Tag Archives: veronica ‘royal candles’

The August Garden

As we hit the midpoint of August and slog through the dog days of summer, I realize that the plants in my garden can be broken down into three different categories:

Fading

Still going strong

Ready to take center stage

I guess these same categories exist throughout all of the gardening “seasons”, but it seems to be at an extreme right now.

And the garden, shocker, reflects life itself. Allow me to pontificate.

With the heat and humidity at what feels like an all time high (I’ll still take it over winter) I some times find myself caving and giving in to the joys of air conditioning. Likewise, so many plants have succumbed to the conditions and have thrown in the towel. No more fighting for that last new bloom or trying to keep up the facade of clean looking foliage. Uncle.

At the same time, there are those plants in my garden that say “f you” to these conditions and keep kicking ass. Not too unlike a certain gardener I know who can’t get enough of the stinging sweat in his eyes, the burning in the calves and easily runs through three t-shirts a day. A gardener who accepts the chuckles from his neighbors and keeps pulling weeds like it was hot yoga.

And then there are those plants who sense the cooler weather is coming and are ramping up for a big time display. There are subtle signs from some and not so subtle signs from others. You can feel their excitement, their turn to take the lead in the play. Fall is their time and they f’n know it. Hopefully my kids feel that same type of energy and excitement as they soon head off to high school and 5th grade. Because all kids feel that way,right?

FADING

No plants better represent the concept of fading than the coneflower. Phenomenal in peak bloom but in my humble opinion, still killer as the pink and yellow and white washes out, turns black and eventually becomes all cone.

coneflower spent

 

white coneflower

 

astilbe coneflower spent

 

Almost all of the Bee Balm blooms are in full fade mode yet still have a presence. That is if you take them in from a distance and ignore the slow takeover of powdery mildew.

bee balm and joe pye

 

Fading Agastache still pulls in the bees and who wants to get in the way of that?

spent agastache

 

STILL GOING STRONG

The dwarf Sneezeweed (‘Mariachi’ series) are still blooming strong and the deer have no interest.

red dwarf sneezeweed

 

orange dwarf sneezeweed

Providing a nice contrast in form and color with the emerging ornamental grasses.

planter bed

 

If it takes surrounding hydrangea by grasses and other deer despising plants, so be it. It has worked and this hydrangea continues to thrive even with the extreme heat of the past few weeks.

hydrangea

 

Veronica ‘Royal Candles’, one of the few plants I cut back religiously, always provides multiple rebloom periods. These were cut back only two weeks ago.

veronica prune

 

veronica sedum bee balm

 

Of course it isn’t all about the flowers and one of my favorite foliage plants right now is Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’. It brightens up one of the few shaded areas in my garden and holds up all spring/summer.

diervilla

 

I have tried for years to find a blue evergreen that would be ignored by the deer and say “no problem” to my clay soil that can sometimes be a bit waterlogged. Some how, Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’ has been the one to take the crown and three years in I am beyond thrilled. Upright, untouched by the deer and very little winter damage has made it a winner.

juniper wichita

 

READY TO TAKE CENTER STAGE

The first signs of bloom on the Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ appeared this week, which is always a reminder that September is fast approaching.

sedum pink

 

Boltonia blooms aplenty are here with plenty more to come. Of course once all blooms are present it will lean over and not be as fun to look at but I’ll be sure to never show you that photo.

boltonia

 

Eupatorium ‘Wayside’ or Hardy Ageratum (but not really an Ageratum) finally survived the winter for me after two previous attempts. It seems to have reseeded more than it actually survived but who can complain. I love the late season color. A fun one to photograph in fall.

eup wayside

 

BONUS – Ornamental Grasses

I kind of like ornamental grasses in case you are new here. You’ve been warned.

Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ in full bloom as of this week.

pennisetum

 

penn and joe pye

 

First signs of blooms on Panicum ‘Northwind’.

panicum and joe pye

 

Same goes for Miscanthus ‘purpurascens’ or Flame Grass.

panicum miscanthus blooms

 

Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ and their airy blooms.

panicum rots

 

I “attempted” to rid my garden of all Northern Sea Oats and while there is still a ways to go, I’ve made major progress. Having said that, I can’t deny these NSO that have grown right through an Itea shrub look kind of awesome. Oh well.

sea oats

QOTD: Do you like this time of year in your garden? Why or why not?

