What plants do you absolutely have to have this Spring?

leslie6riFebruary 2, 2012

Hi all,

Now that Bluestone has raised its prices, and I've ordered two Camellias ('Winter's Rose' and 'April Remembered'--Bill reminded me how much I wanted them), I've decided to be picky about what I add to my gardens this year.

Corylopsis pauciflora is one necessity since my husband ever so carefully mowed down (by mistake) the adorable little one that I bought from Forest Farm years ago. --He thought it was a weed. Sigh. I still grieve for that little shrub.

A bunch of Hellebores thanks to the enablers here. 'Cinnamon Snow', 'Pink Frost', H. x ballardiae 'Spring Party', 'Regal Ruffles' --in red, in case they come in different colors, and 'Mellow Yellow', as well as another H. niger to keep my H. 'Joshua' company.

Dicentra scandens. A yellow climbing, possibly fragrant?, bleeding heart! Don't know if it will be hardy in Zone 6, but I'll plant it near the house and hope for the best.

A fairy rose because someone here (nhbabs?) reminded me how much I love it. I used to have one in my old garden.

An Illicium floridanum of some kind. There are new cultivars so I'll have to look into it.

Adiantum x mairisii --Hardy maidenhair fern. Hardy! Love those filigreed leaves and never thought I could get one that would be hardy in my garden.

And probably hundreds more...

What plants are you dreaming of?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I rarely think I have to have plants but gave in to a serious bout of want & ordered these New Year's Eve from Santa Rosa Garden's year-end 35% off sale:

Lobelia Fan Blue
Lobelia Fan Salmon
Stachys Helen von Stein
Scabiosa columbaria Pink Mist
Coreopsis verticillata Route 66
Lavandula Provence

I bought both the stachys & the Provence lavender on their half-price sale last spring and was so impressed I decided to order more whenever they have a sale. The lavender grew to nearly 12" tall before our so-called winter arrived and is still both beautiful & fragrant.

I'm toying with the idea of using the stachys along the curved edges of my full sun perennial bed. There's a local nursery where I can buy nice-size plants in quart pots for $4.99 in late May. I bought only one last year and have been kicking myself that I didn't buy more ever since. It grew into a gorgeous accent plant which is not why I bought it! My granite garden bench sits in the center of the bed & has a 12 ft. wide granite patio in front of it. I think the lamb's ear would add a softness to the granite. Am also experimenting with the idea of alternating the stachys [silver] and 'Bonfire' euphorbia [purple].

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was at New England Grows today and Tony Avent (of Plants Delight nursery) gave a talk on 100 must-have perennials. I had his plant list in hand and ticked off about a dozen plants, including Echinacea 'Solar Flare', Arisaema urashima (a cobra lily), Adiantum venustum (another hardy Maidenhair fern), and Ligularia japonica 'Chinese Dragon'.

Lots of projects this year, so maybe I'll get a handle on my plant acquisition compulsion at last.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 9:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We have a few projects this year, but also a very busy schedule, so not sure how many of them we will get to. We've been adding plants steadily for the past 6 years and I'm still trying to find the perfect spot for some of them. So my focus this year is to work on using the plant material I already have as effectively as possible. So more moving around. I'd also like to spend time dividing and increasing some of my favorite plants. I am even skipping Winter Sowing, which I've done every year except one.

Still....I keep a running list of plants I might like to have, but this year I just don't have to have them. I have enough perennials, but here's three that I would still like to have...

Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
Amsonia 'Spring Sky'
Echinacea 'Hope'

I still need a few shrubs and I'm considering these...

Camellia japonica 'April Remembered'
Hamamelis 'Arnold's Promise'
Pinus mugo 'Carstens'
Viburnum 'Cardinal Candy'

I just added two more Honeysuckle last Fall, but this is one I am still keeping my eye out for....

Lonicera 'Major Wheeler'

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 6:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm a bit worried about Tony Avent's plant hardiness info on the Plant Delights website. I've seen both Dicentra scandens and Adiantum x mairisii listed as only hardy to Zone 7, though Tony Avent says Zone 6. But I'm hoping he knows.

I'd love more Arisaema, only have triphyllum. And have been looking at Amsonia. I've got 'Blue Sky' in my wish list at Plant Delights, but I'll look up 'Spring Sky'. And I'd love another lavender variety or two. I'm still working on part-shade beds, but hope to get around to a full sun bed this coming gardening season. It will open up a whole world of choices.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 1:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Leslie, 'Spring Sky' was described in Horticulture magazine as a new variety for 2011, and here is the info they provided :

Amsonia ciliata 'Spring Sky' -- Mid spring, clumping
bluestar. Aftr extensive evaluation, Spring Sky has displayed
uniform, compact, habi and exceptional heat and
drought tolerance. Reaches a height and spread of
18-24 inches. Full sun to part shade. Z 3-8

North Creek Nurseries offers it

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 3:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I was searching Dicentra scndens. Nice vine and blooms in light shade which is always a plus! Anyway, some growers listed it's hardiness as zone 5, 6 or 7. I'd say most had it as zone 6. There's only one way to find out if it will grow in your garden though! I don't think they're very expensive, and although we hate to see any plant die, I think this one would be worth trying.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 6:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree that it's worth being skeptical when a vendor gives a hardiness zone that seems too optimistic. He did mention in his talk that they trial their plants in ... Minnesota? Wisconsin? It was one of those horribly cold places, can't recall which.

I ran into a description of a tall, fast-growing holly that I'm considering now. It's Ilex attenuata 'Alagold', and was in an article on the Avant gardens blog, Garden Foreplay.

