Tag Archives: baptisia

Tour of the Garden – 9/6/17

Front walkway

It takes this deep into the season for the front bed to truly shine as the grasses emerge, fall foliage color subtly appears and late summer blooms arrive.

 

A step back from the same scene …

 

… and another step back.

 

 

Physostegia (Obedient Plant) ‘Vivid’

This mass started as only 7 small plants over a year ago. It has filled in at an insane level. I like.

 

 

 

Green

I love me all different shades of green. I find this section of the garden soothing. Who’s with me?

 

 

Paralysis by analysis

I have stared at this scene for weeks now. I like it but I don’t. While it’s full and a good mix of flowers, foliage, texture, etc, something is amiss. I’m close to figuring it out but would appreciate your input.

 

 

Secret weapon

This section of the garden is going to be the best in a few years. You can’t see it now but trust me, there is a lot going on here and it’s all awesome. I can’t wait to share it when it explodes in awesomeness.

 

 

Seed heads

The seed heads on the Baptisia transformed to dark black this week. I like.

 

 

 

Leave it alone

This combo hasn’t been touched for three years now. That must be a record for me.

 

 

Delicious foliage color

Panicum and Amsonia. But you knew that already because I talk about it every week.

 

 

 

Turkey foot

Here is why Andropogon (Big Bluestem) is also known as turkeyfoot. You’re welcome.

 

 

Viburnum berries

The berries on the Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’ continue to explode. More than I’ve had in ten years of its existence. I like.

 

 

 

Uncle

Fine, I’ll admit it. I don’t know what this white blooming plant is. I just know that I never planted it. It has fleshy stems that multiple like mad from year to year. Help a gardener out won’t you?

 

 

 

What the hell is that?

There are a bunch of Northern Sea Oats growing underneath this Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’. It has created this bizarre mash-up that looks even stranger as the Itea develops its fall color.

 

 

Finally

The Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead) ‘Hot Lips’ typically look like crap by now. All of the flowers turn black and become an eye sore. Not this year so far. I like.

 

 

 

Do as I say …

For those of you who bought my book, I specifically pointed out that Lady’s Mantle requires some extra attention once the blooms stop and the weather turns hot and dry in summer. I should probably follow my own advice next year.

 

 

Tour of the garden – 7/20/17

And on the very hot day, he sort of rested

This is where I’ve spent a lot of my time the past week.

Temps have been in the 90’s here in Jersey and it’s been wicked humid. That doesn’t mean I haven’t busted my hump out in the garden though. I’ve been weeding like a mo fo and just before I’m ready to pass out, I head to this rocker in the shade, drink gallons of water and rest up until I’m ready to get back out there again.

Call me crazy, but I love this weather. It’s uncomfortable and the bugs are all up in my business, but this is what separates the hardcore gardeners from the casual gardeners. I love the sweat and the head rushes and the feeling of toughing out; not to mention the post-weeding cold shower avec a tasty cold beverage.

 

Plant recommendation for the week

Molinia ‘Cordoba’ or Moor Grass

It didn’t take long for this ornamental grass to get established as its only been in my garden for 3 years now and it started off as a tiny little plug.

While the grass leaves are only about 2 feet in height, it’s pushing 6′ – 7′ in height while in bloom.

I’m still tinkering with how to best use it in terms of design. I did follow a suggestion of planting it in front of a dark background as seen in the photo above where it is situated in front of a Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’ shrub.

From another angle though, you can see how it can easily be lost in the garden shuffle.More to come as I joyously tinker and as the fall color emerges in a few weeks.

 

Filling in nicely

New garden bed and path back in 2010.

And current day where I am now running out of room for a path.

A good problem to have.

 

Never give up

I tried desperately to grow a Red Twig Dogwood in at least 5 different locations in my garden dating back a decade or more. The deer always got it or it simply never thrived.

I tried one in a container and it did OK but I feared it dying over the winter in that container so I knew I had to transplant it elsewhere.

