Tag Archives: purple coneflower

Garden bliss

Today was one of those magical garden days where I was incapable of thought.

Incapable of planning.

Incapable of finding fault.

Incapable of tinkering and pulling and snipping.

The garden just was and that felt fucking awesome.

I appreciated all that it took for these visitors to make it here and personally thanked them for bringing my garden to life.

butterfly joe pye 2

 

butterfly joe pye

 

joe pye butterfly 2

 

joe pye butterfly

 

I wish I could remember the exact day when I allowed Joe Pye Weed to come into my life. Because that day should be celebrated each year.

joe pye playroom bed

 

playroom bed

 

planter bed

 

There is nothing like the feeling of the sun burning your neck, the dirt under your fingernails and the feeling of warm earth in your fingertips. But it can be eye opening and rewarding to take a step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor every once in a while.

side bed 4

and then stepping back some more …

side bed 3

and some more …

side bed 2

Shit, I created that and it’s kind of great.

When this blissful type of day arrives, I can even tolerate the clashing of colors because they had to bloom their asses off to clash in the first place.

dwarf sneeze

So why not enjoy them for what they are on their own and not sweat how they interact with others. The fleeting nature of flowers/perennials is why we love them so damn much.

dwarf sneeze 2

 

The fading of flowers is part of the process and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the years. Sure, I could cut the spent blooms to promote new blooms and keep things all tidy and sometimes I’ll do just that. But allowing the blooms to fade gracefully while others take the lead role just feels right. Take yourself out of the equation.

white coneflower

 

coneflower susan

 

And some times plant combos create themselves through some sort of divine intervention. Like this Anemone bloom crawling up inside this Blue Grama Grass. I have no memories of planting this Anemone and have never successfully seen one bloom in my own garden. Now we sit back and enjoy.

blonde ambition anemone

QOTD – Who is better, “Blissful John” or “Let’s take all the fun and enjoyment out of gardening John”? Not that I can control who appears when, but I’m curious just the same.

 

 

 

 

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.   

amsonia2

amsonia

amsonia

 

#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.   

astilbe2

astilbe3

 

#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.

monarda3

bee

 

#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.   

garden7

moth3

 

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

lobelia2

blue lob

 

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

mint2

mint

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

A garden update

What’s been doing in my garden these days:

Monarda (Bee Balm) is reliable, spreads as I need it to, has great color and attracts the critters:

 

 

My Purple Coneflower/Russian Sage combo is the oldest in my garden and never disappoints:

 

Hot damn, I love this Helenium (Sneezeweed) ‘Short n Sassy’:

The first of the Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) to bloom. This is ‘Baby Joe’:

The Physostegia (Obedient Plant) is blooming weeks before it ever has before:

Phlox’n awesome:

Man do I love daylillies (‘Little Grapette’) … pause for effect … look up hypocrite in the dictionary … lose my street cred:

 

 

First Coneflower “Sunshine’ bloom:

Awaiting first Coneflower ‘Fragrant Angel’ blooms:

Filling in nicely:

 

 

Assessing the blooms

It is a shock to see actual healthy looking blooms out in the yard this time of year. Even a blind squirrel …
OK, enough of the false modesty, here is what I am seeing in good old rural New Jersey this early summer 2013:
Yes, they are everywhere, but I still love the combo of purple coneflowers and russian sage, especially when the coneflowers actively re-seed, giving it all a much more natural look:

Monarda (Bee Balm) ‘Colrain Red’ in front of a soon to be blooming Clethra ‘Hummingbird’:

The first signs of bloom on ‘Baby Joe’ Joe Pye Weed. I am so psyched to have located these dwarf versions of the original:

Plant name, no idea; it is everywhere in the wild growth around my property and some snuck into my man-made garden. Pretty cool:

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) emerging (in front of Panicum ‘Northwind’):

Mountain Mint is so understated but that is why I love it … that and all the bugs it attracts:

I have no idea which phlox this is; got three for $1.99 and I couldn’t resist, powdery mildew be damned:

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!
ONG 

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