Shady Summer Retreat

In May, we were fortunate to have horticultural interns join our crew to help us with all our spring and summer workload in the greenhouse and gardens. Betsy, Joe, and I mentor these interns thru the summer. Along with the gardens evolving, it is a joy to see the interns love for horticulture and nature blossom, too. Here is a blog from Horticultural intern Becca Christ.

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of watching the gardens evolve, grow, and provide fantastic blooms. One of the first projects I helped with when I arrived in May was clearing out the greenhouse. The temperatures in the greenhouse during the height of the summer are not ideal for our container collection, so we took each one outside and arranged them in a meaningful way. During my first week here, Joe and I took the shade loving plants and placed them underneath the bamboo grove around a bench. This collection has come to include some of my favorite plants that I have continued to find unique and enticing. This sprawl along the back of the bench includes a wide range of begonias. Before this internship I wouldn’t have guessed that these different shaped plants were all part of the same genus. Begonias are native to subtropical and tropical climates and do best in a humid environment. In this section of specimens, the aptly named Begonia rex ‘Escargot’ remains my favorite species and has continually drawn me back to the shady edge of the bamboo forest to admire the unique whorled leaves.

Begonia rex ‘Escargot’

 A close runner-up for its unforgettable foliage and shape is the Palm-leaf begonia (Begonia luxurians). These can be found at each end of this shade collection with one standing over 6ft tall. The lanky plant with palm-leaf shaped leaves reminds me of the type of plant you would find illustrated by Dr. Seuss.

Palm-leaf begonia (Begonia luxurians)

Across from the bench is the rex begonia vine (Cissus discolor) with its heart shaped dark purple leaves and silver accents that has tendrils climbing to the top of its trellis. 

rex begonia (Cissus discolor)

In addition to the variety of begonias, we have a collection of ferns, elephant ears and other tropicals that come together to create a swath of colorful foliage. As you walk through the property and come across the bamboo forest, I recommend taking a minute to sit in the shade and take in the various types of plants flourishing in this peaceful spot.