Mammillaria Luethyi

Sometimes we don't love or even like a plant at first, but our feelings change as we learn about it or as it struts its stuff. I acquired this specimen a few years ago from a friend who had second thoughts about it.

I was happy to add the speckled lump on a spiny stick to my collection, but it didn't immediately displace anything from my Top 10 list. A few visits to cactus-related Web sites made me realize I had something very choice, and when Lumpstick dramatically took center stage this spring, I was in love.

Mammillaria luethyi could serve as a poster plant for conservation, since it is known to grow naturally in only two small areas of the Mexican state of Coahuila, where it clings to limestone outcrops. For several years those locales were the closely guarded secret of two intrepid plant explorers who rediscovered this species in 1996.

This treasure adapts well to cultivation if grafted onto a more vigorous relative. For a few days in spring the dense crown is nearly obscured by vivid magenta and white flowers. A medium of equal parts potting mix and a porous product like pumice, tur-face or perlite will keep it happy, in a sunny or brightly lit area. Water frequently in warm weather and sparingly when dormant (generally october to March).

You won't find this gem for sale in a box store, and many specialty nurseries don't offer it—yet. Not a plant for the garden, but as part of a collection or on a dining table (especially in bloom), it will steal the show, and maybe your heart.—RAY ROGERS

books

Hot Off the Press

Some of the best new books on garden design offer a fascinating variety of perspectives—and make wonderful gifts during this holiday season. Here are a few that deserve a place in any avid gardener's library.—VIRGINIA SMALL

  • Sydney Eddison's Gardens to Go: Creating and Maintaining a Container Garden (Bullfinch Press, 2005, $35) offers practical advice and inspiring design strategies for transforming potted plants into a garden. Steve Silk's stunning photographs show plantings in sun and shade, on rooftops, decks and terraces. Eddison,a veteran gardener and captivating storyteller, illumines eight gardeners' intentions, struggles and achievements as they design movable feasts for the eyes.
  • The Abundant Garden:A Celebration of Color,Texture, and Blooms by Barbara J. Denk and Debra Prinzing (Cool Springs Press,

2005, $29.99) goes beyond merely featuring nine lush Pacific Northwest gardens; it explains the design principles that inform each space. Prinzing's text alternates between describing these personal Edens and sharing insights into how other gardeners can achieve similar results. Denk's images include breathtaking wide views and intimate details.

■ Here's a self-help book for gardeners who cart home too many "gotta-have" plants. Roger Turner's Design in the Plant Collec

Mammillaria Luethyi

tor's Garden: From Chaos to Beauty (Timber Press, 2005, $34.95) reveals how to tame a hodgepodge of plants into a cohesive garden.A British landscape designer and self-avowed "plantaholic,"Turner addresses issues such as "to plan or not to plan," broad-brush versus nitty-gritty strategies and using a variety of plants.

  • Just released, Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury (Timber Press, 2005, $34.95) takes a plant-centered, ecological approach to designing gardens, with an emphasis on using high-performing perennials to create all-season interest. The book includes site plans, lists of plants for specific effects and advice on planning for easy maintenance.The photos make a compelling case for design that celebrates subtlety.
  • Page Dickey's Gardens in the Spirit of Place (Stewart,Tabori & Chang, 2005, $35)

showcases 14 American gardens created in response to their surroundings. Dickey paints vivid portraits of passionate, imaginative gardeners who rely on regional plants and materials. Photos by John M. Hall aptly communicate varying moods, from rural sites to seaside and woodland gardens.

can't get enough? Other recent books to put on your shopping list are:

  • Plantworlds by regular Garden Design photographerAndrea Jones.This is a feast of dramatic plant portraits like the one at left of perilla.(Damiani Editore,2005, $75)
  • English Gardens in the Twentieth Century by Tim Richardson (Aurum Press, 2005, $65).

november / december 200 5

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor — charles baudelaire

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Kauai: The Garden Isle

For gardeners seeking escape from their frozen winter gardens, the Hawaiian Islands are hard to beat. A fantastic variety of plants and animals evolved here, most of them found nowhere else. As people from around the world moved to the islands, they brought an array of plants, many of which thrived in this tropical paradise. Kauai, with its steep cliffs, lush valleys, abundant rainfall and rich volcanic soil, is the oldest of the islands. Called the Garden Isle, Kauai is home to four fascinating public gardens.

Na'Aina Kai Botanical Garden, Sculpture Park and Hardwood Plantation is Kauai's newest, a 240-acre paradise with 13 gardens including a hedge maze, children's garden and desert garden, as well as a koi-filled lagoon, hardwood forest, secluded white-sand beach and one of the largest collections of bronze sculptures in the United States. Founded and designed by Joyce and Ed Doty, Na 'Aina Kai offers the fragrance of the pink and white show-

Potting Shed FlowersTaro Terraces
Above: Rock terraces at Limahuli Garden where taro was cultivated by early settlers. Left to right: Bronze Hula Man by Robert Shure at Na 'Aina Kai; red flowers of torch ginger (Etlingera ela-tior); Diana sculpture at Allerton Garden.

er tree (Cassia javanica), the melodious song of the Chinese laughing thrush and the surreal blossoms of the blue-jade vine.

Three gardens are under the umbrella of the NationalTropical Botanical Garden. Each has its own unique signature, but all share NTBG's mission of "conserving tropical plant diversity, particularly rare and endangered species."The formal Allerton Garden, a showpiece of landscape architecture incorporating hilly contours, flowing water and old stone walls, was designed by Chicago philanthropist Robert Allerton and his son, beginning in 1937. Curtains of crimson bougainvillea cloak the bluffs, contrasting with shades of green below. A series of outdoor rooms provides dramatic settings for sculptures like the Roman goddess Diana presiding over her reflecting pool.

The adjoining McBryde Garden boasts the largest ex situ collection of native Hawaiian plants worldwide. Starting near the ocean, it extends along the Lawai stream to a waterfall high in the valley. Pathways lead past plantings of pritchardia, a palm native to Hawaii, and yellow hibiscus, the state flower. A bamboo bridge crosses the stream, where Hawaiian gallinules, endangered birds with red bills and feet, dabble.

Beyond the last bridge on Kauai's north shore lies Limahuli Garden,an otherworldly place perched on a steep hillside surrounded by crenellated cliffs of lush greenery.The focus here is on cultural plants of the indigenous Hawaiian people.The < grandmother of NTBG director Chipper AP Wichman donated the property where early ET H settlers once cultivated taro on ancient rock GAR terraces.—margaret a. haapoja i

november / december 200 5

Hawaii is paradise born of fire — rand mcnally

Mammillaria Luethyi

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