Tag Archives: lobelia siphilitica

Deer resistant perennials for wet soil

A friend in town, who only recently became aware of this life changing blog, asked me for some plant recommendations. Oh shit. Typically I am not a fan of doling out plant advice because the pressure can become crippling.

If the recommended plant doesn’t survive, I’m scorned at the next basketball game.

If the suggested choice can’t be found at the local nursery, I’m no longer trusted and the kids aren’t invited to any more birthday parties.

But I’m putting it all on the line today.

Without fear.

I am that confident with the choices I’m about to offer up. The following perennials (staying away from grasses for now; he’ll have to buy me lunch first) are very specific to the conditions we have here in zone 6B New Jersey. Throw in deer and rabbits galore.  And a high water table which leads to very poor draining soil.

So my local homey, here are the top 7 perennials that I can vouch for based on my personal experience. Each has thrived for at least 5 years running and all show no signs of slowing down.

Click on the hyperlink for each plant name for additional info where applicable.

You are welcome in advance.

#1 – Joe Pye Weed close to 6 feet tall, blooms are long lasting, attracts numerous critters  and looks good all the way into the fall.

joe pye weed

joe pye and miscanthus


#2 – Amsoniathe deer have never touched it, great bluish blooms in spring followed by fine textured foliage all summer. But Fall is when it shines with unbelievable colors ranging from yellow to orange.   





#3 – Astilbeno critter has ever touched it, appreciates oodles of moisture, blooms in white and pink and red in late spring and the fern like foliage separates itself from others.   




#4 – Bee Balmthe scent keeps the deer at bay, the bees flock to it and the blooms last all summer and even into fall. I personally love the taller options which make their presence known in the garden.




#5 – Purple Coneflower – yes they are everywhere but it is still an oldie but goodie. Multiplies like mad so there is a full supply year to year. Consistent blooms without a care in the world.   




#6 – Lobelia – cherishes the waterlogged soil and provides late summer blooms.


blue lob


#7 – Mountain Mint not the showiest, but what a critter magnet. I could stand over these in bloom all day.



We’ll talk again in spring dude but start doing your homework now if you want to continue to hang with me.

Random garden musings

Some thoughts as I walked through my garden recently:
Thuja (Arborvitae) ‘Rheingold’ continues to grow on me each year. The foliage color and texture are friggin stupendous:   

Cornus (Red Twig Dogwood) ‘Arctic Fire’ may be the shrub I’m most excited about for next year. I bought the tiniest plug last year and actually forgot about it. It was lost amongst the weeds in spring but I babied it in a container and now she is ready to fly on her own. Get those twigs nice and red now, ya hear:    

Perennials I can’t grow due to poor drainage are now being kept in containers so I can move them around at will – sort of like rearranging furniture. This Sedum ‘Matrona’ is temporarily in front of Hydrangea ‘Lady in Red’ … I kind of dig it:

Berries on trees = good times:

Just thought this was kind of a cool shot – Lobelia siphilitica (Blue Cardinal Flower) through the blooms of a Panicum (Switch Grass):

This Asclepias Incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) is thriving at four feet tall:

But I liked it better when it was destroyed by the caterpillars:

I still prefer containers with only one plant in them – like this series of Cordyline. One day I’ll graduate to the big leagues and learn how to use thrillers, fillers and spillers:

Each morning I run, I look forward to seeing the blooms on Tradescantia (Spiderwort) ‘Sweet Kate’ and I’m cool with them disappearing soon after:

Have a great weekend and for all of you in the path of Hurricane Irene, stay safe. We’re already preparing here in NJ as we’re expecting 8″ to 12″ of rain.


