If you're a plant nut like me, you'll see a plant in a magazine or at a nursery and it will literally stop you in your tracks. In extreme cases, it will start talking to you as well. "You can't live without me. I'm meant to be with you. Take me home."
This was the situation a few years ago when I first saw Persian Shield in an article about a rooftop garden in Boston. Its eye-popping, iridescent, long purple leaves with blue-ish lilac veins and stems had me from the get-go, but in the picture it was paired with a lime green-leafed underplanting. The effect was psychedelic, and I swore I'd find it and make my own mind-altering planting.
The next year there were none to be found anywhere, and the year after that I found one straggly leftover that promptly died as soon as I got it home. Then this year I hit the jackpot, finding some vibrant (and healthy) plants just a few blocks from home at Garden Fever. I picked up some companions for the three I grabbed, came home to put them in a large blue pottery planter and...voila!...the pot of my dreams!
Details: Persian Shield (strobilanthus); in the center is trachelium caeruleum "Deep Violet;" the white-flowered plant is Euphorbia "Diamond Frost;" the yellow-green underplanting is Golden Japanese Sedum (sedum makinoi "Ogon"). Garden Fever, 3433 NE 24th Ave. Phone 503-287-3200.