Sunday, September 8, 2013
Posted By: in Feature Products

I have a number of favorite plants around the nursery and if you ask any one of our garden crazy staff each has a number of very different favorite plants. We can however agree on the coolness factor of the following plants:

Toad Lily

Toad Lily

Tricyrtis hirta

This autumn blooming wonder for the shade garden is probably the closest you can come to planting a hardy orchid in your garden. The flowers are quite frankly breathtaking and well worth displaying in your house. Most are hardy to zone 7, some varieties even hardier and require shockingly little care though they do love a good moist humic soil. They make a lovely little vignette when planted with golden leaved hostas, Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’ and some Maiden Hair Ferns.

Gas Plant

Dictamnus albus

This plant is so amazing cool, even your kids will give you grudging admiration for having it. The flowers on this perennial which occur around midsummer, produce a gas which, on a still day can be ignited with a lighter at the bottom of the flower spike. The gas will quickly burn up the flower spike without burning the flower. Be patient with this plant as it takes a little time to get established and sulks (actually mine outright died) when you try to move it when you want to make a pathway…sigh. A full sun position in well drained average soil is best for this perennial and treat it like a peony…put it somewhere where you don’t have to move it!

Image Courtesy of: Wikipedia

gunnera

Dinosaur Plant / Gunnera

Gunnera

Now this is a refreshingly huge plant that has been around since the dinosaurs. There are some days, after I’ve been asked for the thousandth time to point out plants dwarfish, slenderish and very slow plants for the small garden that I just want to bust loose and suggest one of these puppies. There is nothing slender, small or slow growing about these plants with leaves as big as a person. A partially shady or full sun boggy ditch or pondside is a good place for this behemoth and if you don’t have either you can give it some space…well a lot of space in your garden and really really keep it well watered to get the size, otherwise you get something only slightly larger than a Rhubarb when it has the potential to grow to about 8 feet tall by 12 feet wide over the course of the summer, hence the water requirement. In winter a bit of protection in the form of its giant leaves help ensure its longevity.

Giant Miscanthus Grass

Giant Maiden Grass

Miscanthus giganteum

For the same reason I love the Gunnera, the Miscanthus giganteum always makes me smile. A definite back of the border plant in sun in a well drained, humic soil with plenty of available moisture when needed will make this grass shoot for the sky. I can get to about 12 feet plus tall in one season. Pair it with some Russian Giant sunflowers and you will feel like you are an extra in Honey I’ve Shrunk the Gardener. Give it a corner to spread a bit as it is a very strong grower. Some areas are even harvesting it as an alternative fuel. Miscanthus giganteum is hardy to zone 5-6.

black stem bamboo

Black Stem Bamboo

Phyllostachys nigra

Ok, maybe this isn’t the most unusual of my choices, I thought about putting the Cryptomeria jindai sugi in here instead but well, black stem bamboo is actually quite cool. It needs well drained humic soil in a sunny to part sun spot. It is hardy to zone 7 and can grow up to 20 plus feet tall. The culms start off olive green and as they age they start to become speckled with black until they are a solid ebony. It is a more sedate grower than the rest of its bamboo family…I actually wished it was a bit faster believe it or not. It is more of a clump former, though you should still watch for runners. If you do get a runner you can dig it up and give it to a friend…or me.

These plants are typically available at Art's Nursery. As always, please call to confirm availability if you are making a special trip as stock and selection changes frequently. If you have any questions about these plants, please feel free to call us at 604.882.1201 or visit us in person.

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle is a certified horticulturalist and Landscape designer. She is currently an up and coming apple guru, growing over 120 cultivars which explains her passion for edible garden design. Laurelle works part time for Art’s Nursery. You can also interact with her through Art’s monthly newsletter, our blog and our gardening channel on YouTube.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

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