Sunday, October 9, 2016

Chicago Botanic Garden, Fall Visit Part 1; Non-Hardy Plants

For the first time since January 2011 I was able to make a trip to Chicago Botanic Garden. This was also my first trip during the growing season since 2006. You'd think a professional plant geek would make it to a great public garden that's only 100 miles away more than three times in a decade, but life in horticulture is always busy. As I'm hoping to have a little more time, garden visits should be more frequent.

After culling bad shots, duplicates, and name tag shots, I took 199 photos. I'll be breaking this up into 4 parts; probably Hardy, Non-hardy, Trials, and Bonus. I'm going to start with the non-hardy things and go from there. Chicago botanic is home to some really fantastic annual and tropical plants and many were still really shining this late in the year. 

Asclepias curasavica
 For us this milkweed is not hardy. But it's a great long-blooming addition to containers and annual plantings.

My picture here doesn't do this combo justice. Juncus and Celosia. Celosia is one of those plants that I see in flats on the retail bench and don't think of as something I'd use. But every time I see them in a garden, they impress me. 

Centratherum punctatum

Centratherum punctatum
 Definitely and unknown plant to me, Centratherum punctatum ssp. punctatum was a neat enough plant. Apparently a tender perennial hardy to 25°F. Judging by search results, not common at all. Honey bees seem to like it.

Chrysanthemum 'Saga Nishiki'

Chrysanthemum 'Saga Nishiki'
Mums were in full force in the gardens, though maybe not quite used as much as the average fall display. If you know me, you know I'm not a huge fan of typical seasonal fall mums. But there are definitely exceptions. 'Saga Nishiki' is absolutely one of those exceptions. Broom-type mums are rad!
Chrysanthemum 'Gum Drop'
 I sometimes forget that cascade mums exist. This trip was a good reminder of that fact as they had a few varieties throughout the gardens. 'Gum Drop' was the only one I took a photo of. These fall into the category of typical fall mums that I don't love, but I understand their use and realize people like them. I'm not sure why these aren't used in hanging baskets rather than a normal garden mum. Maybe I should try it and see what happens.

Coleus 'Glennis'
Coleus 'Glennis'
 Many coleus were still looking great. This one was in a planter indoors and looked particularly attractive. Oddly enough it's the only one I specifically took pictures of.

Colocasia 'White Lava'
 This was the only Colocasia that jumped out at me. Probably because I love this variety but haven't had the chance to grow it yet.

 Cortaderia probably falls in the hardy plants category for many of you. It might even be somewhat usable in Chicago. I'm pretty sure these were just seasonal display, and it's not hardy here for us. Really very pretty, but I'm somewhat glad it's not hardy here.

 I took photos of a few Dahlias that I liked, but didn't look for the tags. There were many more, some I didn't like and some I just didn't take pictures of.

Euryale ferox
Euryale ferox
Gorgon plant, Euryale ferox, is the closest relative to lotus of the genus Victoria. Leaves are 3' wide and have a quilted texture. Stems and seed pods are spiny. Flowers are a beautiful purple and white bicolor but the plant here wasn't in bloom. I need one!

A lotus from the genus Nelumbo and some tropical water lilies. This trip strengthened my desire for a tropical pond. 
Tropical water lily
Tropical water lily
Tropical water lily; this was in bloom on our way out but I didn't stop for a picture as it was much more crowded at this point.
tropical water lily
A very beautiful lotus

Thalia gemiculata ruminoides is a great, large, tropical water plant that looks a little like bird of paradise or canna from a distance. The bright red stems are amazing in the sun.

The finely textured flowers are unobtrusive from a distance and are a nice texture contrast to the broad foliage. 

As you get closer, detail starts to come into focus. 

Man are these cool flower stems! Really a neat up close feature of Thalia gemiculata ruminoides

Hairy Balls!
 Gomphocarpus physocarpus, the hairy balls plant, is a tropical milkweed relative that has started to get some attention recently for it's neat seed pods that look like; well... hairy balls. Monarch caterpillars do eat this, but there is some research out there that finds it isn't really a suitable food. Plant this for the neat balls, plant Asclepias for the butterflies!

Helichrysum and Verbena was a classy combination. A little past prime, but still looks good.
Kochia scoparia is coming back into use. It's historically been fodder for livestock but makes a nice textural accent.
Leonotis menthifolia
 One of the nice things about visiting botanic gardens is seeing things that maybe aren't offered by typical garden centers. This Leonotis menthifolia falls into that category. If only more head growers visited botanic gardens.

Nerine sarniensis?
 I didn't look real close at the label for this, thinking at first it was a Lycoris radiata then I noticed a label that said Nerine. I should have looked closer. Oh well.

 It was nice to see an old-fashioned plant like morning glory in use. 'Flying Saucers' and 'Heavenly Blue' were both still in full bloom.

One of many great planters. 
AAS Salvia trial
 Despite a large number being in trial, I've included all the non-hardy salvia here. The above AAS trial may actually be perennial but since I have no idea what it is and many other non-hardy Salvia were represented in their perennial trials, it's included here.

Salvia 'Betsy's Choice'
Salvia 'Betsy's Choice'
Salvia guarantica 'Argentina Skies'
 Salvia guarantica and guarantica-like varieties were well represented. I love these types of Salvia and they need to be more readily available here where they're not hardy!  I've been meaning to dabble in hybridizing them as well, and I think crossing this 'Argentina Skies' to 'Black and Bloom' would be a neat start. Can you picture that light blue with a dark calyx?! Maybe next season.

Salvia leucantha 'Midnight'
Salvia madrensis 'Redneck Girl' from Plant Delights, I need this in my life!
Salvia mexicana 'Lollie Jackson' or maybe 'Limelight'; the two are apparently terribly confused, or maybe synonymous. Lime green calyx and purple flowers when in bloom. Really beautiful at both stages. 
Salvia oxyphora
Salvia oxyphora
Salvia oxyphora is from Bolivia. It's another one that I definitely need in my life. Fuzzy flowers? Yes please!
Salvia puberella is similar to S. oxyphora
Salvia regla 'Jame'
Salvia splendens 'Dancing Flames' I'm undecided if I actually like this. It was really cool looking, but the first plant in the area looked more like virus than variegation. This one looked good though.
Salvia splendens 'Van Houttei Peach' Was a great looking peach color, but none of us like it with this orange mum. 
Salvia splendens I didn't take a shot of the label so I dont' remember which variety.
Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' is another one that I love!
Vigna caracalla 'Thomas Jefferson'
Wollemia nobilis
 Wollemia nobilis was only known from fossil records until 1994 when it was rediscovered alive in New South Wales, Australia. Neat looking, but obviously not hardy for us.

A monarch and Painted lady were feeding on this pink zinnia. 
Painted Lady
A monarch and Painted lady were feeding on this pink zinnia. 
That's it for the non-hardy plants. I'll hit up the hardy plants next! Stay tuned!

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