Meeting new people and getting to know them is a wonderful thing; I love realizing I’ve met a new friend. However old friends, the ones I’ve had for years, are indisputable treasures. Nothing beats spending time with a friend you haven’t seen for awhile and instantly falling into short-hand speak again (you don’t need full sentences or back-stories when you’ve known each other for 25 years).
New friends, combined with old, make for a rich life; it’s the same in the garden. While there is an undeniable thrill in discovering a new must have plant, and eventually acquiring it, there is also nothing quite like discovering one from the past and realizing you’ll be spending another year together.
Yesterday my eyes came to rest on my Gunnera, or more accurately on the burlap and leaves piled on top to protect it from the cold. I realized the pile wasn’t a soft dome any longer, no; it had turned into a sort of pyramid. Something was definitely going on under there. I peeled back the layers and discovered this! My Gunnera not only made it through winter but was already coming to life (complete with lots of new roots it seems)! Last year it didn’t start to show any signs of life until mid April and even then it was so pathetic that I finally broke down last May and bought another, thinking if I wanted leaves of any size I was going to have to augment. They both are very much alive and growing this year. This happy discovery got me wondering about my Melianthus …peeling back the covers I discovered things are looking mighty fine! Check this out… Sprouts! My Melianthus not only alive but it is already growing! In February!
All of this spring type energy makes me think I should be unwrapping the Musa basjoo…I wonder what’s going on under that burlap???? That discovery is going to have to wait for another day. After all we’ve had a few cool nights with another couple predicted. It’s one thing to throw cover over the Gunnera and Melianthus, but I’m not sure I’m up for rewrapping the banana, or losing the pseudostem this close to spring.
So are you wondering if I have any new plant friends? Remember the Genista aetnensis I was lusting after at Garden Fever? Well I had the opportunity to visit Xera last week and was able to select one from their stock. I love this plant! Genista aetnensis Zn7b (5º to 10ºF) Papillionaceae
Mt. Etna Broom, from the lava covered slopes of Italy and for that matter Europe’s tallest volcano makes a wonderful “shade-less” tree for hot sun. Rush-like weeping stems actually have tiny leaves that are barely noticeable. In summer you will notice the clouds of golden yellow pea flowers that emit the powerful perfume of Jasmine. To 14’ tall, best in full hot sun and poor, well drained soil. Little summer water when established. A great small tree for a see-through vertical effect, without being oppressive. Grows quickly, and is best without extra encouragement.
Why do I love it? Well it’s a “shade-less” tree for hot sun (it’s going in the front garden, currently staged in a protective spot behind the garage) and it is probably the closest thing I’ll ever be able to grow to a Palo Verde (I know…it’s a poor substitute) but it’s from Italy!!! That earns a few bonus points in my book, I always need more friends from Italy!