Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's the Little Things...

daphne cneorum 'Blackthorn Triumph'

I've always loved daphnes, even with their femme fatale reputation.  I ordered this teensy one from Arrowhead Alpines in the spring.  I knew that it would be small when I ordered it but was sort of shocked to see how tiny the cutting actually was when it arrived.  I planted it at the edge of a big trough and it's settled in nicely, even blooming this week.  What a treat.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back from the Beach

We arrived home yesterday after a week at the Jersey shore.  My daughter got right to work sorting shells.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Plants. Old Trough.

I cast this trough about 6 years ago.  In its former life it had dianthus and other things that I've forgotten.  Gradually it got overgrown by a chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard', so this spring I relocated the trough and replanted it.  I've read that hypertufa can have as short a life span as a decade, but this trough seemed totally healthy and solid.

That's ilex crenata 'Dwarf Pagoda' (back R), vitaliana primuliflora (front R), gypsophilia cerastioides 'Pixie Splash' (front L), arabis blepharophylla from Home Depot (back L) and armeria juniperifolia 'Alba' (center).

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Weedy, yes, but...

I confess, I love thalictrum rochebruneanum, even though it self-seeds everywhere and tends to fry out in the hottest heat.  When it works, like this summer, we get clumps of airy pink flowers at my eye level and above.

And I'm 6'2". 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rattlesnake Master

Eryngium yuccifolium seed heads

I'd always admired eryngium yuccifolium, more commonly known as Rattlesnake Master, whenever I'd read about it in the prairie plant section of all those recent Piet Oudolf books.  I'd think "Hey, I never noticed that growing up in Iowa" about the same time that I'd think "I want that! How come I never see it in nurseries?".  It was on my plant lust list for many years.

Three years ago I was visiting dear friends on the way south side of Chicago...think suburban Chicago, closer to the cornfields than the Loop...when I saw Rattlesnake Master on a hike with my buddy.  It was going to seed...perfect.  I collected some seed, packed it in my carry-on and promptly planted it in a small pot when I got home.  

Then I waited and waited.  Sure, the seed sprouted the next year, but the plants were tiny so I left them in the tiny nursery pot in which they were sown.  The second year they were still small, but I'd read enough to know that the plant develops a deep tap root and hates being transplanted.  It was now or never.  I dutifully planted the seedlings out into the garden, marking each one so that I wouldn't absent-mindedly weed them out.

Weird leaves, right? (two Rattlesnake Masters in front, but that's a hesperaloe in back)

This year they finally bloomed.  It reminded me that good things come to those (gardeners) who wait.  I hope that the plants clump up and come back sturdier and showier each year...without self-seeding everywhere and becoming a scourge.  It's a fine line, I know.

And, oh yeah, it doesn't treat Rattlesnake bites.  Sorry.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tiny Pot, Tinier Treasure

Doing sit-ups (don't ask) this week, my point of view was low enough to notice this contrast in flower size and pot size on the deck.  I made this small hypertufa pot one day when I was casting a larger trough and had extra material left over after the session.  I think that it was cast inside of a black plastic nursery pot.  It's about 7" high.  I planted this erodium x variablile 'Flore Pleno' in it so that I could bring this treasure into the house for the winter (it's not reliably hardy in this zone).

A little shade from the hottest sun, and a bit of water, and the reward is tiny, delicate double pink flowers all summer long.