Garden Girl Clothing and More

During my visit to the Independent Garden Center showroom floor, I got to speak with Petra Maison, creator and founder of Garden Girl. Here she talks about her new product line.

Singing the (Happy) Blues of Summer

Blue, or what we call blue in the garden, seems to become more prevalent as the season winds down. It might not be in swathes of startling beauty, but it's there nonetheless, inviting us to catch our breath from the heat and rest our eyes on the coolest color on the wheel.
The 'Legend' tomato and the 'Polish Spirit' clematis form a
pretty partnership.

Although I couldn't have planned a more cheerful partnership, I'll take credit for the grafted tomato 'Legend' cozying up to the simple deep blue-purple "Polish Spirit' clematis.
Cynoglossum amabile
But there is a true blue flower that's decidedly easy to grow. I tossed seed of Cynoglossum amabile here and there throughout the garden, and it's been blooming since mid-July. This annual Asian native will self-sow if it likes its environment, but it's really not that fussy. It's great in a vase, tolerates some shade and seems to thrive in lean soils. Put this on your "must-have" list for next season. Annies Annuals has the tall variety, which is great if you have lots of sun. I think mine is a 1-foot tall hybrid that stretched a bit in the shade.
Phlox 'David's Lavender'
Next to the true blue Chinese forget-me-not above, Phlox 'David's Lavender' looks nearly pink. But it's got a good bit of cool to its demeanor. And this variety has been mildew-free for several years in my crowded garden.
Aconitum of a species likely napellus.
Speaking of crowded, Aconitum napellus, or at least I think that's the species, keeps a very low profile in a shady spot as it takes support from a trellis whose clematis has seen better days. The common name for this gorgeous true blue flower is wolfsbane. (Wickipedia) It's poisonous, but that doesn't mean you can't admire it up close. I always wash my hands after handling it.

What's New in Hydrangeas?

Kniphofia - a New Love

This bouquet is an attempt to determine
what to combine with Kniphofia in the garden.
I knew it was serious when I began to plan the removal of a few peonies. My new love is spiky, perky and succulent with luscious colors like the Popsicles for which my latest additions were named. Kniphofia, or red hot poker, is a plant I'd been told years ago I couldn't grow. It wasn't hardy and needed excellent drainage, or so I'd heard.
I started with a variety called 'Coral', purchased in 2008 from Digging Dog Nursery. It didn't bloom until 2010, but it bloomed beautifully and prolifically. But it didn't bloom again. Last month I divided it and planted divisions in sunnier, better-drained spots. (Kniphofia 'Coral' is no longer available through Digging Dog, but is available at Sequim Rare Plants.)

'Orange Vanilla Popsicle'
And this week I brought home the Popsicle trio: Lemon, Redhot and Orange Vanilla, introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries.

So, in addition to these lovelies, I've discovered another new Kniphofia I'd just planted this spring is BLOOMING AGAIN!! Which is a great reason to devote some real estate to these plants.
Kniphofia 'Redhot Popsicle' with
'Lemon Popsicle' in background at right.
Another Kniphofia called 'Apricot', came from Joy Creek Nursery several years ago and was moved to its current location in the sunniest raised bed. This variety is also said to rebloom once established.
Kniphofia 'Earliest of All' starting to
rebloom after less than two months.

Unusual Varieties Possible from Seed

While some might feel the number one reason for growing plants from seed is because it's less expensive, I say it's because it's more exotic. Can you find rich and buttery Nasturtium like 'Cup of Sun' at your garden center? Would it be worth it if you did? It's so easy to grow from seed it just doesn't make sense to buy it in plant form.
As for Salvia 'Coral Nymph', it is partly a matter of expense, because it takes a lot of plants to really make a statement. I've grown this particular cultivar of Salvia coccinea several times, and actually feel cooler by looking at it. Not quite coral, but not really pink, its color goes better with true red or even purple than anything in the pink range unless it's magenta. I'm mixing mine with Zinnias, another easy seed plant.
I'm trying a couple of new Zinnia varieties this year. So far "Cha Cha Cha" is the only one that's begun to bloom. This variety is from Renee's Garden Seeds. A summer without Thunbergia alata isn't necessarily cheerless, but it's certainly questionable. I started years ago with a hanging basket into which I'd sow half a dozen Black-eyed Susan vine seeds. It grew prolifically in an eastern exposure. Those were the species--pale yellow but pretty nonetheless. But now there are hybrids available that leave the old Susan by the side of the road. When Thunbergia 'Blushing Susie' came along, I had to see if she was as colorful as she looked in her beauty shot on the Thompson & Morgan website. I'll let you be the judge. I especially like the picotee edge.

It's not too late to try a couple Zinnia seeds, and maybe even some Nasturtium or Thunbergia. Growing unique plants from seed is certainly something in the You Can Grow That realm.

July Bloom-A-Day

Made it through July with a bloom-a-day! Whew! Can't say this was child's play!

Click photo for Bloom-A-Day slide show.

I like variety. And it's a good thing come August because I'd certainly be getting tired of daylilies and coneflowers by now. Okay, they each have their place in the garden. I've pretty much chalked up daylilies because they spread too quickly and don't look good when not in bloom. Coneflowers are not quite as bad because they seem to have a longer bloom period, especially if you keep deadheading them. And to those who cringe when I say I deadhead my coneflowers, I must say: "Get a grip!" There will be plenty of time later in the season to leave the seedheads for the finches.

Why brown up my garden before its time? Although we've been getting sufficient rain over the last two weeks or so, there is enough brown lingering from the dastardly duo Drought & Heat that I certainly don't need an early drab seedhead season.
Dwarf white pine 'Squiggles'

We lost a white pine that was planted probably a year or two ago by my stealthy tree-loving husband. He loves white pines and has been planting them in our woods WHICH IS TO THE SOUTH OF MY GARDEN whenever I'm not looking. This latest and late specimen would have definitely obliterated both sun and moisture within the next few years had it lived. And so I say, "Muh wah ha ha!"

I DO like a dwarf, however. They're small so they don't shade a lot of sun lovers out by standing to the south of them. And of course, because they're small, you can have more!