Design and installation have been the focus of my life for the last few weeks so today, I’m going to share photos of the garden during that time.
When most gardeners hear the word Rudbeckia, they immediately envision the cultivar ‘Goldsturm’. Although it is extremely hardy, it also self-seeds, often more than desired. My Rudbeckia of choice is R.subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’, a five foot cultivar that is a clumper. Last fall I added some clumps of Crocosmia that were a gift from a client. For those of you who need shorter plants, there is another cultivar named ‘Little Henry’ that only grows three feet tall. Sadly, both are hard to find.
Since the middle of August, I’ve eagerly watched the garden to see which of the Hibiscus Summer Spice® cultivars are blooming. They are trial plants that the J.Berry Nursery graciously sent me last fall. One of my favorites, because of the unusual lilac color, is Brandy Bleu. Another is Cordon Bleu that is white with a red eye. Both are still blooming off and on and I expect even more prolific bloom next year when, as more mature plants, they will have more buds.
Ligularia ‘BBQ Banana’ has replaced a stand of Japanese Anemone that traveled under my front sidewalk to the bed in front of my dining room. I needed a perennial that would be in shade most of the day even though that bed faces south. This particular section of the bed lies beneath large crabapple that was probably planted when the house was built in 1924. Thanks to a gift box from my friend Eric Olsen at DeVroomen, I have been enjoying the dark purple-green, scalloped leaves that provide excellent textural contrast with neighboring Astilbe chinensis foliage. I’m not big fan of golden yellow but the flowers do brighten that area.
In the back Magnolia bed, I have a stand of Geranium nodosum ‘Svelte Lilac’, a hardy geranium that thrives in shade. It’s a long bloomer, from July well into September and October. The flowering has been unusually floriferous this year, probably as a result of the spring rains that lasted into mid-June.
I have several sedum in the garden but this year I ordered one that I had been reading about. Sedum takisimense ‘Atlantis’ is distinguished by its dwarf habit and its variegated foliage. The yellow flowers sit just above the foliage. When I was in the Chicago Botanic Garden trial garden, I asked Richard Hawke what the difference is between ‘Atlantis’ and ‘Boogie Woogie’. The answer is that ‘Atlantis’ is a clumper whereas ‘Boogie Woogie’ is more of a groundcover. I’ll be curious to see how much ‘Atlantis’ enlarges next year.
Most of you are probably familiar with Physostegia virginiana, the Obedient Plant. I’ve never planted it because it is very aggressive but a few years ago, I did plant the cultivar ‘Variegata’ on the assumption that the lesser amount of chlorophyll would rein in its undesirable trait – and so it has been. It has spread just enough but not too much and it has been particularly beautiful this year.
You’ve probably never heard of Eriogonum allenii ‘Little Rascal’. I hadn’t either until I was reading a Digging Dog catalog in January 2017. What caught my attention was the drought tolerance of this dwarf buckwheat. The foliage is attractive but I love the bright yellow flowers that don’t even start blooming until early September.
Another late bloomer is Dicentra scandens, a yellow-blooming, biennial vine that I grow on my east fence. It tolerates a lot of shade and looks great with the flowers of Anemone ‘September Charm’.
Now, I have to find time and spaces for some new trial plants from Proven Winners and Spring Meadow who been very generous to garden writers. It’s so much fun to see if plants live up to their hype. Because my garden is so crowded and I don’t have time to baby them, plants that survive in my garden will survive virtually anywhere else.