Friday, October 23, 2009

A Good Book, A Warm Fire, A Great Garden

Top: Viburnum 'Pink Sensation', Center: Magnolia 'Vulcan', Bottom: Magnolia 'Caerhays Belle'

Today it is raining and cold outside. I don’t mind being wet. And I don’t mind being cold. But I hate being both. So it’s a good day to stay indoors. I have my favorite cat and a new book that I’ve been waiting impatiently for. It is “The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs” by Roger, Eric and Marjory Gossler.
Roger is a good gardening buddy of mine that I have known for quite a number of years. He likes to talk, but unlike most people who talk a lot, he actually has something to say. Whenever I am around him, I feel like the eager student in front of the brilliant professor.
The Gossler family raise the best and the unusual. They are a haven for the plant collector, but should be seriously considered by the average homeowner as well. As the blurb on their dust jacket points out, most housing developments are planted with the same generic landscape plants. These boring shrubs are chosen for the same reason that the cardboard–flavored tomatoes are chosen for the supermarket. They grow fast and they ship well. But these insipid shrubs are just as tateless as the tomatoes. To get a ripe, juicy, knock-your-socks-off shrub, you need to go somewhere like Gosslers. Here are just a few of the trees and shrubs that the Gossler family has turned me on to:
Magnolia ‘Caerhays Bell’ – I had no idea what the bloom would look like. Roger said I needed it, so I bought it. It bloomed it’s second year and the blooms were HUGE, iridescent and bubblegum pink.
Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ – Guests here at the resort ooh and ahh over it and write the name down on their assorted scraps of paper which they reverently tuck into their pockets like the treasure that it is.
Edgeworthia - I love winter blooming shrubs. This one is stunning for it’s silver felted buds and bright yellow flowers.
Species Rhododendrons – Living in the Pacific Northwest, I was seriously jaded about Rhodies until Roger showed me some that have the most spectacular foliage.
Illicium anisatum – Another WOW plant we have growing in the woodland. Fragrant foliage and confetti flowers.
Chionanthus (Fringe Tree) – White, silky fringy flowers. A stunning small tree.
Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’ – An absolute knock-out in the fall. The color is so intense it will burn a hole in your retina.
Viburnum ‘Pink Sensation’ – A lovely russet pink snowball viburnum.
Hamamelis- Witch hazels have become one of my favorite plants since being introduced to them many years ago by the Gosslers. They flower in winter, are a graceful shrub during the summer and then have vibrant color for the fall. What more can you ask.
Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ – A deep ruby red. This tree grew and flowered quickly and gets rave reviews from guests each spring.
There are many more shrubs and trees that have made their way from the Gossler Nursery to our gardens. If you want to spice up your garden with a plant that will awe your neighbors, check out their book, available through Timber Press and then get on line ( or call for a catalog at 541-746-3922. For a real treat, call for an appointment and visit the nursey where you will also find an awesome display garden.

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