Unusual Plants

clay69January 11, 2006

I live in northern Ky and am looking to start a new flower garden. I was just wondering if anyone could tell me what kind of unusual flowers and plants I could plant here. Kinda sick of my plain ol' flower garden. Want something different and unusual. Thanks for any ideas.


My wife loves purple ;D

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gdionelli(z6 WV)

Have you tried eryngium (sea holly)? It's bluish-grayish-purple (kinda hard to describe.) It works with many other plants -- really spices everything up, I think. I tried dracocephalum (dragon's head, I think) for the first time last summer and loved it, but have yet to see if it will come back this year. I just love great blue lobelia in a damp, partially shaded area of my yard. I don't think of it as anything terribly out of the ordinary, but no one I know here has it.

Just musing: what about a mainly purple and white garden, with a few accents of some other colors? You could include balloon flowers, veronicas, campanulas, aquilegias, and primulas, maybe muscari and spanish hyacinths in the spring. Throw in a few pink or red or yellow accents, and I think it would be really distinctive -- very different from your neighbors' Stella d'Oro daylilies and liriope!

I'm jealous -- I keep trying to find a new area of my yard to plant -- nothing like starting with a blank slate! Let us know what you decide on!


    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 2:06PM
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It's funny; what's unusual in one part of the country is standard fare in another. So... it's hard to say what might be "unusual"!

You're best bet would be to go thru catalogs or gardening books and see what catches your eye. I always write down a bunch of plants I'm interested in, then research them elsewhere. (According to the catalogs, everything is super easy to grow!) Then I'll pick one or two that are suited for my garden and give them a try. I limit myself to just a few new things every year partly because my garden is so small but also because I like to "get to know" a new plant -- so I can confidently pass it along to others!

One of the ones I discovered two years ago is Cerinthe. I keep moving it around, because my spots are a little too bright and dry for it to really flourish. But it's still a really cool plant. (And tosses as much seed as a four o'clock!)

Another weird one I discovered is Cephalaphora aromatica. (The woman who gave them to me called them "pineapples"; sorry, I don't know another common name for it.) A cool low-growing plant with yellow ball-shaped flowers. The whole plant smells like green apples, and it's rather nice lining a apthway.

If you like purple, you might try monkshood, there are some very deep purple/blue varieties that are quite nice. (The plants are poisonous, so if you have curious kids or digging dogs you might want to pass them by.)

One of the ones I'm trying this year is sea holly, Eryngium planum. I think the variety I have is Sapphire Blue. Looks good in the catalogs!

But those are just unusual for me! Try the catalogs and ask around. Let us know what you try -- you might get some converts!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 2:40PM
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The only part of the yard left to plant is in full sun, right against the house. I was thinking about some Honeysuckle Alabama Crimson to climb the wall. Then Cleome. I really like the Cerinthe. Seems easy to grow. Then maybe some Coleus Fairway Rose. The Cleome and Cerinthe are reseeding, so I wouldn't have to worry much about next year. Just throw a few extra seed in just to be safe.

We also have a nice tree near there that would look nice with some of the honeysuckle climbing it and some Coleus Black Dragon at the base.

I really like the Black dragon. Might pot some of it and keep it in other spots around the yard. Bring it in for the winter.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 11:59AM
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One problem I had with honeysuckle is that the aphids really got after it and killed the blossoms...just be aware.

I'm very partial to Angelica gigas, especially in the fall..it has mahogany/purply stems and has a queen's ann's lace type umbell which is again the dark purply color. Grows about 5 - 6' tall and is a biennial. I found it to seed well into compost, but not invasively/overly so.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 8:46PM
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Whoa! I just googled that Angelica gigas. That's a heart-stopper and no mistake.

What kind of conditions does yours grow in, michigoose?
I gotta get me some of that!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 9:49PM
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sun to part shade. Mine did well in clay in CT., but it does like some compost to amend it. Remember it IS a biennial, so if you start it from seed, it won't bloom the first year, but the next. I always let the seed head go and it will seed in. For the first couple of years, you might consider putting in one adult plant one year, and another one the next year. Or, if you are sowing from seed, continue to sow for a couple of years so you can get stands growing continually. They don't like really droughty conditions, I will say that.

If you are growing from seeds, they need stratification. I really love this plant, and so far, I think I'm the only one I have ever seen really use it. It isn't one which is usually found in your "everyday" nurseries, but at some places which specialize in unusual things. I think I bought my first one at Comstock Ferre's in Wethersfield, CT (Pierre Bennerup's place where he sells his Sunny Border stuff in CT). You may be able to get it at Wayside as he supplies stuff to them. Otherwise, I'll keep my eyes out for it.

Oh, I brought a baby down from my garden last year, and was doing ok here...survived the move and the transplant. Of course, I don't know how it will do here in the winter, but I assume well.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:36AM
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I think, but I'm not 100% sure that this is an old plant my mother refered to as "yellow hardhead".....but I may be wrong...certainly the cephalo part means head...

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 1:30PM
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Thought I would just check in this morning and my heart stopped. Now that I am breathing I must find some Angelica Giga, what a great pic michigoose. I think you will put everyone on the hunt for this amazing plant. I know that I have to have this one.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 10:44AM
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