Lessons from the Kama SeedtraRequest a catalog
Although we’re not sure yet what 2021 has in store, most folks have reluctantly settled into their “new normal” for the foreseeable future, so this most likely means more time in the garden and to just be outdoors enjoying nature.
Here at JLBG/PDN, the attendance at our 2020 Open nursery and garden days was a record setter with new visitors showing up in droves. What an incredible opportunity it has been to interact with so many folks, especially the young future gardeners who visited with their families. To all those naysayers, who’ve been warning us that after the boomers were gone, the next gen had no interest in ornamental gardening….boy, were they wrong!
2020 also showed us how delicate the balance is for the financial health of both businesses and botanic gardens. We’ve had plenty of media coverage about how disastrous the pandemic has been for many businesses, but very little word about the devastating effect for public gardens, zoos, and museums, which suffered mightily as many shuttered completely or reduced hours. Without a substantial endowment to sustain operations, some may not return. Because our gardens and research divisions are funded by our mail order nursery, our financial impacts were thankfully minimal. That won’t always be the case, however, as we transition to a full-time botanic garden. These turbulent times demonstrate how critical it is that we push forward with our fundraising efforts toward a sustainable operational endowment.
Last year, our staff transitioned on a proverbial dime from business as usual, to the world is ending, and then to, how the heck are we going to ship this many orders and grow this many plants. We’d like to think we are more prepared this year for all the folks who will probably still be spending more time in their gardens, but that’s probably only wishful thinking. Again, we thank you for your patience in 2020 during the spring season when customer calls and emails arrived at more than triple our capacity to reply.
We’d be lying if we said that putting together a 2021 catalog has been easy, since we never seemed to get caught up with last years’ propagation, while simultaneously trying to do the same for a new 2021 crop. Thankfully, somehow our staff seems to have made it happen. You may notice the absence of some familiar favorites in the 2021 print catalog, but you’ll also notice an incredible offering of over 100 new plants, of which 50 are first time Plant Delights/Juniper Level Botanic Garden introductions. We hope real estate is still affordable in your area, since many of you will need a larger garden to fit all the gems. Our catalog salute to the Kama Seedtra (the mysterious manual of sexual plant propagation) recognizes the importance of both diverse pollination methods and resulting seed diversity in making the selections that we prize in our gardens.
In the agave world, we’ve added a number of new gems for collectors, including the truly lustful, Agave titanota ‘Snaggle Tooth’. Agave ‘Glow Light’ has long been one of our favorites, but coaxing offsets has been harder that keeping Donald Trump off Twitter. Agave ‘Border Guard’ is our new sport of Agave parryi ‘J.C. Raulston’, and diminutive Agave ‘Pin Up Girl’ is worthy of more than a lustful glance.
Ornamental grasses continue to be a significant area of interest and for 2021, we’ve added three new carex that were superb in our trials. The first is our own selection, the native Carex cherokeensis ‘Crying Time’ that joins and another native, the much improved Carex plantaginea ‘Blue Ridge’. Joining them is the supersized hybrid Carex ‘Feather Falls’, which makes a massive 5’ wide clump. The blue-foliaged, compact Panicum ‘Gunsmoke’ is a dramatic improvement of our native Panicum virgatum that is not to be missed.
From our incredible work with North American native plants, we are pleased to introduce three more superb baptisias from our breeding program, which continues to raise the bar for form, height, and floral show. Those include Baptisia 'Aspiring' (light blue), Baptisia 'Blue Bunchkin' (blue-lavender), and Baptisia 'Lightning Rods' (light yellow). Although it’s a woody plant, don’t miss the new compact selection of titi tree, Cyrilla ‘Tom Patrick’…truly stunning. We also hope you’ll check out the purple-foliaged horse gentian (triosteum) and our awe-inspiring selection of the native non-weedy native chickweed, Stellaria pubera 'Chick-a-boom'. Just curious…whose grows our native Dixie mountain breadfruit, Pediomelum piedmontanum?
There are so many new shade garden plants in the catalog, it’s hard to know where to start, so we’ll begin with Epimedium ‘Ninja Stars’…an off the charts new fairy wing from breeder Darrell Probst. Farfugium ‘Green Teeth’, from our Taiwan expedition, is unique for the genus. Seven new well-trialed ferns made the 2020 catalog including six new Plant Delights/JLBG introductions. The stunning Tiarella ‘Cutting Edge’ is another native that has been truly fabulous in our trials. Our first hybrid mayapple, Podophyllum ‘Standing Tall’ is finally able to make its debut, along with a return of the pink-flowering native, Podophyllum ‘Missouri May’. We also finally have enough stock to share four new seed-propagated, flowering-size trilliums, including our dark-foliaged clonal selection Trillium lancifolium ‘Black Panther’.
This year also sees the introduction of several new hosta, including many from our own breeding program. In our expanding series of fast-multiplying dwarf hosta, we introduce Hosta ‘Blue Biscuit’, ‘Fingertips’, and ‘Yellow Sapphire’. Although slightly larger, our Hosta ‘Viking Sunshine’ has both bright golden foliage along with a superb floral show.
While we’re on the theme of foliage color, check out two new ajugas…the bright yellow foliaged Ajuga ‘Cordial Canary’ and the pink variegated Ajuga ‘Princess Nadia’…two superb performers. In the coral bell world, we feel like we hit the hot summer jackpot with the amazing Heuchera ‘Grande Amethyst’. As a color echo, be sure not to miss the new standard for dark foliage stonecrops, Sedum ‘Back in Black’. Then, a nice contrast, check out Drops of Jupiter oregano…a cross of the gold-foliaged edible with a species grown for flowers!
We’ve always been fascinated with aroids for the garden, and for 2021, we present several new introductions including two new love lilies of our own…the spotted tropical Amorphophallus ‘Hot Night Spot’, and the pink-stemmed Amorphophallus konjac ‘Flesh Gordon’. Arum ‘Spot On’ is a new Plant Delights/JLBG intro with the opposite growing season and a unique look. And, if you like arum, wait until you’ve tried a tacky arum, as represented this year by Taccarum caudatum ‘Eruption’…a plant that has sailed through a decade of in-ground winter hardiness trials.
Geophytes (plants with underground storage organs) are always a specialty, and for 2021, we offer three new crinums for the first time including the recently named, Crinum ‘Transformer’. Fritillaria messanensis is a super cute a super growable fritillary, and Habranthus ‘Candy Cane’ is our new rain lily that’s spent over a decade in stock build up. Hippeastrelia ‘Volcano’ is our second named hybrid of Hippeastrum and Sprekelia to reach the market, although quantities are quite limited. Six new surprise lilies are finally offered, with five making their worldwide debut.
Did someone mention flowers…oh, do we have flowers! Alstroemeria ‘Summer Sky’ has blown us away in our trials with its long flowering season. Then, there is the perennial Begonia ‘Immortality’ for those who like bedding begonias, but want to avoid the need to replant them annually. Hemerocallis ‘Mongolian Gold’ is a new wild-collected daylily that displays three distinct seasons. On the dry side, Delosperma ‘Mountain Dew’ has been a visitor favorite in the crevice garden…and it has thrived in our un-ice plant friendly climate. Two new hibiscus offer something new…one with yellow flowers, while the other raises the bar for swirling colorful blooms. In the butterfly world, Buddleia ‘Lilac Cascade’ adds a new color to the phenomenal giant-flowering cascade series. If you simply prefer your plants a little on the tacky side, check out the screaming Lychnis senno ‘Once in a Vermillion’…but put on your sunglasses first.
These are just a tiny peak at the exciting plants that await…time to dig in!
Tony and Anita