That range may include no more than an expanse of lawn; some bedding plants, mostly annuals; and a small shrub or ornamental tree or two. But for those whose choices are less limited, the range includes a group of plants that may be overlooked when they're in the presence of showier specimens.
The Rhododendron catawbiense, or Catawba Rhododendron, shown above, will not be ignored. Its color and markings overpower everything in their midst. This issue--a Memorial Day Garden Tour--is devoted to the plants in our garden that visitors (and we) too often overlook.
(Click images to enlarge.)
NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED
Euonymous (spiral habit)
We bought this euonymous (a large genus encompassing a remarkable variety of plants) at a New Jersey nursery five or six years ago.
Like the two other broadleaf evergreen varieties of euonymous we've planted, this one has lustrous, deep-green leaves and is completely disease-free, requiring only occasional pruning. At its current 8 feet, this handsome, robust specimen has roughly doubled in size since planting.
While still a commanding presence during the summer months, it tends to recede once the nearby pale-pink peonies and old roses in our driveway garden begin to emerge.
Though spiral euonymous is not its official common or botanical name (which, I admit, we've long since forgotten), that's what I call it because of its resemblance in habit to the spiral eucalyptus we usually buy in dried form at the florist, to "plant" in vases for the winter.
It's not hard to understand why the Bird's Nest Spruce, right, might
escape the attention of a visitor to the garden who didn't know it was
there. Extremely low- (and slow-) growing, the Bird's Nest Spruce is more like
a groundcover than a tree.
Horticultural copy writing is as effusive as art historical writing is obscure and opaque.
Here's what the enthusiasts at the Digging Dog Nursery in Mendocino, California, had to say about Disporxum cantoniense 'Night Heron,' or, Cantonese Fairy Bells (!), shown left, planted three years ago in a shaded location against a north-facing retaining wall in our garden:
"Deciduous in cooler climates, the foliage lightens to a greenish purple come summer while lining decorative stems marked by golden tan paper-like bracts at each node. In graceful repose, the tips bow, revealing terminal clusters of small, white bells, and later, abundant purple-black berries. A lover of rich, moist sites, ‘Night Heron’ is easy to cultivate."
More than money, time is the gardener's best friend.
Until fairly recently, a southern magnolia like this was a rarity in the northeast--or so conventional wisdom had it.
Actually, there's a long-established group of such magnolias at a maintenance and operations building at Snug Harbor Cultural Center; and another grande dame of a specimen facing Castleton Avenue at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Castleton and Davis avenues, West Brighton. Their size---particularly at St. Mary's Castleton, as that church is popularly known--suggests they were planted decades ago.
These are not the usual saucer magnolias, with their abundant pink- and deep-purple-tinged flowers. These hardy magnolias have waxy leaves and produce substantial but somewhat less showy flowers over the course of the summer and not, as with the saucer magnolia, in two bursts--one in spring, the other, less vigorous, in fall.