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Gardeners love new plants even when they run out of space for them

No more space for plants in the yard? That doesn't stop a gardener from drooling over rare and new shrubs and trees.

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The Helenium variety Mardi Gras has been in bloom at New Jersey's Fairweather Gardens from May through September.

Washington Post photo by Adrian Higgins.

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If you garden in one place long enough, you eventually run out of room to plant new goodies. This is a problem when you visit a nursery of rare and choice plants. Your eyes are bigger than your real estate.

I now have three superb shrubs in pots, a witch hazel, an edgeworthia and a magnolia, and I'm not sure where I will put them. This quandary runs counter to all my sanctimonious advice over the years, but that's what I get for traveling to Fairweather Gardens, a boutique nursery in Greenwich, a coastal town in South Jersey.

"Gardeners live for novelty," says Robert Popham, who opened the enterprise with Robert Hoffman in 1992. Since then, business has flourished as the mail-order nursery's reputation for unusual plants has spread.

My new magnolia is the Oyama magnolia (), which has been around for decades but deserves a lot more attention and use. It is a large deciduous shrub that needs a bit of shade and will eventually grow to about 15 feet tall and wide.

The flowers appear in June and are sublime: snow-white petals surrounding a showy center of rose-red stamens. The blooms hang down and are sweetly fragrant. This shrub would make a perfect alternative to the overused big rhododendrons and, being deciduous, would spare you the spectacle of wilting leaves in freezing weather.

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