On a whim, I planted it along the foundation of the house and the rest is history. She’s about 5′ to 6′ tall right now and that is after I cut it to the ground in March.

The deer don’t frequent this area that often but they will chew on some of the plants here sporadically.

True story: There is a large gap between the two sidewalk stones right in front of the dogwood and I’ve convinced myself that it messes with the footing of the deer so I haven’t adjusted it for years running now. Crazy? Maybe.

 

Lady in Red, isn’t dancing with me

If you look carefully at the pic below, you can see one flower on this ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea.

The sad thing is that the one bloom is still more than the last two years combined. In fact, this hydrangea has never bloomed well.

But it takes up space, comes back every year and has decent fall color.

Not significantly bad enough to justify eradication.

Yet.

 

Seed heads are good

You’ve heard me say it a million times (including in my new book). Keep those spent flowers on Baptisia because they add such an interesting element from summer through winter. Here’s how they look right now in the middle of July.

 

 

It’s better to be lucky than good

When these Veronica bloom, they are lit up by the emerging bright green grass (Pennisetum) in the background. I would love to say that I planned it this way but it was truly dumb luck.

 

What do you think?

The combination of Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Obedient Plant is an example of another not-planned-combo that has recently emerged in the garden.

I have no clue if I like the mix or not. So I need your input in order to decide how to proceed. Thank you.

 

If you plant it, they will come

That would be Swamp Milkweed.

 

 

Big hopes for the future

I posted this photo of a Purple Prairie Clover on Instagram recently. Very cool IMHO.

In truth, it’s the only one I have on the plant so it only looks great shot in macro. But if this native perennial blooms heavily next year, I am going to be madly in love. Those flowers are killer.

 

Shameless cross-promotion, not the least bit garden related

I recently wrote two new articles for Medium and I would love for you to head over there and check them out:

The Hardest I’ve Ever Laughed

Raising a Child That Is Nothing Like You

Thank you in advance.

 

 

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’

Today’s plant recommendation is Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’.

baptisia 'carolina moonlight'

 

Three years ago I purchased a very small plug of this perennial from Bluestone Perennials figuring if I love the purple varieties with such a passion, why not dabble in yellow blooming cultivars as well.

Color me happy to date.

Within only one year’s time, I had myself some blooms and it hasn’t stopped doubling in size ever since. To the shock of no one who has ever read a post on this blog, I like the way it looks best when in combination with ornamental grasses, as seen in the photo below.

baptisia 'carolina moonlight'

 

Some other notable facts about Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’:

  • Maxes out around 3′ to 4′ tall and wide, similar to its purple blooming brethren.
  • To date, it has been 100% deer resistant although I just jinxed it so buyer beware.
  • The blooms emerge in the middle of May and last a good 3-4 weeks in my zone 6B garden.
  • The blooms are a butter yellow so you fans of yellow blooms will dig these big time.
  • Survives in zones 4-9.
  • There is no specific soil preference as it is listed as preferring medium to dry soil but mine has been in wet soil for years now without issue.
  • As with other Baptisia, it is a tough as nails plant once established and it is recommended that it not be moved once established. Even a serial plant relocator like myself knows to leave these in one spot and walk away.

In early spring, the Baptisia stems emerge, not too unlike a peony.

 

The blooms start to emerge in mid April and are almost as impactful as when they are in full bloom.

baptisia 'carolina moonlight'

 

 

And then one day, boom, they’ve arrived.

baptisia 'carolina moonlight'

The dark stems are a nice touch aren’t they?

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’ has bloomed at the same time as many of my peonies so there is an opportunity for a kick butt color combo.

 

After the bloom period, I prefer to keep all of the spent/dried seedheads on my Baptisia as they retain a level of interest and lend a different look in the garden as the summer wears on and eventually meets autumn.

 

So what do you think?

Do any of you have this in your garden?

