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Nursery News

May 2, 2017

A few last minute additions under the Other Useful Plants heading which are not in the catalog, and which will have descriptions eventually in the catalog:

Allium tricoccum,wild leek(culinary)

Amaranth sp. ‘Hopi Red Dye’ (culinary, ornamental)

Mentha x,peppermint(tea, medicinal, culinary)

Origanum vulgare, oregano(culinary, medicinal)

Coriandrum ‘Santo Longstanding’,coriander (culinary)


April 26, 2017

A quick update concerning ‘the state of the nursery’. Almost everything has wintered-over beautifully, both in the ground and in pots. Very little mouse damage or death by cold. As a result, our selection is not only full but also the divisions are robust, which means better quality plants for the public. On another note, though we say we open on May 15 on the website, our sign just says ‘May’. Because people have taken an interest in visiting the nursery, at this time we will be going with the sign and opening on the 5th. Do bear in mind that not all plants are available at this early date. Of course the display gardens are just waking. If and whenever you do arrive we are looking forward to seeing old customers and new.


February 9, 2017 –

Here is a new webpage for the Campo di Fiori website. The intention of this page is to keep customers up-to-date concerning the goings-on of the nursery. Not only will this be the place to check for any spontaneous changes in nursery hours, but also the place to see what might be new or deleted from the catalog, among other things. We continue to refine and diversify the catalog to meet our need as growers but also to present what we believe are some of the very best plants to grow for their particular niche. Once again, we are a small nursery which limits the amount of plants we can grow, for various reasons, but believe this also helps us to focus on the most useful. Consider this a plant-lovers ‘need’ to embrace more of what the plant world has to offer. How wonderful it is! By no means is there any desire or effort to specialize in any of these new categories below. All of these plants are being grown because, first and foremost, we like to use them ourselves, and thus why not add them to the catalog as well? Our hope, as a beneficial side effect, is that it helps to make the nursery more interesting.

We continue to specialize in herbaceous ornamental perennials (as the catalog will make evident) for use in naturalistic planting design. Yet this year we are diversifying to plants whose usefulness are not strictly ornamental but also ‘utilitarian’, that is, edible or medicinal. Of course, beauty is emotionally ‘useful’ (my favorite medicine), but rarely is it thought of as utilitarian. Under the catalog heading Other Useful Plants one will see a variety of plants which are a few selections of their kind. The selection criteria is much the same as for the ‘strictly ornamental’ perennials and grasses: hardy, robust growing, productive, easy to propagate, native, beneficial to wildlife, and multipurpose. Some will embody a few or all of these criteria. The many of these are also good ornamentals, though that is not necessarily their greatest attribute or primary appeal. A funny thing happens when one starts to categorize things in this way – eventually we come to realize that such categorizations are somewhat arbitrary. Who is to say food is not medicinal? Or what is truly ornamental? Here we are subject to the world of relativity as created by humans through the use of language. When we say something is one thing we assume it is not the other. This being said, some of the ornamentals we have been growing for years are also edible, and or medicinal. We simply have not chosen to identify these traits.

Please visit our 2017 Nursery Catalog under the heading plants. At the end of the listing you will find all of the new additions.



February 16, 2017 –

Here is a list of most of the plants which, for one reason or another, have been permanently or temporarily removed from the catalog since its first publication in 2014, but not necessarily from cultivation in our gardens. Mostly the plants listed here have either not been happy growing in pots, susceptible to some type of local environmental pressure (disease, weather, soil), or simply were not “good enough” to take what little valuable space we have here at Campo di Fiori. Simply our experience, which may very well differ from yours. This list gives the customer a bit of an idea of how we determine what to grow and what not to grow. Initially it has nothing to do with what we want (as we want everything to be a success), except that this IS what we want: to continue to refine our nursery to the most useful selection of plants that we can. Feel free to learn on our behalf.

Achillea

The hybrids of these species are very attractive (and tempting), yet time and time again have proven for us to be very picky about soil conditions, and even given the correct conditions (high and dry), are short-lived. This does not fit our criteria for sustainable/low-maintenance garden design. We do continue to maintain a small collection of seed-grown, wild selections, which have a means of reproducing themselves.

Aconitum

We no longer carry any of this genus. Beautiful plants given a fertile moisture-retentive soil, yet for the most part, are not long-standing in their ornamental qualities. They never seem very happy in black plastic pots either.

Actaea

pachypoda ‘Misty Blue’ – a difficult plant to cultivate clonally, and which does not come true from seed.

