Sharing the Wealth
from June 1999

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We've had lots of plant sharing visitors recently, bringing new-to-us plants that we will trial over the next couple of years, and then be offering those on the "winner's list" to you. Our evaluations take us from collection, propagation, one gallon and five gallon container appearance, and to trial in our gardens. Sometimes our plant friends can eliminate part of the process through their own experience. Then we do our best to grow and share them as rapidly as we can. Besides personal friends that provide us with delightful and choice new selections, we comb the seed and plant catalogs of many nurseries and peruse the seed exchange lists of all the horticulture societies. The unending new and rediscovered plants give us and our customers contact with plants from throughout the world.

Gomphostigma virgatum came to us as seeds from Seedhunt, a seed company specializing in unusual and hard to find seed of plants adapted for Mediterranean climates. We started the crop last year, canned them to one gallons in early September, then watched them go through that week of 19 and 20 degree F. minimum temperatures the week before Christmas. They came through that patch of cold weather without damage and are blooming well now.

The silvery foliage has fine fur on the new branches and leaves, giving an impression somewhat of an Ozothamnus. Branches emerge from the base in an upright pattern, growing to 3' high and wide in the shape of a vase. Wide open, four-petal, bright white flowers dot the branch tips, blooming from late spring through summer upon narrow stems, giving a dainty appearance and a light fragrance. It is in the Loganiaceae family (Buddleia is too) and may tolerate a wide range of cultural practices, but until we learn more, we recommend that it be planted in well draining soil in a sunny location with average watering, not allowing it to completely dry out. This South African native is lovely in a mixed border.

Another offering for the mixed border is our Veronicastrum virginicum 'Albo-roseum', from seed purchased from Jelitto Seeds two years ago. Last year our blooming spikes grew to 3' + tall giving us summer-fall blooms with hundreds of small white with a touch of pink blooms, on each plant. Large, yet narrow, furry leaves to 6" long grow in whorls. Commonly it is known as Culver's Physic, or Culver's Root which you see in the eastern U.S. along meadows, roadsides and open woodlands. Give this stately plant a moist, rich soil in light shade. Cold tolerant to below 0 deg. F.

For a full sun location, try the Helichrysum bracteatum 'Diamond Head' which grows to a 1' low mound with brilliant papery yellow "daisies" to 1" across, blooming all summer and into fall. Leaves are fuzzy, narrow and deep green. The flowers are wonderful as dried, or long-lasting on a dried wreath when sprayed with hair spray, or even prettier when left naturally on the plant. Give well-drained soil and moderate irrigation. To 20 deg. F. This is an Aussie plant from the U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum.