Top 10 for 2010 (part one)

I am inclined to celebrate a new year when we sow sweet peas or when the daffodils bloom or when the leaves fall off the trees. But the beginning of January is as good a time as any to make a fresh start, and in any case, this  is when Gail and I really start over in the gardens, firming up our ideas for next year. (I mean this year.) And like most gardeners we always begin the process of planning by remembering the best and worst of the past season.

Hands down, the worst was the weather: much too much rain in March and then not nearly enough through the summer. But since there’s not a lot we can change about that I might as well move straight on to what was “best” despite the weather (keep in mind, we do water the gardens periodically during dry spells in hopes that nothing ever looks wretched.) Here are my favorite plants from this past year, in no particular order:

1. Allium schubertii and A. albopilosum (Star of Persia). Like a sustained display of firecrackers that sparkled in the garden well beyond when they first opened, and were extra super fun spray-painted.

2. Ricinus communis – Castor bean – ‘Pretty Purple’. This was supposed to be a 4′ tall form but for us even cut back it reached a good 8′. And it had the prettiest purplest leaves and a nicely branched structure (perhaps owing to being whacked back now and again.)

3. Pelargonium ‘Lady Plymouth’ (scented geranium). It’s all about the lacy white-edged foliage and vigorous habit. (Had it ever flowered, that would have been totally beside the point.) It was such a great companion plant that we’ll be hard pressed to not use it again in the Rose Garden.

4. Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo Shibori’. Visitors and bees adored this plant. I disparaged it for being beige but then discovered I loved it too, which often happens with things I think I hate. After it went to seed it looked lit from within.

5. Echinacea purpurea ‘Virgin’. I still prefer the color of  ‘Green Envy’ (to any other color on any other flower) but nothing beats the unstoppable blooming and sturdy uprightiousness of ‘Virgin’.

6. (to be continued…)

What were some of your favorites from last year?

7 thoughts on “Top 10 for 2010 (part one)

  1. Yeah, you’ve convinced me to get some of those alliums next year. I’m of course still waiting for the appearance of the Mt. Aso pussywillow catkins.

    Susan, I think I usually spot the catkins in February… But now I’m going to have to go check on them to make sure. Brrrrr! -kris

  2. Love the Alliums, and now I immediately want to find a source for the bulbs and order them for spring. I second “The Virgin”, whose flowers are not demure at all! They look fresh and last and last for weeks. I’ve foud that it is not a fast grower, but patience is becoming one of my virtues!

    Kathy, I wonder if it’s not too late to plant allium… I bet not but you’d need another good thaw like the other day. (I think we got ours from Scheepers or Van B.) Let me know if you try it! -kris

  3. Ah memories! I discovered scented geranium locally and now must have one! You may have inspired me to do a look back, since there wasn’t much posting during the past year. ‘Virgin’ ins a coneflower I’ve not seen–what a pretty one! I’m not sure I’ll get to see my paradoxa, pallida, and tennesseensis seedlings flower next year, since they’re still babies. Looking forward to the rest of the list. Happy New Year!

    Lynn, Happy New Year to you too! — The other scented geranium we’ve grown for a while now because we love it is P. tomentosum (peppermint scented.) It’s got the loveliest leaves, soft as a baby’s butt. But it needs A LOT more space than a baby… -kris

  4. I saw those gorgeous Lady Plymouth Pelargonium in the rose garden and wrote the name down in my little notebook for me to try in my own garden next year!! I also had wanted, and ordered white species lilies , and later saw them at Blithwold, to my delight. I hope they do ok in my garden.

    Jean, I’m glad to hear that the Lady Plymouths made an impression on you too. And how fun to have lilies to look forward to! -kris

  5. Have been following your blog with interest – I’m told you have a moongate – if you look at my most recent post you’ll see that I’m always interested in new gardens and love moongates! Hope to get to see your garden later this year … which season is best?

    Charlotte, we do indeed have a moongate. It’s the entrance into (out of) the Rose Garden, which of course is especially gorgeous in June and then again in late August, September. We pride ourselves on abundant late season color but I always tell people that every day and any season is the best for a visit. Keep me posted on your plans! -kris

  6. Keeping the garden looking good despite the weather is something I’m glad I don’t have to worry about. I can put on my gardener’s glasses and see only what is managing. You & Gail certainly have to work hard when the weather doesn’t cooperate. I don’t usually like the different colored Echinaceas, but I do admire the green ones. I’ve been thinking about getting ‘Green Envy’, but maybe ‘Virgin’ would be a better choice for the garden.

    MMD, The only problem with ‘Green Envy’ especially in comparison to ‘Virgin’ is that it’s taller and a little top heavy (that’s a nice way of saying it might fall over without a prop.) It also doesn’t rebloom quite as readily. Also I happen to enjoy the way the blooms fade and age but not everyone does… -kris

  7. I have always thought ‘virgin’ to be a very over-rated moniker but I will look for this hybrid on your recommendation. And the others, of course. What a great time to look back so looking forward will be that much more a satisfying reality.

    Yeah, it’s not a great name for such a great plant… -kris

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