Plants I Love
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!
Bamboo Foliage: the Alpha & Omega
Leaves of big-leaved bamboo are the largest: up to two feet long. Despite their tropical size, its hardy to coastal Maine.
Among the smallest leaves of any bamboo are those of Mexican weeping bamboo. The day it was headed to the greenhouse for the winter,I had set my young containered specimen in front of my colony of big-leaved. Could the contrast be more striking? Of whatever hardiness or character, several forms of bamboo are essential in my garden—in any garden.
The Best Season Ever: 'Rubyglow' Passionvine in Bloom
The hardy passion vine has been in flower for months, and is just completing its floral show for the year. The floral season of this giant tender form, Ruby Glow, is just beginning.
Summer's leafy growth was the definition of exuberance: Next year, I'll supply a tower twenty feet high, not "just" fourteen. These massive, colorful flowers are even more exciting.
The Best Season Ever: The Pollarded Planetree
When I pollarded this young Suttner's plane tree in January, the results were predicably shocking: a complete decapitation. True, what remained was a trunk with extraordinary bark—but without a single branch.
That was then. By September, new stems up to six feet long had sprouted. Plane trees of all sorts are classic subjects for pollarding, in part, because they respond with almost defiant glee when pruned.