Normal spires become flattened, enlarged and curly
Veronicastratum virginicum. Did I grow this once upon a time? Clearly this is a plant that neither won me over nor turned me off although it is a stately perennial when in bloom. I did find an admirable one out on a walk recently and another displaying an interesting plant “oops” called fasciation. Read more »
Whopping, unnaturally blue balls of flowers – that’s what I thought a hydrangea was when I was a child in Georgia. It wasn’t until I grew up and started to garden that I learned that there were many, many kinds of hydrangeas from the small (3′x3′ ‘H. macrophylla ‘Pia’) to the gigantic (12′x12′ H. aspera). One is even a vine. Some hydrangeas whop you upside the head with the color of the size of the inflorescences; others are subtle in both color and form. Hydrangeas are not 4 season beauties but they are one of the few shrubs that bloom mid-summer to fall and are well worth growing in my book. Read more »
July 5, 2013
Koelreuteria paniculata, aka the golden rain tree – the more I watch this tree through the seasons, the better I like it. Here it is in bountiful bloom - in July – one of the rare summer-blooming trees to be found. Add nice form, fabulous fall color, salmon pink leaves in the spring that are like a seasonal bloom in themselves, manageable size and nice bark and you’ve got one great tree. The single potential flaw for this tree are the large brown seedpods which I actually find interesting (unlike those of the similarly named golden chain tree, Laburnum anagyroides). This is a tree that should definitely be on Seattle city dweller’s short list. Read more »
WIld self-sowers around the edges (some edible) and a tidier mid-section.
Vegetable gardens are usually perceived to be tidy places – carrots and lettuces lined up in rows, tomatoes confined to their cages and beans climbing sedately up their tepees. Reality is often toppled tepees, tomatoes oozing over cages and flowing along the ground and unthinned carrots and lettuces that are a carpet of spindly plants. Maintaining a tidy vegetable garden is work. Indeterminate tomatoes can put on 8′ of growth and we hope to contain them in 3′ high cages? Fat chance. So you can plan your garden to minimize the chaos, embrace the wildness or some combo thereof. Read more »
If you buy a plant this time of year, don’t be surprised if it is rootbound. Okay, never be surprised if a plant is rootbound. Now, in an ideal world, you shouldn’t buy a rootbound plant, or let them sit around your yard so long that they become rootbound, but both things happen. Before buying a plant, slide it out of the pot at the nursery to check just how rootbound it is. At least that way you know you’re getting. Read more »
A. sphaerocephalon with Sedum (pale green) and a penstemon (possibly ‘Blackbird’) with matching blooms
Maroon balls on sticks definitely liven up the garden. Often mixed plantings meld into one big mish-mash so you need plants that will stop the eye. The balls of Allium sphaerocephalon, the drumstick allium, dancing among other plants definitely get your attention – adding interest, even whimsy to the garden. Read more »
Come July the hummingbirds in my yard add regular visits to the brick red flowers of Lobelia tupa. Perhaps they, like the Andean natives who smoked it, derive some narcotic or analgesic benefits*, or perhaps it just has tasty nectar. Whatever the reason, the hummers seem particularly fond of L. tupa. Read more »
Sempervivums, with a few sedums
I love hens and chicks. Although the plant certainly bears no resemblance to a fowl of any sort, it does tell you about the way the plant grows. A central hen lays a small chick beside it. Read more »
Here’s Sisyrinchium striatum, still blooming a month after my last post (at which time it had been blooming for at least several weeks). Alas, a bad case of the flops has attacked it. It could have been the surprisingly strong rainstorm we had that morning or perhaps S. striatum just tends to the flopsy. If you have a perennial that flops, or splays open and it hasn’t been divided in a few years, try dividing it. That may help it maintain good posture for a year or two.
Kinnikinnick aka Arctostaphylos uva-ursi aka bearberry is an evergreen, drought tolerant northwest native groundcover for sun. A good plant if a bit difficult to get going. In addition to that slow takeoff, kinnikinnik has one other flaw – galls. Read more »