What better to way to wrap up the year of gardening with an airing of our grievances against all those plants that never quite lived up to their potential this season? (Think of that infamous Seinfeld episode featuring the Costanzas’ Festivus celebration.) However, we didn’t want to end 2019 on an entirely negative note, so we decided also to mention those plants that exceeded our expectations. There were some surprises from seemingly exotic choices that appeared to enjoy the drought this summer, and some letdowns from plants that are supposedly built for the unpredictable weather swings but ended up shriveling in defeat. Steve even talks about those plants that made it through an entire season in a pot, on the side of his driveway, and lived. If those selections can survive such conditions, just think how well they’d do in your garden with a little more attention! Expert Paula Gross, who previously oversaw a botanic garden, makes us all feel better by highlighting some of her triumphs (like Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’, Zones 8–10) and failures too.
Expert testimony: Paula Gross, former associate director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens
Striped hardy ground orchid (Bletilla striata ‘Albostriata’, Zones 6–9)
‘Sundew Black’ sea comfrey (Trachystemon orientalis ‘Sundew’, Zones 6–9)
‘Stoplights’ epimedium (Epimedium ‘Stoplights’, Zones 5–8)
‘Silberstein’ speckled poke weed (Phytolacca americana ‘Silberstein’, Zones 5–8)
‘Wu-La-La’ hosta (Hosta ‘Wu-La-La’, Zones 3–9)
‘Ginger Love’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Ginger Love’, Zones 6–9)
‘Clifford Moor’ campion (Silene dioica ‘Clifford Moor’, Zones 5–8)
‘Trost’s Dwarf’ weeping birch (Betula pendula ‘Trost’s Dwarf’, Zones 2–8)
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