Monday, July 28, 2014

New Plant Encounters

Salad Burnet (Sanguisorb minor). Photo: WikiCommons

New is in the eye of the beholder and these plants are new to me even though one has been around for hundreds of years.

A potluck dish of deviled eggs was decorated with a plant with intriguing oval, tooth-edged pinnate leaflets. Turns out the plant is a perennial herb called Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor, syn. Poterium sanguisorba). “Salad what?” I said, stumped by the name. When I popped a leaf in my mouth, I didn’t taste much flavor, although some sources say it tastes of “light cucumber.” Brought to the New World by the first English colonists, it does well in containers as it is drought-tolerant, compact (12 – 18 inches tall and 12  – 24 inches wide), clump forming, hardy (USDA zones 4 – 8) and heat tolerant. Plant it in full sun to part shade conditions. Use the youngest leaves in salads and dressings. Click here for more detailed information, including its medicinal properties. It spreads by rhizomes and self-seeds. It looks like it would be an attractive addition to the garden, and it almost always is a plus that it is edible.

Amaranthus 'Illumination'
Eucomis Aloha Lily® Tiki

While at Portland Nursery for an espalier fruit tree pruning class, I walked by the stop-you-in-your-tracks Amaranthus ‘Illumination’ and had to take a photo. Wow! This three to four-foot tall plant would be lovely sprinkled among other sun-loving plants in well-drained soil. An annual, the sturdy stems hold darker green leaves below the densely-packed gold and red foliage above. Color holds from mid-summer until frost.

Another intriguing find also requires full sun and good drainage: Eucomis Aloha Lily® Tiki. The Aloha Lily series are compact (18 inches tall and wide). Pink flowers appear July until frost. USDA Zone 8. Cute!

What new-to-you plants have you seen this year?

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