My sticks on fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) is blooming! The flowers are so wee, I almost missed them. They’re not much to write home about (or on a website for that matter), but it was such a monumental occasion, I felt it warranted pulling out the camera and posting about it anyway.
As a gardener with particular tastes and interests that border on obsession, it’s always a treat to meet someone who shares the same enthusiasm and passions. I was introduced to Katherine Tracy and her nursery Avant Gardens (located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts) through Margaret, who found out about this off-the-beaten-track plant treasure trove by word-of-mouth through some of her gardening friends. “She’s one of us,” Margaret explained, meaning to say through verbal shorthand that she’s a bit plant crazy (the best kind of crazy) and with impeccable taste to boot (because, of course, being somewhat mad, we happen to believe our own tastes in plants are impeccable).
Collectors of unusual and interesting plants since the 1980s, owners Katherine and Chris Tracey sell all manner of colourful foliage and dependable perennials. Like many of the most interesting nurseries, their business got started by way of a personal passion that simply got out of hand. They began doing mail order in 1997, focussing on uncommon annuals, but gradually moved on to include some of the perennials, trees, and shrubs they personally grew as well.
Colourful flowers that sway and jitter on wiry stems, Fame flower (Talinum calcycinum) is another example of a rough and tumble, easy-grow plant that is disguised as delicate and fragile. Rather, it is a hardy (zones 4ish-9) succulent that is native to the North American prairies. Related to the common edible weed purslane (Portulaca oleracea), fame flower likes it dry, so if you do not have sandy or gritty soil, consider keeping it in a pot as my friend Barry has with the specimen pictured here.
As I walked around the garden on the morning that I took this photo, deciding which plants would make the cut, I was struck by the shift in foliage colour. Suddenly all of the perennials had taken on their fall colour, which is why I dedicated 1/3 of the boxes this week to foliage. I will say though that looking back, I am surprised by how many flowers were in bloom, most especially the Gem marigold. That it was alive at all, and remained alive weeks after this photo was taken is a testament to the resiliency of the marigold. It’s not just the summer annual that we take it for.