Sprigs and Shoots

DSC_0014In the spring, the morning walk with the dogs yields something new each day. The hellebores are in full bloom and require a worm's view to capture a picture as their flowers nod to the ground rather than the sky. DSC_0021Thick and sturdy shoots on the Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' have emerged this week. Not all hosta have such fat shoots. This is a large hosta and one which performs well each year. It has glaucous blue foliage which measures a good eight to ten inches across. AcerIn contrast, the small blooms of Acer shiraswanum 'Aureum' are worth a very close look. Delicate and colorful, they would go unnoticed by the less curious. From a distance, these flowers are virtually invisible. The walk by must be slow. There are many subtle blooms in spring. I have one shrub, Corylopsis pauciflora, the buttercup witchhazel, which is very stubborn. It does not share its flowers easily. Corylopsis paucifloraThis year there are two on this shrub which has been planted in the border for several years. I am on the edge of its hardiness zone so perhaps that is the reason for its sparsity. DSC_0077The undervalued and underused epimediums are starting to bloom. Dry shade is a challenge for any gardener but I don't see this plant in too many gardens that I visit. It has beautiful flowers and wonderful foliage. The flowers can be white through pink/red and yellow through orange. What a range of color. There is one called 'Orange Queen' which is on the must have list. DSC_0089This morning, sun was shining through the newly emerging leaves of the bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora. The foliage turns green as it matures but this bronzy hue warms up a cool spring morning. Every day is a new day in the spring garden. What is warming your soul in the garden this year?

Bush Hemp - Boehmeria platanifolia

BoehmeriaThe 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.  Bush Hemp.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. B. platanifolia or Bush HempThey 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. B. platanifoliaYes, red stems. Flowering in August, the blooms are along a spike or catkin. False NettleNothing 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?

Bloom Day - August 15, 2012

Sunny borderIt 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. Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'The Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' is quite large and stately and the little oregano, Oregano 'Kent Beauty'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.  Garden phlox - Phlox paniculataIt is fragrant and more vibrant than many of the self seeded phlox. CalaminthaCalamintha is small but has a profusion of flowers which add texture and contrast to the garden. Echinacea purpureaThe 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. Torenia 'Yellow Moon'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. Blue Morning GloryThere 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.

Perennial Combinations - Worth the Wait

Hemerocallis 'Magic Dawn'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. Monarda didyma 'Raspberry Wine'
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. Magic Dawn and monardaDreams realized are some of what gardening is all about for me. I think it was worth the wait. 

Hosta 'Ryan's Big One'

Ryan's Big One
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.  Hosta flowers
They are one of the earlier bloomers along with 'Sieboldiana Elegans' and 'Golden Tiara, and they are now in full bloom. Ryan's Big One flowersDoes 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.  Flower bud on RyanA 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. Hosta bud 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?    

Lavender Lace

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 blossomsDsc_0039 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. Dsc_0038 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?