Are there any other cultivars you recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grasses, transitions and a new destroyer of plants

A tour around my garden:

Ornamental grasses are the dominant feature right now as they round into their peak form. So why don’t we start there.

I’m sure you are well aware of my affinity for Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ by now but if not, here is some visible propaganda.

rots

 

rots 2

 

More Panicum love here as well.

driveway bed

 

Not only do the grasses put a smile on my face but they also serve a very tangible purpose. Here they are protecting the tomatoes from the deer and doing a bang up job I must say.

tomatoes grasses

 

‘Karl Foerster’, kicking ass in John’s garden since ’07.

karl

 

A recent addition to the grass collection, Pennisetum ‘Burgundy Bunny’ has phenomenal color right now. I am going to liberally add these wherever I can find the space for them. Love.

burgundy bunny 2

 

Soghastrum (Indian Grass) has announced its presence in a big way of late but I’ll hold off on photos until they are just right. By just right, I mean when all of the blooms have arrived. For now, here is a taste of one of those blooms. Love.

indian grass bloom

 

Speaking of blooms on the grasses. Here is one of the Andropogon (Big Bluestem) ‘Red October’ blooms. I now get why this grass is often referred to as Turkey Foot.

andropogon flower

 

Yes, there are plants other than ornamental grasses that tickle my fancy right now and some of these newly emerged this week. Like seen here with the first blooms of Chelone lyonii. This plant truly loves my often waterlogged soil and for that I am indebted for life.

chelone

 

This Boltonia bloom could be heard yelling “first” this morning.

boltonia

 

Sedum ‘Matrona’ is playing nicely with Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ and my little hide-it-from-the-deer-game is still going strong.

sedum veronica

 

Transition of seasons. It is coming.

Look at what we have here. The seedheads of Baptisia are slowly opening and that makes me think winter is around the corner and that makes me cold which in turn makes me both mad and sad.

baptisia seedhead

 

Speaking of a transitional period, I just noticed this week that the stems on the Redtwig Dogwood are well, red and that also is freaking me out a bit. I love the red stems in winter and it is welcome winter interest, but for god’s sake, not yet.

redtwig

 

This Rhamnus (Buckthorn) ‘Fine Line’ was inundated with Japanese beetles just a few weeks ago and looked nasty. Now I know how resilient and tough she is and that will be noted on the trusty plant spreadsheet.

rhamnus

 

This spring I ordered a massive quantity of small plugs of Packer Aurea (Golden Ragwort) from Izel Native Plants and while they all initially struggled with the heat and the humidity, they have all bounced back like a champ. I love the foliage. And I’m banking on mass blooms in early spring next year and post bloom, I plan on it being the plant to hide the ugly legs of others like Bee Balm and Sneezeweed.

ragwort

 

I cannot for the life of me successfully grow Cimicifuga (Bugbane). It is official now. I’ve tried in full shade, mostly shade, partial shade and full sun. I’ve left alone for years and remained patient with no success. I’ve kept them consistently moist and no dice. It may be time to move on.

cimici 3

 

cimici 2

 

cimici

 

One last one before I go. I spotted this bloom of Hydrangea ‘Little Lime’ just laying in my front lawn this morning and thought it curious since it wasn’t actually eaten by the deer.

hydrangea

Upon closer inspection, there were Bee Balm plants knocked to the ground near it as well.

Upon closer inspection this was not the act of deer or any other animal.

Upon closer inspection, a certain 14 year old boy seemed awfully nervous around me this morning.

Upon closer inspection, said 14 y/o boy likes to hit a baseball across the front lawn and this area happens to be right in the way.

QOTD: How should I appropriately handle this situation?

Eye Candy

As we come out of the long Memorial Day weekend and into the work week, I’m going to keep the positive vibes rolling and share some of my favorite garden pics from the weekend. With all of the rain we’ve had this spring and now with the hot temps, everything seemed to explode and this guy ain’t complaining one bit. This is why we bust our asses in the fall/winter/spring planning and planting and prepping and moving things around until they are in that perfect location; for these types of displays of color and all around awesomeness.

