6 May 2012

Introducing ‘Betberg’




Those familiar with the planting combos of the above photos will know that they were taken at Toronto Botanic Gardens on Leslie Avenue in Toronto. Now before you get too excited thinking I spent the day wandering through the extraordinary gardens, let me explain.

DSC_0005 Today marked the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society Plant Sale! As you can see, it is a ‘big deal’ amongst those with a horticultural bent. This year I attended with Kathy, Doreen, Julie and George – wonderful gardening friends and trusted chauffeur. Driving to Toronto makes my head hurt so it is always reassuring when you find someone up to the challenge.

DSC_0004Numerous vendors and members of ORGHPS donated their time to fill the room with a horticultural smorgasbord of plant material, ensuring something to pique the interest of the amateur to connoisseur gardener willing to venture out and brave the crowds! We were within the first ten in line, and I was humbled to be behind a reader of my blog! Thanks for the wonderful conversation and compliments Amy! I was also thrilled to finally meet fellow garden blogger Barry Parker, whose divine weblog details his stunning Toronto garden where activity centre’s not only on this borders, but also what he cultivates in his greenhouse!  I learned that its next to impossible to attend this function and think that you will be able to create a visual documentation. An oversized banana box, a camera, and the ‘little black wishlist book’ made it next to impossible for me to snap the photos that I wanted, including one with Barry and Deborah!

DSC_0007 I knew before leaving that I would be receiving a very special plant, one that I first stumbled upon four years ago in the coveted shade house of Lost Horizons. I immediately recognized it’s unique foliage as belonging to the genus Polygonatum, but that was about it! Turns out it was a division of Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Betberg’, a stunning taller species with spectacular deep  chocolatey-purple new growth! Combined with fabulously chartreuse pearl shaped ‘flowers’, its no wonder that it is considered by many shade connoisseur’s to be a true ‘Holy Grail’ selection!

DSC_0010 DSC_0015 DSC_0020 In an earlier post, I waxed poetic about this stunning beauty. Here is an excerpt of that posting:

…It seems that ‘Betberg’ is at once synonymous with the nursery of iconoclastic British gardening doyenne Beth Chatto, where she acquired a plant from Isbert Preussler, of which he himself collected and named this wonderful plant after a small village in the Black Forest, near Laufen, Sulzburg. Newly emerging stems and leaves are stained a rich chocolatey brown-purple, and slowly fade through a series of wonderful shades to an equally appealing green as the season progresses! Known for its shade tolerance, this particular plant would likely benefit from partial morning sun [as seen in the photo above] to act as a catalyst for such wonderfully stained foliage! According to Beth, her plant still produces chocolatey stained leaftips while hung with clusters of flowers, up to five in a bunch! The flowers are followed by attractive purple fruit.

Of course this wasn’t the only new acquisition I stumbled upon, though it was one of the most exciting!

DSC_0011 Those familiar with my blog will immediately recognize Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ a diminutive dwarf specimen whith delightfully bright palmate foliage that appears to be stacked atop one another, creating a shingle like appearance.  This one truly is a dwarf, topping out at under 2 feet in height. I fell in love upon first glance and shortly after adding it to my box, had numerous people asking where I’d found it. I hadn’t the heart to tell them that I didn’t see any others when I snatched it up moments earlier!

DSC_0014 Triosteum pinnatifidum is also known as white feverwort and consists of short stems with deeply lobed magnificent foliage with clusters of fabulous pinkish blue fruit in late summer. Native to the woodlands of China and Japan, it appreciates partial to shaded placement with average to moist soils. Hardy to Zone 4.

DSC_0013 Barry Parker brought my attention to this pot of Cypripedium calceolaria which was snapped up in the blink of an eye! I was looking for more Cypripedium reginae, but realize that three plants is probably adequate where her regal highness is concerned. I would hate to be accused of being greedy!

DSC_0025 Freshly installed in his new home, ‘Mikawa’ shimmers in the late afternoon sunshine! So what else did I find? Well lets see:

Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ now numbers two, one in the Rare and Unusual border, the second along the Shaded Walk where its fabulously chartreuse foliage will help to brighten the area.

Clematis Mrs. Harvey first same to my attention thanks to Barry’s blog. I love the tubular bell shaped flowers, and was thrilled to make this acquisition today as well!

mrs harvey clematis Ranunculus aconitifolius ‘Pleniflorus’ is another plant whose first acquaintance was at Lost Horizons. Delightful bouquets of small, perfectly formed double white buttercups with green centres are carried on widely branched, wiry stems, creating the atmosphere of floating pristine white flowers.

ranunculus I was determined to add a few new shrubs, and while I was somewhat disappointed with the available selections, the addition of ‘Mikawa’ was complimented with the discovery of Cornus sanguinea ‘Compressa’ a divine upright shrub to 1.5m in height with wondrous rubbery krinkled foliage that demands you reach out and touch it!

cornus  Alas….. two wondrous ‘plant hunting’ excursions inside of two weeks, what more could a plant hoarder like me ask for? How about a money tree! These excursions are weighing most heavily on my pocketbook! Like that has ever stopped me in the past!

DSC_0029 Happy Plant Hunting and Gardening!

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