As a self professed collector/hoarder/connoisseur of the rare and unusual, my postage stamp sized property tends to be a showcase for individual specimens. Here are some of my all-time favourites:
Without a doubt, one of my proudest moments was when Cypripedium reginae graced me with her first flower! I waited patiently for three years in order to capture her mesmerising beauty~
Those who know me well enough will not be surprised to see Corydalis flexuosa 'Blue Panda' represented here. I could spend hours waiting for the perfect shot that would perfectly capture not only the unique flower shape, but the icy blue intensity! Its enough to take one's breath away!
The striking contrast between the fountain like habit of Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold' and the foliage of Cornus alternifolia 'Golden Shadows' presented me with a fail proof composition. The fact that the foliage in the foreground was already showing its fabulous ruby coloration, was icing on the cake!
Red and yellow - my all time least favourite garden colours.... up until I was introduced to Spigelia marilandica! Fabulous pleated, tubular ruby flowers that open to a magnificent perfectly shaped whipped butter yellow star!
When you garden in the shade, you soon realize that in lieu of flowers, one must focus on foliage! The water pooling in the centre of the magnificent palmate leaf od Diphylleia cymosa perfectly sums up the never ending pleasure of gardening in the shade.
Primula vialii has quickly risen to become a personal favourite with its unique inflorescence that brings to mind Knifophia! Popular in Britain, I'm hoping North American gardeners will find it in their hearts to embrace this beauty!
Another one that I waited four years before it graced me with a single bloom. but OMG, the wait was so worth it in the end! Rare and extremely hard to find in commerce, Glaucidium palmatum is actually related the the genus Paeonia!
Erythronium japonica is the closest one will come to witnessing a star that fell from the heavens and landed in the garden! Sublime!
Similarly beautiful is the orchid like bloom of Roscoea cautleyoides 'Kew Beauty' a member of the flowering Ginger family that is native to China and the Himalaya. Another rare but worth while garden addition.
I spent one year coveting, and two tracking down this wonderful variegated hedge maple - another rarity in commerce that goes by the name Acer campestre 'Carnival.' Newly emerging foliage is green, white and splashed with a delicate pink!
Pinellia tripartita 'Green Dragon' reminds one of another favourite genera, Arisaema. Delightful spathes with whip cord spadix remind me of a brood of hungry little green aliens all with mouths agape!
Gentiana scabra 'True Blue' is a new introduction within my second favourite genera - Gentiana. This cultivar boasts an upright, almost shrubby appearance compared to others within the genus, attaining heights of .75m, with strong 15cm tubular, gentian blue flowers! A smashing companion for your fabulously chartreuse foliage plants nearby - Pinellia tripartita 'Golden Dragons' perhaps?
Deinanthe caerulea is truly one of those Holy Grail plants that only appear in woodland garden connoisseur's selections. Pale mauve flowers, resembling its distant cousin, Hydrangeaceae, contain a boss of wonderful stamens that are dusted with grey. One that I have been after for years, and now resides in this special border thanks to Larry at Lost Horizons!
Deinanthe bifida, belongs to the same family as Hydrangea, hence the similarity in flower structure. A divine woodland plant that is unfortunately rarely seen in gardens, other than those of woodland connoisseurs! Does it surprise you to find it here?
Saruma henryi remains a Top Ten, MUST HAVE perennial for the shaded woodland garden!
Thalictrum cheldonii boasts wonderful flowers that are traditionally larger than the genus with extending stamens that beg for a photo opportunity or three!
Roscoea purpurescens is a more robust species within a genus that is closely related to Ginger. Late to emerge, it is important to clearly label their location.
I love to stand at the rear of the Shaded Walk and admire the beauty that the differing textures, heights and colours afford me!
Arisaema sikokianum had to grow on me. Definitely not your typical 'jack!' Native to Japan, its dramatic upturned spathe and pristine white club shaped spadix are partly responsible for it being considered the Holy Grail specimen within the genus!
With its unique Mitre shaped flowers, Aconitum incisofidum is one of the more statuesque beauties along the sunny side border. Another rarity from Lost Horizons!
Polygonatum stenanthum is larger and taller in all of its parts. Reaching heights that can at times reach 2m in height, it also has foliage close to .3m as well! I hope that it will spread quickly to cover the division between garden and compost area along the Shaded Walk sooner, rather than later!
[photo courtesy of Barry Parker] I adore Polygonatum, and as such was more than impressed when I discovered the wonderful purple-green infused foliage of Polygonatum x hybridum 'Betberg' Early Spring visitors to the garden squeal with delight when they spot this one.... or is that me?
It was gardening friend Julie who put me on to this charming Cardamine with its luscious larger than life pale, whipped buttery yellow flowers that dangle from crisp, handsome foliage, Cardamine enneaphylla is sure to become a personal favourite sooner rather than later!
Hepatica transsilvanica 'De Buis' has the most enchanting blue flowers, making it the perfect companion for the native H.nobilis which has wonderful clear white flowers!
Back to those enchanting Arisaema. Sometimes known as the dominatrix jack, Arisaema thunbergii var. Urashima is the one that reminds me of the current vampire craze..... does anyone remember 'Dark Shadows?' It has a wonderful whip like spadix that on a mature plant can reach 36cm in length, adding a naughty element to any shaded woodland garden!