Enjoy.

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ kicks ass year after year and the blooms rarely fall over like so many other peonies. I have more impending blooms this year than I’ve had in years. Go me.

peony

 

peony 2

 

peony 3

 

Still not sure which white cultivar this is but who cares when they look this good.

white peony

 

My Baptisia are in full bloom and I have to forcibly stop myself from taking any more photos.

baptisia

 

baptisia 2

 

baptisia 3

 

clematis

 

baptisia 4

 

Even after the Allium are spent and technically no longer in bloom, they still look phenomenal and lend so much to the garden view from so many angles.

front

 

front 3

 

front 2

 

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moon’ in full bloom and standing tall among the other soon to be blooming perennials and exceedingly fast growing ornamental grasses.

baptisia back

 

Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ adding so more color to this vignette of daylillies and Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’.

amsonia blue ice

 

I honestly have no idea how this Siberian iris showed up underneath this Nepeta (Catmint) but hot damn if it doesn’t work. I should have lied and told you I planned it, but my street garden cred is too important to me.

iris catmint

 

Carex grayi has become a fantastic edging plant for me, loving the constant moisture, and when the seed heads emerge, it takes them to the next level. And by the way, that next level is called “Ass kicking” if you weren’t already aware.

carex grayii

 

Ho hum, Amsonia still blooming. Quick note – If you haven’t been here before, that “ho hum” was sarcastic. Just enter “amsonia” in the search box and you’ll see why.

amsonia

Question of the day – What newly blooming plant in your garden has you the most impressed this spring? Please leave your response as a comment and let’s chat things up!

 

 

Allium love, a new holiday and introducing “Question of the Day”

Here is the latest and greatest in my garden on this, dare I say, warm and beautiful May afternoon.

It’s all about the Allium right now, as the fruits of my fall labor are being realized this spring. I’ve got at least 25 Allium bulbs in bloom right now and they are kicking ass and taking names.

They look good up close.

allium 2

And as we pan back …

allium

… and back even further.

full 2

 

Baptisia blooms have arrived this week and I’m thinking this day should be declared a holiday each year. That is how festive it makes me feel. At a minimum, I’m going to push for #NationalBaptisiaDay on Twitter leading up to this day in 2017.

baptisia

baptisia yellow

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moon’

 

Siberian iris ‘Snow Queen’ is blooming but I’m only giving you a macros shot because they actually look kind of lousy because this lazy gardener has refused to divide them for four years running now.

iris

 

Amsonia tabernaemontana is blooming and that’s all I will say here because I’ve raved about this plant enough already.

amsonia

 

All of my peonies will be blooming within the next week or so and until then, I’ll enjoy the ridiculously delicious scent of the lilac in the background.

peony lilac

 

Another day, another sigh from me regarding the awesomeness of Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’.

ninebark

 

And finally, it’s time to sit back and enjoy watching the garden fill in while all empty spaces disappear.

full

full 3

Thank you again for stopping by.

I am going to try something new today. A “Question of The Day”. Here it is:

What perennial do you find to be the most underrated?

Leave your answer in the comments so we can all discuss and get educated.

Grats

Plants I’m bullish on this year

Here are 9 plants I’m hoping show big improvement this spring/summer over how they performed in my garden last year. 8 are relative newcomers, 1-3 years in the ground, so time alone should aid their jump in prominence. And 1 has been around my parts forever but only last year managed to avoid the wrath of the deer herd. Here’s hoping this is a new trend.

