The following plants made the cut for my 2014 All Stars list based on criteria including: visual appeal, uniqueness, or hardiness and ease of growing.
Bulb category: Nectaroscordum siculum, previously known as Allium bulgaricum. Common name Sicilian Honey Lily.
The following description from VanEngelen’s Wholesale Flower Bulbs says it best:
If you have ever observed the evolution of nervy Allium bulgaricum as it grows, you will understand our obsession with it. Its slender green stalk emerges stealthily from the soil, and, as it approaches the one to two foot mark, one can discern the development of a paper-sheathed hot Chile pepper look-alike at its apex. Kind of like a strange vegetative spear. As it matures, the papery sheath tears itself open to expose 20 to 30 tightly clustered, tiny pendant buds per 6″-wide umbel (the composite flower with an umbrella rib-like structure). As the days pass, you can see the little nodding buds giving each other space as they grow on wiry 4″ stems. Then, as if by magic, the buds start to levitate. As they slowly elevate into position, the little bell-shaped, plum flowers with creamy-white petal margins open to reveal interior green eyes and pink to deep plum striations.
The Dirt Diva says: Plant this bulb in the fall when the ground cools down to about 55 degrees, or in late October/early November. Mulch with 6″ of leaves or straw after the ground freezes to protect this marginally zone 5 hardy bulb. Locate it where you’ll view it from underneath. It is deer resistant and bees love this flower!
Annual Category: Isotoma axillaris, common name Laurentia.
Laurentia (or Blue Star Creeper as its commonly known) is hardy to zone 9, so in our region (zone 5) it will not survive the winter. However, you’ll get an entire growing season of interest out of this little border plant, as it is smothered in little pale blue flowers from May until a hard frost (late October this year) and it smells deliciously floral. Its not very common, so it will be a conversation piece among visitors to your garden.
Perennial Category: Thalictrum rochebrunianum, common name Meadow Rue “Lavender Mist”
“Lavender Mist” Meadow Rue in my opinion is the most stunning of the Thalictrum species. Its verticality (over 5′!) demands it be placed at the back of a flower bed, or on its own in the midst of a bed as a specimen plant. Its blue green mitten shaped leaves hover toward the bottom of the plant, giving it the appearance of a bushy bottom with a loooong neck. The fluffy lilac flower clusters perch on the tips of long stems. The flower seems to glow from the moist partly shady sites it prefers. Groups of them look amazing in a woodland garden, as if they had been there all along. Thalictrum flowers in the middle of the summer.
Shrub Category: Callicarpa, common name American Beauty-berry
This shrub makes the cut due to its 3 season interest and for its alluring fall fruits that resemble dense clusters of lilac colored berries, which birds love. It bears pink-tinged white flower clusters tucked in among the foliage in Spring which serve as an early pollen source for bees. American beauty-berry most often grows 3-5 ft. tall and usually just as wide. It has long, arching branches and yellow-green fall foliage, but its most striking feature is the clusters of glossy, iridescent-purple fruit (sometimes white) which hug the branches at leaf axils in the fall and winter. Must be protected from deer however, who will strip the branches of their leaves.
What plants made your all-star list this year?