Oops, no more room!
Well, maybe there’s a little. I’ve been adding plants to this garden for twenty-two years, and seven or eight years ago my wife informed me that we had reached maximum capacity. Of course, I knew she was mistaken, and each year a bit of the lawn disappears and more plants appear. A properly motivated gardener can jam plants into a garden for years after it’s full to the brim, and (you can ask my wife) I’m plenty motivated.
In recent years garden centers have seen an increasing demand for flowering plants, and plant breeders have picked up the pace of new introductions. It is difficult to keep up with the new roses, hydrangeas, and crapemyrtles, and then there are new redbuds, gardenias, nandinas, abelias, and lilacs that make the gardener anxious to try them all.
I do this for a living, but each year as I visit nurseries to purchase plants for our garden centers I get excited by this or that, and frequently by a lot of this’s and that’s. After touring nurseries in the southeast for two weeks I’m having difficulty deciding which plants I can’t possibly live without, since not all will fit into my garden. I joke that I’ve planted one of everything, but it’s not true, just one of nearly everything. And now I must find space for more!
Several weeks ago I planted a few hydrangeas (that I’m struggling to keep alive in the heat), and there are dozens of newly introduced mophead and panicled hydrangeas vying for a spot in the garden. Some are barely distinguishable from others, and after a few years I suspect that those will be quickly forgotten. A few captured my attention.
Small properties (and those that are already over planted) often do not have space to plant ‘Tardiva’ or ‘Limelight’ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, above), delightful summer blooming hydrangeas with huge white blooms that grow to at least eight feet tall and wide. ‘Quickfire’ and ‘Little Lime’ have similar, though slightly smaller blooms on shrubs that grow to only three feet. Since they’re not blooming in the spring when there are more garden center customers the panicled hydrangeas are often overlooked, but they are extremely cold hardy and care free, tough natured shrubs. I have ‘Tardiva’ and two ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas in the garden, and both are treasured, but ‘Quickfire’ (below) was planted recently, and ‘Little Lime’ will join it as soon as I can figure out where to plant it.
I recently mentioned that I’ve planted several supposedly cold tolerant gardenias over the years without success, and I believe that I wrote that I’ve given up on them. Not so fast, forget what I said. I’ve just planted ‘Pinwheel’ (Gardenia augusta ‘Pinwheel’, below) that claims cold hardiness to zone 6 (to ten degrees below zero) and blooms late spring to late summer.
Sitting on the driveway on a hundred degree day, the flowers melted and quickly turned brown. I planted the small shrub (with a healthy dose of water), and the next day there were a handful of crisp new blooms. Beautiful! Now, if this gardenia survives the winter (and why shouldn’t it since it’s been tested) I’ll be overjoyed.
I’m quite certain that two new caryopteris that I’ve planted will survive the winter since I have several others in the garden, but will they be significantly different and better than the yellow leafed ‘Sunshine Blue’ and variegated ‘Snow Fairy’? The yellow leafed ‘Hint of Gold’ has been available for a few years, but it’s new in the garden. It’s foliage is larger and a brighter yellow, and I’m anxious to see the contrast with the abundant clusters of blue flowers in the next few weeks.
The foliage of ‘White Surprise’ caryopteris is not significantly different than ‘Snow Fairy’ (above), but the flowers are likely to have more substance and it will probably be slightly more cold hardy. There is always room in this garden for a compact growing shrub with beautiful blooms and foliage, and I suppose that I’m more likely to run out of time before I run out of space to plant.
I’ll continue to report as the newcomers bloom, and keep up to date as new plants are added to the garden. I believe that my wife has resigned herself to my plant addiction, though I suspect her patience might be tested in the month ahead.