Is there a point in a gardeners development when you suddenly become immune to delicious cultivar names? The growers throw out these wonderful names that tempt you to purchase a plant you KNOW is wrong. Campanula ‘Pink Octopus’ or Heuchera ‘Tiramisu’ or Dianthus ‘Fancy Knickers’. Who can resist?
One of my all time favorite ridiculous names is Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP’. I don’t know what a ‘Margarita BOP’ is, but I want one! Even as I poke gentle fun at the growers for their use of catchy nomenclature I’m still a sucker for silly, sweet or succulent names.
I’m also prone to shopping by color. We have a large, knotted old Thundercloud plum in the back garden that we inherited when we bought the house. From day one I’ve loved the soft, hazy maroon of it’s leaves and have tried to incorporate that color in other areas of the back garden. I’ve been very successful with Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ (Red Leaf Japanese Barberry). However, I can’t say how many 2 gallon pots of Chocolate Cosmos I’ve purchased & planted. (Double trouble- both the name and the color!) All of the Hebes with dark foliage have turned to be annuals in my garden. Heucheras (Coral Bells) are also a yearly investment. If the combination of heavy soil and winter rain doesn’t kill them the root weavils will. Unfortunately Heuchera ‘Stormy Skies’ and ‘Plum Pudding’ still came home with me last year. If you knowingly bring home plants that won’t thrive does that make you a plant murderer?
This year I’ve fallen for Nasturtium ‘Night and Day’. I think this will be the second time that I’ve tried this seed mix. The first time the flowers opened up cherry pink and yellow. They clashed somewhat with the maroon, coral and chartreuse color scheme in the back border. I always look for dark dahlias to add to the late summer mix for their late summer/early fall color. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with dahlias for years. At this point I’ve come back round to appreciating them for their lush foliage and flowers. Unfortunately dahlias don’t like my back garden. The winter damp rots the tubers over and over again. I know this issue is easily cured, but I’m a lazy gardener. I don’t WANT to dig the tubers and house them all winter. I lost a Nuit d’Ete (Summer Night) dahlia a few years ago. (I fell for the sultry French name and burgundy flower). I still miss the delicious, red-black flowers that paired wonderfully with the lilac blue flowers of Rosa ‘Blue Girl’.
I think that I’ll always be susceptible to clever, cute plant names and that’s OK. It means that I get to keep growing and exploring as a gardener and a designer.