If I had the space and money, I’d love to design a special bed to be filled only with bizarre plants (either in flower or foliage). One of them is this t. acuminata (above). I only have five, as they are a bit pricey, but a few more will be added this fall. Their foliage, like that of most species tulips, is negligible, so you can have a ton of them without worrying about it getting in the way of summer plants.
Other bulbs I might include are “hair” allium, crown frittilaria, and dracunculus. As for perennials, I think the rudbeckia “Maxima” is strange enough, with its big black centers, but for the most part Northeastern perennials do not impress me with their odd appearances. Perhaps some of you might know about some of the more peculiar ones.
On the annuals front, however, we have dozens of unusual plants. Amaranth stopped me dead in my tracks when I first saw the sculptural “Elephant Head” variety at our local botanical gardens. Then there’s nigella. You all may take it for granted, but I find the plant (like its charming culinary namesake) utterly dumbfounding with its aureole of lacy foliage. And what about certain milkweeds, with their rotund, veined seedpods? Not to mention the ever-expanding world of coleus.
Oh, I could go on and on. But the most amazing wonder of all is that any plant, no matter how humdrum, emerges, green, abundant, and healthy, when the dreary winter is over. This may be something gardeners in warmer zones might not relate to; I don’t know. We all have repetition in our lives, and some of it is very tedious indeed. But I wonder if there is any repetition as welcome and rewarding as that which happens every year in the world of garden plants.
You can consider this the sappiest post I’ve ever inflicted upon you, but seriously. Can a toy train afficionado, stamp collector, or scrap booker rejoice in the coming of a certain season as much? I’ve decided to up the ante by trying to grow plants that will be even more unexpected as their ability to exist—t. acuminata is one. I think people need to be surprised by plants. It helps remind them how horrible it might be to live in a world where nature has been so suppressed that its wonders can no longer be seen during a daily walk.