Running a specialist nursery that depends on the offerings of seed collectors and the oddities that may appear in any garden, provides both excitement and agitation. We never ever follow the business plan exactly. Some of the "odds and ends" end up on a sales bench, and mostly depend on a spur of the moment sales talk to the buyers present - like a bazaar. Here are a few of those plants that need the extra attention of the gardener.
About 4 years ago I bought seed from Alan Bradshaw of a stachys sp. originating from a Czech collection on Ala Dag at 1700m. It wasn't his collection, but he definitely felt it worth a spot on his list. It has turned out to be one of the most attractive mats that we grow - with soft, felted leaves which hug the ground quite closely. As one might expect from its place of origin, Turkey, it is very heat and drought tolerant. To our surprise, it also tolerates wet conditions, such as we had last summer and again in the winter despite the thick, hairy coat that covers its leaves . With its shallow roots, it is a friendly companion in which to grow other plants (bulbs, small shrubs). The mat provides cool shade for the roots of others and the silvery carpet makes a good background for a floral display.
I've always had a fancy for western violets. They are not so prolific that you need to chase after them and remove them - they won't take over. Although they can be a bit difficult to accommodate, I find viola douglasii to be the easiest one for me. It comes deeply cut leaves (typical of the group), and flowers of bright yellow with burgundy/brown veining - quickly emerging in April and blooming very soon to take advantage of the vernally wet soil. Sensibly it disappears when the summer heat arrives and the ground turns hard and dry. The roots are thick, white, brittle - somewhat primitive. They like to grow and feed on the heavier soils and drought does not damage them.
Returning to the East ,we grow a dwarf form of lobelia siphilitica , named "Mistassinica" as it was collected by Denyse Simpson near the lake in Quebec. It is just like the typical form only much reduced in size, growing no more than 10 cm tall. The flowers come later in July and august and are a rich blue/purple. A neat little plant which multiplies and divides quickly, one can soon create a stunning effect with a larger planting. It would grow comfortably with the smaller mimulus sp. or calceolaria sp.
More info on the Stonecrop Sale here.
Saturday, April 28 2012