Endings and BEGINNINGS

Our alphabetical journey comes to a close.

ZEPHYRANTHES, RAIN LILIESJanus, the mythological Roman god whose profile faces left and right simultaneously, signifies endings and beginnings, including the year just past and the year to come.

We honor that graphic illustration with the ending of the alphabetical list of plants for the Lowcountry and the beginning of garden plans and prospects for 2008. Those who have gone the course during the just completed year will no doubt be pleased to come to its conclusion with letters W, X, Y and Z.

“W,” which introduces wisteria, dictates an emphatic no-no. It is urgently advised not to plant it anywhere on your property that you ever wish to reclaim as your own. It is violently aggressive and just as violently persistent when you try to root it out.

It will climb a tree if you turn your back and will quickly jump to the next tree and the next. Please enjoy its exquisite blooms on someone else’s property as you drive through the countryside in the Lowcountry springtime, where it adorns vacant lots and roadsides very prettily.

Weigela is a deciduous shrub with splendid masses of bloom, pink to red depending on cul-tivar, blooming late spring into summer. Easy to grow and tolerant of heat, drought, cold and poor soil, it reaches four to six feet high and four feet wide. Remember, however, that it is deciduous and site accordingly to blend into the landscape.

‘PROFUSION’ ZINNIASXanthosoma is better known and marketed as ‘Lime Zinger’ and it lives up to its name by making a splash in the landscape with large lime colored leaves. Though sometimes referred to as elephant ears because of its large leaves, it is not Colocasia but Xanthosoma. If that’s too big a mouthful, just ask for ‘Lime Zinger.’ It is a smaller and more compact plant than the average elephant ears and will enhance a shady area with its cheerful ultra-lime leaves.

A tropical plant, it will not survive a deep freeze but can be temporarily brought inside in a pot if threatened. In December of 2007, it was observed in good shape in a local garden Yarrow is well known, although seldom seen in Lowcountry gardens. It is worth a try, however, since recent cultivars on the market exhibit ever more exciting colors. ‘Gay Butterflies’ displays huge bloom heads of red, yellow and orange, while ‘Red Velvet’ sports six inch clusters of ruby red blossoms with cream centers. Yarrow is tolerant of heat, humidity, poor soil and drought and is attractive to butterflies, but not to deer.

Yucca grows well in the Lowcountry, tolerant of almost any garden condition and particularly effective in seaside plantings. It forms a handsome sculptural element for accent, particularly as a container centerpiece. Better not to choose the wickedly sharp and stiff points of Yucca aloifolia, aptly named Spanish Bayonet, but rather choose one with the elegant variegated blades of cultivars ‘Color Guard,’ ‘Golden Sword’ or ‘Gold Ribbons.’

XANTHOSOMA, ‘LIME ZINGER’Zephyranthes is a fancy name for the modest Rain Lily. It could be called “surprise lily” because it bursts into bloom when and where least expected and therein lies much of its charm. It is delicate and small, six to seven inches, and blooms in several exquisite pastel shades. New varieties bred in Indonesia lend an exotic blush of apricot, peach and copper tones, expressing a simple charm which no garden should be without.

What gardener has not grown zinnias? This old and familiar favorite has put on new clothes in recent years as cultivators have enhanced its virtues and developed new forms which emphasize mildew and disease resistance. Zinnia angustifolia is the proper name for this narrow-leaved plant and the best of this type on the market today is the ‘Profusion’ series. Its larger blooms appear in a variety of bright colors from white to pink, coral, cherry and even apricot tones. It loves full sun, growing to 15-18 inches high while virtually disease free. ‘Profusion Cherry’ was a 1999 All America Selection and ‘Profusion Orange’ and ‘Profusion White’ were 2001 All-America selection gold medalists.

Our alphabetical excursion down the garden path thus ends on a high note but our new beginnings will have to wait until next month. Happy catalogue browsing!