Photo by Melody

The Investment Garden

By Carrie Lamont (carrielamontApril 16, 2010
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In today's sluggish economy, sometimes it feels like the safest thing to do with your hard-earned money is to bury it in the garden. But while stock funds are wilting, your garden can be thriving if you give it adequate water and plenty of horse manure! Read on to find out about some plants you can incorporate to figuratively "be in the money."

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 23, 2009.  We present it again today, as everyone recovers from yesterday's annual dreaded tax day.)

The economic news we hear is bad and worse.  Stock market prices are plummeting, small and large companies are going out of business and the future looks bleak.  It's a good thing we have our gardens to relax in, to restore our souls, revive our spirits, and rekindle our faith in nature, if not necessarily human nature.

To the right is the lovely hellebore 'Silver Dollar'.  Yes, not only is the foliage quite striking, with its silvery coloration, but this hellebore is part of what I call Investment Gardening, where the plants themselves bear names representing the "silver dollars" we've put into them.  Whether with "silver dollars," "gold coins," or simple "money plants," the plants in this article will show you how to make a mint, or at least enjoy a cup of mint tea.

 

 

If stock performances have got you concerned, you can always take the offensive and grow old-fashioned night-blooming stock right in your garden. There are many members of the Matthiola genus available to the home gardener, all paying rich dividends.  Scatter low-growing night-blooming or night-perfumed stock hither and yon in your garden where you will be able to inhale its heady fragrance in the evening. night-blooming stock
Garden stock, also known as gilly-flower, became popular in Europe during the Renaissance era as a cool weather annual.  It is now available in tall, dwarf, bushy or trailing forms and has diversified its color choices from the original pale lavender and white.  You can start it from seed or pick up some stock seedlings at a qualified nursery.  Incredible as it may seem, garden stock is a member of the cabbage family!  Under favorable circumstances, Matthiola species may self-seed, increasing your initial holdings many times over.
 garden stock, gillyflower
Another stock option worth considering is Virginia stock, or Malcolmia maritima. Like garden stock, above, it is a fragrant cool-weather annual. Sow seeds directly in late fall or early winter for flowers the next spring. PlantFiles reports indicate that Virginia stock will self-seed, eliminating the need for further upfront expenditures. Virginia Stock
   
 GOLD IN THE GARDEN:
 

Maybe you feel more comfortable converting your assets to gold bullion. Gardeners looking for 'Gold Bullion' are in luck: there are 'Gold Bullion' cultivars of Hosta, tall bearded Iris, hellebore, pumpkin and daylily, as well as the lovely Centaurea montana 'Gold Bullion' to the left, perhaps named for its chartreuse foliage.
 My personal favorite source for gold in my New England garden is "basket of gold" or "gold dust," both names for what I know as Alyssum saxatile but which others call Aurinia saxatilis.  A sweet-smelling, low-growing, fast-spreading perennial, suitable for rock gardens, basket of gold is easy to imagine cascading from your own personal banks.
 Mine goldFor tropical, indoor, or greenhouse gardeners, this orchid 'Mine Gold' is an endless source of good fortune.  Don't you need to "mine gold" to reap "gold dust" and "baskets of gold?"
 gold coin?Why not use some of your "gold dust" to mint Asteriscus maritimus, 'Compact Gold Coin', shown at left, a low-growing tender perennial (that's an annual for most of us, folks)?  This drought- and salt-tolerant groundcover is also known as Mediterranean Beach Daisy.  It is evergreen in USDA zones 9 to 12 and blooms in every month, providing you with constant gold coins!
  
 GARDENING WITH SILVER
 
 
With the commodities market as volatile as it is, silver is often considered a less expensive alternative to gold, although this 'Silver Dollar' Hellebore, also pictured in the thumbnail photo, retails for over $100 USD if you can even find a source.  (None is listed in PlantFiles, although I do know where you can obtain Helleborus 'Silvertooth.') flower of 'Silver Dollar' hellebore
Other types of  silver dollars are more readily available to the ordinary gardener.  "silver dollar" Eucalyptus, or florist's Eucalyptus, can make anybody feel like he or she has a toehold in the burgeoning worldwide commodities market, yet this silver dollar is available at any florist as cut foliage, or in an ordinary garden center in many parts of the country. 
 
