By P. Allen Smith | Photography by Hortus, Ltd.
It has long been a dream of mine to share some of my favorite plants – those that I have grown for ages at the farm – with fellow gardeners. I like to think that over the years I’ve developed a good feel for plant hardiness and performance, knowledge that I’ve carefully gleaned by growing – and sometimes killing – many, many plants! With the Moss Mountain Farm Collection, I finally can share with you some of the most outstanding varieties. It’s like inviting you to shop directly from my backyard, but without the dirt, sweat and bugs.
Allow me to list for you my top five favorite plants for fall planting from the collection.
5. Summer-Long Daylily Collection
I know, I couldn’t limit myself to choosing a single favorite daylily. I have Hemerocallis planted throughout Moss Mountain, including the vegetable garden, because several varieties are especially long-blooming with very little hassle and maintenance. The five selected for this collection feature ‘Stella de Oro,’ ‘Happy Returns,’ ‘Pardon Me,’ ‘Apricot Sparkles’ and ‘Rosy Returns.’
To help explain why these varieties are so stellar, consider that most daylilies have a single bloom cycle, but those included in this collection have three, four and sometimes five bloom cycles. Overachievers! Here at the farm, the hands-down showstopper is ‘Stella de Oro.’
4. Iris ‘October Splendor’
Many people aren’t familiar with the magic of the reblooming iris. These beauties produce two shows a year, one in the spring, and then again in the fall. If you love iris but real estate is at a premium in your garden, then I highly recommend a re-bloomer. ‘October Splendor’ is one of my favorites because of its ruffled pink petals and sweet fragrance.
3. Hosta ‘Empress Wu’
The largest of the large hostas, ‘Empress Wu’ is a true statement plant. It’s hard to describe how big this monster gets. At maturity, it can reach four to five feet tall and six to eight feet wide, with leaves reaching 24 inches long and 25 inches wide. This is one of my favorites because of its large presence. It was named after the only woman in history to serve as emperor of China, and I believe that even she would be impressed by this specimen. (Also, check out the variegated version of this hosta, named ‘Wu-La-La.’)
2. Tulips, daffodils and all fall bulbs
I am hard pressed to choose a favorite among the spring-blooming bulbs, but if you really twist my arm, I’ll say the ‘Manly’ Daffodil, which has layers of creamy yellow petals and touches orange; ‘Carnival de Nice’ Tulip, which is white with stripes of red, almost like a peppermint stick; ‘Gladiator’ Allium, a three-foot-tall purple lollipop with a bloom the size of a softball; and the classic ‘Casa Blanca’ Lily, with pure white petals and a sweet lily scent.
1. Peony ‘Myrtle Gentry’
Some say this is most fragrant of all the fragrant peonies. ‘Myrtle Gentry’ is also two peonies in one – its double blush petals open with the softest of pink color, then fade with time to an almost pure white. Very large blooms have a tea rose fragrance that make them especially ideal as a cut flower. If you can plant only one perennial this fall, make it this one. You’ll thank yourself in six or seven months.
I’ve enjoyed reviewing the inventory in the Moss Mountain Collection to narrow down the selection of my favorites. Remember that perennials, trees and shrubs can be planted any time the soil is dry and not frozen, so allow yourself some time this fall to inventory your own garden, and maybe get inspired to add a plant or two to your own collection. Come visit us this fall and see how we love plants and use them together in ways that extend the beauty of the season.