Over the past few years, I’ve wrapped up the gardening year with a “Best of Season” list featuring some of my favorite performers. With every spring comes expectation, hope and anticipation and in a blink of an eye it’s over with a few dreams realized but a few hopes dashed, as well! My recap blog has become a great way for documenting this roller coaster ride and and a telling commentary on my ever-changing taste in “favorite” plants! Here’s who made the list this year (in no particular order).
- Feijoa sellowiana –
Why it’s on the list: Because it’s a survivor! I’d just about given up hope on this guy after each winter seemed like it would be the last. This year my patience was rewarded with several beautiful flowers and lots of new growth so I’m feeling confident it’s here to stay!
2. Kniphofia ‘Safronvogel’
Why it’s on the list: If I was ranking, this one would be a contender for #1! The almost luminescent apricot flowers burst forth in early summer and continue through the season. Kniphofia ‘Safronvogel’ is a prized member of my fairly large kniphofia collection.
3. Dierama drachomontanum
Why it’s on the list: I heart dieramas…BIG TIME! It took three years but this was the season I finally got to see this beauty in my garden. Not your mother’s dierama, this species has upright flowers rather that the more well-known pendulous “Angel Fishing Rods” and stopped me in my tracks in the display garden at Joy Creek Nursery
4. Lupinus albifrons
Why it’s on the list: This plant shares a central theme with several others on this list – planted it, killed it, planted again, killed, ahhh, third times a charm! I could care less about the flowers because I’m obsessed with the silvery foliage! Full transparency, I’ve only managed to keep this alive for 8 months but that is about 5 months longer than any of its predecessors! Bonus, it is still looking glorious in late December!
5. Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’
Why it’s on the list: My experience with planting martagon bulbs has been a crap shoot. It seems with every two varieties I THINK I’ve planted I get one that is correct and the other is a surprise. While I was disappointed not to have the Lilium martagon ‘Album’ I expected, this beauty made a fabulous consolation prize!
6. Eryngium varifolium
Why it’s on the list: Eryngiums are another obsession of mine as documented in I’m the Mardi Gras Gardener and I have an eryngium problem. or one of my earliest posts Something Wicked This Way Comes…. where they were featured fairly prominently. E. varifolium has been a proven winner in my garden and this year reached almost two feet high with its magnificent barbed bracts! I love the contrast to the soft veiny leaves.
6. Eryngium aff. latifollum
Why it’s on the list: This eryngium was a clutch the pearls moment at Cistus Nursery several years ago. This majestic specimen maxes out at over six feet tall! This is a pollinator magnet and attracts the broadest array of anything else in my garden.
I think every gardener secretly likes to have their signature plant, you know, that one plant very few of their plant nerds friends grow and this is mine. I even squealed a bit when I googled it and found my blog on the first page!
7. Loropetulem c. ‘Zhuzhou Fuschia’
Why it’s on the list: How could it NOT be on the list with this flower power! This is another plant that I’ve watched struggle wondering if each year would be the last. Planted in a very open location in my front garden, it makes for a stunning display in late winter and early spring but also a target for the brutal winds and cold. It took about four years for the leaves to finally become the beautifully rich burgundy color they were when first planted rather than the weird green you see below in the picture.
8. Morina longfolia
Why it’s on the list: This wicked little beauty packs a bunch with its spiky leaves and dares you to get up close to see just how pretty it is! Bonus points for the unusual factor!
9. Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’
Why it’s on the list: Joe Bye Weed + variegated = LOVE! Every once in a while I get lucky and find a plant that does exactly what I hoped it would. As my romance with sanguisorbas faded and I hastily ripped out a large Sanguisorba ‘Pink Tanna’, I needed a replacement for the spot that would provide the breezy movent I loved about sanguisorba but without the horrible floppsies after it got too tall. Enter Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’ and its sturdy, tall stems and fabulous variegated foliage and lovely flowers.
11.Dahlia ‘Karma Fox Orange’ and Dahlia ‘Karma Lagoon’
Why they are on the list: This is the year I figured out how to grow dahlias – in a container! After years of rotted out tubers and floppy flowers, I had developed quite the distaste for dahlias and decided they were great as long as they were in someone else’s garden. This all changed when my twin sister moved in and she kept harassing me why I didn’t have her favorite flowers in my garden. During an early season visit to Garden Fever I saw them roll out their first batch of dahlias and went crazy for the colors. I’d been waiting to find something for my sister’s patio and I knew these were the answer! She was thrilled and these babies lasted from April to November!
12. Salvia argenta
Why it’s on the list: I should write a blog called “To all the plants I’ve loved and lost” and this one would have a starring role. Like the Lupinus albifrons, it took several tries to finally get to see this stunner in my garden! Ironically, I think I dug it out and tossed it in the yard waste bin this fall because I’m not sure constantly babying those leaves is worth the short life of the flowers. At least I can say I did it once!
13. Kniphofia thompsonii var snowdenii
Why it’s on the list: I collect three plant species: Eryngium, Dierama and Kniphofia. I get teased for being slow at plant sales and nurseries because I’m usually making sure I don’t miss one of these that I don’t already have in my collection. Kniphofia thompsonii var snowdenii is the reigning favorite in my kniphofia collection and the one you will find all throughout my garden. I love the unique shape and its bright flowers in my favorite color!
