The World in my Garden

 Have you ever thought about how many plants are in your garden because you saw them somewhere else?  My sister was visiting last weekend, and she asked just that question, so this morning, coffee in hand, I decided to go out and take stock.

            We have a short hedge in back of Phillyrea angustifolia (Zone 7), a lovely evergreen with narrow leaves; it grows at Iford Manor near Bath, England — one of my all-time favorite gardens.  At The Garden House in Devon, head gardener Matt Bishop has Phillyrea angustifolia as a spine running through two large oval beds.  I was thrilled to ID it last summer; he had sheared it off at about 3 feet so that it would thicken up.  (We also saw the beautiful pewter-purple Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea,’ Zone 8, there, which Leighton fell in love with.)

            The hart’s tongue fern (Aspelnium scolopendrium, Zone 6) is native to Europe, so this fern with its wide fronds grows out of old walls as well as in natural gardens.  I had to include one — it reminds me of the bird’s nest fern.

            Pineapple broom (Cytissus battandieri, Zone 8) blooms in May-June with heavenly fragrant, lemon-yellow flowers against silver-gray foliage.  I remember it growing against a wall at Altamont in County Carlow in Ireland, as well as a few other places.  At Altamont, it’s grown as a wall shrub, where it’s trained in a sort of two-dimensional form.  Wasn’t I surprised to see it at Dan Hinkley’s garden Windcliff growing in its natural form — a really large, round shrub.  Mine’s still in its nursery pot, as I await some sign that tells me where in the world I’ll plant it.

            Mrs. Kitchener’s Hampshire garden resulted in a new world opened up to me: Pittosporum tenuifolium (Zone 8) and its many cultivars.  I’ve collected five so far, but still my favorite is the snowy-white variegated ‘Irene Paterson.’  Also from Mrs. Kitchener’s garden, I fell in love and finally found the Australian mint bush Prostanthera cuneata (Zone 8), with tiny, dark, evergreen leaves and white flowers.  And, not rare but certainly beautiful, the white-variegated mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius ‘Variegatus’, Zone 5).

            Somehow I don’t think that’s all — and I certainly don’t think that’s the end of getting inspiration from garden visits.

            *The title of this post comes from my talk at the Point Defiance Flower & Garden Show ( in Tacoma on Saturday, June 7 at 1 p.m.  It’s a great show!


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