Last week we completed a pretty big renovation of our Rose and Perennial Garden at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The renovations were so large that we may now have to call it the Perennial and Rose Garden plus a lot of other really cool plants. Our roses never performed admirably (where do they without tons of pesticides?) so we ripped out the worst of the lot and redesigned the plantings to provide more color during the summer and fall. I wanted to get all of these renovations done before Memorial Day so we worked tirelessly as a team to get everything in the ground. The fact that mother nature threw us a curve ball and decided to make it a cold, rainy week did not help things a bit.
But we were having fun. We were using new plants and trying out new combinations that I had only dreamed up in my head. Like a mass planting of Angelica gigas (it looks really cool). Near the end of the process, I let out a joyous yell at how things looked. One of our gardeners walked up to me and said, “you are having too much fun to be working.”
I have a list of plants from this garden to share with you so let me start with one of my favorite, underused plants, Lindera obtusiloba. Japanese spicebush is a deciduous shrub that will top out at around 12 feet in height and width. The striking characteristic about this shrub is its foliage. It is mitten shaped like a sassafras. During the fall when the leaves change color, it is a bright yellow. There is an older shrub planted near one of Longwood Gardens‘ back parking lots. I remember as a graduate student walking past this plant and then walking off the sidewalk to see it up close. We planted a small plant that we bought from Broken Arrow Nursery, along the south side of the arbor in the garden. I can already picture the future shrub in about five years making guests stop and wonder what is that plant…
Photos: ian.umces.edu, brokenarrownursery.com, 1003gardens.blogspot.com