The Search Begins. Again and Again.

The Search Begins. Again and Again.

Bob Hill, one-time Garden Rant partner, has been scratching his head. Finding the right place for new plants often turns into a magical adventure—again.

Mid-May planting fever. Eight already full acres and an old golf cart from which to explore. Where to put what? Again. There is no path least taken. They’ve all been taken.


So, the search begins.


The easy one first. The Astilbe goes next to the Heuchera. Both are shade lovers with red flowers and will offer “Welcome home” kisses along the driveway.

The low-flowing Calamintha with the white flowers and funky smell? Sure. Plant in matching pots by the side door and walkway so you can squeeze the foliage and rub your fingers under your nose while walking past.



The new lady on the block, Hosta ‘Empress Wu’, she who wants to preside over the garden in a six-foot flowing green robe. Let’s hold off on her. She gets a royal shaded throne all her own, hence to be loved and admired by her grateful subjects.

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’.

What’s this? The golf cart just hit 50 miles of circular site searching and still one task remains: The large, tropical firecracker plant with the absurd commercial Proven Winners name: Vermillionaire®.

Who thinks up that stuff?

With its screaming orange tubular flowers, Cuphea Vermillionaire® is promoted as a hummingbird magnet. I can just see them darting in and out; flying beaks with invisible wings performing delicate ballet.

The firecracker plant, Cuphea Vermillionaire.

I want to watch the hummers. I need to watch the hummers. This plant goes in a blue pot on a marble bench in bright sunlight just behind the tall anemone – not that the feisty hummers care about protection.

Or me.

But I can sit on another bench across the way and watch the flying circus. There’s more shade over there. A good place to think about the next planting.


Former Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Bob Hill wrote more than 4,000 columns and feature stories, about ten books and several angry letters to bill collectors in his 33 years at the paper. He and his wife, Janet, are former guides and caretakers of Hidden Hill Nursery and Garden in Utica, IN., a home-made, eight-acre arboretum, art mecca and source of enormous fun, whimsy, rare plants and peace for all who showed up. Bob’s academic honors include being the tallest kid in his class 12 years in a row. 

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