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One of the things I love about garden travel is learning about new plants, or seeing new ways of growing them. This week, all of the mystery plants came from gardens we toured in 2019 on our England trip. Some will grow in Arkansas, while others may struggle a bit.

Golden Chain Tree – Laburnum anagyroides is a small deciduous tree or a large shrub. In England, it is often trained over a trellis, where the limbs are intertwined. When it is in bloom, the huge clusters of yellow flowers hang down like a chain of blooms—it looks like it is raining yellow!

It is stunning in full bloom. The common name is often interchanged with Golden Rain Tree -Koelreuteria paniculata. While I do know of a few Arkansas gardeners who have had limited success with the Laburnum,

it does not thrive in heat and humidity. The Golden Rain tree (Koelreuteria)

takes our summers in stride. It produces upright spikes of yellow flowers in the summer, and produces a much larger tree at maturity than the golden chain tree.

Ceanothus arboreus– commonly called California Lilac or wild lilac.

The plant is actually native to California and the west coast, where it thrives. It is also spectacular in England. The first England trip I took was back in 1998, and the ceanothus was in full glory then too.

When we returned, at least 1/3 of us ordered a ceanothus and planted them in our gardens. None survived. The heat and humidity of the south take its toll on this plant. We do have a native species C. americana commonly called New Jersey Tea

, but it is not nearly as showy as the California native. Today there are numerous hybrids of the Ceanothus,

but unfortunately, they don’t do well in our climate. If you ever see one in full bloom, you will know why so many of us tried!

Azara dentata

This was the stumper of the week. Azara is native to Chile. This evergreen shrub in the willow family is hardy from zones 8-10. Reportedly in Kew Gardens it only survives the winter in a protected spot along a wall, but did survive fine at the Edinburgh Botanical Garden. It is also listed in gardens from California to Washington State. It produces masses of sweet-scented flowers in the spring which are a favorite of bees.

After flowering it produces small red to black berries. It is deer resistant. I have found it available on-line from Annie’s Annuals and Digging Dog Nurseries in California. Does best in well drained soil in the shade. I think it is a plant we should attempt to grow--we can always use a shade loving bloomer. We saw Azara in full bloom in several gardens on our England tour in May 2019.

Oriental Poppy - Papaver orientale

is a plant native to central Asia. They can struggle in heat and humidity, but I have found that some Arkansas gardeners can grow them with ease, while others of us (myself included, struggle). I have been to many gardeners’ yards in Arkansas where they complain about how much their poppies are spreading. I have no sympathy, since I haven’t had any survive more than one year. They do best in a well-drained soil in full sun—and in a climate that is a bit cooler than Arkansas. While I do know of gardeners growing them in full sun with success in Arkansas, to have a better success rate, I would plant them where they get morning sun and afternoon shade. Flower color can range from red, to whites,

pinks, purples, orange and yellow. They make a stunning cut flower and are prized by bees and hummingbirds. If you want a little bit better chance of success and still grow a poppy, you might try the annual Shirley Poppy

or the yellow and orange annual California poppies.

If you do have success with these larger, showier Oriental poppies,

share your secret. These are the ones I do best with

They are made of metal!

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