Louis Bauer is Wave Hill’s Director of Horticulture.
Each spring, we plant up succeeding waves of brightly hued tulips. This shot of the bed in May, 2015, tells that story.
Once summer arrives, the bed gets planted up again for the longer stretch of summer into fall. Each year, the bed displays a particular character, and this year is no exception.
Here’s what it looked like in 2011…
…and in 2014.
Sometimes the hardest aspect of planting up this bed is the fact that it is small and has a particular (paisley!) shape. So, what to focus on and how many plants to include for an interesting and aesthetically pleasing bed?
We’ve all been reading a lot about people from other parts of the planet, about whom I suspect we actually know little—especially about the plant life in their home towns, villages and cities and countryside. That gave me the idea of selecting plants that originated in Mexico and several nations with majority Muslim populations, as a way to offer a fresh perspective on countries that are very much in the news.
Summer is a very busy season in the garden, so when I had a chance to get to the Paisley Bed a week or so ago, I seized the opportunity to plant up my selection.
Mind you, many of them are plants that already grow at Wave Hill, in different spots and different combinations. So, many of them will be familiar to visitors, but I think you may be surprised to learn their origins. Some of the plants we depend on in our kitchen, for instance, hearken from another region of the world—tomatoes from Mexico, for instance.
You can expect the plantings in the bed, especially the castor bean plant and amaranth, to be several feet tall come fall. Enjoy the slow but sure transformation! In the meantime, the Perkins Visitor Center, just a few steps from the Paisley Bed, will soon be armed with lots of details, provided by our Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day, about the plants I finished putting in last night.
And here is Charles Day’s list of what is growing in the bed. As he puts it, “all plants are welcome here, regardless of their origins.” Each plant’s “country of origin” is listed at the end of the plant name. (Full disclosure: a couple of cultivar names are still missing)
Acmella (syn. Spilanthes) oleracea ‘Lemon Drop’ (Toothache Plant) – Brazil
Amaranthus caudatus ‘Green Cascade’ (Love-Lies-Bleeding) – South America
Amaranthus ‘Hot Biscuits’ (Amaranth) – Mexico & Central America
Amaranthus tricolor ‘Aurora’ (Joseph’s Coat) – Africa, SE Asia
Canna ‘Pacific Beauty’ (Canna) – Tropical Americas
Colocasia esculenta ‘Maui Gold’ (Elephant Ear) – SE Asia
Gomphrena cultivars (Amaranths) – Tropical Americas
Melica ciliata (Hairy Melic) – Europe, North Africa and Temperate Asia
Mirabilis jalapa ‘Limelight’ (Four O’clock Plant/Marvel of Peru) – Tropical South America
Phoenix dactylifera (Date Palm) – Middle East
Ricinus communis red-leaved cultivar (Castor Bean Plant) – North Africa to Middle East
Salvia microphylla ‘Free Speech’ (Ornamental Sage) – Mexico
Salvia oxyphora (Bolivian Sage) – Bolivia
Solanum quitoense (Naranjilla) – Colombia, Ecuador & Peru
Tagetes patula (French Marigold) – Mexico & Guatemala
Talinum paniculatum ‘Kingswood Gold’ (Jewels of Opar) – Mexico & Southern USA
Thunbergia alata ‘Alba’ (Black-eyed Susan Vine) – East Africa