(new plants, blue rose)

You’d think that after living in the same place for over 25 years and every year planting new trees and shrubs that there would be nothing new for me to plant this year. Or, at least, no where to plant them. Well, t’ain’t so!

I’m now finalizing this year’s orders. Let’s see: Did I succumb to any of the enticements for new and wondrous plants mentioned in the slew of gardening magazines and nursery catalogues that appear almost daily in my mailbox?

David Austin roses, whose blooms have the look of yesteryear (pastel colors and blowsy form) and the pest-resistance of presentyear, are always a draw. (Photo at left is David Austin’s ‘Graham Stuart Thomas’ in bloom in summer.) And m–m-m-m, the thought of picking fresh, ripe sweet cherries is also enticing. I’m going to order Compact Stella cherry tree. It’s a dwarf so I should be able find a home for it somewhere, and it’s self-pollinating, unusual for sweet cherries, so I’ll only need one tree.

I’ve always wanted to plant a magnolia, of which there are many newer and older varieties, but where could I plant it? Now that I think of it, I already have a magnolia, a sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) that I purchased on an impulse at a nursery a few years ago. The problem is that the plant still sits in the pot in which it came. Yes, it is hard to keep my wits about me as spring approaches, especially on sunny, unfrigid days. “I will not buy another magnolia, I will not buy another magnolia, I will not buy another magnolia, . . .”

Uh oh, another new variety of filbert from the breeding program at Oregon State University. This variety, Yamhill, is, like some of its recent predecessors, immune to the eastern filbert blight that has for so long made filbert growing east of the Rockies unfeasible. True, I do have five other varieties of filbert bushes, some immune and some resistant to the blight, which when they reach full production, will yield a lot more nuts than we can possibly eat. That photo, at left, shows catkins (male flowers) on one of my filbert bushes in winter.

Still, the filberts do make a nice, curving line of shrubs that draws your eye and footsteps along and out into the meadow. And how else will I know which filbert varieties are best to recommend to you all in a couple of years?


One new and wondrous plant that will definitely not show up in my garden is a blue rose. A blue rose, in case you didn’t know, is a very big event in gardening. Think about it: Did you ever see a blue rose? No, you didn’t.

This new rose now exists thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering. According to the developer, Suntory of Japan, Applause rose has a “bluish tinge reminiscent of the sky just after dawn and an elegant, alluring, fresh fragrance.”

Scientists were able to bestow this color to Applause by insertion a blue gene, such as the one responsible for the blue of delphiniums. The red pigment in roses still causes a problem in not letting the blue fully express itself, but now that the blue gene has been inserted, high hopes exist for even bluer roses in the future.

Call me provincial if you want, but I like red, pink, yellow, or white roses, especially when those colors are pastel rather than harsh. Blue roses seem cold to me.


Some trees and shrubs coming to my garden this year are going to be home-made, that is, created by me from seeds, cuttings, or grafts. To that end, I recently collected hackberry seeds as well as scions (for grafting) of persimmon, pear, and cornelian cherry, and packed them all away in either my refrigerator or an insulated box in my garage. I (we) will deal with them in a few weeks.

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