Monday, July 13, 2009

Making a case for the blues and brandy ....

Readers of this blog remember how much I gushed about the bush morning glory. This week it finally bloomed and it's more lovely than I remember.

I'm not a huge fan of blue. Maybe it's all those years of having to wear royal blue in high school that has turned me off. And it typically isn't a color I am drawn to in the garden either. But this nautical blue is a dazzling sight. In the sunlight it's a bright blue but on an overcast day, it almost has a purple hue.

I sowed these seeds in late May/early June. They were fast growers and were not high maintenance to get going. They do have that trailing habit so I can see why the packet said it would be good in a rock garden. Next year, I would like to spread these out a little more for that nautical flash in a couple of spots.

I planted this laurentia not because of the beauty of the plant (albeit it's pleasant enough) but because of the name "Beth's Blue." I couldn't resist. It actually is more purple and blue. It's been blooming non-stop for weeks.

You can see on this photo that I opted for black mulch in my front yard beds. So far, the experiment has worked well. The soft black of the mulch is very forgiving for gardeners like me that are constantly moving things around. It's true test will be a hard rain or a wind storm!

I had never grown an annual rudbekia until I saw "Cherry Brandy". I've tried to incorporate more red in the garden basically to appease my husband - a big fan of red flowers. Red can look garish so I add it sparingly and with much trepidation.

Cherry Brandy's petals are as soft as velvet and I love the burgundy - almost black cherry - hue. What a bummer that it's only an annual ... although on some sites it says it can be a perennial.

Has anyone else grown it? Can it reseed itself as a perennial?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wacky leaves

Every so often my coneflowers have what I call yellow leaf disease.

The White Swan coneflower continues to grow - you can see the buds - but the leaves get a sickly yellowish-green. I am baffled by this. I thought the conventional wisdom was that if your leaves were yellow your plants are getting too much water. Not so in my case. If anything - they probably don't get enough.

To further complicate this, weird brown spots appear on the leaves too. My purple coneflower did this two years ago and were so diseased toward the end of the season that I yanked them out and never put them in my garden again. But I love the White Swan and I'm bummed that this is happening to them.

Do you know what might be causing this? Bad soil? Not enough fertiziler?

On to fun things ....

Better Homes and Gardens gives their recommendations for plants to try each year. This year they suggested the double wave petunia. I'm not a big petunia fan but I was smitten by their photos of them and decided to give it a whirl. The picture above is the pink. They are in a planter mixed with blue double wave petunias, pink million bells and purple fountain grass. The double blooms are gorgeous and require next to nothing in maintenance. My kind of annual! I'd buy these again in a heartbeat.

Iris quiz: I was given this very tall iris last year. Can anyone tell me what kind it is? Love the colors - perfect for all the Minnesota Viking fans in our house!