Agastache

Our selections of this genus have fluctuated considerably, as sometimes I feel more charmed by them than others. Many of the hybrids are not very hardy and behave much like the achillea hybrids, and the self-sowing species and cultivars are often too aggressively so. We maintain a small collection.

Alcea

A. nigra – A beautiful plant for its almost black flowers, but which is short-lived or biennial, and prone to seed-borne disease.

Alchemilla

A. mollis – A beautiful and unique plant which has also shown itself to be aggressively self-sowing and a bit of a flop architecturally.

Aquilegia

Never been fully satisfied with this genus, probably because they are short-lived/biennial, with minimal architectural qualities. They can be fun for self-sowing in shade.

Aster

As a collector of this genus there is the desire to collect ALL attractive cultivars/species, yet a few have proven to be too weak, particularly aster frikartii ‘Monch’. This plant is an old-fashioned hybrid which is very-long flowering, with beautiful large blue flowers. Many times a specimen will have grown big and beautiful over the course of 2-3 years and than succumb to a lack of hardiness. It’s a let-down which I am tired of repeating.

Campanula

C. lactiflora – Architectural qualities lacking, and short-lived.

Chelone

Lacking in flower-power and architectural form. Still an important plant for the all-native garden.

Datisca

The one species we tried – cannabina – was not hardy enough.

Delphinium

Architectural qualities lacking, as well as short-lived.

Desmodium

A bit too wild with not enough ornamental features.

Echinacea

This genus has similar issues with Achillea and Agastache in that many new attractive hybrids and cultivars are being introduced which are lacking in other ways, particularly persistence and hardiness. We remain committed to having a varied selection because there are plenty of seed-strain cultivars/species available which come true to seed, and can self-sow reliably, and because these plants have numerous attributes. When we do find an attractive hybrid/cultivar which is persistent (‘Virgin’), we surely maintain it. Echinacea tends to offer a lot of variation even within a seed-strain cultivar, which leads the enthusiast (me) to get a bit carried away with making selections. Truly the seed-strains are enough to satisfy.

Eryngium

Plants with unique architectural qualities. So far E. yuccifolium (our native) is the only one to not get diseased. May try others of this genus again.

Feoniculum

‘Bronze’ is a gorgeous plant for several different reasons. Some plantings I maintain have some nice stands of it, which are slowly turning to only IT. Very strong self-sower. To be used under ‘supervision’ in places which are well-drained and sunny. Otherwise they are short-lived. Many people perceive it as nothing but an herb.

Gaura

Beautiful and unique plants which have proven too tender, even the ‘hardy’ seed-strains. Tried several times and have finally given up.

Geranium

Another genus that has so many cultivars/hybrids that one is inclined to become a collector. So, I have backed down the selection to my favorites.

Helenium

A genus which seems a bit finicky on my soils. The varieties I now maintain are beautiful fall flowering plants which are uniquely colored, but have a slightly uncertain future as they seem to be becoming less reliable.

Heuchera

Another collector’s paradise. The only cultivar I find strong enough and persistent enough for a naturalistic type planting is ‘Autumn Bride’.

Limonium

Difficult to propagate clonally, and a bit feeble on my soils.

Lobelia

L. cardinalis is a very attractive native but one which is routinely destroyed by slugs while in black pots. Good luck selling them then.

Origanum

‘Herrenhausen’ – replaced by a similar but more attractive form – ‘Rosenkuppel’.

Persicaria

P. bistorta is an abundant flowering plant in the spring with characteristic pink, bottlebrush shaped flowers, but which has little architectural appeal thereafter.

Salvia

An important genus of early summer flowering plants, with many cultivars available. We have a good selection which has been downsized to the most reliable.

Scabiosa

Attractive long-flowering plants with a unique flower shape, but which is marginally hardy on our soils. We will attempt to still offer our own selection of S. lucida.

Silphium

Incredible plants from the tallgrass prairies which unfortunately do not work very well in pots, as the height and subsequent drooping makes them difficult to display, no less the powerful taproot. We have planted several in our meadow to naturalize. More can be grown if interested.

Tiarella

Succumb to a similar fate as Heuchera.

Veratrum

Incredible plants for their architectural qualities and long lifespan. Unfortunately no one sells them, so we must start from seed, in which I have been unsuccessful in several attempts.

Verbascum

Biennials which are too aggressively self-sowing on the average. Still very useful architectural qualities for adding spontaneity to a large naturalistic planting. Not enough public interest. Also biennial.

Verbena

V. hastata is a beautiful native which is unfortunately unreliable and aggressively self-sowing.

Veronica

I had hoped to have a small collection of this genus, yet have found them to be unreliable on the average.