Luckily for horticultural harlots like myself, plant lust is one of the more forgivable sins. Can I be blamed if I feel a little thrill when, walking down the street, a luscious Leucodendron catches my eye? We’re surrounded by plants flaunting their foliage, form and fragrance, enticing plant lovers like myself to take a picture or even a piece home with us. I think the fact that I’m able to show restraint even in the face of such temptation is something to be proud of. That being said, we all have our weaknesses. It’s my hope that sharing what plants I’m currently coveting will not only allay some of my own desires, but maybe stimulate some of yours.
1. Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Chomley Farran’ Resembling bicolored varieties that appear in paintings from centuries past, it is said that ‘Chomley Farran’, also called ‘Inferno’, is actually a modern sport of a red carnation found in Ireland, and will still sometimes produce a true red-flowered stem. Similar to Bizarre striped varieties that have since been lost to time, it produces medium-sized double blooms with muted lavender and hot pink stripes that have a light clove fragrance. Mounding, blue green foliage and blooms to 18″ make it an excellent border, basket or cut flower choice.
2. Papaver somniferum ‘Drama Queen’ You wouldn’t guess it from my first two crushes, but I’ve never been much of an annual girl. That being said, how can you see something like this ‘Drama Queen’ poppy and not be smitten? A Breadseed varietal, its feathered crimson and indigo petals and pale green center are enough to make me swoon. The best part? Plant these in your garden, let them go to seed and you’ll have plenty of garden drama year after year!
3. Trillium cuneatum As a native Oregonian, trilliums bear a good deal of nostalgia for me. And although T. cuneatum is a Southeastern rather than a Northwestern native, those memories coupled with the startling mottled foliage and deep maroon, banana-scented flower make this a plant I would move to cooler climes for. Or, if you’re not interested in relocating, these are sold via mail order from one of my favorite nurseries, Sunshine Farm and Gardens.
4. Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’ As if the contrast of silvery green leaves and neon orange blooms weren’t breathtaking enough, this plant is drought and salt tolerant, takes full sun, tolerates loose soils, is fast-spreading and evergreen, making it versatile enough for borders, rock gardens and as a groundcover. So well-rounded and low maintenance some consider it to be a good husband substitute.
5. Christia obcordata Called ‘Swallowtail,’ ‘Butterfly’ or ‘Stripe’ for obvious reasons, this is a somewhat obscure specimen first imported and made available in the United States by a fellow Portlandian, Burl Mostul of Rare Plant Research. A conversation piece in any garden, the wing-shaped leaves and chartreuse-maroon color combination is stunning in an area that gets bright indirect light.