Coneflower ‘Sunrise’: Full disclosure – I’ve moved this three times in three years. And to the shock of no one, it finally bloomed last summer after a full year in its current spot. The flowers arrived later than all of the other coneflowers (late July) but that is OK. I expect taller and fuller plants this year, assuming the itch to move them is fought off successfully.

h

sunshine-cone-flower

 

Abelia ‘Bronze Anniversary’ – Another oft moved shrub but one where I’m happy with its current destination. I love the golden leaf color, especially in partial shade and especially in spring as the foliage emerges, but I can do without the clashing white blooms. In fact, the plan is to immediately remove the flowers for fear of ridicule from the neighbors.

d5

abelia

 

Daylily ‘Little Grapette’ – This is the oldie I referenced above that always suffered at the hands of the deer in summer. For whatever reason (my intimidation factor?), they were ignored last year. While I’m not a big daylily guy, I do like how these combine with other dark leaved plants (As seen with Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’) below.

d17

c9

c10

 

Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’ – No, not an exotic dancer or My Little Pony character, but the best foliage color of any plant I own. But as you can see in the second photo below, the deer get it each winter and in effect, prune it back hard for me which ultimately compromises the size of this shrub. If I can remember to defend her better this year, the sky is the limit. Remember though, “remembering” is not a strong suit of mine.

ninebark amber jubilee 2

ninebark amber jubilee

 

Allium azureum – I blew it with this one. I mistook these for wild onions and yanked them out without much thought last spring. This is the only one that actually bloomed. Luckily for me I was lazy when pulling them so the bulbs remained in tact. No such error will be made this spring.

allium blue

 

Peony ‘unknown other than it is white’ – This is as good of a lock as any. First flowers appeared last spring after two years in the ground and we all know that the peony is indestructible once established.

white peony

peony white

 

Baptisia ‘ Carolina Moon’ – Based on the success I’ve had with my other Baptisia plants, I’m counting on this one to fall right in line. Big, big things this year from this one. I cannot wait to photograph it and share it with you all.

baptisia carolina moon

baptisia lilac

baptisia carolina moon

 

Clematis – This appeared out of nowhere last year after I stuck it in the ground and completely forgot about it. There appears to be new growth this spring so I remain optimistic for a repeat showing. And this time, I’ll even use a real trellis to maximize the show.

clematis

clematis 2

 

And last but not least, the fickle …

Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’ – For three consecutive years, this perennial has looked great in spring only to fall apart when the weather really heats up and when it attempts to bloom. I’ve stayed on top of the watering and it, along with its 7 other siblings (I’m way invested at this point) get plenty of afternoon shade. The pessimist in me says, “wrong plant for you John” while the optimist says, “give it time to get established”.

Cheers to optimism.

bugbane

 

 

 

Baptisia australis

Almost six years ago, I transformed the front bed of my parent’s house using Baptisia as the anchor because honestly, it blew me away when I saw it at their local nursery. The color of the blooms drew my eye in as soon as we set foot on the nursery grounds. Score one for the marketing department. No research for preferred conditions necessary, we liked it and we were going to plant it.

Fast forward three years and the Baptisia went bananas. My father did his best to control it but the end result was it was moved from its original spot because it was threatening to eat all of the other plants. Strike one against the son who claimed to be a gardening expert. Remember kiddies, always take into account a plant’s ultimate size when planning your garden. Don’t follow the lead of Uncle Johnnie.

Fast forward another year and it’s time for me to add Baptisia to my own garden. Space wouldn’t be an issue and I needed to prove to myself that I could grow it successfully. On top of that I could no longer take all of the stunning photos of this perennial in others’ gardens without giving it a shot myself. From all indications, Baptisia preferred a more dry soil and it was debatable whether or not it was deer resistant but I didn’t care. It was time to throw caution to the wind, wet soil and herds of deer be damned.

