Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Perennials Part 2 (of many)

Garden Tours are beneficial for many reasons but my favourites are that you get to (legally) snoop in a stranger's garden and you usually pick up the names of some wonderful new plants to try!

This was how I discovered Dictamnus albus. My friend and I saw it for the very first time on a Toronto garden tour. We asked the volunteer if she knew what it was and she said it was a Gas Plant. Weird name, we thought.

Here's what Heritage Perennials http://www.perennials.com/plants/dictamnus-albus.html says about it:

"...Not often seen in gardens, the Gas Plant is slow to establish, but very long lived. Plants form a bushy, upright clump of lemon-scented, glossy green leaves. Spikes of spidery-looking white flowers appear in early summer, rather showy in effect, and worthwhile for cutting. On still days a match held below the spike will ignite a burst of methane gas. Attractive to butterflies. Clumps resent being disturbed, once established."

It's true that it takes a while for them to grow tall and strong but once there, they never disappear. I have had mine for over 20 years. It's a lovely plant and I look forward to seeing it come up every June near my arbour.

Brunnera 'Jack Frost' was a plant I coveted when it first became popular. All the nurseries charged an exorbitant fee for a small 4" pot of 'Jack Frost' when garden columnists and garden magazines described it as THE plant to buy that year! So I waited and waited and finally purchased it last year, whereas many of my gardening friends have had it forever. It is a beauty with its variegated leaves and Forget-Me-Not type blue flowers.

Again I quote from Heritage Perennials http://www.perennials.com/plants/brunnera-macrophylla-jack-frost.html

"...A superb introduction, forming a clump of heart-shaped silver leaves, delicately veined with mint green. Sprays of bright blue Forget-me-not flowers appear in mid to late spring. This is a choice collector's plant, but an easy-to-grow perennial that performs well in all but the driest of shady conditions. Excellent for the woodland garden. ‘Jack Frost’ handles more direct sun that most other variegated types of Brunnera, though in hot-summer regions some afternoon shade is recommended to prevent leaf scorch. Selected as the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association."

Another favourite that comes up beautifully year after year is Platycodon grandiflorus the Balloon Flower. They show up late so I have to be careful not to plant an annual on top of them! But I know now exactly where they are.

Last year they bloomed and bloomed for over 6 weeks. I guess they like their partially shady location. Before they bloom, they look like balloons about to pop. And when they open, they are such an intense shade of purple/blue!

Heritage Perennials http://www.perennials.com/plants/platycodon-grandiflorus-fuji-blue.html says:

"...Balloon Flowers are summer-blooming cousins to the more familiar Bellflowers. Plants form a mound of green foliage, bearing inflated buds that open into star-shaped violet-blue blossoms. This medium-height selection is great for the border, or in mixed containers. Especially good for cutting. Because they come up very late in the spring, consider planting tulips or daffodils beside the clump to mark the location. Division is seldom necessary, and not always very successful because of the carrot-like root."

My one and only small complaint about Balloon flowers is that they need to be staked. But that's a very small complaint.

If you add these three plants to your garden this summer, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Gardens at Waters East said...

I do not have the Gas Plant, but I do have lots of Balloon Flowers. In fact I have some photos posted of that plant recently on my Blog. I think they are attention grabbers. Like them. NIce visiting your Blog today. Jack

Astrid said...

Hi Jack
When I was looking up Balloon flowers, it said that there are pink ones as well and dwarfs. The shorter ones might be a good idea because I wouldn't have to stake them.
Thanks for stopping by.

Indie said...

Some beautiful selections! That is so interesting about the Gas plant and methane gas. I've heard the name before and thought it was unusual, but I don't think I've actually seen a Gas plant in person before. It's quite pretty!

I once had a regular Brunnera, but it didn't last long - probably still too hot for it where I put it even though it had mostly shade. The little blue flowers are so pretty though. Jack Frost is gorgeous.

Astrid said...

Hi Indie
Thanks! Like i said, I have learned a lot on garden tours. Can hardly wait to have them start up again :)

HELENE said...

Blogging has become my way of snooping around in other peoples garden, I have learned so much! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us!

Astrid said...

Hi Helene
Besides being informative - it sure is fun :) I LOVE garden tours…..

Nadezda said...

Astrid, your Balloon flowers are so nice! I had them but white ones, I liked their 'buds-boxes'. I say had because last spring I forgot them and planted hosta on this place. So I didn't see them last summer. I love Brunera much but couldn't purchase it, didn't see it in the Garden center.
Have a nice weekend!

Astrid said...

Hi Nadezda
I know how you feel. I thought my Balloon flowers were dead because they didn't come up at all till late May. It's easy to forget where they are!
Ask the garden centre to try to get Brunnera - other customers will buy it too if the centre brings it in.

Patty said...

I think I will add Gas Plant to my list. It looks like a poor mans delphinium but maybe easier to grow. I have yet to buy a brunnera they are still quite expensive. Hmm everything is expensive.

Astrid said...

Hi Patty
I often shop at the grocery stores, even for perennials. Good quality, lower prices. I think I got the Brunnera at Longo's.
Also, I plan to hit Northland this year - on Conc 5 off of Hwy 6 in Millgrove. All plants: $4.99!!