(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.|
|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.|
|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.|
| GOLD IN THE GARDEN:|
|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.|
|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.)|
|How about investing in this stunning Paphiopedilum Ruby Leopard?|
|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'.|
|Investment Gardening is thirsty work, so have your ||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.