 

The latest and not always greatest in the garden

Some observations from out in the garden:

This white bee balm is the only one to have survived last winter and while it is nice to see it blooming, it honestly doesn’t do much for me and the powdery mildew is real bad, worse than with all of the other bee balm. We don’t know until we try, right?

white bee balm

 

Right plant for the right location = happiness, as seen with the Physostegia (Obedient Plant) below. This first photo was taken back in May when I dug up and divided a massive batch of these and relocated them to my newly extended and very empty garden bed.

divided obedient

Two months later and they are thriving in a very wet and full sun location. I am very psyched for the massive pink display to arrive next month.

obedient vivid

 

You’ve all seen all of my numerous pics of Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ and read my raving reviews of this perennial but in the spirit of my last post and with full disclosure, here is the reality of the “legs” on these right now.

veronica bad

Fortunately, I’ve shielded most of them with other low lying plants so the blooms remain the attraction.

veronica good

 

I love how one ‘Karl Foerster’ grass (Calamagrostis) can break up a mass of perennials and not only lend a different height/uprightness, but a different texture as well.

front bed

 

I cleared this area of nasty Canada Thistle by cutting them all at soil level and not by attempting to pull out the roots like a dope which has failed me miserably for years now since it actually multiplies the number of weeds when pieces of root break off.

thistle path

I will now finally track the results properly. Here is one example of the cutting.

thistle cut

And about one week later. I’m going to now cut it back again soon and will continue to do so until it kills itself by sapping all of the plant’s energy. Or so I hope. More to come.

thistle

 

I just purchased a few ‘Delft Lace’ Astilbes solely because I fell in love with the red stems and red tinged foliage. I’ll be sure to track this one for you and hopefully I don’t fry them since you know, they need constant moisture and it is the dead of summer. Smart.

delft astilbe

 

My attempt at a path with a true destination worth visiting.

 

These purplish bee balm are incredible right now and are my favorite current place in the garden. 

planter bed 2

 

planter bed

 

bee balm 2

They are bringing in a ton of visitors. 

hummingmoth 2

 

butterfly bee balm 2

 

Check out all of the action with this video.

QOTD – Where do you purchase most of your plants? And I want specific names and locations please.

Thank you.

 

Veronica Royal Candles

It is late September 2012 and I’m mourning the transition from summer to fall while I hum Taylor Swift’s “We are never getting back together”. I am in complete denial of the impending cold weather and in order to further facilitate that denial, I head online to find me some plant deals. The hunt for a bargain is always exciting and it allows me to dream of a better, warmer day.

One of the places I always check out is Santa Rosa Gardens. They are always good for some heavily discounted plants near the end of the gardening season. I have purchased a ton of ornamental grasses from them in September/October/November of each year with wild success.

On this day however, I find no grasses to my liking. But I am still desperate to acquire some new plants. After long deliberation, I remain calm and conservatively decide to buy a few bulbs. Nothing overly exciting but I still get off fantasizing about March/April blooms.

Right before I submit my order, I check out the “Bargain Bench” section one last time and without much thought, throw in an order of 6 plants at a super cheap price. To prove I’m not fibbing, you can see my actual order below.

santa

Those 6 “throw-in’s” were Veronica ‘Royal Candles’.

A plant I had zero experience with.

A plant I had never researched.

A plant I had no plan for in terms of location (shocking, I know).

A plant that didn’t necessarily work with my conditions.

And a plant of which I now own over two dozen.

veronica3

Isn’t that how it always works? The best plan is no plan at all.

After I received these 6 Veronica (Speedwell) through the mail, and in a move of desperation, I stuck them in the ground in a known wet spot just hoping they would miraculously survive the winter. Solid decision making there.

Not only did they survive the winter, they survived Hurricane Sandy only a few days after I planted them.  And they bloomed their little asses off that spring. I figured the rabbits or deer would eventually get them but they remained untouched all the way into fall.

Was it a stroke of a luck? I was leaning in that direction, so I didn’t touch them as we rolled into and through 2013. This would be the true test.

Sure enough, they kicked more booty and were once again OK with the waterlogged clay soil, the rabbits and the deer. I was hooked. Time to add a bunch more for that great punch of color.

veronica6

I found them dirt cheap at my local nursery this spring and purchased a few trays. I literally placed them everywhere at the front of my beds.

 

 

 

And all I’ve gotten in return is purple awesomeness and hosts of happy critters along the way.

ver

ver2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the complaints I’ve read about these perennials is how the blooms start to “brown up” from the bottom which takes away from the overall look of the blooms.

veronica1

While this is true, I’ve found that with a quick snip of the blooms, they are quick to recover, usually blooming again within two weeks.

veronica2

Yes, it is solely the blooms that make this plant interesting, but some times you simply want large bursts of color all at once and to date, this dwarf perennial has delivered the goods.

veronica

DSC_0107

A few additional notes on this Speedwell:

  • Prefers full sun, but I have most of mine in partial sun with outstanding results
  • Size maxes out at approximately 12″ x 18″
  • Survives in zones 2-9
  • Apparently easy to divide and I will test this out next spring

You’ll be sure to hear more about these from me in 2015 as together we’ll see if they hold up well in year 3.

 

 

 

 

 

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.