I love finding inspiration from other people’s searches on plant lust. I’ll admit, I’m a little set in my ways in my garden, and sometimes doubt I’m going to be swayed by popular opinion. But I’m always pleasantly surprised at what jumps out at me and right onto my wish list. It shakes me out of my comfort zone and gets me checking out plants I otherwise would have overlooked.
This summer, our most popular search term was big flowers. Normally when I daydream about plants, big leaves come to mind, but I can get behind a big flower craze. Come to think of it, one of the most memorable plants I saw in a friend’s garden this spring was an unnamed peony with a plentiful crop of monstrous of a peach-ish-brownish flowers. Even a foliage lover like me couldn’t help but see the charm.
What the heck was I thinking, not planting any Brugmansia this year when rebooting the garden? They’re quick, easy, long blooming, fragrant, high-drama plants. Variegated or not, all have are profusely covered in dangling flowers, from milky white, like the photo of Brugmansia x candida [Double White] at the top of the post by Karl Gercens III, to shades of gold, pink, and peach. They’ll easily cover an unsightly garden bald spot in a single season.
Ditto on the Datura. Such a great no-brainer. Easy, dramatic, fragrant, fast, prolific, with big upward facing trumpet shaped flowers that perfume the night garden. They’re on my urgently-must-have list now.
“If you like your flowers ‘a little on the tacky side,’ you need this new mallow!”
– Plant Delights
Don’t you just love a well written plant description? I feel like this sums up the big flowering hibiscus group quite nicely. Sometimes I do like my flowers a little on the tacky side. When they’re 8, 10, 12 inches wide, they may as well be bold and bright.
Tree peonies in my mind, are perfection in big flowers. Crinkly, fluttery, impossibly delicate looking flowers the size of a dinner plate, with gorgeous narrow glaucous foliage that’s good to look at when the far too fleeting flowers have come and gone. Nearly single or fully double, in shades of white, cream, gold, yellow, pink, peach, and deep wine, in single colors or a painterly combination. There is so much to love about them, if you’ve got a few years of patience to wait for them to start putting on the most spectacular show.
There are also a few big-flowering Clematis that earn a spot on the list if you’re looking for 6-8″ flowers.
Magnolias are the spiritual opposite of the tacky flower. Classic, and elegant.
I wish I knew whether people were looking for “what are some cool plants with big flowers” or “what’s that big flower I saw?” Have you ever noticed whenever you’re near an Allium schubertii, someone will ask “WHAT is THAT???” Especially when it has faded to buff. I have never grown them but must remedy that soon.
And I cannot help but mention some favorites in the oddball category. They may not be common or easy to come by, but they definitely stop traffic.
And finally, honorable mention goes to Furcraea longaeva, which, according to Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, holds the record for tallest recorded flowering inflorescence, topping out at over 40 feet. Now that is a big flower.