Hello folks! I hope this post finds you well. Spring is the time of year us gardeners get itchy fingers and the only cure is to get out hands in the dirt. And, of course, the only treatment for a plantaholic is more plants. Every year I think about doing something a little different with the north side of the house. The problem is space. The “Elephant Ears” do very well on the north side of the house, much better than anywhere else. That leads to a complicated problem with only two ways to solve it. For now, I am going to extend the bed farther away from the house even with the gutter on one end and curving it slightly to meet the area next to the steps. As I mentioned earlier, the larger Xanthosoma robustum rhizome rotted but I still have an offset from it. I am also getting a Xanthosoma sagittifolium from a fellow plant collector. The Xanthosoma grow wider than the Colocasia so they take up a lot of space. Then, of course, there was the wanting another Leucocasia (Syn. Colocasia) gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’. But, there were the two VERY LARGE Colocasia esculenta that I have grown on the north side of the house for several years. The two multiplied, as Colocasia esculenta do, but I will still only put two of the largest on the north side of the house. I already ran out of room before I started…
My son, Nathan, and his friend, Chris, are here now and Nathan said they would help out on the farm doing whatever I needed them to do. Umm… Chris seems more eager to help than Nathan so I explained to him what I wanted to do with the bed. A few days ago, while I was taking a nap in the afternoon, they started. I heard them talking outside so I got up to see what they were doing. I walked out the door and probably had a very blank look on my face. He completely misunderstood and dug one strip from the end of the gutter to the other side of the bed instead of digging everywhere there were no plants. The strip he dug was crooked, which he pointed out. I reminded him again what the idea was and he said he thought I wanted to dig a ditch. GEEZ!!!! A DITCH! Needless to say, they have yet to finish their project so I guess I will do it myself as initially planned. Then when I am finished I will hear them say, “We were going to do that…”
So, yesterday I decided to go to the greenhouses to see what they had available. I was going to go to Wagler’s but I needed to go to Wildwood first to see if he had another Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’. If you remember, in 2017 I found one there but the rhizome rotted a month before time to plant it in 2018. So, I ordered a “bulb” (as they called it) from a seller on Ebay. When it arrived it looked like a white sweet potato and it turned out to be the Xanthosoma robustum…
ANYWAY! Wildwood did have several Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ plants, which were formerly Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’. They were actually Leucocasia gigantea in the first place. Being that phylogenetic testing proved they were more closely related to Alocasia than Colocasia, the Leucocasia genus was revived and the Leucocasia gigantea is there all by its lonesome. Of course, the label still says Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’. I think I am getting a brainache… So, of course, I picked one out to bring home.
When most people think of an Elephant Ear, it is usually the Colocasia esculenta that comes to mind. Over the years I have grown several different species and cultivars and would like to start doing that again. I have a wish list with several but they are unavailable locally so I would have to order. I did find a black-leaved cultivar at Wildwood labeled Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’. It was released by Walters Gardens in memory of Harriet Walters who they say was the lifeblood of the family business. Photos on their website show a plant with very dark and puckered leaves but the leaves on the plants I saw at Wildwood are not puckered. Maybe that will come with age. I have grown Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ a few times in the past so this new version will be a new experience. The label says they grow 4-4 1/2′ tall and prefer at least 4 hours of sun. I know from experience the more light they are in the better the leaf color. I think I will probably put this plant on the left side of the porch where it will get plenty of light and attention.
You can read about it on the Walters Gardens website by clicking HERE.
I looked at the other plants at Wildwood in their front greenhouse and drooled over some of their succulents but I did not even dare pick up a single pot. They also had some very nice Veronica which tempted me… They had some VERY NICE pots of Monarda didyma ‘Cherry Pops’ like I bought from them last year, but I refrained…
Then I ventured to the second greenhouse… The back left-hand corner is where they usually have their selection of Hosta. They had several nice cultivars I didn’t have including several VERY NICE Hosta ‘Humpback Whale’ and the prices weren’t bad at $8.00 per pot. But, I took only $20 because I had a limit…
The truth is, I had already spotted several pots of a plant I thought I would NEVER see available and I HAD to bring one home.
Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon‘!!! I was given several of these by a friend, Mary Botler, when I lived at the mansion in Leland, Mississippi. She gave me the start in 2010 and by the time I left in February 2013 they had spread quite a bit. Personally, I thought they were a very delightful plant and you just never knew where they would pop up. The scent of the leaves kind of reminded me of fish lemon pepper. While Plants of the World Online continue to include Houttuynia cordata as the only species in the genus, there are two chemotypes. POWO says the Japanese type has an orange scent and the Chinese type has a scent resembling coriander. Hmmm…
Common names for this plant include Bishop’s Weed, Fish Mint, Fish Leaf, Rainbow Plant, Chameleon Plant, Heart Leaf, Fist Wort, and Chinese Lizard’s Tail. It is used in cooking, as a salad, as well as herbal medicine. You can read more online about this plant on the Wikipedia page HERE, visit my page about it by clicking on its name (above). I have several links included on its page for further reading. The Wikipedia lists another species, but POWO says it is a synonym of H. cordata. There are several cultivars also available.
