Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

In Style, Out of Style, It Doesn't Really Matter!

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. :-)


peggy gatto said...

the turks cap is wonderful, reminds me of a chinese lantern too!!!
thanks for a lovely time in the garden!!

ellenreader said...

I think you have a very beautiful garden and website. Do you put any of your orchids outside during the hot summer months of Florida. If so which ones are best? I am mostly experienced growing them indoors, however I put them outside some in the spring and fall when the temperature is cooler.

Ellen Reader
Online Orchid Center

NanaK said...

The double pink knock-out is so beautiful. It is quite popular around town. The collection of 'old-timey' or 'heirloom' plants you have is so nice. You must have many memories tied up in them. I love that in a plant:) My Aunt Gladys, the only gardener in my family, grew Glads in her garden. I must try some. You say they return for you? Do they want full sun?

Ami said...

Susan: With all those knock-out rose talk, I think I will soon to try one in my garden, especially with my rose corner which is full of hybrid tea roses is now looking sad in this summer time.

I saw the exact same "Rose of Sharon " as what your sister has in my in-laws' community in Wuxi, china. Very pretty flowers!

I saw the gladiolus' bulbs sold at HD and Lowes, and inexpensive too compared to other bulbs. For some reason, I thought it is not suitable for zone 10 garden. Probably a total misconception. I will try it this winter.

Your candlestick plant is beautiful with those yellow flowers. I would like to try them, but a little afraid this might be too big for my small garden :(

Thanks for a great post! I am too new to this gardening world to even know what's are in style. I just keep taking the plants into my garden when I saw them and like them, and think it might be a good fit to my garden :)

Kimberly said...

Oh Susan!!! I'm signing up for some of those blackberry lily seeds!!
Agreed, plants/blooms go in and out of style. I think it's funny how an abundance of certain plants are available for awhile and then they're nowhere to be found. Roses are definitely a classic, as are peonies, in my opinion.

Floridagirl said...

I've found that the longer I garden, the less I look at a plant in sense of fashion. Some of the coolest plants can be found in old gardens. I do remember when I thought crinums were horribly common and really didn't want them in my garden. Now I find them beautiful and interesting. Who knows? Maybe I'm just gettin' old and out-of-fashion myself. On another note, I like those altheas. I grew rose-of-sharon up in Atlanta. I really didn't think they could grow here, as I never see them. Do they drop their leaves for many months of the year here, as they do further north?

Susan said...

Peggy...Thanks for stopping by. The Turk's cap does remind me of a chinese lantern. The color is great, too.

Ellen...Our orchids spend the majority of their time outdoors. The only exception is when temps drop below 50 degrees in winter. Thanks for your comments.

Kay...I should have called my blog "the sentimental gardener" as I have many passalong plants from family and friends. Do try the glads next spring. The leaves eventually die back but return each spring...kind of like caladiums.

Ami...The knock-outs are a lot easier than hybrids for sure. The cut flowers may not be as dazzling though. Do try the glads. I think they'll be okay in zone 10, too.

Kimberly...I got your email and will be happy to send some seeds to you later this year. You will love them!

ChrisC said...

I hope you can see me waving my hand madly for some of those lily seeds!I will e-mail you.
YardBoy has fallen madly in love with Knock-out roses.When my parents moved to St.Pete from NY over 30 years ago,my mother made my dad bring her glads.And they grew beautifully in St Pete.
Great post!

SiestaSister said...

Had not thought about Glads in years. When I was a kid (a long, long time ago) in Southern Calif. my Dad grew Glads. Maybe I should try some next year. I doubt if the bulbs are sold locally. Where do you order yours?

Susan said...

Chris...I got your email and will gladly send you some seeds. You really can't beat the knock-outs...they are great!

Siesta Sister...Yes, do give glads a try. They're easy and you can't beat the flowers. I buy mine at a local family nursery, but I have seen them for sale at HomeDepot in spring.Good luck finding some.

Meems said...

Great post to remind us how plants are trendy just like clothing, colors, foods etc. Gardeners tend to LOVE them no matter ... it is the occasional gardener that follows trends. Well... and I guess there's that marketing thing... supply and demand for the retailers. I love all your stylish plants posted here. Every time I see turks caps I think of my grandmother who grew them in large doses. Plumbago is another one I resisted having in my garden for many years because it was so popular when I was a child and it was everywhere. Now I'm so glad I planted them but put them in the background where they belong. I'm really enjoying my Stoksia too. I really must try some glads next spring.

Love the new changes to your blog by the way... it's looking very good.

Rose Bush Care said...

It's the latest entry into the rose family and its youth alone deserves a mention. I'm talking about the rose that has just about every rosarian talking: Your Pink Knockout Rose.

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