14. Kniphofia pauciflora
Why it’s on the list: This is a second attempt at growing Kniphofia pauciflora after buying a mislabeled plant last year and I’m very happy I gave it another try! The open and airy flower structure and solid yellow color making this unique kniphofia a new favorite in my collection!
15. Allium ‘Summer Drummer’
Why it’s on the list: You never know when garden inspiration will strike. I discovered these majestic alliums during a trip to Argyle Winery with some fellow bloggers and knew I had to have them in my garden! Even though it was late in the season, I lucked out and found some bulbs online and was able to get them in the ground in time. At about six feet tall, it’s amazing how sturdy they are and how perfect they remained throughout the year!
While only six of the ten bulbs produced for me, they were magnificent. I could not believe how sturdy and strong they were and have already multiplied nicely in just a year!
16. Sanguisorba minor ‘Little Angel’
Why it’s on the list: I’ve had a brief and torrid love affair with sanguisorbas. However, I quickly realized I have little tolerance for the floppy and messy ways of the taller varieties and narrowed my collection to just a couple ones of smaller stature. Smaller doesn’t necessarily mean lesser because this Sanguisorba minor ‘Little Angel’ has won my heart in big way. This sanguisorba has incredible staying power and its dark burgundy flowers make a wonderful contrast to the fabulous variegated foliage.
17. Khiphofia ‘Shining Scepter’
Why it’s on the list: This was my first kniphofia and is one of the first plants I purchased in 2014 at Xera Plants as fully immersed myself into gardening. The Kniphofia ‘Shining Scepter’ below is the second one I’ve added to my garden. I needed an early summer bloomer as a backdrop until the Inula magnifica becomes the star of the show in this part of the garden and it did not disappoint!
In 2014, my backyard was a blank slate but it took just two years for it to start taking shape as shown below in the side by side pictures.
18. Pennisetum macrourum
Why it’s on the list: This is another example of a plant that performed exactly the way I had hoped. After months of searching for ideas for a focal plant for the raised bed in my front garden, I decided to try this Pennisetum macrourum. I’d seen it in full maturity at my friend and fellow blogger, Patricia’s (Plant Lust) garden and she talked me into trying it during one of our blogger plant swaps. I’d developed a love for grasses over the years (see Smokin’ Grass! ) and thought its showy, tall, sturdy yet billowy seed heads might be the prefect solution!
While it took a decent part of the summer to fully realize, my patience was rewarded with exactly what I was hoping for! Much is said about the seediness of this plant so it may not last long but its brief time in the garden was just what I needed!
19. Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’
Why it’s on the list: This is a plant lust spanning 5 years. I’ve coveted this plant in my partner’s garden from the moment I saw it in 2014 and quickly realized it was impossible to find in a nursery! But after four years, thanks to the generosity of fellow blogger, Scott Rhone Street Gardens and Matthew The Lents Farmer, I was gifted divisions from their own gardens! While I was only rewarded with one flower from each due to poor siting, I am confident that future years will be more fruitful.
Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’ in the garden of Matthew Hubbard.
20. Parahebe perfoliata
Why it’s on the list: I gave this plant a job to do in my hell strip and it did not disappoint! I needed something that was going to give me year round structure, unique foliage and pops of blue flowers in the spring and I was so happy I peppered these throughout my entire hellstrip. I was surprised how quickly the new growth regenerated and that the flowers kept going and going all summer if I dead headed them! The maintenance was little tedious but I feel it was worth it!
21. Fabiana imbricata ‘Violocea’
Why it’s on the list: This was my first year participating in the Hardy Plant Society’s Open Garden Program. This Fabiana imbricata ‘Violocea’ was by far the most asked about plant in my collector’s garden. As I mentioned earlier, its fun to grow things not often seen in other garden and I love that the HPSO Open Garden program provides a way for us gardeners to share our little treasures with each other.
22. Lillum martagon ‘Orange Marmalade’
Why its on the list: It’s an ORANGE MARTAGON! Come on?!?! In all seriousness, it took a couple of tries to get this one after what I thought were bulbs for this ended up being another Lillium martagon ‘Claude Shride’. I’m excited to see it take off in the coming years!
23. Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’
Why it’s on the list: I’ve added many crocosmia over the past couple of years but this Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ has been with me since the beginning. While it’s not the showiest or most unique, I do love the shorter grassy-like leaves and solid golden flowers with their staying power and reliability. Every garden needs its work horses and this is one of mine.
24. Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold’
Why it’s on the list: I am definitely a flower floozy but I have an equal love for foliage and the texture and interest they bring to the garden so when I espied this Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold’ during a tour of a fellow blogger’s garden, I knew I had to have it! Bonus points for the variegation!
Although not the star of the show, I do thing the flowers are pretty cute!
25. Mathiasella bupleuroides
Why it’s on the list: This plant is a fighter. Even after I dug it up, this Mathiasella bupleuroides came back the next year bigger and better but still took several years to produce its first flowers! This summer I was finally rewarded with these fabulous, alien-looking flowers that kept coming and coming all season!
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! Just a few more months until we get to do this all over again!