The common name for Boehmeria platanifolia is Female Bush Hemp or False Nettle. That first title should elicit quite a few search results but it is a rather unfortunate name for an interesting perennial. This perennial is an understudy, no show girl here, but it does have unique features which give it character which can benefit any shade border in Zones 4 - 8. Anyone can plant a hosta but it takes a true plant lover to search out the unusual. False Nettle or Bush Hemp will satisfy the most discerning plantsman. A member of the Urticaceae or nettle family, it grows four feet tall by four feet wide (so far). This plant has large leaves, up to six inches across. They have a bit of a sycamore shape to them, hence the species name, but with oh, so much more interest. The edges are serrated and they are borne opposite one another along the red stems. Yes, red stems. Flowering in August, the blooms are along a spike or catkin. Nothing so common here as an ordinary aster like flower. This plant will tolerate shade. It has not blinked during the dry, hot spells of this summer although a bit of compost added to the soil has probably helped retain moisture. False nettle may be overlooked by some of your garden tourists but true plant geeks will certainly notice this beauty. This plant hails from Japan, Korea and China and grows along the forest edge. I will work to plant something a bit more interesting at its feet. The rounded leaves would look great with a sedge or carex. Have you heard of Boehmeria? If so, what is your experience with this plant? If not, would you consider giving it a spot in your shady border?
It is Bloom Day once again and there is a wealth of color here this year. August always makes me realize the value of annual flowers in beds and borders. The perennials blooming in August don't carry the show quite as well as those of June. I love the blue of these petunias which do require a bit of deadheading but then how else does a gardener acquire a green thumb? I was generous with planting annuals this year since there was a garden tour here in June. I have found that it doesn't pay to be stingy with the annuals if you do want a good play of late color. Of course there are perennials blooming as well. The Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' is quite large and stately and the little oregano, Origanum rotundifolium 'Kent Beauty' is subtle but interesting. Phlox is in color at the moment and this one has re-seeded in solid purple from the original 'Laura' which has a white eye. It is fragrant and more vibrant than many of the self seeded phlox. Calamintha is small but has a profusion of flowers which add texture and contrast to the garden. The coneflowers are blooming in abundance with tattered flowers on the same stalk as the fresh newly opened blooms. Time to deadhead. Deadheading is really the name of the game in August to keep colors fresh. I tried this new torenia in Lady Athena's crown and I am quite pleased with its performance. Such a shallow container requires quite a bit of watering and this torenia sulks a bit to let me know I have been ignoring this task. There is nothing quite as heavenly as the clear blue of the morning glory. The color is breathtaking in the morning light. I have sometimes forgotten to plant some of these but not this year. I hope you remembered to plant some as well. So, what is blooming in your garden? I do hope to visit and see for myself. Many thanks to Carol of May Dreams for hosting yet another installment of Bloom Day. Click on over to say hello to her and visit gardens from across the world on Bloom Day.
As a perennial gardener I am used to waiting for plants to reach their perfect size with an abundance of blooms. Sometimes combinations made in the garden just don't work for one reason or another. Either one plant flowers a bit too early, too late, or it doesn't flower at all. At other times, the colors are off just a bit for complementing one another. I planted Hemerocallis 'Magic Dawn' with Monarda didyma 'Raspberry Wine' years ago.
In past years, they flowered at different times or one flowered and the other slept. They are both in a bit too much shade but they do flower and this year, together. Dreams realized are some of what gardening is all about for me. I think it was worth the wait.
The hostas are starting to bloom. This one is named 'Ryan's Big One' and the leaves are a good eight inches across. The whole plant spreads four feet wide and this one is taking over the entry garden. It commands attention and, as you can see, the leaves need a bit of cleaning. They are large enough to catch the mower bits and any falling leaves from above.