What’s blooming today

A sampling of what’s blooming, about to bloom and blooms on their last legs: 
Lobelia siphilitica

Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ blooms maturing to dark pink

Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)

Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ (Stonecrop)

Eupatorium ‘Gateway’ (Joe Pye Weed)

Moved all my Northern Sea Oats to same location – “A sea of oats”

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ starting to rebloom after drastic haircut 

Coreopsis ‘Sweet Dreams’ 

Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ blooms are endless

Physostegia ‘Summer Snow’ (Obedient Plant)

Althea ‘Lavender Chiffon’ (Rose of Sharon) 

The advantages of native plants

I must admit, I have a very large lawn on my property. It takes me close to two hours a week to cut it during the growing season. Not exactly environmentally friendly, eh? Before you beat me down, I must tell you I never water it, never fertilize it and have slowly been chipping away at removing it by creating new garden beds. While a lawn provides a great play space for the kids and the green swath looks pretty damn nice in the spring, I am no longer much of a fan. The effort involved to maintain it is not worth it and for a plant lover like me, it really represents more of an opportunity to further bankrupt myself and create more garden beds.

Which leads me to a discussion on native plants. A native plant can be best defined as: a plant that occurs naturally in the place where it evolved (I took that definition from wildflower.org). There are numerous advantages to using native plants in the landscape (and you will notice almost all are exactly the opposite of what it takes to maintain a lawn):

  • Drought tolerance 
  • Minimal need for fertilizer
  • No need for pesticides
  • With minimal fertilizer/pesticides – no run-off into the water supply 
  • Disease tolerant
  • Attracts wildlife, beneficial bugs and encourages biodiversity
  • Low cost to purchase natives
  • Because natives are in their natural environment, their size and cooperation with neighboring plants is much more predictable and makes design/planning much easier.                

I didn’t intend for today’s post to be about native plants but as I was reviewing my plant photos from this prior year, I noticed how many of the “successes” were native plants. Hence, where I ended up with this post. Here are some of my native plants and please, share some of the natives you’ve had success with in the comments section so I can pretend I knew about them all along:   

Sneezeweed – Helenium autumnale 

Blue cardinal flower – Lobelia siphilitica

Turtlehead – Chelone glabra 

Purple coneflower – Echinacea purpurea

Garden Phlox – Phlox paniculata ‘David’

Boltonia asteroides ‘Pink Beauty’

When the native plant sales begin here in New Jersey around the middle of May, I begin my plan of attack and this upcoming year will be no different. I’ll just need to clear more lawn to fit in more of these low maintenance gems.

Go native or go home!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Weekend in Review

Today’s entry is a big time first. The first post written while hung over. The 20th high school reunion was a smashing success but now I am paying the consequences for all the shenanigans. But more on that later.

Friday night  – we had a kick butt seasonal, fresh, summer dinner prepared by Mrs. ONG:

  • Cedar plank salmon with a brown sugar rub
  • Corn on da cob (NJ corn is off the charts)
  • Watermelon margarita – refreshing and effective 
  • Blueberry Mascarpone Ice Cream – the best ice cream EVER (from the Bent Spoon in Princeton)

Saturday – the HS reunion went down and it was a trip. I’ll spare you all the gory details and give you some of the highlights:

  • Many more of the former classmates read the blog than I expected. Actually got into some good gardening conversations. I even threw a “blossom end rot” out there. 
  • I really wish I named my blog something simpler. Feels a bit silly spelling out the URL.
  • To some degree, the old high school cliques still exist. Very funny to observe.
  • People really don’t change – that is both good and bad 

Sunday – up at 7:30 to bring my chum to Newark Airport. We maybe said three words to each other as we attempted to recover. Meanwhile, my family of hot air balloon hunters were up at the crack of dawn to see the taking off of a ton of balloons during the annual Central NJ balloon fest.

After a lazy, super hot and humid afternoon, we got hit with a mother of a storm and couldn’t have been happier to get the much needed rain. I actually heard the tomatoes sigh with relief.
After the rain, I headed out to take some photos. Never a better time than after a rain in the early evening. And I will go back a bit on what I said in a prior post (shocker, huh?). There are a few macro shots in there that I couldn’t resist. Enjoy:

Lobelia Siphilitica – just starting to bloom
    Clethra ‘Hummingbird’ bloom
Miscanthus ‘Super Stripe’ finally starting to take off
Crabapple right after the rain
Caryopteris ‘Sunshine Blue’ looking good.
Yeah tomatoes
Pruned back Nepeta (Catmint) already showing signs of re-bloom.
Hydrangea leaf
Think I like the Northern Sea Oats?
Good night and God bless.