"The Collector's Corner:" Roots and Shoots

By Amy Howansky

Wel­come to the Col­lec­tor’s Cor­ner, the first in a series of newslet­ter columns that will coor­di­nate with a new ini­tia­tive at the Lan­dis Arboretum.

At our Fall Plant Sale, Direc­tor Fred Breglia noticed that an entire cor­ner of the sales area was filled with inter­est­ing and emi­nent­ly col­lectible plants. He dubbed the area Collector’s Cor­ner.” We will con­tin­ue to use the cor­ner dur­ing future sales to offer rare and unusu­al specimens.

Small shrubs for small spaces, for exam­ple, could show­case the Weigela flori­da, My Mon­et’ that was avail­able at the Spring Plant Sale.

The shrub has bright pink flow­ers like a tra­di­tion­al Weigela, but grows only 1.5’ – 2’ tall by 1.52’ wide at matu­ri­ty. Inter­est­ing­ly, the My Mon­et’ cul­ti­var also has leaves that are mot­tled white, green, and pink, thus mak­ing it col­or­ful and attrac­tive from spring through autumn, instead of just when the flow­ers are in bloom. 

Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
Hibis­cus syr­i­a­cus (Rose of Sharon)

Many gar­den­ers enjoy col­lect­ing a vari­ety of var­ie­gat­ed plants, so we plan to sell and install more plants with col­or­ful splotch­es. We recent­ly sold a mar­bled-leaf form of Hibis­cus syr­i­a­cus (Rose of Sharon) called Sug­ar Tip.’ It has pale pink flow­ers with rose-like dou­ble petals, green and white var­ie­gat­ed leaves, and a small­er-than-nor­mal mature size of 56’ tall by 46’ wide.

Still anoth­er cat­e­go­ry for col­lec­tors is weep­ing or con­tort­ed plants. At this year’s Fall Plant Sale, we show­cased a grace­ful­ly-droop­ing Gink­go bilo­ba Weep­ing Won­der’. Approx­i­mate­ly half of its leaves are a rec­og­niz­able fan shape, while the oth­er half are extreme­ly long, nar­row, and fin­ger-like. In the autumn, the leaves turn an intense yel­low-gold. After the leaves have fall­en, the pen­du­lous branch­es pro­vide con­tin­ued inter­est in the win­ter gar­den. Look for more weep­ing, gnarled, or twist­ed spec­i­mens at next year’s plant sales!

Collector’s Cor­ner will also give Lan­dis vis­i­tors the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build a long-term, com­pre­hen­sive assem­blage of many cul­ti­vars with­in one genus or species. Hos­ta lovers are per­haps the best-known among col­lec­tors to enjoy the mul­ti-year process of find­ing new hybrids of a sin­gle genus, but tree and shrub afi­ciona­dos can also use this accu­mu­la­tive endeav­or for almost any genus. Lan­dis Arbore­tum recent­ly began cre­at­ing a new Syringa (lilac) area. We then fea­tured many dif­fer­ent Syringa cul­ti­vars at sev­er­al plant sales: one type was a dwarf form, one was a hard-to-find col­or, and one had unusu­al pur­ple petals with a white edge.

Hydrangea quercifolia, ‘Little Honey’
Hydrangea quer­ci­fo­lia, Lit­tle Honey’

Hydrangeas nor­mal­ly have rather bland green leaves that act as a visu­al­ly neu­tral, sup­port­ive back­ground for the extreme­ly large and col­or­ful flower heads. At the Fall Plant Sale, we show­cased Hydrangea quer­ci­fo­lia Lit­tle Hon­ey’, which has com­mon white flow­ers that get a blush of pink in autumn. The excit­ing, col­lec­table char­ac­ter­is­tic of the plant, though, is its bright char­treuse leaves that remain col­or­ful from spring through autumn. 

In sup­port of our efforts to edu­cate the pub­lic about unusu­al plants and to give Lan­dis Arbore­tum mem­bers access to rare spec­i­mens, we will host a lec­ture and mini-sale by plant experts from Bro­ken Arrow Nurs­ery on Sat­ur­day, June 27, 2020. This retail nurs­ery in Con­necti­cut is well known to col­lec­tors for its knowl­edge­able staff, hybridiza­tion pro­grams, and acres of inde­scrib­able oddities.

Since Lan­dis Arbore­tum is known for its oak col­lec­tion, per­haps we should acquire Bro­ken Arrow’s Quer­cus robur Gen­er­al Pulas­ki’ to show­case its strange, puck­ered, tight­ly-packed leaves. The tree grows 10’ tall by only 3’ wide at matu­ri­ty, mak­ing it a use­ful (and unique) colum­nar plant for tight spaces.

For ever­green admir­ers, Abies con­col­or Win­ter Gold’ is a form of white fir that fea­tures bright yel­low nee­dles in the dead of winter.

Nyssa sylvatica, ‘Wildfire’
Nys­sa syl­vat­i­ca, Wild­fire’

Col­or-cen­tric gar­den­ers will expect Nys­sa syl­vat­i­ca Wild­fire’ to dis­play bril­liant scar­let leaf-col­or in autumn, but will be thrilled with the strik­ing bur­gundy tones of the new foliage as it emerges in the spring.

The Bro­ken Arrow Nurs­ery event will like­ly be a full-day affair with options to attend two dif­fer­ent lec­tures and two dif­fer­ent pop-up sales. The nurs­ery will also allow mem­bers to pre-order plants from its cat­a­logue or web­site and will bring those items to the event for cus­tomer pick-up. More details and reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion will appear in our 2020 Cal­en­dar of Events and on our web­site and Face­book page, in addi­tion to Con­stant Con­tact mailings.

Look for this arti­cle in future issues to dis­cov­er what strik­ing and col­lectible plants we will be offer­ing. The Lan­dis Arbore­tum is a trust­ed source for beau­ti­ful, hardy, and healthy plants – and the exper­tise to help you select and care for them.


Fall 2019

Volume 37 , Number 3

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