Tour of my garden – 5/11/17


Long ago, I made the assumption that I could never successfully grow a Clematis in my garden. It must have been me thinking this climber couldn’t withstand my poorly draining soil. Or I was lazy. Probably a mix of both.

In 2014, while attending a gardening conference, I scored a bunch of free plants including a Clematis ‘Scented Clem’. It was free so it was a no-brainer to attempt to add it to my garden. I had zero expectations and just put it in the ground with nary a thought.

Fast forward to 2017 and we are in year three of “proving John’s dumb assumption was incredibly wrong”. This Clematis is a profuse bloomer and allegedly has a similar scent to that of a Gardenia. As many of you already know, I can’t smell a thing. I may need to pull the family in to confirm.


It’s official. Geranium ‘Espresso’ is my favorite Geranium of all time and it isn’t even close. That foliage alone is borderline orgasmic and when you throw in the lavender blooms, well, I need a cigarette.


I wrote about Golden Ragwort last week. Just here to report that it’s still blooming and looking great.


There was a time not so long ago when I had 5 or 6 Campanula ‘Joan Elliot’ plants thriving and flowering each spring. I am now down to one. But that’s OK. Through the wonders of division and some TLC, I will multiply this happy bloomer in no time.


And on the 7th day, God created … Allium. While they are still in the early stages of blooming and still forming into their happy ball of awesomeness, NOTHING screams “Happy spring time” like Allium. All of the Allium in the following three pics are ‘Purple Sensation’ and are all making a repeat visit.




The ‘Globemaster’ Allium is slowly unfurling, kind of like “I’ll take my sweet ass time because I know I’m all that.”



I know every gardener likes to take photos of their peony buds and the pics are everywhere on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t care because they’re awesome. I am holding out hope that this white peony blooms while there’s still a semblance of the Lilac blooms next door.


A comparison of Amsonias:

First we have ‘tabernaemontana’.


And then ‘Hubrichtii’

Both will be loaded with star-shaped flowers soon and that will rock my world.

As the Lilac slowly ascends to flowerdom, the nearby Baptisia tries to keep pace. If you look to the left, you’ll see I left the old flowers of the Hydrangea on the shrub for shits and giggles. I kind of like taking advantage of the ornamental quality until this year’s flowers emerge. You feel me or “no John, dumb”?



Spring flowers are great. But the emergence of foliage and it’s dynamic quality are up there in terms of impact.

My ever-growing collection of the smaller-sized Itea ‘Little Henry’ looks fantastic right now. The red hues making it all the more interesting.

The reason I write “ever-growing” is that they are all perfectly suckering (the runner roots are expanding beyond the original shrub) and creating my desired “colony” that is filling the previously empty garden space beautifully.


How great is the foliage of the Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ (False Spirea)? I’ve yet to witness the full seasonal cycle (white flowers and pure green foliage later in summer) but the spring foliage is a winner on its own.


A request. Please ignore the weedy growth underneath the shrub below. I’m working on it. As much as it pained me, I had to expose my warts so that you all could appreciate the leaf color of this Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’. It’s even better in person; but you can’t come see it, I have too much work to do still.


The shrub in the two photos below is Spirea ‘Blue Kazoo’. While it displays reddish hues now in spring, it will eventually transition to a blue/green foliage color with white flowers. I love a plant that provides such distinct and different attributes spring, summer and fall. The challenge is attempting to pull it all together without it looking like a hot mess.


Oh Ligularia ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’, you look so clean now but we all know you have plans to fall apart in summer.

And why oh why can’t you develop the dark foliage as demonstrated in this photo?

I like this Heuchera but have no idea as to the cultivar name. Any ideas?


Once the Nepeta (Catmint) ‘Walkers Low’ fills in, this part of the garden starts to take shape. Flowers will be here within the week; as will those kick-butt bees.


Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) also filling in and contrasting nicely with the Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ in the background.


Speaking of Penstemon, I have a ton of these popping up all over the garden (assuming through re-seeding) and I’m trying to determine if they are true to ‘Husker Red’. Either way, I’ve been relocating them all to fill in available spots, to create foliage color contrasts and to attain that coveted garden design feature of repetition.


As much as I am proud of my ability to manage my garden and all of it’s inhabitants, I have no clue what this is. I love it by the way. Any clue as to what it is? First to answer wins … something.



This Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ is almost unrecognizable. It has been taken over, actually I should say “taken under” by Northern Sea Oats and other bully weeds. It is virtually impossible to make headway on removing them. It may be time to dig it up and perform surgery as a last gasp to make it presentable.

Another reminder: Northern Sea Oats = bad

22 thoughts on “Tour of my garden – 5/11/17

  1. Misti

    It is looking great, John! Those alliums are something I’ve always wanted in my garden but from what I understand they don’t do well in the south—except society garlic, which is overused in some regions.

    I’m going to have to get some Amsonia.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thanks Misti! I can’t promote the use of Amsonia enough. The foliage alone is worth it.

  2. Beth @ PlantPostings

    Great plants in great combinations and arrangements! I really like the lavender blue of the Clematis and the Geraniums. I planted three V. Sweetspire ‘Little Henry’ shrubs last year and they’re just filling in now.I haven’t had any problem with Northern Sea Oats, but I have it in an area where it doesn’t compete with anything–far, far away from ‘Little Henry.’ Happy spring!

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thanks Beth! NSO has been a nightmare for years. Got rid of all mine at least 3 years ago and it is still putting up a fight. Good luck with yours!

  3. Brent Horvath

    Hi John, the Huskers red seedlings will vary in foliage color and flower color. I recommend dead heading before fall. The last foliage pic is a fall blooming Anemone.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thanks Brent. I could already see the variation but still like the dark foliage. Will def be deadheading much sooner this year.

  4. Polly Williams

    Love your post of the day – showing so many of your plants. Isn’t spring grand! Would also love to see broader views to see how everything looks “from the street.”

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      If I show you the broader view Polly than all of my flaws will be revealed. Ha. Truthfully, they will coming soon since everything is growing at a breakneck pace now.

  5. Leslie Hyman

    I agree about the Japanese anemone. I also had to get rid of all my Northern sea oats because they seeded so easily all over in a very weedy way. It took me three years to get rid of all the seedlings. I don’t understand why this tendency toward extreme seediness cannot be found in any of the plant descriptions of this grass.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      So true Leslie, I saw none of the warnings before I purchased NSO and it is my biggest regret to date in the garden.

  6. Kathy

    What you think is a heuchera looks to me like a heucherella. A cross between a heuchera and a tiarella. The red markings are what gave it away. I don’t know the cultivar however. And the mystery plant is an anemone. Beautiful in the late summer but also pretty invasive. Worth the blooms it puts out in my opinion,

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thank you Kathy! I remember purchasing it labeled as a Heuchera but that could be my quick to put in the ground w/o much thought mentality burning me. Either way, I like it.

  7. Mary Hatton

    I love the species geraniums. I bought 5 plants from White Flower Farm about 10 years ago and they have multiplied all over my northside garden. The variety of colors and heights adds interest to an area that had been given over to vinca and pachysandra. Thanks for sharing your plant photos. I love to see what other gardeners are enjoying.

  8. Bill Hodgeman

    Lynn beat me to it. Stuff is looking great. I’m in MA so it’s great to see a preview of what some of my plants will look like in a couple weeks. Looking forward to the Little Henry and Amsonia’s especially!

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