’ delight. Another great native mallow for fall is Pavonia lasiopetala. The small but bright pink flowers are a welcome addition to the fall garden.

I mentioned a bit about hummingbirds, but this is a great time to think about plants that will entertain and feed hummers as they pass through your garden. If you garden in the South and you don’t grow cestrums, why not? Few plants provide the duration of color and look splendid as we head further into fall. Think big yellow and orange mounds of color! Another hummer favorite is manettia or firecracker vine. This amazing non-intrusive vine doesn’t really get going until late summer and fall, when it becomes a feast for hummers and gardeners who like bright orange flowers. More hummer food… how about Cuphea micropetala? Think flowers that look like miniature cigars. Your hummers won’t mind this smoking section. Finally… I promise, another hummer favorite is Bouvardia ternifolia. The brilliant tubular flowers on this Mexican native just scream for the hummers. If you plant all the aforementioned plants together, you’ll need body armor to get near the bed to tend the flowers.

What else is blooming now? Plenty! Lantanas are at their peak, as is one of the late Elizabeth Lawrence’s favorites, Kalimeris pinnatifida … both, virtual flowering machines.

If you’ve got shade, we’ve even got fall flowers for you. The easy-to-grow hardy Cyclamen hederifolium is in full flower throughout the woodland, as is the stunning pink Begonia grandis ‘Herons Pirouette’. How could we talk about fall shade gardens without mentioning the wonderful Tricyrtis ? …many of which are currently in full flower, with flower colors from purple to yellow. I’ll end with one of the least known, but most spectacular fall woodland plants that we grow, the underappreciated Rabdosia longituba …won’t you please adopt one today?

There’s so much more that I don’t have time to mention, from solidago to aster, and from polygonum to costus. While some of you in the northern zones have already closed down your planting for the year, much of the rest of the country is still in full fall planting mode. We’ll let you continue to browse and hope you’re enjoying your fall garden as much as we are.

While I’d love to join you in the garden, it’s that time of year when the staff locks me away to begin writing the 2007 Plant Delights Nursery catalog. You’d be amazed how well solitary confinement works to stimulate the creative juices and make the imagination run wild… quite similar to too many shots of an adult beverage. Surely, you didn’t think a sane person writes this catalog? As always, there are many cool new plants in the pipeline… just waiting for the 2007 catalog to hit the presses.

For those who entered our Top 25 Contest, be sure to check out how your favorite plants are selling. There was some minor shuffling in the Top 25, but the only new entry was Selaginella braunii that nearly cracked The top 25, by rising to #27. Only a few more months remain before we announce the winner of our Top 25 contest… we hope your picks are measuring up. If not, you’d better get your gardening friends busy!

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com

Thanks and enjoy,