Unusual Plant in Unlikely Location

Sometimes it takes a bit of exploration to find the little gems. I stopped off at two garden centers on what has become a typical day in mid-May. It had been raining for the entire week for an accumulation well over three inches. It was just under 50 degrees with lots of humidity and an occasional cold rain.

I had dozens of plants still in pots awaiting a day when the soil had more warmth than moisture. So it made sense to see what else I could plant, right?

The first place I turned into was Karp's Garden and Feed Center in Hobart, Indiana. A couple of greenhouses held healthy plants just waiting for a nicer day when fair weather gardeners would snatch them up for planting. A couple of skids of annual flats remained unwrapped and ready for their nighttime home under cover. It didn't pay to stage them on the benches just to stack them back up again. I found a Kniphofia 'Flamenco' in bloom, which gave me a sense of which color I was buying. 'Flamenco', you see, is a mix that can contain red, orange or yellow with possibilities in between. Buying them out of bloom is fine if you don't mind a mix, But I like yellow, so I bought it. I also picked up a Juncus effusus f. spiralis or corkscrew rush.

Just down the road is Sapper's Market and Greenhouse."Why not," I thought as I turned into the parking lot. The front greenhouse held hostas and other perennials plus some tropicals. But as soon as I found myself in the back greenhouse, I remembered. I'd been there before, probably at least 15 years ago. The greenhouse in the back gave shoppers the sense that they'd arrived at a very special place--where the good stuff is kept. It was where I found two Begonia boliviensis - Bonfire Orange and 'Santa Cruz Sunset'.

I also found the new (from 2013) Bidens 'Hawaiian Flare'. Although the variety's name wasn't listed, I'm guessing it's 'Orange Yellow Brush', one of the three that has gold in the center with a darker orangey-red toward the outer petal tips. I'm looking forward to seeing how it grows mixed with other drought-tolerant plants in a humongous planter.

Bidens is also known as carpet tickseed and is hardy to around Zone 7. Otherwise, this little cutie is grown as an annual. Thompson & Morgan refers to it as a half-hardy perennial.

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