Top 10 for 2010 (part 2)

I’ve saved this end of the list for most of the plants I loved well enough to take them for granted — meaning, in some cases I haven’t yet shot their portrait.

6. I’m sure that no top ten list for a dry summer would be truly complete if it didn’t include lavender. (No list of mine would be complete in any case.) They were all perfectly lush despite the wet spring and because of the dry summer – our now venerable clumps of Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ especially. This year we also tried Lavandula angustifolia ‘Silver Edge’ (among others) in the herb garden and it has a silver lining sort of variegation that could make any gardener more optimistic. I don’t even remember the flowers. Whatever.

7. Lobularia – sweet alyssum – ‘Snow Princess’ on the other hand was all about the flowers. They are big (for an alyssum), honey-fragrant (as they should be), and absolutely unstoppable. We grew it in the Rose Garden and Gail claims to have cut it back weekly. I never noticed that she did that because the plants were rampant always. I think they would look even better draped over a wall or flowing out of a giant pot. Next year…

8. No list of Gail’s would ever be complete without a salvia and this year we have a Goldilocks tie between Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ (a child-sized version of ‘Indigo Spires’) and enormous Salvia vanhouttei and Salvia elegans (pineapple sage). S. vanhouttei might be my secret favorite though because its deep wine color is so …  intoxicating.

9. All of the basils did really well too but I was especially impressed with the variegated Ocimum basilicum citriodorum ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ because it made a sturdy column and never bloomed so never bolted. Next year I’d like to try shearing it periodically for shape (and using the clippings for a perpetual pesto…) And as far as the blooming basils go, African blue will always be on our top 10 list and we’ve added a generous reseeder, ‘Blue Spice’ to the life list too. (No decent pictures of that one either, alas. My apologies.)

9.5 I do have decent pictures of Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’, a brandy new annual grass we spotted in the seed catalogs last year. It was a dry and fragile thing towards the end of the season but tucked it with neighbors it provided a fuzzy frothy sort of contrast from start to finish.

9.75 Acalypha wilkesiana (Copper leaf) was another plant that by virtue of being incredibly interesting to look at, made every one of its neighbors look extra fascinating too.

10. By contrast Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star’ was more easily overlooked. It’s on the tiny side – not quite Tom Thumb but nearly knee high to a toad stool. The daisy flowers were the color of today’s cold bluish sky and lasted nearly as long as winter feels – it was in constant bloom from June into September.

I know I’m forgetting something I loved a lot. Like all of the nicotianas… What are you wishing I had mentioned?

6 thoughts on “Top 10 for 2010 (part 2)

  1. Lovely list–and ‘Grosso’ is my favorite of the lavenders! I adore walking past them and brushing against them to enjoy that smell. :)

    As far as the basil goes, though… you might want to proceed with caution in regards to eating the ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil. Maybe your strain there is better than the one we see in our garden center, but… I confess, I steer customers away from it. It tastes too… grassy is the word I usually hear from customers who I encourage to taste a leaf before they buy it. That said, there are plenty of people who profess to love its flavor, so you should definitely taste it if you haven’t. (Don’t just go by my taste buds!)

    Kim, Thanks for the heads up! I never did taste it, only thought it smelled good enough to eat… (but no worries in any case. We always plant so many different basils there are more than enough other pesto-able ones!) -kris

  2. I looked back into my little notebook and said,” Oh!, … right!” Kris, don’t forget those gorgeous zinnia zahara’ starlight rose’ that you put int the rose garden. What a lovely effect those plants have as edging!! And, I guess I never really zoned in on the hardy chrysanthemum family, as distinguished from the huge hot house varieties. You grow ‘Sheffield’, which so enhances the late blooming garden, (my favorite time)!!! I also love that ‘Shenandoah’ switch grass. You see that I am using Blilthwold as my resource for what to, and what not to put in my young garden!!! I will look int that ‘Grosso’ lavender, as lavender seems to love Rhode Island. I never could really grow it back in New York. Thanks for your testing work; it really helps me!!

    Jean, I’m so glad you’re finding ideas and inspiration here! That’s exactly what we’re shooting for! Now we’ll have to compare what-not-to-grow lists too… -kris

  3. I wanted to come over and wish you Happy New Year. I like most all of your choices but would at least one. The Dwarf Butterfly Bush is really nice (Buddleja davidii ‘Blue Chip’).

    Happy New Year to you too! And thanks for the ‘Blue Chip’ recommendation – we’re not growing it (yet) but I had heard – and forgotten – that it’s a good one. -kris

  4. Hi Kris, I enjoyed your list (now I want to do one too!) and your recent column in the East Bay Times. I’ve always hated winter, but I’m actually enjoying this quiet time that allows me to research all the seeds I want to buy, to lay out my garden plan on paper and to put together a monthly planting schedule. Such exciting things to think about on these dreary, cold days. Oh, and my favorites this year were some zinnias I grew from seed and a pea plant that is in the house and continues to produce peas that my 2-year-old eats right up!

    Kira, Which pea are you growing indoors?? We have to have it. I’m glad you’re enjoying the winter down-time. By the sound of it you are using your time wisely and are much more organized than I could ever hope to be! -kris

  5. I have ‘Silver Edge’ lavender in addition to ‘Hidcote’, and I’ve found that the former doesn’t bloom nearly as much as the latter. I use ‘Silver Edge’ as a foliage plant more than anything.

    MMD, That would explain why I never noticed the blooms… I would guess ‘Silver Edge’ is only disappointing to the bees. -kris

  6. Kris, I grew the pea plant from seed and here’s the packet info: from Ferry-Morse, Alaska (wilt resistant), early maturing. More info at #LSP0163. It’s in our very chilly laundry room next to a sliding glass door that gets a lot of indirect light right now. 2 weeks ago I thought it was done and pruned it back quite a bit. Then last week it surprised me by being covered in new blossoms. I started it in mid-August.

    Kira, Thanks for the info! -kris

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