Throughout our travels, there were three plants I saw in nearly every garden, public or private. Amsonia tabernaemontana, blue dogbane or blue star as it is known in my garden, is the first. Actually, I may grow Amsonia hubrichtii, but right now, I don’t have access to my garden to look at the leaf shape. I know I’m bad, but I never paid attention before. Both are native wildflowers, and both grow beautifully in full sun. Mine has finished flowering, but the foliage is still lovely. I plan to divide it next year.
The second is Baptisia. I saw several different varieities, but the most beautiful was again in the Lurie Garden, although the Chicago Botanic Garden had some beautiful examples too. I grow three different Baptisias in my garden, but they are young and take awhile to establish. I hope that someday they will be similar to the one below.
Number three was the giant hosta. Here, I can’t give you a particular variety, because it seemed like every hosta was a giant (unless it was a miniature variety). Somewhat related to the giant panda in their scope and size, this monsters of the shade garden were in a word, unbelievable. On Mr. McGregor’s Daughter’s blog, you can see a photo of Annaliese next to a massive hosta in the Chicago Botanic Garden. I took a macro image of one I saw. In my garden, hostas are grown in dappled to full shade, and never get that large. I was amazed.
There are many others like alliums and violas, but these are the ones I saw in every garden. One of the greatest joys of visiting Chicago was to see plants growing under such different conditions. I also saw two flowers I’d only seen in magazines, lupines and snapdragons, Antirrhinum majus. I was familiar with Lupines because of Miss Rumphius. In fact, in the botanic garden, some teenagers were talking about the book. They couldn’t remember the name, and I suggested it. If you’ve wondered whether all that reading to your child mattered, it did. As for snapdragons, I’d only read about them in my Regency novels and such. I saw them in magazines, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful they were in person. These are not the snapdragons sold way too early in the season by the box stores, and my photo doesn’t do these justice. You’ll have to take my word for it.
Whoops! That’s now five different plants. I never could stop myself at only three.