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Q. How do you know you when you’ve crossed the line and officially become a plant collector, rather than “just” a gardener?

A. When you buy a plant just because it’s so darn bizarre and the words written to describe it, “truly a plant magnet for the plantaholic,” seem to insist you must, simply must, have it.

Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Laciniata’ has been on my radar for a while now. I’ve always regarded it as a peculiarity. Interesting – but not something I “needed.” However there I was, at a plant sale, not looking for anything in particular when I spotted a nice looking little specimen. Then I read what our plant lust nursery partners had to say about it and – just like that – it jumped into my arms!
Aesculus hippocastanum 'Laciniata' 1

From Dancing Oaks Nursery: “Truly a plant magnet for the plantaholic, this spidery leaved form of the Horse Chestnut is a real oddity. Slow growing, but can get large over time.”
Aesculus hippocastanum 'Laciniata' 3

And this one, from Garden World, added fuel to the fire…”Rare and slow growing cultivar of the native Oregon horsechestnut. Shaggy serrated leaves and dissected to the base and have a very unique look. Although it grows very slow, and appears to be dwarf, very little is known about this plant.”
Aesculus hippocastanum 'Laciniata' 4

Of course I concentrated on the descriptions that used the words: “A slow grower” “A good container plant” “extremely slow in containers.” Rather than: “can get large over time” It makes a handsome tree in a larger setting” or “always beautiful large flowering tree.” We hear what we let ourselves hear, right?

The only in-the-ground specimen I’ve seen is this one growing at Rare Plant Research in Oregon City, OR. That’s it over on the far side of the moat, next to the walkway…
RPR14 Aesculus hippocastanum 'Laciniata'

Which is where my friend Peter took this nice close-up photo (my camera managed the ones above, but just couldn’t quite get the detail his did – thanks Peter!).
Peter's photo

I’m linking to Foliage Follow-up with this post, a blogger’s meme celebrated on the 16th of every month and hosted by Pam on her blog Digging. So often gardeners focus on flowers, but the foliage is why I bought this particular plant (and so many others). So what about you? Do you accept the collector label gladly? Or are you avoiding any gardening behaviors which might push you towards that end of the spectrum?