Friday, June 28, 2013

An early summer trio

Several major players are now at their peak in the garden, including lilies, early daylilies and Japanese irises. So there is no shortage of cut material for the house. But the bouquet shown here is drawn from the ranks of the minor players. Two of the plants used here, Lythrum 'Morden Pink' and Lysimachia clethroides, are familiar garden plants. But how many of you recognize the third plant here?

Did someone guess foxtail lily, Eremurus? No, that's not what it is. It's Aesculus parvifolia, the bottle brush buckeye, a dwarf horse chestnut. The flowers have a sweet fragrance which reminds me of honeysuckle. This small tree/thicket forming shrub is not found in gardens nearly as much as its merits might suggest. It forms a hemispherical mound two or three yards high, and when in bloom looks like nothing else in our gardens. This is another one of those excellent, unusual plants, native plants, which has largely been ignored by the nursery trade.

There used to be many of these planted on the western edge of the Walter Reed property along 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C. Are they still there? The wikipedia article on this species and the USDA Plants Profile give very different accounts of the natural distribution of this plant. 

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