Top 10 for 2010 (part one)

I am inclined to celebrate a new year when we sow sweet peas or when the daffodils bloom or when the leaves fall off the trees. But the beginning of January is as good a time as any to make a fresh start, and in any case, this  is when Gail and I really start over in the gardens, firming up our ideas for next year. (I mean this year.) And like most gardeners we always begin the process of planning by remembering the best and worst of the past season.

Hands down, the worst was the weather: much too much rain in March and then not nearly enough through the summer. But since there’s not a lot we can change about that I might as well move straight on to what was “best” despite the weather (keep in mind, we do water the gardens periodically during dry spells in hopes that nothing ever looks wretched.) Here are my favorite plants from this past year, in no particular order:

1. Allium schubertii and A. albopilosum (Star of Persia). Like a sustained display of firecrackers that sparkled in the garden well beyond when they first opened, and were extra super fun spray-painted.

2. Ricinus communis – Castor bean – ‘Pretty Purple’. This was supposed to be a 4′ tall form but for us even cut back it reached a good 8′. And it had the prettiest purplest leaves and a nicely branched structure (perhaps owing to being whacked back now and again.)

3. Pelargonium ‘Lady Plymouth’ (scented geranium). It’s all about the lacy white-edged foliage and vigorous habit. (Had it ever flowered, that would have been totally beside the point.) It was such a great companion plant that we’ll be hard pressed to not use it again in the Rose Garden.

4. Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo Shibori’. Visitors and bees adored this plant. I disparaged it for being beige but then discovered I loved it too, which often happens with things I think I hate. After it went to seed it looked lit from within.

5. Echinacea purpurea ‘Virgin’. I still prefer the color of  ‘Green Envy’ (to any other color on any other flower) but nothing beats the unstoppable blooming and sturdy uprightiousness of ‘Virgin’.

6. (to be continued…)

What were some of your favorites from last year?