The tiniest of the Arisaema is Arisaema kuishianum whose spathe resides near to ground level, making it one of those 'hands and knees' moments to fully appreciate the comedy it entails. I cannot help but think of a tiny owl who has suffered the calamity of having a spear thrust into its eye. Morbid humour at its best!
Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo' is a darling in every sense of the word and is the second most diminutive plant in my garden repertoire [next to a sublime Russian Corydalis - woroshillovii] and has the most divine fully double papery textured light pink flowers that sometimes fade throughout the season. One look at its neat identical to Thalictrum foliage and its easy to see why it is a personal favourite!
With the smashing grace and elegance of a rose.... I believe this is how plantsman Larry Davidson describes Sanguinaria canadensis f. Multiplex in his honorific catalogue at Lost Horizons. The rare double flowering form is later and holds its beguiling flowers for weeks on end!
[Photo thanks to Botanically Inclined, the brilliant blog of Gabi who is employed at Lost Horizons!] I have waited four years to be able to clasp my greedy hands around a pot of this most hypnotic beauty, and this is finally the year! Disporum brachystemon belongs to one of my favourite genera, and with its tall, statuesque habit, not to mention the pendulous wine infused flowers..... Larry and Gabi, I am beholden to you both!
[Photo courtesy of Botanically Inclined] I have developed a slight obsession with Epimedium, and one look at Epimedium 'Sakura Maru' explains it all! Just look at those fabulous claw shaped flowers of pale pink and white with the recurving spurs! Magnifique!
Speaking of Epimedium, how does one not fall to their knees in supplication when they come across Epimedium grandiflora 'Tama no genpei' The name alone elicits shivers up and down my spine!
Small though it is, the newly unfurling foliage of Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' is a sight to stop a marathon runner dead in their tracks. Resembling miniature folded Geisha fans, their fabulously chartreuse colouring is the perfect compliment to the pink sheaths they emerge from! Pure sublimation!
I love the herbaceous Clematis, and one of my personal favourites is Clematis integrifolia with its twsited petals!
Leptodermis oblonga is also known as 'Himalayan lilac' and one might be confused when looking at its flowers. It is a diminutive shrub that covers itself with gorgeous flowers throughout mid to late summer. I have yet to detect the fragrance that we associate with Syringa!
The genus Epimedium is one that I find myself coming back to time and time again! With the fabulous foliage, often tinted purple or gold in the Spring, and its flowers which are often two toned with elegant long spurs, what is there not to love? This is Epimedium 'Hagoromo,' a wonderful diminutive Japanese selection whose two toned, spurred flowers made me squeal with delight when I first noticed it on the benches of Lost Horizons during a recent visit!
Knock wood - if I have my way, Kirengeshoma will be a staple of each and every woodland garden that I help design. With tall upright stems to 1.5m, handsome palmate foliage, and wonderful waxy, yellow shuttlecock shaped flowers, they are one of the joys of the late Summer, early Fall woodland garden!
A visit to Lost Horizons last August netted me what has hands down become my favourite of the blue flowering Corydalis. 'Wildside Blue' is a seedling from the garden of Keith Wiley of Dorset, England. It bloomed its foolish but oh so handsome head off last Fall, stopping only when it was cruelly cut down by frost!
Love, love, love the Aconitum, and this one, Aconitum austroyunanense is a climber with the most riveting shaped flowers! Native the Yunnan, China, it will be smashing when it starts to clamor through a wild Vitis that is trellised against the garage, creating s stunning backdrop to the Rare and Unusual border!
Four of my all-time favourites: Gentiana scabra 'True Blue,' Pinellia tripartita 'Golden Dragons,' Corydalis 'Wildside Blue,' and Aralia cordata 'SUn King' all come together to give the Rare and Unusual border that pop of true blue and fabulously chartreuse!
Arisaema consanguineum 'Perfect Wave' comes from Seneca Hills and sports fabulous rippled, wavy whorled foliage with a distinct powdery blue hue and startling central silver venation to each leaflet! I can hardly wait to see it as it matures!
Arisaema triphyllum 'Black Jack' is a stunning offpspring of our native with startlingly deep purple, near black foliage that still allows for green veining to show through. Its spathe is similar to the native.
Acer palmatum 'Hana Matoi' is the first variegated dissected Japanese Maple with sumptuous pink, green and white lacy foliage. Mature height of .75-1m by 1m in ten years time. A most delightful addition to the garden!
Albizia julibrissen 'Summer Chocolate' remains one of my favourite amongst the 'Zonal Denial' children. A potted specimen that attains heights of 2.5m in height, it comes inside to a sunny, warm location for the winter. I am still waiting to see if I can get mine to bloom!
Cypripedium formosanum with its delightful inflated hanging pouch and sublime pleated foliage which resembles an Elizabethan collar is a true showstopper in the woodland garden. One of the easiest of this amazingly addictive genus to cultivate it does need winter protection and therefore comes in for the winter in its pot!
Gentiana is a favourite and Gentiana sino ornata 'Kingfisher' with its amazing pinnate foliage and gorgeous blue trumpet shaped flowers never fails to stop visitors in their tracks!
Dichroa febrifuga is another of the 'Zonal Denial' tribe which boasts amazing blue flowers and fruit later in the season. A delightful shrub that with proper winter protection is guaranteed to elicit gasps of delight at its blueness!
Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' is in my estimation the penultimate of all redbuds with its wonderful burgundy infused foliage.