We cannot think of any plant that draws more hummingbirds than the hardy upright sinningias. Most of these are Sinningia selovii hybrids that come in a range of colors from yellow to orange to red. We have them ringing our full sun patio, which results in a non-stop show of hummingbirds.
We expect most everyone has grown a hibiscus at one time or another, either tropical or hardy. How many of you have tried the Asian Hibiscus hamabo? This fascinating 8-10′ tall evergreen shrub has thrived in our trials since 2018, and is just now flowering at JLBG for the first time. We had always considered this species tropical, so we were thrilled to hear that it survived as a die back at the SFASU Arboretum in Texas after this springs’ arctic blast of -4F. Dr. Dave Creech at SFASU tells me that it remains evergreen down to 10 degrees F. Has anyone else had experience with growing this outdoors in a cold winter climate?
One of the June joys at JLBG is flowering season for Lilium x sulphurgale ‘Vico Gold’. We have grown to love the summer-flowering liliies for their ability to leap from the ground amongst a crowded landscape to provide a burst of color and fragrance during the heat of summer. Lilium ‘Vico Gold’ is not just a star, but it has a great back story. Alabama gardener Wade Mahlke shared this with us in 2013, from his trip decades earlier to the Switzerland garden of the now deceased Sir Peter Smithers. For those who haven’t read Sir Peter’s books, his career was as a spy in the British Secret Service, working for Ian Fleming. James Bond fans will certainly recognize the name. After his retirement, Smithers served in British Parliament before retiring to Switzerland, where he indulged his passion for gardening and plant breeding until his death in 2006 at age 93. Lilium ‘Vico Gold’ is his introduction of a hybrid of Lilium sulphureum and Lilium regale…a superb introduction that we’ve “bonded” with in the garden. It looks like we may be able to finally make it available through Plant Delights next spring.
Echinacea ‘Big Kahuna’ has turned into a wonderful beast in the garden. Here is our clump of this super vigorous selection this week as it enters its third year in the gardens at JLBG with no sign of slowing down. The fragrance is also amazing, as are the number of bees it attracts.
Several of our volunteers have dabbled with cactus breeding, so here is one of the hybrids we’re currently enjoying at JLBG, thanks to the creative efforts of Mike Papay. The top image is the female parent, Notocactus ottonis (yellow). The middle image is the male parent, Notocactus herteri var. roseoluteus (pink). The bottom image is the new hybrid, Notocactus x hertonis (peachy orange).
We first met the little-known Baptisia nuttalliana back in the late 1990s on a botanizing trip to the gulf coast, and found it fascinating. Unlike most baptisia species, it doesn’t produce terminal spike, opting instead for axillary flowers. It’s namesake is English botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786 – 1859), who discovered it back in the day. Most forms are a bit homely, compared to the modern hybrids, but this beanbag-shaped, dense plant is one we’ve selected for future clonal propagation under the name Baptisia ‘Nuttball’.
Our baptisia introductions are looking absolutely fabulous this week. Here are a few in case you missed the first weekend of our open house. Baptisia ‘Aspriing’ (top) with its long spikes of lavender blue flowers, followed by the incredibly dense flowering Baptisia ‘Blonde Bombshell’. Next is our Baptisia ‘Cherry Pie’, which brings a new color to the genus, and ending with Baptisia minor ‘Blue Bonnet’ with it’s enormous blue flowers. Baptisia are a North American genus of long-lived perennials that can grow equally as well with cactus or as a marginal aquatic…as long as they have full sun.
We live in a climate of heat and humidity where most of the really cool perennial corydalis fear to tread. One outstanding selection that has thrived here for the last quarter century is a discovery from our friend, Dan Hinkley, that he named and introduced as Corydalis leucanthema ‘Silver Spectre’.
Part of the secret to its survival is that it has the good sense to sleep through the summer months, emerging in late fall and grow through the winter months. Here’s a photo in the garden this week in full flower. We’ve found it very adaptable and easy to grow, although rich, slight moist compost is ideal. We haven’t offered this in a while, but if you think we should put it back in production, that wouldn’t take much arm-twisting.
Another cool corydalis that we love is one that came to us as a hitchhiker (we think), but one that we gladly adopted is Corydalis speciosa. Thanks to corydalis guru Magnus LIden for the identification. The winter foliage emerges heavily ruffled and then flattens, with flowering starting in late winter. I think this may make it’s way into propagation.
The amazing Balkan native Genista saxitalis is in full flower today. This amazing groundcover has been brightening our rock garden for a couple of weeks. Genista is easy to grow with plenty of sun…hardiness is Zone 4a-8b.