What I’m lusting for in 2007


Confused cherry blossoms have appeared in Boston and “dormant” potted roses have produced albino buds in my garage, but the calendar says winter. So I’m happily pursuing my favorite occupation during the dark days: catalog cultivation. Bluestone Perennials, Select Seeds, and Plant Delights have made their appearance in my mailbox, and, as usual, I’m eagerly scanning them for all the new introductions.

So far, these are on my must-buy list:

•All the Japanese anemones I can possibly cram in the garden. Could these be any groovier? They take shade, multiply freely, and provide elegant blooms at a difficult time.

•Hotties from Blooms of Bressingham: Geranium Rozanne (I’m a sucker for these, though they’re not quite as shade tolerant as they’re cracked up to be); Heliopsis Bressingham Doubloon (gets to five feet and I could use the height).

•Campanula Bernice: I know hybridized doubles are frowned upon by purists—see my About page.

•Groundcover madness: Sadly, these unobtrusive plants seem to be my best bet. This year, I’m trying chrysogonum.

•Helleborus x hybridus Heronswood Double Pink Strain (Heronswood Double Pink Hybrid Lenten Rose): Another irresistable double. Plant Delights is offering many former specialties of the late, lamented Heronswood. They aren’t cheap—by anyone’s standards—but I’ve found helleborus to thrive under my generally crappy conditions.

Finally, I don’t know where I’m putting it, but I must have a hydrangea with variegated foliage.

Thank god there are so many plants I either hate (mums, asters, achillea, sedum); can’t grow/have given up on (delphinium, echinops, dianthus, grasses); or know better than to become obsessed with (hemerocallis, hosta).

But I will be ordering all plants that are tall, take full shade, have huge bright flowers, need no support, require minimal watering but don’t mind wet soil, and bloom all summer. Yeah, all of those.

P.S. As usual, I’m so all about me. Tell me, what are you lusting for this season (gardenwise, that is)?

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Sounds good, E. Now am I being a spoilsport by revealing that in my neck of the woods variegated hydrangea bloom rarely, if ever? I grow them anyway, for the foliage. And wait – you can’t grow grasses – what’s up with that?

  2. I agree with Susan

    I usually prefer anything variegated for the foliage but it never pays to discard flowers completely and if possible I would cultivate cuttings and plant one of these at a distance from the main specimen and allow full flowering at all times. This way you get the best of both worlds:)

    All the best Juicer

  3. Alliums,they have been all over Chicago Parks the last couple of years. There is something for everyone but the two most coveted at the moment are Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ which blooms in early summer and is the only allium I have seen that has beautiful foliage… in spring through the summer and even holding up into fall as the leaves turn .Plus it does not get over a couple of feet tall, so no flopping. I have been watching it grow for the last two years and must have this year.
    And Purple sensation. The bulbs do not get eaten or dug up and the bees like them.

  4. Alliums and foliage–now there are two words I rarely think of together. Interesting. Though–I would normally be ordering aliums in the fall. I have often tried the small cultivars (moly, etc.), but you really need sun. And that, Susan, is why I have problems with grasses. Also, grasses need some wide-open space–at least I think so. I haven’t got that.

  5. “Tell me, what are you lusting for this season (gardenwise, that is)?”

    Gardenwise, I’m lusting for enough warm weather to make my virgin compost heap heat up. An innocent posting (either on Garden Rant or Takomagardener) a few months ago turned me into a PASSIONATE (see the surfer movie post of today) reader of all things composty. It led me to other blogs, one of which had this quote from, of all people, Bette Midler: “My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first heap.” After reading and researching and talking to everyone I know who has experience w/ composting I started my meager little heap. I became obsessed: for example, after Christmas dinner at a relative’s home I secretly gathered up all compostable material to bring home with me. I told my husband to stop throwing raked leaves into the woods next to our house b/c I wanted them all for my heap. But I’ve now learned that autumn (at least in the Wash DC area) is not the best time to start a compost heap. I’ll have to wait until spring/summer to get real results. So….this is my long-winded way of saying I’m lusting for decay and disintegration.

  6. I can certainly understand the lust for good compost!

    Plant-wise, I am lusting for delphiniums, so I’m going to give them another try.

    I’m also lusting for fresh vegetables, having just placed a big seed order for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, peas, etc.!

  7. “Tell me, what are you lusting for this season (gardenwise, that is)?”

    A long, proper spring. Spring is the shortest season by far around here (Stockholm, Sweden) – some years it only lasts for a few weeks, and I always feel robbed when spring is late and summer early.

    As for plants, I really should try to just watch and evaluate what I’ve already got this year, and then get more of whatever grows well and looks good in a year or two, but somehow I don’t think I’ll manage to restrain myself…

    I want more aconites badly, since A. Hemsleyanum ‘Red Wine’ turned out to be a big hit in my garden last season – especially more yellow aconites.
    ‘Red Wine’ made me want more small perennial vines, Codonopsis, perhaps, or something like that. I wish the climbing Dicentras were hardy in my climate – they are lovely. I’ve never felt the need for plants like that before.

    I’m also becoming a little curious about irises, both bearded and beardless varieties. I will make an attempt to grow Iris Forrestii from seed, I’ll try to find someone who will swap me a division of an old and very robust pale yellow Germanica that’s common in gardens around here (nameless and commercially unavailable, unfortunately) and I will probably try out one or other of all the flashy, bearded black varieties on the market – I have a soft spot for “black” flowers.

    I would really like to make room for a Fothergilla somewhere, too, and I know that I’ll probably end up squeezing at least one more rose into my largest perennial bed – Buff Beauty is favoured at the moment, but that’s subject to change quite frequently.

  8. wysteria. I have lusted for this all my life and finally I have a little cutting (planted last June and currently looking quite dead). I’m sure my neighbors think I’m a little off, squatting and stroking this little stick in the ground, but I can’t wait. I visited my sister in San Francisco and all she did was complain about how her wisteria was taking over: I am so looking forward to complaining about mine!

  9. Waterlilies – specifically the awesome Kirk Strawn Hybrids I’ve just discovered a UK nursery for. From a technical perspective the breeding of these top quality, tropical style hardy lilies must be one of the great accomplishments in ornamental horticultural history.

    I’ve also got a bit of a jones for an asian pear (for no reason in particular – I just want one).

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