I’ve saved this end of the list for most of the plants I loved well enough to take them for granted — meaning, in some cases I haven’t yet shot their portrait.
6. I’m sure that no top ten list for a dry summer would be truly complete if it didn’t include lavender. (No list of mine would be complete in any case.) They were all perfectly lush despite the wet spring and because of the dry summer – our now venerable clumps of Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ especially. This year we also tried Lavandula angustifolia ‘Silver Edge’ (among others) in the herb garden and it has a silver lining sort of variegation that could make any gardener more optimistic. I don’t even remember the flowers. Whatever.
7. Lobularia – sweet alyssum – ‘Snow Princess’ on the other hand was all about the flowers. They are big (for an alyssum), honey-fragrant (as they should be), and absolutely unstoppable. We grew it in the Rose Garden and Gail claims to have cut it back weekly. I never noticed that she did that because the plants were rampant always. I think they would look even better draped over a wall or flowing out of a giant pot. Next year…
8. No list of Gail’s would ever be complete without a salvia and this year we have a Goldilocks tie between Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ (a child-sized version of ‘Indigo Spires’) and enormous Salvia vanhouttei and Salvia elegans (pineapple sage). S. vanhouttei might be my secret favorite though because its deep wine color is so … intoxicating.
9. All of the basils did really well too but I was especially impressed with the variegated Ocimum basilicum citriodorum ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ because it made a sturdy column and never bloomed so never bolted. Next year I’d like to try shearing it periodically for shape (and using the clippings for a perpetual pesto…) And as far as the blooming basils go, African blue will always be on our top 10 list and we’ve added a generous reseeder, ‘Blue Spice’ to the life list too. (No decent pictures of that one either, alas. My apologies.)
9.5 I do have decent pictures of Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’, a brandy new annual grass we spotted in the seed catalogs last year. It was a dry and fragile thing towards the end of the season but tucked it with neighbors it provided a fuzzy frothy sort of contrast from start to finish.
9.75 Acalypha wilkesiana (Copper leaf) was another plant that by virtue of being incredibly interesting to look at, made every one of its neighbors look extra fascinating too.
10. By contrast Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star’ was more easily overlooked. It’s on the tiny side – not quite Tom Thumb but nearly knee high to a toad stool. The daisy flowers were the color of today’s cold bluish sky and lasted nearly as long as winter feels – it was in constant bloom from June into September.
I know I’m forgetting something I loved a lot. Like all of the nicotianas… What are you wishing I had mentioned?