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Discipline, Grace, and a Little Open Space – Plant ID’s

“Chen Choo is a retired nuclear engineer with an artist’s eye and a passion for collecting plants. He and his wife, Linda, have created a garden in southern Ontario filled with a fascinating mix of cold-hardy perennials, trees, shrubs, and vines, combined to showcase prized specimens and to give each plant the space and conditions it needs to strut its stuff. The Choos’ garden is never really finished, since assorted new plants keep following them home. We visited in midsummer, when the beds were bursting with lush color and texture, to ask Chen about the thought process ­behind his compelling plant combinations and great garden rooms.”

See the rest of the interview with Chen in Issue 185 of Fine Gardening, on stands December 11, 2018.


  1. Louisiana iris (Iris louisiana cv., Zones 5-9)
  2. ‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’, Zones 5-9)
  3. Umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala, Zones 5-8)
  4. ‘Romantika’ and ‘Alba Luxurians’ clematis (Clematis ‘Romantika’ and C. viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’, Zones 4-9)
  5. ‘River Mist’ northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium ‘River Mist’, Zones 5-9)
  6. ‘Coconut Lime’ and ‘White Swan’ coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Coconut Lime’ and E. purpurea ‘White Swan’, Zones 4-8)
  7. Golden oriental spruce (Picea orientalis ‘Aurea’, Zones 4-7)
  8. ‘Guardian Angel’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Guardian Angel’, Zones 4-9)


  1. ‘Crazy Cayenne’ coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Crazy Cayenne’, Zones 5-9)
  2. ‘Crown Royal’ cardinal flower (Lobelia ‘Crown Royal’, Zones 4-9)
  3. ‘Cherry Cola’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Cherry Cola’, Zones 4-9)
  4. ‘Caramel’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Caramel’, Zones 4-8)
  5. ‘Flamenco’ kniphofia (Kniphofia uvaria ‘Flamenco’, Zones 5-9)
  6. Japanese yew, acquired many years ago as Taxus cuspidata ‘Aurea’ (Zones 4-7)
  7. ‘Gold Rush’ dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’ syn. ‘Golden Oji’, Zones 4-8)
  8. Likely Norway spruce (Picea abies, Zones 3-8)
  9. ‘New Gold’  Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘New Gold’, Zones 4-8)


  1. Golden Nugget™ dwarf Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Monler’, Zones 4-8)
  2. Variegated Dalmatian iris (Iris pallida ‘Albo Variegata’, Zones 4-9)
  3. ‘Little Spire’ Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’, Zones 5-9)
  4. Mrs. Harvey’ clematis (Clematis ‘Mrs. Harvey’, Zones 5-9)
  5. ‘Eugene Gold’ Balsam fir (Abies balsamea ‘Eugene Gold’, Zones 3-6)
  6. ‘Globosa’ blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ Zones 3-8) 30-year-old specimen
  7. ‘Sunkist’ American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Sunkist’, Zones 2-7)
  8. Norway spruce (Picea abies, Zones 3-8)
  9. ‘Blue Cloak’ white fir (Abies concolor ‘Blue Cloak’, Zones 4-8)
  10. ‘Weedom’ Chinese arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis syn. Thuja orientalis ‘Weedom’, Zones 5-8)
  11. White rush, an aquatic plant (Scirpus albescens, Zones 5-9)
  12. Dwarf Japanese larch on a high graft (Larix kaempferi ‘Nana’, Zones 4-8)


  1. ‘Xanthos’ cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Xanthos’, annual)
  2. ‘Spellbook Lumos’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Spellbook Lumos’, Zones 5-9)
  3. ‘Snow Fairy’ bluebeard (Caryopteris divaricata ‘Snow Fairy’, Zones 6-9)
  4. ‘Gracillimus’  miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’, Zones 5-9) invasive alert
  5. Blue Siberian spruce (Picea obovata ‘Glauca’, Zones 2-8)
  6. ‘Blue Moon’ Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya ‘Blue Moon’, Zones 3-9)
  7. ‘Walkers Low’ catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walkers Low’, Zones 4-8)
  8. Moonbeam’ coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’, Zones 3-9)
  9. ‘Xanthos’ cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Xanthos’, annual)
  10. Delphinium cvs., grown from seed (Delphinium cvs., Zones 3-7)
  11. Delphinium cvs., grown from seed (Delphinium cvs., Zones 3-7)
  12. ‘Frosty’ Himalayan pine (Pinus wallichiana ‘Frosty’, Zones 5-8)
  13. Acquired long before Chen started recording plant names, possibly Siberian veronica (Veronica porphyriana, Zones 3-10)
  14. Some form of English lavender, self-sown (Lavandula angustifolia , Zones 5-8)
  15. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea, Zones 3-6)


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