Not Just Another Pretty Face

It’s a docent’s dilemma. We love the garden and never tire of it because it is ever changing.

This blog post comes favor of Judy Broom who is a Dunn Gardens Docent

It’s a docent’s dilemma. We love the garden and never tire of it because it is ever changing.  But because it is a moving target, we sometimes must put on our mental running shoes to keep up. 

About the time we’ve committed to memory the names of spring ephemerals, matching common names to botanical terms, the season changes.  The ephemerals, true to their name, quickly 

fade, set seed and go into hiding for the rest of the year.  The flowering trees begin to capture the visitors’ attention, a dozen species of ferns begin to unfurl, demanding recognition and countless buds are bursting underfoot, begging to be identified. 

Now we’re well into summer and the hellebore, trillium, peonies and rhododendrons we’ve identified are still there.  But without the drama of flower they become happily and green-ly anonymous.  “Hey,” I’m tempted to shout when a guest oohs and aahs at a shrub or perennial newly showing its color, “Come over here and ask about this other plant.”  

It isn’t blooming, but I do remember its name.

So when recently a new flower showed its bright yellow face, fringed by a ruff of glossy green, I snapped a photo, collared a curator and said, “I’ve never seen this before.  What is it?”

Meet my new BFF (best flower friend)  lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla.

To my relief it is a relatively new species to show its pretty face at the Dunn, and it is only recently in cultivation in this country.  Whew. I hate it when I have failed to recognize an old standard.  Internet sources such as Web nursery sites suggest that Dan Hinkley, of the fabled Heronswood nursery, was among plant collectors who brought the showy perennial from China a decade or so ago.  And while I probably should have noticed it earlier, Dunn curator Glen Withey tells me it has only recently “bulked up.” It’s located along the paved Olmstead Drive, at the entrance to the grassy walkway down to Ed Dunn’s pond garden — under a Red Vein Enkianthus which bloomed much earlier.