Gotta Garden

Thursday, May 31, 2007

GBBC: Passalong Plants

Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing is a compendium of favorites by two well known garden writers. Both are beloved for their wit and humor and these are not lacking in the subjects covered here. It's hard to imagine that anyone who gardens will not find more than few plants they know and recognize.

I usually turn right to the index where I can find a plant by its common and/or botanical name. The plants here are ones that persevere in spite of us and reproduce with generosity, hence the ability to pass them along. I find it a fun exercise to see how many are in my garden. More than a few, I can tell you!

One of my favorite passages is on Crinums and entitled Crinums Never Die. Now, that's a plant to consider! Having seen them blooming north of me, I knew I wanted to try one for myself. That one turned into two. Here's a picture of the larger of mine (if you'll look carefully, you'll see some Hardy Begonias starting to come up in front of the Sweet Woodruff):

Here's the other with Balsam seedlings coming up around it. As Felder says, "If you fail with crinums, you may as well quit." With such encouragement, I'm proud to tell you that mine are alive. Maybe this year they'll actually bloom (finally) can always hope.

Actually, I think Mr. Felder might also say that about Tiger Lilies. Last year, I spent quite a bit of time digging mine out as they had gotten huge and seemed intent on taking far more real estate than I wanted them to have as well as their reputation for harboring a lily virus. Imagine my surprise upon seeing them back in "their" spot, looking as if I had dreamed all that effort last year.

Excusing the hose, here are a few other passalongs I enjoy. The Banana Shrub you've seen me post before, but you might not have realized there's a dwarf canna in front of it. To the right you see Butterfly Ginger with Tuberoses coming up in front. (Yes, those are weeds...we'll pretend they're not there.) All of these (knock on wood) have endured at least two winters here, so I consider this little patch my microclime area.

Many of the shrubs the authors write about are delightful and more than a few have a home here. I was surprised to not see Tea Olive listed as the fragrance is wonderful as well as Confederate Jasmine. Then, I realized that Gardenias were not included (What's a Southern garden without Gardenias, I ask?? Okay, a Southern garden in zone 8 and above, that is.). Maybe they don't "passalong" as well? Maybe they're more readily available? Who knows.

There are a few that one would hope would not be unknowingly passed along such as Artemesia, Empress Tree, Kudzu and Star of Bethlehem. To their credit, the authors mention their rapid spread, even in a funny way, such as with Star of Bethlehem Steve Bender, after advising of their rapid increase, says, "We really do need to keep passing them along, you see. Else, how will they make it to Hawaii or the Falkland Islands?" If you've ever tried to eradicate any of these, you know it is nearly impossible. There are a few others I would politely disagree with the authors on, but that is just a matter of personal preference, I suppose. Even in disagreement, I enjoy reading both of these writers' works.

For me, a favorite passalong came from my mother. She calls it a Blood Lily (Scadoxus). Last year, it finally bloomed for me and as of right now, it's just starting to appear. Inadvertently, another passalong rode in the pot. Balsam seedlings made a surprise appearance as my mother had grown them nearby. There are several passalongs in my garden from the Mary Washington House, among them Naked Ladies and Larkspur.

Now, I'm off to visit May Dreams Gardens to see what other garden bloggers are saying about Passalong Plants.


Carol said...

You're in. I'll add you in now.
Great post, love all your passalong plants, and I didn't see any weeds in your pictures (wink, wink).

Annie in Austin said...

It took my crinum several years to bloom, GottaGarden - don't give up~
That's an interesting point about the tea olives and gardenias. I bought one of each last year, but have no idea how you could pass them along... cuttings? They don't seem to make suckers or sprout around the base.

The blood lily is one unusual passalong plant!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Kate said...

Here's another book that I'll be content to read about for the time being. Passalong plants seem to be part and parcel of gardening through time ... I love finding out where people obtained their plants ... little snippets of history.

Michelle said...

Don't forget mint! My favorite passalong plant.

Gotta Garden said...

Thanks, Carol!

Hi Annie: Thanks for that encouragement...I'm a point! I'm wondering about the banana shrub...mine doesn't appear to sucker, so wouldn't it be the same? Ah well, whatever...authors' choice(s)!

Yeah, I had never heard of it until she brought it to me. Took it a while to bloom, too.

HI Kate: might not have much relevance for you...but some of the stories are amusing...I, too, like reading about why certain plants are special to someone.

Oh Michelle! I'm laughing! Potted mint, right! In my latest post, I mentioned that I had just purchased some Mountain Mint. I'm trying to find out if it is as big a spreader as the others...It would be great if I could just plant it...but I'm not that brave...yet.

Entangled said...

I had a crimun that survived the winter of 2005-6 in a pot outdoors. I was surprised, so I left it out the next winter. Not so lucky this time. It never did bloom. But now that I see yours looking healthy, I'm going to try again in the ground this time!

Tea Olive = Osmanthus? I love osmanthus-scented tea - I wonder if it's the same plant they use for that.

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