As I begin this blog, I want to try to explain what I mean by "Uncommon Gardener." First, it speaks to "any person who gardens, or who is skilled at gardening." My translation of that definition from Webster's Dictionary would be people who dig in their own dirt, plant their own plants, and who learn from, enjoy and even share their garden experience. Why "uncommon"? The dictionary defines uncommon as "unusual, rare, ....above the ordinary....exceptional, remarkable..."
There are so many wonderful plants that can add "exceptional, remarkable, above the ordinary" pleasure in one's garden, yet fewer and fewer choices are offered as the nursery industry condenses and mid-sized garden centers give way to the big box approach. I would like to spend some time offering a look at year round gardening with good, low maintenance garden plants that could be included and enjoyed in a garden that was "above the ordinary."
For example, our SE native Fringe Tree- Chionanthus virginicus- is just such a plant. It is a smaller understory tree, fully suitable for residential sized gardens. It is tough, drought tolerant, can grow in full sun or full shade, from zones 4-9. It produces the most unique, fragrant flowers in mid spring of any plant I know. It is one of those plants you might walk by 11 months of the year without noticing at all. But when it is in full flower, you can hardly take your eyes off it.
Also absolutely delightful in spring are the Japanese Maples. There are a few that are offered in the larger markets, but many many more with all sorts of leaf shapes, habits, sizes, and colors. Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' is just one of them that caught my eye yesterday. Go to a public garden with a good collection of Japanese maples and look carefully. They will charm you one by one.
And just for foliage, texture, and downright invincibility, I am adding this big blue cactus- Opuntia 'Thornless Blue'- to the mix. This picture shown the flower buds lined up along the edge of each pad. I'll follow up in a few weeks with pictures of the huge flowers. If you have an area that is so hot and sun baked that you think nothing will grow, try this!
I hope you will join me as uncommon gardeners, and offer your own experiences with some of these plants. We can all continue to learn and enjoy. And come out and see these plants in person at Specialty Ornamentals on Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm or online .