Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Hardy Little Plant With Powerful Color

It'a related to the plants we all know as 'Lamb's Eras' but it's not like it at all. It's botanical name is
Stachys minima more commonly known as Dwarf Betony. Wikipedia states " The distribution of the genus covers Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and North America. Common names include heal-all, self-heal, woundwort, betony, lamb's ears, and hedgenettle. Wood betony, Stachys officinalis, was the most important medicinal herb to the Anglo-Saxons of early medieval Great Britain."

I first became aware of this plant when my friend Dave Meyer gave me one while visiting him, and when it bloomed, was I impressed. I've always thought highly of Stachys Hummelo and this is very similiar in habit only in about the third of it's size. The flower color is a little lighter in color but it stands up like Hummelo and covers the plant. I had it planted next to a Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' in partial shade and the color combinations were striking. The deep flower color and light yellowish green leaves of the Tradescantia and the deep green leaves and lilacy purple color of the Stachys flowers were very complimentary. I have divided it several times at different times of the year and it just keeps on growing. I took these photo's at the Midwest Groundcovers trial garden several years ago.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not Your Normal Tulip, Tulip 'tarda'

Bed of Tulip 'tarda'

Tulip 'tarda'
Unlike most of the tulips we have come to know and love, Tulip 'tarda' has a smaller star shaped flower and a more ground cover type of habit. Yellow and white flowers that bloom in early to mid spring cover the ground. They are also great perennials, planted in a spot with decent drainage they will come back and spread for many years. If you've ever heard me speak, you know I like to plant these informally in small bunches here and there throughout the garden. Preferably in a spot close to a walkway or entrance. Try tulip 'tarda' you will like them.

After posting this I received an email from Guus, he pointed out another nice characteristic of this plant. The seedpods are very showy and unique. I love when there's more to a plant than you think. Thanks Guus.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Sneezeweed" Really?

'Sahin's Early Flowerer'

One of my favorite plants in any garden is Helenium, or more commonly known as sneezeweed. Looking a bit like miniature sunflowers, heleniums, or sneezeweed, are bright and cheerful perennials in shades of gold, rust, orange, and red. The name sneezeweed was given because the leaves were once commonly used to make snuff.

One variety I have pictured here, called 'Sahin's Early Flowerer', was given the Award of Garden Merit in 2001 by the Royal Horticultural Society. It grows to a height of about 36", its flowers are a blend of deep red, to yellow and gold, with a brown and yellow cone. If you watch the cone through the bloom it too will slowly open up and change color. They are deer resistant, have a long bloom time and are native plants. I love these color combinations when they bloom from midsummer to fall. Other varieties can flower with stronger reds like 'Red Army' to a double yellow called 'Double Trouble'. I took these the  'Sahin's Early Flowerer'  photos a few years ago in the Chicago Botanic Garden trial garden on July 24th. The 'Wyndley' was from my yard taken on June 27th. As you can see the 'Wyndley' has more yellow with just a hint of red.
'Sahin's Early Flowerer'