One interesting thing about this plant was the color of the leaves. Some are a colorful combination of chartreuse and dark green and some with some having reddish highlights.
Other leaves were a solid dark green and sometimes on the same plant. No two leaves are alike. The color of the leaves also varies by degrees of light which also changes throughout the season.
I was very happy to have found this plant locally. It is supposed to be hardy in USDA zones 4-10 so hopefully, it will thrive. Actually, I am not sure how well I want it to thrive because this plant can become invasive. I have grown many perennials that are supposed to be cold hardy here that have done well during the summer but didn’t return the next spring. So, we shall see…
I only had $21 in cash and some change and I didn’t know how much the Houttuynia was. It had been with the Hosta which were $8.00 a pot. If it were $8.00 I was going to have to put something back. Amish only take cash or checks here because they have no electricity and no debit card readers. When I was checking out, he said, “Let me see. How much are those?” I told him I didn’t know but they were with the Hosta that are $8.00. The total came to $21.14. 🙂
After I left Wildwood I went to Mast’s Greenhouse to check on the Hosta. I mainly went to see if they had Hosta like the Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ I brought home last year. As I have mentioned several times, the Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ is NOT a ‘Blue Angel’. I was hoping to find pots that were correctly labeled. While they did have several Hosta available, the only pot like the one I bought was apparently one left over from last year… Incorrectly labeled. I was going to quiz Mr. Mast about where they get their Hosta but there were a lot of people there and he was very busy. They did have several nice Hosta including a gold-leaved cultivar but it looked very similar to Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ which I already have. If I am going to buy another gold-leaved Hosta, it has to be different than what I already have.
So, I headed back to town to go to Wagler’s on the other side of town. Just to look to see what was available. That’s why I stopped at the bank to withdraw another $20.00.
Wagler’s was also very busy so I went through their second door unnoticed. Normally, we visit a little but she was busy with customers at the counter. So, I ventured through one greenhouse then to another, then back up to another to get to the greenhouse with the perennials. The plants all looked very good. Once again, even at Waglers, the selection of Coleus was almost nothing. In the past I have planted Coleus between the Colocasia in the north bed, but last year I grew none. GEEZ! What is life without Coleus? Anyway, in the greenhouse with the perennials, the bright yellow flower on the Centaurea caught my eye. I walked past them then returned. Along the front of the table were pots with handwritten labels that said Centaurea red and some that said Centaurea purple. The pot with the yellow flowers had no labels. I also noticed the leaves of the yellow flowered plants were different and they had reddish colored main stems. I picked up one of each anyway. GEEZ! For the northeast corner bed or perhaps the southeast corner bed.
I walked around the perennial greenhouse more and saw some NICE peach colored Foxglove which I decided to pass. Then I spotted several nice pots of Salvia labeled Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’. Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ have been on my wishlist for MANY years so I had to pick out three. Salvia guaranitica is a synonym of Salvia coerulea now… Well, it has been for many years but the industry still labels them as Salvia guaranitica.
By the time I was finished browsing, the crowd had thinned out somewhat. I went to the counter and a lady had come and was asking her daughter or granddaughter (GEEZ!) about “Voodoo” plants. She told her there were a few pots that “Lonnie” brought last year under the table that hadn’t come up yet. The girl brought up a pot and Mrs. Wagler asked me something about it coming up. I stuck my finger in the pot and told her the bulb was sprouting. Then, she told the lady I was the one that brought the other Bromeliads. Come to find out, this lady was the one who brought Mrs. Wagler all the other Bromeliads last year from Florida. I had noticed the Bromeliads late last summer when I took plants to her and they were looking very good. So far, she has only been able to get one start from one of them.
The lady from Florida said she was somewhere in Florida and this guy just started pulling off offsets from all these Bromeliads and giving them to her. She put them in her suitcase and brought them to Mrs. Wagler to see if she could have any luck getting offsets from them. I am not sure how many there are, but there are MANY and all are different.
When I went to pay for the six plants I had found, Mrs. Wagler quietly told me I didn’t owe her anything. 🙂 It is so great to be able to go to a greenhouse and not have to pay for plants. I am also grateful to be able to have a place to take plants that multiply where I can trade for plants I want.
I would like to start working on the north bed, but a thunderstorm is approaching. Rain is in the forecast all week. GEEZ!
I hope you are having a great and joyous spring. Be safe and stay positive.