Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rolling out the Welcome Mat - Aquilegia, Fothergilla, Geraniums, Indian Pink, Salvia and More!

Thanks to my friendly camera-lending neighbor, Christian, I'm able to show you a few more photos from my early May garden - focusing primarily on the flowers you'd see in the front (and side) of the house if you stopped by to visit. This stunning dark purple columbine just showed up this year on the side of my house. I believe it is an interspecies hybrid between Aquilegia canadensis (the red-flowered native, seen in the background here) and one of the Aquilegia vulgaris cultivars that I purchased. Whatever the case, I love it!

The native Aquilegia canadensis went nuts this year - spreading, growing at least 3 feet tall and blooming exuberantly! I thought columbine would need at least partial shade in the Southeast, but these endure afternoon sunshine without any complaints in their northwest exposure. (They do get morning shade.) My only wish - that they would attract hummingbirds. They're supposed to - but I haven't seen any hummers visiting these flowers. (Of course, I've barely seen any hummers at all this year so far.)

Fothergilla gardenii, just looking amazing and acting troublefree - as usual. (That's part of a big patch of Melissa officinalis, lemon balm, crowding the fothergilla from the left side of the photo.)

This Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' is only 2-3 years old and it has grown nearly as large as the azalea shrub behind it. After this photo was taken, the center of the geranium splayed open. I'm not sure what happened. I think there's a rabbit living under the azalea bush, so bunny may be to blame. (Perhaps the rabbit excavated a nest and disturbed the geranium roots?) I'll probably try a drastic cutback (which has worked to rejuvenate other geraniums in my garden), but I'm planning to wait until the blooms are done, because (a) they look beautiful and (b) they attract bumblebees!

That same rabbit has been wreaking havoc on the three Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) plants in the front border. You can see a few stems have been nibbled here.

...and an entire Indian pink has been chomped back here. Darn you, rascally rabbit!

What amazing fuzzy purple-and-white flowers on the Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage), a new addition to the Garden of Aaron. Again, these are supposed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, but I haven't seen either one visiting the flowers yet. Although it's only rated as hardy to zone 8 (and I'm in zone 6b/7a), I found an inexpensive source so I figured I'd take a chance on the plants. Plus, how could you resist these Seussical blooms?

The 'Natchez' mock orange (Philadelphus x virginalis 'Natchez') seems to be doing pretty well during its second full year in the garden. It's sent up some new vigorous, healthy-looking foliage from the base and has some pretty new flowers. The flowers are fragrant, but the scent is quite faint. Perhaps that's why it doesn't seem to attract many pollinators, except for ants like the one shown here in the leftmost flower. (Incidentally, I believe Natchez is a complex hybrid, but it may have 1/4 native ancestry from P. pubescens, which is listed as native to Tennessee, Arkansas and Illinois.)

Close-up pic of the flowers on Penstemon x mexicali 'Red Rocks', another new addition to the garden this year. Red Rocks reportedly has a nice, long bloom season and is supposed to be better than many other penstemons at tolerating humidity and heavy soils.

Lastly, here's a look at the front corner of the house where I planted Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) last spring. I think this is the 'Northwind' cultivar. This is quite a windy, exposed corner on the hilltop and many of the other plants (including a crape myrtle) that I tried here struggled with that wind. Fortunately, the switchgrass does not seem to mind the wind one bit and it's nice watching the leaf blades sway and bend in the breeze. Near the switchgrass, you can see some columbine, self-sown sunflowers, a pink-flowered Salvia greggii and some volunteer Mexican hat plants (Ratibida columnifera).

Thanks for visiting! The garden continues grow and change and bloom and grow more beautiful day by day, week by week. Stay tuned for photographic proof coming soon~! :)