Sunday, January 30, 2011


Life cycletender perennial
Flowersdeep pink-red (summer)
Lightsun-part shade
Cultural notesordinary garden soil
From seed germinates quickly at room temperature
Flowers first year from seed sown indoors early.
detailed seed-starting info below
Seed ripenslate September

Grown from seeds received in trade, this was a most welcome surprise - we love the way the dark purple foliage combines with the red-to-deep pink flowers. Not sure of the true cultivar name - I haven't been able to find any references to this strain. At any rate, we'll try this one again.

Dahlia 'Jazz'


Common nameweeping sedge
Life cycleperennial
Size2', flower stalks to 4'
Lightpart shade
Cultural notesmoist soil
From seed provide cold treatment, then germinate at room temperature
detailed seed-starting info below

As sedges go, this one is quite coarse. It was rather uninspiring for the first few years of its life, and still is not a stunner - but now at least the foliage is dense enough to make a statement (it was very sparse in its earlier years). The flowers/seedheads might merit the designation "interesting". In all, a plant I'll keep around, but probably not in the high-rent area in the middle of our side garden, where it lives now.

weeping sedge


Common namesaffron crocus
Life cycleperennial bulb (Z6-9)
Flowerslavender (October)
Cultural noteswell-drained soil

Although we grow this fall-blooming crocus for its pretty veined lavender flowers, it is also the source of the spice saffron - the highest quality spice uses only the red stigmas, lower qualities include the yellow anthers. Both contribute to the ornamental qualities of the flower. Although the flowers don't last long in our garden, they make us stop and look when they do.

Crocus sativus


Common namecilantro; coriander
Life cycleannual
Lightsun-part shade
From seed self-seeds in our garden

Most years, we get a number of cilantro plants as volunteers in our herb garden - and we gladly let them grow, even though by the time they'd be most valuable (when ripening tomatoes are clamoring for a pico de gallo partner) they long since gone to seed. I've no idea how this exuberant specimen wound up in our newly planted bogside border, but even here I couldn't get myself to chop it down (until it got ratty after the blooms faded). We do use coriander as a culinary spice, but not in such quantity that we need to harvest much - the round seeds are set in profusion.
Coriandrum sativum


Common nameasiatic dayflower
Life cycleannual
Flowersblue (summer)
Lightsun-part shade

This appeared in a place where we once grewCommelina dianthifolia (bird's bill dayflower); it took some time for me to realize that what grows there now is a different species, and I have no idea how it got there. Relative to the bird's bill, this one is missing the third, lower petal. Another similar species is C. erecta, but its stamens are all yellow, without the prominent dark centers for this species from Asia. In any case, it's pretty nice for a volunteer wildflower. It can stay for now.

Commelina communis


Life cycleshrub (Z3-7)
Flowersblue (summer)
Lightsun-part shade
Cultural notesordinary garden soil
From seed temperature cycling may be helpful for germination
detailed seed-starting info below
Seed ripensextended period, starting mid-September

One of the shrubby clematis species. Compared to the tube clematis we also grow, this one has more of a lax habit - at least so far in our garden. It just bloomed for the first time this year (its third in our garden), and I'm very charmed. The buds are held upright, but once opened, the flowers look at their toes. They are a very clear blue, with some petal texture to make them appear two-toned. We'll have to wait a few more years to see its true habit when fully established.
Clematis integrifolia


Synonym(s)Chrysanthemum x rubellum; dendranthema
Common namepink daisy mum
Life cycleperennial (Z5-9)
Flowerspale pink/yellow (fall)
Lightfull sun
Cultural notesordinary garden soil

Tough plant, with lots and lots of single salmon-pink, yellow-centered daisy flowers for weeks in fall, the very last of our garden perennials to come into bloom. Keeps blooming through freezes. Tolerates drought. Spreads nicely by roots, and produces some seedlings as well, although they don't always come true - good for some interesting color variations!
Chrysanthemum koreanum 'Sheffield'


Common nameCarpatian harebell
Life cycleperennial
Flowersblue, late spring
Lightfull sun-part shade
Cultural notesordinary garden soil, well-drained

Tidy clump of fresh green foliage, covered with nodding blue flowers in late spring. Hasn't been long-lived in the garden for us, but worth getting anew once in a while.

Campanula carpatica


Common namewhite mugwort
Life cycleperennial (Z3-8)
Flowerswhite (August-September)
Lightsun-part shade

Unlike most artemisias, this one has showy flowers, on an upright plant with deep plum stems and dark green leaves. We'd tried this unsuccessfully in a few locations (if only common mugwort A. vulgaris were so easy to kill!), but our latest attempt, in a semi-shaded area behind our bog filter, appears successful – the plant has survived a few years, and grew taller this year than before.

Artemisia lactiflora 'Guizhou'