The Un-Masked Gardener
Greetings from Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We are so grateful to have survived the pandemic and are overjoyed to see severely impacted businesses starting down the road to recovery, as we all celebrate the process of un-masking where appropriate. It was particularly gratifying to see the CDC finally conclude that being outdoors is the safest place during a pandemic and that any chance of virus spread outdoors in the garden is miniscule.
We hosted a vaccination day at JLBG in March, not just for our staff, but for several other area nurseries. We hope everyone will join us in prioritizing the health of others…friends, neighbors, and patrons by getting vaccinated, where medically possible.
The last year drove home the fragility of human life, providing a stark reminder that none of us know how long we have left. We hope you will join us as we redouble our fundraising efforts, sidetracked by COVID, to assure that JLBG will be able to carry on in the future, long after we are incapacitated/gone.
So far, it’s been a record year for garden visitors, including so many folks we haven’t seen in years. It’s always great when the diversity of visitors echoes the diversity of plants that grow in the garden. This fall also marks a return to our Gardening Unplugged talks during our open nursery and garden days. Fall also marks a return to lectures on the road, so we hope to see you again soon in your home region.
We recently concluded our Third Southeastern Plant Symposium with an array of wonderful speakers, albeit via Zoom. We are already looking forward to 2022 when we will resume our fast-paced plant-centric symposium in person, with a chance for participants to visit both hosting gardens, JLBG/Plant Delights and the JC Raulston Arboretum. The dates are June 10, 11, 2022, so we hope you’ll add us to your calendar.
If you aren’t on our JLBG blog list, please check us out. This spring we started a daily blog from Juniper Level Botanic Garden, showcasing many of the amazing plants that you may or not see when you visit, along with many of the great back stories. Hopefully, this will help folks understand why the plant collections at JLBG need to be preserved. You may sign up at jlbg.org.
This spring, we wrapped up the year-long plant rescue from the garden of our adjunct researcher, the late Alan Galloway. A huge thanks to former JLBG research supervisor Petra Schmidt who put her life on hold for almost a year to return to NC and help with this monumental task. Alan’s tropical aroid collection was distributed to appropriate botanical researchers and gardens around the world, so his research will continue. The winter hardy plants have been incorporated into the gardens here at JLBG, and are currently being evaluated for garden potential, and in some cases, possible future naming and public release.
A spring trip to Eastern Texas presented an opportunity to evaluate the survival of plants after their record winter cold snap that saw cities like Nacogdoches drop to a record-setting -4 F. We will use this data in our continuing efforts to make our nursery hardiness info as accurate as possible.
For our summer/fall catalog, we’ve put together another exciting assortment of plants that include a number of returning favorites along with a sprinkling of new gems from our trials.
As part of our quest to introduce cool, but little-known North American native plants, we are pleased to share several fascinating new additions for the first time including Aristolochia watsonii, Asclepias angustifolia ‘Sonoita’, Ludwigia maritima ‘Life’s a Beach’, Erythrina herbacea ‘Supply Sider’, Eupatorium purpureum ‘Baby Joe’, Lonicera dioica ‘Eureka’, and the rare Liatris chapmanii.
Five coneflowers made the catalog, showcasing the best garden performers from our trials. Returning after 14-year catalog absence is the great native soapwort, Yucca flaccida ‘Hairy’. Accompanying ‘Hairy’ is the rare Iris prismatica ‘Rabun White’ which hasn’t made a catalog appearance since 2015.
We also celebrate the 28th anniversary of the introduction of what is still one of the finest perennials we grow, Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’. Many new solidagos have come and gone since that time, but this gem still tops the list.
Other past favorites we welcome back this year include the brilliant Delosperma dyeri, they insanely heavily flowered Tricyrtis ‘Momoyama’, and the giant clumping bamboo, Bambusa ‘Green Giant’.
One of the new oddities making the catalog cut is the quirky variegated buckwheat, Fagopyrum ‘Flambeau’. For Mangave collectors, we’ve added two new selections, Mangave ‘Black Magic’ and ‘Fiercely Fabulous’. If you like foxgloves, check out the perennial Digitalis laevigata which reaches a staggering 5’ tall. If woody lilies are of interest, don’t miss our introduction of Dasylirion leiophyllum ‘Chaves’ from an exceedingly cold location for gardeners in more northern climates.
Our interest in winter hardy geophytes is evident with the inclusion of eleven amaryllids (members of the Amaryllis family). These include four lycoris, four zephyranthes, two agapanthus, and our first offering of the trigeneric hybrid, x Howardara ‘Little Princess’. Only ferns, whose catalog numbers also total eleven, come close. We’ve had a good season with our fern spore propagation, so join us in welcoming back the return of several favorites including the full sun loving Pteris vittata ‘Benzilan’, which we haven’t been able of offer since 2015.
We hope you find some treasures that deserve a home in your garden….be well.
-tony & anita