“My love for plants started at a very early age in my grandfather’s garden. It was such a joy to plant different vegetables and watch them grow as I spent hour upon hour bonding with my late grandfather. As the years progressed, I found myself working in a plant nursery where I was exposed to a myriad of plants that allowed my love of plants to blossom (pun intended) into what it is today.”
In the first of a new series, enthusiast Cody Worden lets us into his private gardening world, and chooses his 10 favourite plants:
“My passion belongs to succulents, and I now have a small, packed greenhouse where I keep my plants. I’ve exhibited at the Philadelphia Flower Show since 2011 and have won numerous ribbons. I also won the Far Out Cactus trophy in 2013 . All in all, plants are my life and I love it! Here are my ‘Golden 10’!
1. Narcissus viridiflorus
This autumn-blooming daffodil holds a special place in my heart. Given to me by my good friend Ray Rogers, I can still remember the first time I saw it, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
The small and fragrant green flowers are a thing of beauty. Slender stalks and a few leaves dance in a cloud above the growth. A rarity that is most definitely worth growing !
These are the gems of the succulent world, a must for any succulent collection. Dense, packed, almost geometric growth shines like jewels. They go semi-dormant in the summertime, so cut back watering at that time. They’re one of my favourites and if you’re lucky enough to get a rare variegated form, it’s a joy to grow.
3. Sinningia leucotricha
Few plants possess such a mysterious name like Queen of The Abyss! They are Brazilian and are fairly easy to grow though. Plants go completely dormant and will lose all their leaves, so don’t worry that you killed it! This is normal.
As the weather starts to cool off from summer you will start to see new growth. Fuzzy, furry leaves emerge from the round above ground tuber. Coral coloured tubular flowers seem to float above the silver leaves.
4. Agave victoriae-reginae
This dwarf form of this stunning agave is my favourite and the oldest plant in my collection. I’ve divided numerous pups off of it and have shared the love. This specimen has been in my possession for over a decade. Whenever I have someone over to the greenhouse this is the agave that takes their breath away. An important tip for agaves is that they need tons of water in the summer, they will drink it up!
5. Haemanthus albiflos
This odd bulb is quite the beauty! Also known as paintbrush flower, Haemanthus is fairly easy to grow. Smooth leaves decorated with furry edges are accented with stalky, long stems with white and yellow flowers. Happiest forming tight clumps of bulbs they make a dazzling display.
Also known as Living Stones, or mimicry plants. Lithops can be a little tricky. I’ve found the easiest way to care for them is to literally not water them for a few months. During this time, the Lithops sucks the life (energy) out of the old growth. Then, after this occurs it’s ok to commence watering again. If all goes well you are rewarded with stunningly beautiful aster like blooms. Truly magical when this happens in the autumn.
7. Nerium oleander ‘Variegatum’
Mostly used down in southern USA as landscaping plants, oleander are gorgeous when grown in bright light. With regular watering and abundance of white or pink pastel flowers will be produced, and this variegated one is super special! Just keep in mind it is poisonous, so keep it away from pets and small children. In a safe spot, you will be rewarded with sweet scented flowers.
This sharp selection of cacti are always a standout in my greenhouse! Especially beautiful when wet, their spines become a beautiful shades of carmine. Keep in mind that the spines are very sharp and can hurt if you’re pricked. But, I would say just a few like I have are ideal and a necessary addition to your cacti and succulent collection
Everyone knows it, everyone has seen it, but, there’s so much more to the genus aloe than Aloe vera..! A whole world of beautifully coloured hybrids and flowers is right at your finger tips. The flowers are usually a bright orange. To keep Aloe happy somewhat regular watering is needed. One of my favourites is Aloe ‘Christmas Sleigh’.
10. Lophocereus schottii f. monstrosus
One of the newer species to me, and definitely odd, is Lophocereus schottii f. monstrosus. It has a crazy twisted, contorted form. Relatively easy to care for, with bright light and a few sips of water here and there. I got mine from an old succulent collector, and I love it!
Check out Cody’s plant world on Instagram!
Goodness! How amusing. Oleander?! Seriously?! They are freeway plants here. I got quite a bit of flack because I enjoyed my single white oleander so much and made it into a small patio tree where I lived in town. It was there when I moved in, and my colleagues could not believe that I did not cut it down and replace it with something more interesting, like a Japanese maple (which I loathe by the way – that is another topic.) Lithops are cool because they look like . . . they do, and then suddenly put out that unexpected flower! Surprise! Except for the oleander, your favorites are so exotic and weird! They are certainly more fun than my favorites. That narcissus is totally weird!