We all have them, right? Those plants that we long for...that seem to be just out of reach, if not completely unavailable? Like most gardeners, I always seem to have one plant that I'm OBSESSED with finding. For years, after visiting the Montreal Botanical Garden, I hunted for a source of Pennisetum macrourum (above). I desperately wanted to have those tall, glowing wands in my garden. Luckily, a few years later, I did find them, at a local nursery (Wind Dancer), no less! Was I sated...hardly!
On the right, are two other plants that I searched for...Iris 'Gerald Darby', which I also discovered on Hayefield. If you haven't noticed by now, Nan's blog is a dangerous place for the plant-obsessed! I fell in love with the purple-flushed new foliage...the almost-black flowering stems...and, of course, those simple, elegant purple blooms. Planted around it, yet another plant I became obsessed with, Knautia 'Melton Pastels', which I first saw a few years ago in an issue of Gardens Illustrated, which is, perhaps, my #1 source of pure GARDEN PORN.
Of course, then there are the plants that we WANT to grow...but just can't, for whatever reason, or that just don't do particularly well in our gardens. For the past few years, I tried and tried to find a Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem) that would stay upright in my garden. In general, many of the prairie grasses will grow well here, but our cool-ish summers (these are plants adapted to blazing-hot, full-sun conditions, after all) produce weak growth that tends to lodge (flop over) as the plants get taller. Imagine my delight last winter when the owner of Wind Dancer, Carolyn Kolb, told me the new cultivar, 'Blue Heaven' (above) was supposed to be very upright...and not prone to flopping here in the PNW!
Of course, it was practically all I could think about all that winter and spring...and when I drove down last summer to get a few of them from Wind Dancer, I practically skipped home with sheer delight. I'm happy to report that they were not only stunningly beautiful, but NONE of them flopped...not in the slightest!
Of course, as soon as I find one thing I've wanted...I move on to another thing. Last fall, Adam Woodruff, a friend and AMAZING designer (seriously, check out his website...it's gorgeous) emailed me the photo above. Intrinsic Perennials had sent him a few plans to trial...and the one that immediately grabbed my attention was the reddish grass in back. It was Andropogon 'Red October'...a new introduction. I was in immediate, complete love! Much like Little Bluestem, Andropogon (Big Bluestem) is a plant I've wanted to grow in my garden for years...but like Little Bluestem, is prone to flopping here in the PNW. Needless to say, however, that visions of this burgundy beauty have been in the back of my little mind all winter.
Then, last week, I got an email from Klehms Song Sparrow Nursery about their new 2013 listings...and I popped over for a look. Lo and behold...they had not one, but TWO new Andropogon varieties for sale! I've read that 'Indian Warrior' is supposed to be more upright (not as prone to lodging) as other Andropogon...so it might just solve my Big Bluestem Dilemma...but oh, the color of 'Red October' makes me weak in the knees. I'll probably get one of each, because I'm a glutton for punishment!
How about you, what is the plant (or plants) that you are on the hunt for? Is there a plant that you want to grow so desperately that you plant it (and kill it) over and over?