After more than 52 years, Master Gardener Ed Hume wrapped up his weekly show Gardening in America this past weekend. We decided to have some fun with him and his longtime pal Ciscoe Morris!

Too fun playing 'My Plant is Cooler Than Your Plant with my favorite NW Garden Icon Ed Hume! Every gardener has their favorite plants, and Ed Hume and I are no exception. The problem is trying to limit our choices to under 40 favorites. Here's the favorites I brought to see if I can find cooler ones than Ed's choices. I admit it's going to be tough to beat Ed at this game!

Ciscoe's cool plant choices:

  • Gentiana asclepiadea (Willow Gentian): One of the coolest late summer blooming plants for the shade garden with lots of stems in a circular arching vase shape with gorgeous blue trumpet flowers with white strips within. Hummingbirds are absolutely gaga over the flowers! Likes a moist rich soil in bright shade. I found this plant at Far Reaches Farm Nursery in Port Townsend. They also do mail order!
  • Coprosma petriel (Slug Egg Plant): hardy little ground cover from New Zealand that thrives in full-sun. Gets little fruits that look like slug eggs. What could be cooler than that. Stays only 2 inches tall, but can spread to 24 inches wide. Also found at Far Reaches Farm.
  • Pilosodereus pachycereus (Blue Cactus): This Brazilian species has a branched form and flowers at night: it is most known, however, for its lovely bright blue skin, which is complemented by its bright yellow spines.Pilosocereus cacti are mostly shrubby or tree-like, and have blue skin. Their flowers are shaped like tubes and also often blue, and they grow fleshy fruits. Their name derives from the Latin for “hairy cereus” because of their spiny aureoles, many of which have golden spines. This cactus likes weekly watering in summer and like all cactus loves full-sun. The only problem is that this cactus can't take cold. In winter bring it into the house as a house plant, keep it in a sunny location and water very sparingly. I found this at Swanson's nursery.
  • Cedrus libani subsp. brevifolia ‘Kenwith’ (Kenwith Dwarf Lebanon Cedar): This incredible dwarf tree has a natural full-sized tree form in a tiny package. Small rich green needles are in perfect scale to the short erect branches. A slight inward curve to the branches give the plant some added interest. An exceptional conifer for container plantings where a miniature landscape is the goal. Selected 2012 Collector’s Conifer of the Year by the American Conifer Society. Takes years to exceed 2 feet tall, hardy to -10 degrees it's one of the most attractive conifers I've ever grown. Swanson's.
  • Roscoea is a genus of perennial plants of the family Zingiberaceae (the ginger family) native to mountainous regions of the Himalayas, China and its southern neighbours. Roscoea flowers superficially resemble orchids, although they are not related. The flowers of Roscoea have a complicated structure, in which some of the showy coloured parts are not formed by petals, but by staminodes, sterile stamens which have evolved to become like petals. They are slow to come up, but once they begin producing flowers they just keeps doing it for weeks. Prefer light shade or morning sun.

A couple of Ed's plant picks:

  • Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream' (Golf Stream Heavenly Bamboo). Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream' is one of the best compact shrubs for year-round foliage interest. It features a variety of leaf colors on a fairly dense, evergreen plant. New growth is bronze with orange tints. Older leaves range from blue-green to gold and red. GPP member Richie Steffen recommends it for its great red- and orange-toned winter color. 'Gulf Stream' is a tough plant, tolerant of urban conditions. Unlike other heavenly bamboos, it is bushy and compact, reaching only 2.5 to 3 feet high. It makes a fine informal hedge or can be used as a foundation planting. It can also be used in containers or in the mixed border.
  • Chrysanthemum ptarmicvflorum (Dusty Miller): Velvety, silver-gray foliage is the hallmark of Dusty Miller. While it will produce blooms, many gardeners pinch off flowers to encourage leaf production. The silver-gray tone pops against the bright green foliage offered by many other annuals. Use this plant in containers and landscapes, paired with red or yellow flowers for high contrast, or with purple or blue flowers for a subtler look. Very easy to grow.

Hey, I hope my plants were better than Ed's, but knowing him as well as I do, we'll both be heading to a nursery right after the show to hunt for the plants each of us showed!

Good gardening!