Book cover of The Layered Garden


I spent last week in Columbus. On Sunday, I spoke on xeriscaping at the Perennial Plant Association regional symposium and had the opportunity to hear other speakers like David Culp, long time gardener and designer whose book, The Layered Garden, is the story of the evolution of his Pennsylvania garden. Other talks were on color, best perennializing bulbs, and container gardening.

Although I have been gardening and designing for countless years, there is always someone who knows more. Therefore, I continue to attend the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association trade show and short courses. This time, Monday through Wednesday, I attended several short courses and also spoke on hardy summer and fall blooming bulbs.

Michael Dirr (Photo credit –



One of the speakers was Michael Dirr, the guru of woody plants. He is one of the most inspirational speakers I’ve ever heard. This man loves trees and spoke about the need to plant for both the health of the environment and for future generations.

The trade show is a forum for reconnecting with suppliers and learning about new products and plants. I’m always looking for smaller conifers that will fit into my garden and into those of my clients. Those sixty footers just get too big! One of my friends, Jesse Hensen, is the representative of Eason Horticultural Resources, a horticultural introduction company and in his booth was a

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Lucas’


Chamaecyparis obtusa‘Lucas’. This is a dwarf conifer that will ultimately grow only three feet high and wide but, in addition, has bi-colored green and yellow foliage as well as red stems. Jesse was generous enough to let me bring it home to trial in my garden.

Red stems and lacy foliage of Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Lucas’

Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum ‘Variegatum’


Another friend, John Hoffman, owns an ornamental grass nursery in North Carolina and among his display plants was Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum ‘Variegatum’. What a mouthful! Bulbous Oat Grass stays low, has variegated foliage, and thrives in a shaded, slightly moist site. I grew it years ago but it disappeared and now I will plant it again.

At the Proven Winners booth, I saw a container of three annuals,

Calibrachoa ‘Lemon Slice’


Calibrachoa ‘Lemon Slice’, Lobularia ‘Frosty Knight’, and

Lobularia ‘Frosty Knight’

Lantana ‘Pina Colada’


Lantana ‘Pina Colada’, that will all be winners in 2013. I grew Calibrachoa ‘Lemon Slice’ last summer and it never stopped blooming. The Lobularia, commonly know as Alyssum, has variegated foliage.

Now I’m off to Milwaukee to speak to a perennials conference.