Sunday, June 28, 2009

According to my husband, this plant has a bit of an alien look about it. It's called Penstemon, or Beardtongue. I get where the beardtongue name comes from and if you zoom in on the bloom, you'll see too. It is kind of peculiar looking but it sure adds interest to my containers. Multiple flowers bloom on each stem and it attracts bees (which I've seen plenty of) and hummingbirds (yet to appear--but I'm hopeful). Penstemon is supposed to be hardy to zone 5 but I planted it last year and it did not return. Maybe I'll have better luck this time around.

Oh, and one more thing: I read that Native Americans used Penstemon root to relieve toothaches. Well, toothaches are rare for me but it's still nice to know that I am growing a plant that is not only attractive, but that might tide me over if it's a while before I can get a dental appointment.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Perle d'Or

Perle d'Or (or Pearl of Gold) is one of the two new roses that I bought this year from Antique Rose Emporium. Shown here is its first bloom of the season. According to my research, this rose was bred and introduced in France in 1884. The bloom's size and shape look a lot like the Cecile Brunner that I bought last year, which, by the way, seems to be struggling a bit right now. My fingers are crossed for her recovery. I'm chalking it up to the torrential rains we've had for the past couple weeks.

Anyway, back to Perle d'Or. Its maximum height and width is supposedly 4 feet which is why I thought it would be ideal for a container. It's hardy to zone 6 so with a little luck, it will return next year. Perle has a lot going for it: size, beauty, fragrance and, perhaps, the biggest selling point (especially since I rarely wear gardening gloves): nearly thornless branches. No Band-Aids required.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lucky Find

The display at Crate and Barrel had a wire- framed basket on a dining table filled with decorative fruit. What got my attention was the markdown sign: 70% off. Of the basket that is. I'm always on the hunt for great containers and, bargain lover that I am, there was no way I was going to pass this one up. The sales associate suggested various ways of displaying it in the house. I told him, "No way, I'm planting flowers in it and putting it in my garden!"

Since I had not yet planted my annual foliage-only arrangement, I decided this would be the container I'd use. I first put in a large round coconut liner and filled it with potting soil and a scoop of Osmocote time-release fertilizer. Here are the plants I chose:

Heuchera sanguinea "Bressingham Hybrids', zone 3
Heuchera 'Plum Pudding', zone 3
Juncus 'Unicorn', zone 4
Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip', zone 4, (two plants)
Origanum 'Kent Beauty', zone 5
Stonecrop sedum, zone 5
Green santolina, zone 7
Purple sage, annual (two plants)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Little Extra Help

Mandevilla is on my shopping list every year. I usually opt for white. I try not to buy it too early in the season because it can only be left outside after nighttime temperatures consistently remain above 55F.

I always repot my mandevilla so that it can climb up the trellis that I already have. It requires some unwinding from the support that is provided in the nursery pot and sometimes that takes a while so a little patience is required. Often times, you can buy the mandevilla in a good-sized pot with its own small wooden trellis and there's nothing at all wrong with leaving it just like that. I saw a whole bunch at Home Depot a couple of weeks ago--healthy plants at a price that was well below that of the area nurseries.

I unwound this white mandevilla and planted it in my pot with my green wire trellis. The plant was sort of drooping forward and I thought it might need some immediate help locating its support. So I got some garden tape and loosely tied several of the plant stems to the trellis to give it a helping hand. Now there's no stopping it.