5 Uncommon Plants You Can't Live Without

daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)August 7, 2012

I'm trying to broaden my horizons in terms of plant selection for several gardens on our new property -- ranging from part sun, part shade, full-shade. Without any restrictions, what would be your top 5 Uncommon Plants You Can't Live Without? Thanks!

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Actaea pachypoda ("doll's eyes", white baneberry), full to part shade, deadly poisonous, long, long lasting clusters of white berries. Nice foliage, pretty in a woodland setting.

Trollius(globeflower) might not like Md's hot & humid climate, though.

Common, but wouldn't do without - Scilla (Squill), Muscari (grape hyacinth), Puschkinia Libanotica - any of the blue spring flowering minor bulbs.

Really, everything I've got is pretty common; tried and true and withstands our usually harsh winters. You cannot beat a sampling of daylilies, peonies, Siberian Iris, Walker's Low Nepeta, some of the sedum varieties, Dart's Gold Ninebark, "Pink Beauty" potentilla fruticosa. There are nice varieties of weigela, viburnums, hydrangeas, spireas...

Your part of the country has no end of interesting perennials, trees, and shrubs to choose from.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:22PM
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To duluth's great list, I might add shrubs of Carol Mackie daphne, rose daphne and purple smoke bush. I also love my purple rain birch tree and weeping Norway spruce. How these would do in Maryland, I have no clue...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:09PM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

These are already broadening my horizons. Thanks! Many of the tried and true are new to me. I'm only beginning to garden so this is a huge help. Keep em' coming!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Not very uncommon but...
Stachys Macrantha - my favorite hosta alternative since hostas don't grow well for me.
Eupatorium Purpureum - what an amazingly healthy, gigantic flower that doesn't even flop, and attracts armies of butterflies.
Malva Moschata "Alba" - blooms as heavily and long as some annual, and when it's finished I cut it to the ground and it sends out new shoots. Self seeds a lot.
Lilium Martagon - pink pearls in the air; the more the better.
Spiraea Japonica "Bullata" - one of the smallest cultivars with unusual leaves, very dark green and wrinkled.
Not many exotics here, and my best plant still is the humble creeping sedum!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:25AM
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rosiew(8 GA)

I'm having to live without this year because some critter ate my cassia alata. Order seed every year, put tiny plants into the ground and end with 6 - 7' beauties that bloom in the fall. Here in zone 8 they are an annual. The seeds don't mature before plants killed by frost, so order fresh ones, usually from eBay, someone in Florida. This is a very fun plant for me. Enjoying everyone's comments. Need to read up on several of them.

Rosie, Sugar Hill, GA

Here is a link that might be useful: Cassia alata

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:44AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I garden in zone 9 , so there are alot of choices.
When looking for a small evergreen patio size tree or a large shrub with a modestly long blooming period I depend on Tibouchina urvilleana
It's not that uncommon here in N. Cal but it is a work horse and it can work in a variety of planterly schemes such as tropical, mediterranean, or english style. Easy to work with purple flowers.
From May 30, 2012

When looking for strong evergreen vertical accent I rely on the Phormium family of plants.
"The Guardsman" is vivid red in color and contrasts well with yellow or green foliage colored plants ( picture below ) and Phormium yellow wave is in the photo above. great vertical and color contrast.
From May 30, 2012

Another sturdy workhorse of a shrub are the Leucospermums and Leucadendrons They fill large space with evergreen foliage and bloom their hearts out for 3 to 4 months.
From May 30, 2012

Pictured below is the red foliage plant of Leucospermum 'Jester' :
From Garden Porn

Both Succulents and Bromeliads are high on my list of plants that I cannot live without when designing a garden.
They offer great form, texture, and color just from the foliage alone.
From 2012 garden show

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 12:48PM
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For your area of MD these are five of my favorites:

Stewartia pseudo-camellia, an outstanding smaller tree, summer blooming. Beautiful.

The multi-trunk form of Pinus bungeana.

Chimonanthus preaecox, a fragrant shrub.

A white flowering type of Camellia sasanqua espalied and trimmed closely to a brick wall or to a weathered wood fence.

Viburnum carlesii, very fragrant spring blooming shrub.

Clematis montana var. planted tight to a trunk base and allowed to grow free form through any strong, tall growing shrub such as Viburnum dentatum.

And, another vote here for Daphne Carol Mackie.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Not sure what is 'uncommon' outside of my area, but heres some I love that I don't see a lot of in my area.

Chionanthus virginicus - fringetree

Astilboides Tabularis
Angelica (it just might be uncommon because its only borderline hardy here)
Echinacea Razzmatazz

Nicotiana 'Only the lonely'
Passion flower vine

And I don't think I would want to garden any more if I couldn't have Allium globe master in my spring garden.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Daysquid - are you looking to buck the system and not go for the fallback "everybody's yards are full up of lavender, red, and/or white azaleas"? Lovely as they are, suburban DC - and probably most of the mid-Atlantic - was loaded to the gunwales with those.

I can't remember anymore what were prime targets for the annual Japanese beetle onslaught beyond my purple plum and other people's various ornamental trees. Roses would be a sure target, but I'm surprised no one's mentioned those.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 4:54PM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

Wow. All the suggestions and pictures are fabulous and super inspiring. Many thanks!!

duluthinbloomz4: Azaleas do seem to be everywhere. And I have never been the type to like what everyone else has. But as a new gardener -- I'm still exploring and haven't yet experienced how to handle Japanese beetles. So much to learn...

