Most of the plants that I've ordered on-line recently are variations on ones that have consistently done well in my garden: woodland peony, Hakonechloa, Trilliums and Hepaticas. But two are pure experimental (and expensive) splurges. The first one — Syneilesis palmata 'Kikko' (pictured below) — is big and flashy; one of those first-on-your-block plants offered by Plant Delights Nursery. But it also fills a real need in my garden.
At the end of the season last fall, I realized that my garden had a wonderful array of Hellebores, Heucheras, Geraniums, and Epimediums. See what I mean; it was lacking plants whose leaves were large and dramatic. At 18 inches high with a spread of a couple of feet, Syneilesis, aka shredded umbrella plant, is a Ligularia relative that can handle drought. There's no denying it's a showstopper, but I also bought the plain green, deeply dissected version (S. aconitifolia) knowing that a garden can only have a limited number of stars.
My other splurge is from Hillside Nursery which specializes in Lady Slipper Orchids and select woodland wildflowers. In the fall of 2009, I planted my first Lady Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium 'Hank Small') from Plant Delights — and was more than delighted when it actually bloomed in the spring of 2010. One of my neighbors has a huge stand of orchids which gave me confidence to try one myself and an idea about where to plant it in my garden.
This spring I'm adding Cypripedium 'Aki Pastel,' a hybrid from Hillside that tends to have very large flowers. It is hardy from Zones 3-6 and will reach 16-20 inches tall. Thus it has the potential to make a substantial statement in the garden.
Once I saw Hillside's orchids I knew I had to try one — especially since there is a spot available near the first one to plant this new acquisition. I'm working on the theory that success begets success. We'll see if I'm right or delusional.