Friday, May 30, 2008

Back On Track

Okay, I've been a little remiss in posting lately. The 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. shift is beginning to wear on me just a little, so shoot me. This has been one of the craziest springs I can remember in quite some time and I'm STILL playing catch-up. Almost there, though. The work is not coming in at quite the same pace it has been for the past two months and I feel like I'm finally at a point where I can actually get caught up and stay there! To that end, I'm going to do a better job of posting here on a much more regular basis. It's not going to be everyday, I can guarantee you that, but I'll try to do at least a couple of new things each week since we are right in the thick of the growing season right now and topics should (hopefully) abound.

Have you seen the new Pennisetum setaceum 'Fireworks'? Wow! Wow, wow, wow! You know I love just about anything that is variegated and this new form of the old standard Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' (burgundy fountain grass) will definitely knock your socks off! The overall color is still the burgundy that we love, but the 'Fireworks' start when the solid pink, pink and green, white and green, and pink, white and green shoots start showering forth amongst the burgundy. It's a showstopper! Once my plants get a little larger and I can get a good photo, I'll post one here so y'all can see it. In the meantime, when you're out at your local garden center, ask if they have it. It's part of the new "Hort Couture" brand that's out this year and it's a stunner!

What else is new? Hmmmmm. I'm thinking. Oh, the baby 'Thailand Strain' Colocasia (the giant elephant ears) are FINALLY starting to grow. I don't have the advantages of a nice, warm greenhouse to grow them in, so I've had to wait for 80 degree weather to see the kind of growth that my friends have been getting for that past two months. My friend Rita Randolph had plants ready to sell in 4" pots just 6 weeks after I gave her a tray of the seedlings. You should check out her website at She has an amazing selection of things. Lots of eye candy!

Another favorite for the past couple of years has been Caladium humboldtii 'Snow', a diminutive (and I mean small!) white caladium with green veining. It looks just like the big ones, but the leaves are only about the size of a teaspoon and the whole plant only stands about 6"-8" tall when it's mature. It's definitely another one of my new favorites! I've found one (a C. h. 'Snow') that I'm very excited about, as it seems to be even more miniature than most of them I have. So far, it's only about 4" tall and the leaves are only about the size of a baby spoon. It may grow larger as it gets more mature and as the heat of summer sets in, but I don't think so. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I feel like I've developed a reasonably good eye for things over the years and perhaps have just a bit of a "sixth sense" about plants that are different or unusual in some way. This one, so far, seems to be one of those. We'll see how it progresses through the summer. It's so small that it will never make a great garden plant, but it sure is fabulous in a 4" pot and would be a great little accent in a shady windowbox! I'll keep you posted on its progress and get some photos of it, too, once it's looking lush and full.

Guess I'd better get back to work if I intend to get caught up! Hope spring is treating everyone well and that your gardens are bursting at the seams.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tulip 'Yellow Present'

It's not often that a tulip would turn my head and even rarer that I would be so impressed by its beauty as to pick up the phone before I even pulled into the parking lot to call a friend who works at the botanical garden to find out what it was. But that's exactly what happened. I'm not a tulip snob--really, I'm not. It's just that they don't always grow terribly well down here in the south and so often our spring seasons get so warm, so fast that they just don't last that long and the flowers just aren't as robust and beautiful as they are further north.

A few weeks ago, though, I pulled in the front gate at Cheekwood (our botanical garden here in Nashville, and was completely smitten by the beauty of the tulip display in front of the restaurant at the entrance to the property. Before I even pulled into the parking lot, I was on the phone leaving a message for one of my friends who works there to inquire as to its name. "'Yellow Present' from Brent and Becky's Bulbs," ( the return message said a little later in the day. A present, indeed!

I'm partial to yellow anyway, so there was already a warm spot in my heart for it. But it wasn't just the fact that it was yellow, it was the shade of yellow--a warm, but soft sulfur-yellow upon opening that faded to the softest shade of blonde. The form was outstanding, too, with a large, goblet-shaped bloom held aloft at the end of a generous stem perfect for display in the garden as well as the vase. Rest assured, this will be one tulip that finds its way into my garden next spring and probably for many springs to come!