They are one of the earlier bloomers along with 'Sieboldiana Elegans' and 'Golden Tiara, and they are now in full bloom. Does anyone really plant hosta for blooms? Perhaps 'Royal Standard' which blooms very late and has very fragrant blooms but for this gardener, the blooms of most hostas are snipped off rather quickly as they bloom from the bottom to the top and by the time the top flowers open, the bottom flowers are brown and rather ugly. A hosta in bud is another story. The buds rise from the scape eventually clearing the edge of the leaves and the flower spike starts as a star shaped cluster. I find the clusters fascinating as does this little spider. They catch the rain and their architecture is an example, to me, of nature's perfection. Do you snip off the flowers of hosta plants or do you plant them specifically for the flowers?
High 83 F
Low 55 F
In the garden there are those perennials which are standouts with no need to elbow their way front and center. Perennials such as peonies and phlox always catch ones' eye with their big, showy flowers and subtle fragrance but a garden made up of only the 'showgirls' would be sensory overload for those of us who enjoy the subtlety of fine foliage, delicate stippling and gem sized flowers. I have not met a garden connoisseur or even a basic plant lover who favors the wild abundance of vivid annuals to the elegance of a well planned perennial garden. I think there are many more of the 'understudies' playing their roles to perfection and adding charm and interest to the border than the 'showgirls'. That is the way it has to be. Too many stars will spoil the show. One such plant is meadow rue or Thalictrum rochebruneanum 'Lavender Mist'. Mist it is as it raises its' tiny but perfect blossoms up over its' delicately textured, mounding leaves on wiry but sturdy stems. The plants in my garden have been more vigorous in past years and should probably be lifted, divided and given a fresh bath of compost. I think this plant looks better in good sized groupings to enhance the veil like effect of its' airborne flowers and I must add some more to this planting. This Thalictrum is native to Japan and mine flowers fairly well in high canopy shade. The foliage is somewhat like that of columbine which is also in the Ranunculaceae family although I have yet to see leaf miner damage, which seems to be standard on columbine leaves, on the leaves of this plant. Another big advantage to growing this meadow rue is that it is blooming right now in the garden which is a bit later than the phlox but before the colorful asters and sneeze weeds come into bloom. It is airy and ethereal and a great addition to the border. Are any of you having success with this or other species of meadow rue?
High Too early to tell
Low 63 F
Green is always a good topic for conversation in the garden blog world and Emma, over at IndyBlogs, has suggested green for a post. In the midst of the July borders, where color is the highlight, green is the soothing backdrop. It is interesting to note how many heart shaped leaves there are in the garden. The Dutchman's Pipe, a vine which seems to be taking over the fence and border (don't plant it!), has a flat, dull surface but it is now a green wall providing privacy on the wire fence in the corner of the pool garden. I believe that this is Aristolochia tomentosa and, be forewarned, it travels everywhere. If it were not for its' invasive nature, I would be a bit more of a fan! The vegetable garden has is predominantly green right now with bits of bright calendula adding contrast. Who doesn't love the promising green of tomatoes growing lushly in their wire cages? Zeus is looking quite 'manly' with his crown of sempervivum sporting a tumescent flower stalk which is predominantly green. I didn't actually think of this effect when I planted him but it makes me chuckle every time I see him. The evergreens such as this Pinus strobus 'Soft Touch' and the Larix decidua 'Pendula' are sporting their new shades of green of the emerging new growth. The hostas are a wealth of green shades and I never tire of the streaks and stripes on their leaves. Forsythia are a welcome sight in springtime but their yellow glory fades as the season progresses. This forsythia, however, Forsythia 'Fiesta', is one well worth having in the mixed border for its' cheerful variegation, cherry red stems, and demur habit. The bleeding hearts have long faded but their foliage still remains and holds the dew drops nicely. The gold leaf Catalpa tree which is cut back to the main trunk every spring generates a sumptuously tropical looking green/gold leaf. It is a punctuation in the back border where green predominates. On the first of July, the borders are reaching a peak of color but green, green can be subtly exciting don't you think?