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:18PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I have died and gone to heaven after seeing Allium globe master and the hosta combo.
It is just to arid and warm here for that kind of beautiful planting . Also our local snails can eat a whole hosta over night and you'd never know that it was planted there the day before.
simply lovely drtygirl. a visual treat.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:52PM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

drtygrl: what is the lacy thread-like plant between the hellebores and the hostas? And that picture is simply wonderful!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:03PM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

Wow. I was just revisiting all your suggestions. So impressive. How did you come to know about all these varieties? Catalogues? Local garden centers? I just love these responses!! I'm so glad I posted this question.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Asperagus fern, isn't it? I use it as an annual in my hayracks but I know that it is something of a thug perennial in warmer climates.

And how do you get your allium to bloom so late, drygrl? Mine were really huge this year (almost 8") but were completely done by mid--June. I do still have the dried out heads on my porch. (Hee, do you suppose that may sound threatening to a non-gardener?) I only grow giants now because I was forever "weeding" out the spring foliage of smaller bulbs, thinking it was errant grass in my beds.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:29PM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

What's a hayrack? Oh gosh, I bet this is a silly question.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:01PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Kind of hard to shift mental gears and come up with non zone 9/10 plants, plus I've no experience with Japanese beetles here in California. On the other hand, some of those recommendations of plants which are tender perennials here, such as the Nicotiana sylvestris and the various Angelica species are also great performers here in the SF Bay Area. Along those lines, I'd also recommend tall accents such as Verbena bonariensis, Helleborus argutifolius if hardy for you, and that Fringe tree is also fantastic in bloom here.

And surprisingly, Hostas can be grown well here if carefully sited by keeping well separated from the rest of a garden by wide swaths of pavement which limit snail access.

I would look into some of the hardier Euphorbia species such as E. myrsinoides and E. rigida. Eryngiums are another group of perennials with that something "extra". A rather tropical touch can also be had by adding herbaceous perennials such as Hedychiums, Colocasias, Cannas(Canna 'Pacific Beauty' is a particular favorite for outrageous orange color). Check out the on-line catalog for Plant Delights Nursery or our local California Annie's Annuals Nursery for tempting unusual mail order listings; both ship across the country and both have excellent web sites with lots of photos.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:38AM
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These are the less common perennials that I enjoy having in my garden:

- Thalictrum "Splendide"
- Persicaria "Golden Arrows"
- Aralia "Sun King"
- Heliopsis "Tuscan Sun"
- Clematis "Blue River"

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 8:30AM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

What plants would you recommend for supporting Thalictrum in part shade? These are all fab!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:52AM
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Thanks for the complements! the lacey plant is coreopsis and the hellebore is actually lupine.
@adrienne, I think they bloom late because they are in the shade, the sunny side seems to bloom a bit earlier - but its all in the beginning of june in new hampshire. Maybe its just that the hosta comes up earlier? I still have the dried up heads in my garden! I have to deadhead them...they are so pretty.
I love thalictrum too. I plant thalictrum rochebrunianum, Im not familiar with the other variety. With rochebrunianum, you may need to stake it during year one and two, but then it holds itself up.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:35PM
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drtygrl, Here is a picture of the top bit of my 1 year old "Splendide" which is just over 6 feet tall. It has been an excellent addition to my garden.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 6:56AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

This is a really fun and informative thread. I can't help the OP, being unfamiliar with the zone, but I can play along with my favorite five for 2 locations.

Coastal Southern California:
Alcantarea imperialis
Neoregelia - various colorful hybrids
Vanda coerulea
Howea forsteriana
Rhapis excelsa, variegated form

East Hawaii (windward wet side):
Clinostigma samoense
Areca vestiaria 'maroon'
Dypsis prestoniana
Aechmea blanchettiana
Anthurium, various colorful types

I know it's just a figure of speech, but lately I've been learning I can live without quite a lot. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 12:19PM
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daysquid(7a Annapolis, MD)

Catkim: Really great stuff. Very fun to see all the posts from different areas. I just love it. And you've got two locations to boot! As a gardening newbie, I've been trying to streamline what I want to plant in my first garden attempts.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:06PM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH(4b-5aNH)

I don't know whether these will be useful to you, but my 5 for northern New England:

Nicotiana - self-seeding annual with a lovely scent from dusk to dawn

Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice' - delicate white blooms from before the final frosts in spring through the early frosts in autumn. Narrowly white-edged leaves which are semi-evergreen for me, but would probably be fully evergreen further south. My longest blooming plant.

Clematis. Any of the Clematis with viticella genes are much happier in warmer areas than many of the large early flowered varieties. Two of my favorite viticella clematis are Betty Corning and Viola. Some other clematis varieties I love are Venosa Violacea, Arabella, and Ville de Lyon.

Hydrangea paniculata - many varieties like Limelight, Quick Fire, Vanilla Strawberry, Tardiva, The Swan in colors ranging from pale green through white to pinks and reds.

Iris reticulata - really early iris that grow from bulbs in shades of blue/purple. Blooms for weeks in the cool early spring weather.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:44PM
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My top picks are some of the native eastern fruit trees - Paw Paws, Red Mulberry and American Persimmon.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 4:20PM
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