This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info: guerinw@gmail.com

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Three plants upside down or downside up

Start with wild ginger, Asarum, with its ground-hugging flowers pollinated by inquisitive newts and whatnot. Now take the letters of the genus and put them in a blender to get Saruma. And take the ginger flowers and put them on top, facing up, and give them a little color. Thus you have Saruma henryi, 'discovered' in China about a hundred years ago, but only recently making the rounds as a cultivated plant in the US. The plant itself is both better and worse than the photo suggests. It can be quite floriferous, but by late in the season you'll find it taking up more garden space than it deserves. It doesn't resent being cut back to the ground. Seedlings are plentiful.

Another upside-down variation is found in the Asian mayapple, Podophyllum hexandrum whose showy upward-facing flowers contrast with those of our native species. This one also has interesting leaf coloration when it first unfolds.  Not a real showy addition to the garden, but something you can point out to someone if you need to change the topic of conversation away from politics or religion.

The shooting-stars are pretty swell-looking garden gems, imho. And are they not primroses turned upside-down (and even a bit inside-out)? Well, it wouldn't have occurred to me either. But I guess it's true, seeing as the old shooting-star genus (Dodecatheon) is being scrapped, and all the shooting-stars are being folded into the primrose genus (Primula). Whatever they are called, they are easy to grow. If they work for me, they'll most likely work for you. In my sandy soil, I try to keep them out of the full sun. The leaves will look seriously stressed in full afternoon sunlight, but they always seem to recover.

1 comment:

  1. With all the press this ginger-like plant is getting, you are the only person to have mentioned if it can be cut back hard ("to the ground). Thanks!

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