Archive | June, 2012

Compact Catmint

30 Jun

Compact Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii ‘Kit Kat’), semi-evergreen to deciduous, low mounding growth habit, 12-15 in. in height with equal or greater spread, short spikes of deep lavender-blue to dark purple-blue flowers late spring to fall, more floriferous than other Nepetas, very aromatic gray-green foliage, full sun, regular water, attracts cats.

Vigorous, spreading members of the mint family with aromatic foliage. With the exception of catnip(Nepeta cataria), these plants are valuable for their spikes of two-lipped blue or blue-violet (or sometimes pink, white, or yellow) flowers. As soon as blossoms fade, shear plants back by half or cut faded flower stems to the ground to encourage rebloom. (Most species seed freely and can become invasive if spent flowers are not removed.)

Plants make attractive, informal low hedges or edgings. In winter or early spring, cut out last year’s growth to make way for new stems. At that time, you can also divide clumps for increase, though it’s easy to start new plants from cuttings (take them before flower buds form). When buying named varieties, be sure to obtain cutting-grown plants; seedlings vary in flower color and habit.


Black Snakeroot

9 Jun

Black Snakeroot (Cimicifuga), deciduous, medicinal properties, arching growth to 2 feet in height with equal spread, branched spikes of bottlebrush-like, white, fragrant flowers late summer, sun to part shade, regular water, deer resistant, good cut flower.

Botanists recently combined this genus with Actaea, and in doing so, they lumped together plants of markedly different sizes and garden uses. The baneberries (Actaea) are small (under 2 1/2 ft. tall), with short clusters of flowers that turn into attractive but poisonous berries. The bugbanes (Cimicifuga) are considerably taller (up to 7 ft. in bloom), with long, spikelike flower clusters that ripen into dry seed capsules. Baneberries associate with smaller woodland plants, while bugbanes are stately back-of-the-border plants, looking most at home with a forest background. Both have shiny,much-divided leaves that give an overall airy effect. They grow best in rich, moist, well-drained soil and at least partial shade (can take more sun in cool-summer zones, provided they don’t dry out).



Sumatran Blood Banana

8 Jun

Sumatra Blood Banana (Musa sumatrana), evergreen, slow to moderate growth to 6-7 feet with equal spread, yellow flowers, gray-green leaves blotched with wine-red, full sun to filtered shade, rich well drained soil, regular water, good container plant.

The blood banana, is a subspecies of the wild banana Musa acuminata native to Sumatra, Indonesia. The blood banana is an ornamental plant, named for the dark red patches on its leaves, though its small seeded fruits are also edible.

Crown Pink

8 Jun

Crown Pink (Lychnis coronaria), evergreen to deciduous, 2 to 3 feet in height, equal spread, tall spikes of magenta flowers spring and early summer, gray-white foliage covered in white hais, full sun, drought tolerant, reseeds.

These old-fashioned garden flowers all tolerate poor soils.


Lychnis coronaria is  from southeastern Europe. Grows 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 ft. tall, 1 1/2 ft. wide, with attractive, silky white foliage and magenta to crimson flowers a little less than an inch across. Effective massed.

Baby’s Breath

8 Jun

Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata), evergreen to deciduous, sprawling growth habit to 3 feet in height with an equal spread, loose open sprays of small white flowers summer through earl fall, gray-green foliage, full sun, regular water, good cut flower.

Gypsophila are slender-stemmed, much-branched plants are upright or spreading, ranging from 3 in. to 4 ft. tall. Bloom is profuse in summer, covering plants in clusters of tiny single or double flowers in white, pink, or rose. Leaves (sparse when plants are in bloom) are typically blue green.

Gypsophila paniculata is native to central Asia, central and eastern Europe. This is the classic filler in bouquets. To 3 ft. or taller and as broad. Slender, sharp-pointed leaves 2 1/2 to 4 in. long. Single white flowers about 1/16 in. across, hundreds in a spray. ‘Bristol Fairy’ is an improved, more billowy form to 4 ft. high, covered with double blossoms 1/4 in. wide.


7 Jun

Sundrops (Oenothera tetragona), deciduous, fast growth to 2 feet in height with greater spread, bright yellow, 2 inch flowers bloom on 12 inch stems through summer, spreads by underground rhizomes, full sun, drought toleran, thrives on neglect, good for rock gardens.

Sundrops is a cheerful perennial forming clumps one to two feet tall and blooming in early summer. Two inch bright yellow 4-petaled flowers clustered at the ends of stems are open during the day unlike those of the related Evening Primrose. The rich dark green leaves turn bronze for the winter. Grow Sundrops in a dry or average well-drained site in sun or light shade. Place it in the front of the garden with other drought-tolerant species or naturalize it on a sunny bank. Good companions include Butterfly Weed, Black-eyed Susan, Beard-tongue, and Coneflowers.

Sunset Foxglove

7 Jun

Sunset Foxglove (Digitalis obscura), evergreen subshrub, a perennial Foxglove with reddish-brown flowers marked with orange, 18 inches tall and wide, willowy evergreen leaves, blooms summer/fall, drought tolerant, sun.

A rugged perennial species native to the mountains of Spain, Digitalis obscura is very different from the woodland Foxgloves commonly offered. The brown and yellow bell-like flowers are strangely attractive; the upright woody stems and lily-like leaves are also ornamental. Plant Digitalis obscura in full or partial sun in lean to average garden soils (not too much compost) and water deeply but not too frequently. Zones 5-9.