Quite often when someone new comes into my garden they ask, “How did you get so many different plants?” The answer is that many were given to me. Some came from people on moving into retirement homes wanted to keep a family heirloom alive. Others were moving and said “I noticed you did not have one of these so I brought part of ours”. So mine is a fun garden and this article is about some of those people and plants.

          About three years ago Beverly McLaughlin brought me a seedling Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) from her yard. Now it is about 15 feet tall and very slender.  It bloomed this spring! My encyclopedia says it can get 40 feet high and 30 feet wide and the roots are very deep so things can be planted underneath without disturbing them.  The leaves are featherly so it looks fluffy.  The blooms are bright yellow in clusters that hang down, lasting about 3 weeks.  The author says it is drought tolerant so this summer I did not bother it at all. There is a gorgeous one at South 47th Street and Pioneers in south Lincoln.

          When we first bought this house some 40+ years ago, Maude Withgett gave me a Fall Blooming Clematis (Clematis ternifolia) that I planted on a 6 foot chain link fence.  It is still on the fence and goes to the top and travels along for 8 to 10 feet across the top, blooming in the fall, and completely covering the fence with white, extremely fragrant, frothy white blossoms. It is a heavy seeder with all those blooms, so I have given away numbers of baby plants.  Every spring there are more. Its seed heads are large and fluffy so they too are a sight on the fence.  This plant needs to have the top of the plant and flowers in the sun but their root area needs to be covered with mulch in the summer to keep them cool. This plant belongs to the pruning group that I cut to the ground in the fall.

          Kenneth Good decided I did not have enough Peonies so one time he dug in his yard and brought me about five different kinds but I don’t have labels for them.  Peonies are planted in root clumps of with at least 3 “eyes”. If you look at Peony root clumps the “eyes” are pink, short knobs on the roots. When planting they should not be covered with more than 2 inches of soil for them to do best.  If you plant too deep the Peonies will grow but will not bloom. Also they need full sun.

Peonies take four different forms:

1.     Single, with 5-10 incurved petals;

2.     Semi-double with 2-3 whorls of large incurved petals;

3.     Double with large flowers, with crowded, overlapping petals; and

4.     Japanese with the center of the flowers crowded by narrow, crowded petaloids.

          In an early blooming year many people will cut the blooms (actually the buds) when they are beginning to show color and refrigerate to keep them for Memorial Day.

          About 15 years ago Margene Zachek at the South Earl May store called me and said they had a plant they had not ordered and it was “different”, did not know what it was, and did not know how it would grow. Of course I had to see it and ended up buying it for my collection. I brought home this 12 inch, strange looking plant with a fat belly located just above where the roots start to grow. This plant comes from Africa so is not hardy. In the winter it put it in my South window. It is double stemmed now and double bellied, 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. The last few years I have seen a few of them in the garden centers. It is called a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum). It has white flowers about 3 inches across, about 3 inches long, and with a red rim around each bloom. BJ put it in a huge pot for me as its bellies are huge above the soil and also goes well down in the soil.

          This plant comes from Africa with irregular, spineless, thick walled branches to conserve water. Adenium species have thick waxy leaves which they drop during the African dry season and uses the water they have stored in the caudex (belly). When the African rainy season comes it leafs out and blooms. I know when the African rainy and dry seasons start because of this plant. 

          This summer it was outside and the bumblebees loved it! As a result it formed 6 inch long seed pods. They opened up this fall when BJ brought it in. There were 8 pods that split one night and several hundred seeds that look like milkweed parachutes floated out. I still found a seed and its parachute in hidden places in January.  I have a large grocery sack full of seeds and parachutes if you would like to try growing one.  Remember that this is a very slow grower as it gets water only half of its life. The name of this plant is Adenium obesum.

          Barbara Burton gave me a new little shrub, Spice Bush (Lindera sp.). It is named for the smell of its leaves that turn color in the fall.  The encyclopedia says it takes two in order to pollinate and get fruit which is loved by wildlife.  It is still only a year old and is about 3 feet high. Next summer I hope I can check its perfume.

          Every spring the Lincoln Garden Club has a plant sale before their April and their May meetings. The members bring their extra plants, cuttings, and seeds. One year George brought many large and small branches from his “Twisted Willow”. Some call it “Corkscrew Willow”. I stuck one in the soil and it grew. In a couple years I had a tall, twisted, very slender tree hanging over the Lily Pond. Wouldn’t it be nice if all plants were this easy to propagate and grow?

           I have many more plants that were given to me and have a history. Can you imagine the fun I have walking around the yard and remembering the different people who shared with me? What a fun garden you can have in time.

Copyright 2013