Looking lovely this week is the winter flowering anise, Illicium anisatum. This clone is Illicium anisatum ‘Murasaki no Sato’, which has creamy-centered leaves and new purple growth that’s just scrumptious. The winter floral show is also truly spectacular! This is first cousin to the tender Chinese anise, Illicium verum, whose pods are used medicinally. Illicium anisatum, however, is best used only ornamentally, since it’s fruit are toxic when consumed.
One of the broadleaf evergreen trees that always elicits oohs and aaahs is Castanopsis cuspidata ‘Angyo Yellow’ and the cream centered counterpart ‘Nakafu’. These yellow-variegated Japanese selections of the the Japanese chinquapin is as rare as the proverbial hens teeth. Our 14 year old specimen pictured here in the winter garden is starting to make quite a show. We expect them to eventually reach their mature size of 25′ – 35′ in another few decades. In Japan, they are propagated by grafting, although they will root from cuttings, albeit in ridiculously low percentages. It’s our dream to one day make these more widely available if we can figure out the propagation that would allow this to happen.
Variegated plants have part of the normal green portion of the plant leaf being replaced by white, cream, yellow, or occasionally other colors. How cool is that!
As a design element, variegated plants are often used as the center of attention or as a focal point in the landscape to lighten up a normally dark space.
Plants with bold variegation seem to scream for attention in the garden, hence their use as accent plants. As with all brightly variegated plants, they show off best when contrasted against a dark background. Whether planted against a mostly green hedge, or a larger backdrop of deciduous trees, some background is needed to properly display variegated trees, shrubs and perennials.
Fear not! Life in an apartment, condominium, or rented house does not preclude you from having your own botanical garden. All you need is a little sunlight, proper potting media, and a good pot.
Join Meghan Fidler and Chris Hardison on Saturday, June 29 from 10am-noon for our Container Gardening workshop and learn how to create container plantings that will be the envy of all your friends and family.
The rules of creating a container garden are dictated by the amount of sun, heat, and cold that your container will experience as well as the plants you choose.
If you are limited on land space for planting, you may choose to plant a mixture of different herbs for culinary use. The combination of leaf textures, leaf color, and herbs of varying heights can create a planting combination that is both delicious and decorative.
Variegated foliage combined with long blooming perennials or annuals adds a splash of color or can create a focal point just where you need it. So, think inside the pot and explore the world of container gardening!
Here’s another new elephant ear we’re thinking about introducing, but we’d love to hear your thoughts. Mature height is 3-4′ and it does spread among other plants. We are calling it Colocasia ‘Smiley Face’. This is an unidentified species, probably from North Vietnam, that has been hardy for us for over a decade. Thoughts?
So what do you get when you cross Manfreda and an Agave?
Wait!! Is that even possible?
It is!! And, voila… we present… x Mangave!
x Mangave is an intergeneric hybrid combining the leaf spotting and perennial flowering nature of Manfreda and the leaf spines and evergreen nature (above freezing) of Agave. Like both parents, x Mangave is drought tolerant and has an aversion to winter moisture. In areas where x Mangave is not winter hardy, it makes a great container specimen.
x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ is a 2016 introduction from Walters Gardens with fleshy, olive green leaves heavily spotted with purple. Pineapple Express will form a rosette 18″ tall x 24″ wide. Above is Pineapple Express in the garden and below is Pineapple Express in our sales house.
We have an exciting array on new varieties of x Mangaves in production with varying leaf shapes and variegation patterns, so be sure to look for them in the future. If you are not already growing x Mangave be sure to check out these horticultural gems.
Astilbe chinensis ‘Amber Moon’ is looking fabulous today! Who cares if it ever flowers…I’d grow it for the foliage. Because it’s an Astilbe chinensis, it’s tolerant of our summer heat and humidity…a great Darrell Probst introduction.
The Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum odoratum ‘Angel Wings’ looks delicious in the garden today! Light shade to part sun is ideal.