April 20, 2009


Upper row : Pyrus 'pyrifolia'
Second row left to right : Magnolia liliflora 'betty',
Clematis maximowicziana 'sweet autumn' ( on fence ) Hydrangea
Paniculata 'limelight' ( behind statue;) Acer japonicum 'autumn moon '
last row : Rhododendron 'poukhanense '

( click to enlarge )

At the request of Steve Bender of Time, Inc.'s Southern Living I am participating in the April 20 Blogathon. All participants are to write about the six plants they can't live without. As avid gardeners we all realize that this is not an easy task. Only six ? This is a heart- wrenching decision because it means I'm leaving out a lot of my beloved evergreen favorites such as the Chamaecyparis family.

Following are my selections :

Rhododendron Poukhanense. I love the graceful arching branches and the soft lavender blooms of this cultivar from the Poukhan Mountains of Korea where it grows without any assistance. Korean cultivars are hardy for the Chicago area as their climate is very much like ours. For all of those who've said they have no success with azaleas this is one that you will.

Magnolia Liliflora 'betty. ' It's a nice small magnolia hardy to Chicago . Of course it can't compare to the Southern Magnolia; no tree can in my opinion. Betty is one of the "little girls" hybrids that the hybridizer named after his granddaughters.

Acer Japonicum 'autumn moon .' The autumn moon japanese maple because its breathtaking and pretty hardy. In autumn its chartruese leaves turn a bright pink.

Prunus ' pyrifolia ' or Asian pear tree. It's a dwarf, reaching only 12 feet and its also a graft of two varieties of pears -one side bears smaller fruit early and the other size large fruit late in the season. Unlike the regular pear the Asian pear keeps well and is crisp and sweet . It's used in Asian cuisine to add some tartness and it's good sliced in salads.

Hydrangea Paniculata 'limelight. ' Not only is it gorgeous it blooms early and stays in bloom for the entire season. The dried flower heads make wonderful floral arrangements.

Clematis 'maximowicziana 'sweet autumn ' , a perennial vine that produces thousands of tiny star-like fragrant blossoms for a wonderful show from early August for several months. Its fragrance fills the late summer air. I'm sure there will be a lot of protests about this choice being invasive and I sympathize with those that have had that experience but my particular cultivar hasn't self sown at all.

Please visit the following participants in Blogathon :


  1. This blogathon is giving new insight to gardener's favorites as well as a sampling of what will grow and flourish in other zones.

    Your tree selections just proves that we gardeners aren't always just about the blooms! The real challenge was listing only six, wasn't it?


  2. I had a feeling the Asian pear would be on your list Carolyn!

    I love sweet autumn clematis and am looking for a good spot for it here. In my last house I had them climbing on an 8' fence surrounding my little courtyard and shade garden. I miss the clouds of fragrant, tiny white blooms, and make a point of driving past the old place in September to see them!

  3. I am one of "those" that can't seem to grow rhodies. I might give this one a chance to put me into that catagory of one of "those" that can grow them. I like all of your choices. Happy gardening.

  4. Hi Carolyn Gail, what inspired choices! The pear tree makes so much sense, food and beauty and shade! It was tough to narrow the list to only six. :-)

  5. Hi Carolyn Gail, I wanted to let you know that your link goes to the old blogger site, not my new wordpress one. The url should be


  6. Hey Carolyn,

    I could have chosen any from your list as well. It was hard to do. You managed to narrow your list to a nice selection.

    The 'Limelight' in my garden is only in its second year, I'm anxious to see it this fall. Looking very nice in your garden!!!

    Helen Yoest

  7. Beautiful choices, Carolyn. If I could grow that limelight I'd have it all over my garden... it is simply divine!
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  8. I couldn't agree more with your choices, Carolyn. I've grown them all and consider them wonderful. I'm a big fan of fruits so was pleased to see the dwarf Asian pear as a favorite. No complaints from me about sweet autumn clematis -- I love it! But I'll have to admit that you're very fortunate that yours doesn't reseed. :-)

  9. Good stuff, Carolyn, and many of my favorites.

  10. Lovely pics. Nothing here at all in the Caribbean, but I am sure Hydrangea, clematis and Asian pear can be grown in the cooler spots in the Caribbean. I love clematis and hope to be able to get a plant sometime.

  11. The R. poukhanense does great for us in Alabama. Can't argue with any of your choices. Glad somebody put 'Limelight' hydrangea on their list. What a great plant! I still think you should plant kudzu of the walls of Wrigley Field. You're just postponing the inevitable.

  12. Good to know that R. poukhanense does well in Alabama. I wasn't sure how heat tolerate it was.

    So you think I should sneak some kudzu into Wrigley Field which is just down the road a bit from me ? It would surely kill the famous 'wrigley field' ivy on the walls. I think we need to think of some new recipes like Southern Fried Kudzu or Kudzu salad. It's considered a delicacy in Asian from whence it came.

  13. Carolyn Gail, your choices are very beautiful, and I like that you squeezed a vine onto your list. I kept trying to make room for one but went with a couple of grasses instead. What a hard assignment!

  14. That's an interesting list and some beautiful plants. I would have to add to that the Korean Spice Viburnum, V. carlesii.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  15. Beautiful choices...I love Sweet Autumn Clematis, the look, the fragrance and those terrific seed heads. I am still marveling that you folks could pick 6! Btw, excellent photos! gail

  16. Hi Cameron,

    Yes, picking just 6 was a real challenge. It means you left out the other 999.

  17. You have made some great choices, but OH how hard that must have been!

  18. Woman's intuition, eh Linda? Hope you find a spot for the Sweet Autumn Clematis.

  19. Hi Lisa,
    Yes please do find a spot for a wonderful azalea in your garden. You'll not be disappointed.

  20. Hi Frances and thanks for your comments. This was a real challenge, but fun.

  21. Thanks, Helen. I enjoyed visiting your blog for the first time and was very impressed.

  22. Nicole,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. I need to pay a visit to your garden.

  23. Hi Meems,

    Each time I visit your garden it reminds me of the wonderful month of February 2008 that I spent in Florida. Lush, tropical plantings that take that heat.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  24. Hey Joey and thanks. It was a tough job picking just 6 as you can well imagine.

  25. Hi Pam,

    Thanks. It was a real challenge but I enjoyed joining you and the other participants in selecting the choice few.

  26. Yes, Carol , I would've loved to include my Korean Spice viburnum which appears to be leafing up today. So many choices I would've made but to limit it to 6 , well you know how difficult that was.

  27. Hi Gail,

    Thanks so much. I'm glad that you liked my selections.

  28. My goodness....your sweet six are all gorgeous. To have your hydrangea 'limelight' stay in bloom for the entire season is something special. I want one, I must have one!

  29. Your six plants would combine beautifully into a harmonious garden, Carolyn - and you've included evergreen, deciduous and vining forms, plus fruit and flowers!

    Does it seem as if the temperatures in your garden are milder in temperature than they used to be - or could you have grown most of these plants 20 years ago? Japanese maples froze to the ground where I lived in the Western Suburbs and most saucer magnolias seldom had flowers. But Sweet Autumn never failed!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  30. It's been interesting to see all the different choices the ten of you have made. I'm glad to see the "Limelight" on here as I just planted one last fall. And I would love to have rhododendrons, so I'm happy to see a recommendation for one that can survive Illinois winters. I've also read about the new "Northern Lights" series that are also supposed to be hardy here.

    Choosing only six must have been difficult!


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