Essential plants (part 3)

Last but never least, are the little things I love. You know I am all for outstanding plants – I always have to grow a few big ones that grab attention and don’t let it go for a minute. Fuller’s teasel, castor beans, and my very favorite 6 footer, Gomphocarpus physocarpus ‘Oscar’ (aka hairy balls) should be high on my list because they simply can’t be overlooked.

But flower-an-hour (Hibiscus trionum) can. I know I’ve mentioned it already this year (last year) but I still can’t believe I let this one pass under my radar for so long. This past summer I discovered a love for the way it weaves itself into the August garden here and there and pops open its flowers as if it doesn’t matter who sees how delicate their creamy white flowers are, and how deep their purple throat. But even if I might miss them, the bees never do.

I’m not usually that into purple flowers (or white ones for that matter) but my other diminutive favorite was Cuphea ‘Ballistic’. The ears! We’ve grown C. ‘David Verity’ from cuttings for years and can’t live without it; and we’re becoming just as addicted to ‘Carribean Sunset’ and Mexican giant cigar plant (C. micropetala) – so smitten with that one in fact that despite it nearly breaking our backs we brought our largest specimen back into the greenhouse. But honestly, it’s little ‘Ballistic’ that just gets me. Typical of cuphea, once it starts blooming it never stops and never needs deadheading either.

And what about the plants that would just as soon be walked on as noticed? Gail and I are both consumed with the notion of lawn alternatives and hoping to replace our own sorry looking lawns with anything that won’t waste endless resources – and doesn’t need weekly mowing. My kingdom for a carpet of chamomile underfoot…

Meanwhile, as I look back and we begin to cast forward to next season’s gardens, the eyelash begonias are beginning to bloom, and the maidenhair ferns are sprouting. I simply can’t help focusing on the littlest things.

What little things are you in love with?