The Rhodochiton atrosanguineum, or Purple Bell vine, a native of southwestern Mexico, is hardy to zone 9 and offers much to covet. Fast-growing, its glossy, heart-shape leaves contrast with cheery maroon flowers that have deep purple corollas and bloom all summer long. Purple Bell is easy to start from seed indoors in cooler climates. Once germinated, place it in the ground or a large pot with plenty of root space, in partial to full sun, and with a device for it to twine around. Then stand back, as it can grow to 10 feet in a season.
Peonies are the grandes dames of the garden: stately, long lasting, and often copiously perfumed. They are great massed or in a mixed ornamental bed; and as cut flowers, lush single blooms, or full bouquets, they are equally breathtaking. But even though these plants are fairly easy to grow—good drainage and full sun, plus a little afternoon shade in hotter climes, are all they ask—they’re not always easy to buy. Especially the popular and unusual varieties.
Among the plant world's many miracles, witch hazel may be the most restorative. In colder parts of the country, it is one of the only big plants to bloom during the low-light days when gardeners feel most despondent. To stumble unexpectedly across a good-size witch hazel shrub during a snowy January walk is inevitably to be set alight by the not-quite-rational sense that spring is on its way. The flowers—delicate bits of yellow, copper, or red ribbon—blow outward from bare branches like streamers from a party cracker.
Not since the likes of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors has there been a diva like Lois the Corpse Flower, in Houston.
This post might be better titled Plant Repulsion, rather than Plant Lust, but our featured plant is still pretty awesome.
In the super-snowy days of January and February, we're featuring pages from the many catalogs that are arriving in our office daily. There's really nothing better than catalog reading—it's like window shopping, but you can do it in your bed, while eating cookies. (Well, maybe don't eat cookies in bed. But you know what I mean.)