Fast forward to 2015 and John is a happy boy.

baptisia

Two years in the ground and it was already kicking ass. Those blooms draw in the eye and put a smile on my face each and every morning as I walked out to my car on my way to work. The deer left it alone and as of current day, the poorly draining soil doesn’t appear to be an issue.

baptisia

Some additional Baptisia australis (Blue False Indigo) info:

  • Native to the eastern U.S
  • Blooms from May to June
  • The pea-like blooms are a blue/purple
  • Speaking of peas, Baptisia is part of the pea family, Fabaceae
  • Survives in zones 3-9
  • Mature size is roughly 4 x 4
  • Prefers full sun as it tends to open up with more shade (my parent’s garden as scientific proof).
  • Deer resistance is questionable but I’ve had no issues the first two years.
  • Can be slow to establish but once it is, it is a bear to move due to its deep taproot.
  • Can handle all soil types and it drought tolerant once established.
  • Baptisia comes from the greek word “bapto” which means dye. It was used back in the day as a blue dye replacement for Blue Indigo.
  • Tough to divide due to the taproot and it can be slow to establish if grown by seed.
  • Baptisia australis opens up a bit after bloom and if the plant is cut back at that time, it will result in a more upright and appealing shape. The downside is the ornamental seedpods will be lost (more on that in a moment).

And now a little chronological tour of this shrub-like perennial:

First emerging in spring.

emerging baptisia

Then the first signs of bloom appear.

baptisia 2

baptisia

Almost there.

baptisia

baptisia australis

In full bloom.

baptisia australis

baptisia

baptisia 2

And once in bloom, drawing in the critters.

moth on baptisia

bee on baptisia

moth baptisia

By the time fall/winter has arrived, the ripened seed heads have turned black, eventually opening up to reveal the seeds inside.

baptisia seeds

And finally the opened seed heads still adorning Baptisia australis in late winter.

baptisia seed capsules 2

 

 

Winter garden appreciation

I despise the cold weather and it is getting worse and worse as I get older.

I hate the snow and I do not find it to be the least bit “cozy”. It physically hurts my eyes to even glance at it.

I don’t ski and find sledding to be way overrated.

But even after having said all that, I have come to appreciate the winter garden. It is a reminder of what was, a chance to rest and recharge and at the same time, a promise of what is to come.

I recently put on my big boy pants and a warm jacket, and set out to capture just some of the plants in the winter garden. After reviewing all of the photos I had taken, I realized that I had similar shots of those same plants during the spring and summer. So as a means of contrast, I’ve included the most current pic and then one from earlier when it warm and delicious outdoors.

Enjoy.

Tropical milkweed, which is an annual and one that reseeded for me this past year.

milkweed winter

milkweed

 

Eupatorium ‘Wayside’ which looks like the annual Ageratum but is truly a perennial.

winter garden

wayside

 

A combo of Bee Balm, Joe Pye Weed and Clethra ‘Hummingbird’.

winter garden

h18

 

Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’, Bee Balm and Panicum ‘Rots’.

winter garden

h13

 

Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ (Dappled Willow) with its awesome stem colors.

salix winter stems

salix

 

Amsonia tabernaemontana looking cool and curly. Still a personal favorite of mine during all seasons.

amsonia winter

amsonia2

 

I love the dried seed capsules of Baptisia and admittedly have yet to explore how to save the seeds. That is what winter is all about, research and reading.

baptisia seed capsules 2

moth baptisia

 

Sedum ‘Red Carpet’ peeking through what little snow we have right now.

red carpet winter

sedum

 

And old reliable, the Purple Coneflower. I always enjoy watching the finches pay a visit and feast on the seedheads.

coneflower winter

h23

 

Random musings

Some thoughts as we head into the weekend:

I am now realizing the ornamental interest with Baptisia seed pods:

The grasses are starting to make their presence known:

Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’:

Panicum ‘Northwind’:

From left to right – Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’, Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’ and Calamagrostis ‘Eldorado’:

 

Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’:

 

I planted Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ in mass this spring and the color blast is most welcomed right now:

Daylily ‘Little Grapette’ is still chugging away and I am enjoying the blooms for the first time in three years as the deer have stayed away. Like I’ve always said, daylillies are the greatest:

And finally, Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ is kind of liking its space. Looking at a severe pruning next winter:

 

 

Have a great one.