Plants I Love
Osage Orange in Winter
I seem unable to resist thorny, spiny, and prickly plants not in spite of those painful features, but because of them. Inch-long spines of osage orange are profuse as well as effective deterrents to casual contact with humans, let alone the nibbles of any and all browsers.
On this basis alone, the trees should be ideal for the unfenced portion of my garden. But this osage cultivar, Cannonball, has another irresistible talent: producing enormous fruits that are literally cannonball size. Why have just the normal grapefruit-sized ones?
The Higher-than-Ever Hedge of American Holly
All forms of holly rebound eagerly when pruned, which is one reason they can form such effective, attractive, durable hedges: They can be pruned a little or a lot, and respond by forming vigorous bushy new growth.
This eagerness is the reason holly is so quick and easy to train into a hedge. Long-term, it's also the reason that the hedge can be maintained at peak condition forever. The key is welcoming the new growth while, at the same time, being able to prune most of it away without a qualm.
My immense old hedge of American holly is the poster child for long-term healthy care. In less than two years after its last ruthless prune, the top bristles with new shoots three feet tall and taller. As it turns out, they are just the tips of the radical cut-back that's needed.
The Best Season Ever: Snowden's Kniphofia
Flower spikes of red-hot pokers are typically crowded with flowers, and vivid in coloring. Flower spikes of Snowden's poker are strikingly airy, with an inch or so blossom to blossom.
Then, there's their soft shades of apricot and yellow. All in all, Snowden's poker is a graceful, eccentric essential. Here's how to grow it even where not hardy.
Gold-Needled Umbrella Pine
No garden where umbrella pine is hardy should be without one. The conifer’s unique quill-like needles, and their striking array at the tips of bare stems—looking like the spokes of an umbrella—are a tactical & visual thrill.
The brightly-hued needles of Gold Star ramp up this species' desirability even more. Other forms are dwarf, or columnar, variegated, or green. On second thought, every garden needs multiple umbrella pines.
The Best Season Ever: Lablab
It's the rare vegetable that's showy enough for the garden at large. What others are there besides fancy-leaved kale, cardoons, Jerusalum artichokes, and artisanal grains such as broom corn and amaranth?
Lablab! This astonishing bean is grown world-wide as animal fodder, as well as for human consumption of its flowers, foliage, roots, and pods. It's also grown world-wide as a garden ornamental.
Here, the glossy rhubarb-pink pods glint in the sun. The long spikes of pink flowers earlier in the season are singular, as well. Then, there's the foliage!