Have you noticed that plants, like clothing styles, seem to be "in style" or "out of style?" One thing for sure is that roses never seem to go out of style. Although, antique roses seem to have been enjoying a return to popularity in the past decade thanks to the "rose rustlers" who began to identify and grow cuttings from plants found in cemeteries. And, fortunately so, since they are not only beautiful but very durable, as well. Roses, in general, also received a burst in popularity due to the carefree nature of the knock-out varieties, like this Pink Double Knock Out ‘Radtkopink.’
Coleus varieties are also basking in the sun again these days due to a renewed interest, and many new colorful varieties. My sister and her husband inherited a very large powderpuff bush when they bought their first home. Every year this G-normous bush would freeze, making it a job to cut it back. Fortunately, the beautiful powderpuff is back in vogue, but in a smaller, more manageable size for the normal garden.
Blackberry Lilies Belamcanda chinensis are a hummingbird-attracting plant that's showing up on lots of garden blogs these days. If you want one, you'll need to find a friend who'll share some seeds or find a company online to purchase them from, since they can't be found in local garden centers. I started my plants from seeds I found hanging on a sad and bedraggled looking plant at my daughter's preschool some years back. So now this plant holds sweet memories for me, especially since the preschool no longer exists at the old location.
My sister's mother-in-law grew stokesia in her yard back in the 80's. Now and then I've stumbled upon this plant, like the one pictured below known as Stokes’ Aster Stokesia laevis ‘Omega Skyrocket’ in a local family nursery that's been in town forever. The blue color is absolutely fantastic, and as you can see the bees simply adore this beauty.
We had Candlestick plant...as we referred to it...Senna alata X Cassia alata in our yard when I was a kid. The plants I grow, in my garden today, come from the seeds of plants that sprouted in my mother's garden. For us it is an heirloom plant with memories attached to it. Now, some 40 years later, this plant is coming back into style which is fabulous for Cloudless sulphur butterflies who use it as a host plant. I get very excited when I see the bush covered in caterpillars. It freezes back every year, but readily comes back from the roots...and grows very quickly and quite large. It also reseeds itself generously around the garden, but is not a nusance.
When I lived in Pinellas county, 9 years ago, I learned that fields of gladiolus' (also known as sword lilies) were grown back in the 50's in Clearwater for the cut flower industry. It seemed strange to me at the time since I had never seen them growing in people's yards, especially since bulbs can be purchased in big box stores and garden centers. Why you rarely see them is a mystery to me because they are a great filler plant that reappears each spring and produces a tall, slender spray of gorgeous flowers that look fabulous in the garden or in a flower arrangement.
A plant that I inherited in my very first garden back in the late 80's was Rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus or Althea. This plant is a member of the hibiscus family, but it doesn't freeze. It does, however produce beautiful soft-colored flowers throughout the summer. The only place I've seen this plant for sale is at Lowe's in early spring.
This pretty purple variety is growing in my sister's garden. Isn't it beautiful? Both of us grow them under Live oak trees where they only receive partial sun each day.
She told me she's had the plant for about 8 years and as you can see, it has reached a nice size and has a soft-flowing and airy look to it.
One additional plant that I haven't seen in garden centers is Turk's Cap Malvaviseus arboreus. Another hummingbird favorite. This plant is also a member of the hibiscus family and it will freeze back to the ground in a cold winter. If it doesn't freeze, it will most likely be in need of trimming back as it can grow quite tall. I found this plant for sale in a very small backyard nursery.
This is a close up view of the flower. Unlike, it's sister...the hibiscus plant..this flower does not open. That's probably one of the reasons why the hummers like it so much.
In style or out of style...it doesn't really matter. I'm just happy that I can still find some of these old-time plants that hold sweet memories for me, and include them in my garden. And, anytime I can passalong seeds or cuttings from these plants...I'm happy to do it. A great plant deserves to be admired and shared.
I'll have Candlestick plant and Blackberry lily seeds, this fall, available to share with anyone who wants some. Just send me an email and I'll be happy to mail some to you. :-)