Does anyone grow this plant? It doesn't seem to be very widely available, but I might consider ordering it (though the plants would be small).

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I bought an Ismene last year - which I really loved. It was only in bloom for about a week, and I decided then that that would be the end of Ismenes. BUT - I keep thinking about how stunning it was. And at this point I'm lusting for more. I did have to lift the bulb for the winter. But it wasn't that bad - I did it and it's marked in it's own little brown paper bag waiting for replanting.

Since bulb lifting wasn't that bad, I may try an agapanthus this year.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 2:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Pixie Lou,

I have two ismene growing in pots since last year. They were started indoors last spring, then set outside for the summer and brought inside again last fall. They are growing......a little leggy even in full sun in my sun room, but they never bloomed. I'm thinking I'll withhold water now, let them die off, and replant in spring in the ground. I also have a big pot of Agapanthus that I grew in the ground for the first 5 or 6 years. It grew like a weed but never flowered so I stuffed it into a pot. Last year was its second year in a pot, which it filled completely, and it finally produced two flowers. I think they like to be crowded. Since it's in a pot, I do take it indoors in winter, in the cool back entryway and I only water it minimally to keep it from drying out completely. If you have a protected spot, you might give one of the hardy varieties a try.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 4:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I took a look at photos of Amsonia c. 'Spring Sky' and it looks almost white. I really like pale blue flowers (I have a Polemonium that is a lovely very light blue) so maybe... And it has larger flowers as well.

Bill, I'm definitely going to try Dicentra scandens. I can't resist. It will be planted in a raised bed near the house foundation --probably one of the warmest sites. If it doesn't come back I may even grow it as an annual. I like it that much (in theory, anyway). I think it may even attract hummingbirds.


Minnesota/Wisconsin is good enough for me! Here's hoping they'll be as hardy as Avent says.

I'd love a red berried holly, but there are too many to choose from. That would take some research.


The Ismene is beautiful. Is it fragrant?

I've always wanted an Agapanthus. Isn't there a hardy Agapanthus --hardy to Zone 6? Bill, you grew your Agapanthus in the ground, yes? This may be a ridiculous idea, but if they need to be pot-bound to bloom, could one bury the pot?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 11:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Ann, I suppose you could bury a softer plastic pot. Obviously and clay or ceramic would be a goner! The only other thing I can think of would be some sort of large construction concrete piece, such as a cinder block that has the one large opening. It could be totally buried since only the roots need to be contained, so it wouldn't be an eyesore. That would survive the ground freezing. The only other thing that comes to mind is one of those concrete pipe sections, but they are generally pretty big around, so it sort of negates the "crowding" effect of being rootbound. I enjoy it in the pot though, and it's no problem to take in in winter.
I'm hoping that it blooms well this year.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My agapanthus blooms in the ground, though I can't say it performs as well as I'd like. I think I've had it for about 4 or 5 years, and started with about a half dozen bulbs.

This year I'll get some photos,if I don't miss it; sometimes I'm away for extended periods, for work, and things bloom behind my back.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Where would you find a plant like Ilex attenuata Alagold? It's not like you can get it at your neighborhood nursery.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 10:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Steve - I've been googling it, and I see they have it at Woodlanders, and at some other (mostly southern) nurseries.

Sometimes I'll have a plant like this on my wish list for years, and then it just appears in the most unlikely place. That happened with I. pedunculosa, the longstalk holly; I found 4 or 5 nice-sized ones in the marked-down section of a local nursery (now defunct). I'd already decided that the mail order sources were too expensive for the tiny plants they were offering. Viola - instant hedge.

I'm thinking I'll call Sylvan Nursery in early spring, and see if they're going to stock it. Or maybe Avant Gardens, since they're responsible for this new obsession.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Butterfly weed. Possibly a deep purple floribunda, if I can find one in a color I like.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 12:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Viburnum nudum 'Brandywine' and 'Winterthur' for the berries and fall foliage. They'll cross-pollinate each other. I already ordered them.

And Begonia grandis 'Heron's Pirouette' because I love cane (and other) begonias and I hate having to drag them inside when it gets cold. I ordered them already too.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Claire have you had luck with the hardy begonias? I had one for about three years. The first season it was very nice. The second year it took forever to show above ground and made very weak growth, and no flowers. The third year it started out very late and very weak, and was dead even before fall frosts could have gotten to it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Bill: I've never tried them; I'm just going by the reports that it's hardy to zone 6. What conditions did you plant it in? I'm planning to put them on the east side of the house where there's partial shade and I can easily water them. That's the viburnum spot too. Winds off the bay in the summer (but high up so not much salt) and protected in the winter.

The soil is sandy loam heavily amended with compost and I mulch generously.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 7:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
asarum(z6 Boston)

I have had hardy begonias for a number of years and they slowly spread in my sandy soil and relatively shady location. They aren't splashy and don't compare in length of bloom to annual begonias, but seem to get by with no special care.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 12:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a relief, asarum; your conditions seem similar to mine. The Heron's Pirouette is supposed to have bigger and longer blooms than the species.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 12:47PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Thoughts on another NE Plant Swap...
Hi - will there be another NE plant swap this year?...
Mizzteek Z6 MA
Tropical Houseplants in CT
Besides Logee's, are there any other nurseries that...
Replacing lawn with low mow no watering kind. Advice?
I grew up without having to mow lawn, so when we bought...
Starting PEAS
A few of my beds have thawed enough that I can work...
Why Animals Do Not Touch the Compost Pile In My Backyard?
I have been doing compost in my backyard for two years....
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™