This 'Silver Peso' tree, Sophora secundiflora, a cultivar of Texas mountain laurel, is quite similar to other warm zone 'Silver Dollar' plants except it has these lovely amethyst blooms, a striking dividend for a southwest gardener.  (Warning: please use caution when investing in foreign currencies.)
 'Silver Peso' plant
Even plants that don't look at all silver to me are given the name "silver dollar," such as this Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum peruvianum).  A very attractive small leaved plant, this fern can only be grown in tropical zones or indoors.  
Joyce Gladden discusses the money plant, Lunaria annua, in her article, Does Money Grow on Trees?  Lunaria annua's seed pods dry to appear like "silver dollars," and the purple and white blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  It is listed as perennial from zones 4-8. 
 Lunnaria annua
D I V E R S I F Y I N G 
 
Should you opt to invest in jewels instead of precious metals, please consider white diamonds, red rubies, and blue sapphires in addition to the standard gardener's emerald greens.  Take the lovely 'Blue Sapphire' Primula vulgaris, for instance.  A cultivar of the common primrose, it is nearly evergreen with bright blue fragrant double flowers arising in mid-spring to summer.
 royal blue rosettes over green foliage
Or the charming miniature African violet 'Optimara Little Diamond', should your tastes run to diamonds, traditionally the most valuable gemstone out there.  (In fact, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are rarer than diamonds, although they are not as hard.) Tiny blue-dusted white flowers over dark green foliage
How about investing in this stunning Paphiopedilum Ruby Leopard?
 Ruby-red glistening globe above leopard-spotted lower petals
For the traditionalists among us who feel safer sticking with emerald green, try Hosta 'Emerald Tiara', pictured to the right.  Like all Hostas, it is extremely hardy.  Or you could consider Hosta cultivars 'Emerald Gem', 'Emeralds and Diamonds', or even 'Easy Money'.
 Hosta 'Emerald Tiara'
  
Investment Gardening is thirsty work, so have your broker gardening friends join you in a tall, frosty glass of iced tea garnished with fresh mint.
 Mentha 'Kentucky Colonel Spearmint'Or you can follow Jill M. Nicolaus' recipe for mint juleps in this article.  Either way with your new knowledge, you won't spend a mint!
   

As always, I am indebted to the company of other investment gardeners, as my conservative outlay is extremely limited to-date.  (I do have a tiny new seedling of 'basket of gold;' with any luck it will become BASKETS OF GOLD!)

 

Photo credits go, with gratitude, to  alizajaafar, angihansen, av_ocd_girl, bonitin, CaptMicha, critterologist, dave, DaylilySLP, Happenstance, hczone6, IslandJim, Kell, LilyLover_UT, Mctavish, mgarr, palmbob, and PotEmUp.  Thank you.


  About Carrie Lamont  
Carrie LamontCarrie clicks on every link. She has been married for fourteen delightful years and has two beautiful daughters who are nearly grown-ups. Her husband plans to retire this fall with enough air travel benefits to fly Carrie nearly anywhere she wants to go. She lived in Texas for 2012-2014, but plans to move back to New England where she feels most at home. Carrie has a masters degree in Music, and hums to herself as she gardens. Follow her on Google.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
H. Silver Dollar killdawabbit 6 24 Apr 19, 2010 4:44 PM
Gold Standard Caedi25 1 9 Apr 18, 2010 10:56 AM
Silver Dust Delightful_Dawn 3 15 Apr 17, 2010 10:49 AM
silver dichondra? soive2000 1 12 Jun 29, 2009 3:49 PM
Loved your Investment Garden article! natalie4b 1 6 Jun 29, 2009 1:33 PM
Gem of an Article! Petalpants 1 8 Jun 25, 2009 1:51 PM
Great Article phicks 0 5 Jun 23, 2009 7:35 PM
Advice worth millions Hemophobic 5 28 Jun 23, 2009 7:11 PM
Wondeful Article judycooksey 1 10 Jun 23, 2009 3:47 PM
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