Monday, June 11, 2012

Shots in the Garden! (June 3-9, 2012)

Bee on Russian Sage
I think I remember now that the coneflowers I planted last year are Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower). It takes a long time for the flower to open, but once it does, the flower lasts for a long time and slowly evolves through different stages. 
This is an Echinacea purpurea flower that has been open for a long time. I haven't counted the days, but perhaps as long as two weeks? The individual flower petals are fading, but the central part of the flower and what I presume are its spiky seeds are getting bolder, more dramatic and more sculptural each day.
Four stages of flowering on a single Purple Coneflower plant. 
Let's move over to the vegetable and herb garden. Chocolate mint is growing in its own pot. Yes, the leaves really do taste and smell like a combination of mint and chocolate! Mint has a reputation for being invasive and as you can see, this plant has put out rhizomes in attempt to colonize new ground. Being in a pot, the rhizomes have been forced to take a circular path.
The Sun Gold cherry tomato plant has lots of fruit, but none of them are ripe enough to pick yet.
Spanish Musica pole beans are boldly climbing their trellis made from an upside-down tomato cage staked into the ground. 
I like the name of this cucumber variety from Kitazawa Seeds: "Progress". The seedlings have emerged next to a makeshift 'trellis' I created from a roll of hardware cloth. I'm hoping the plants can be trained onto the trellis to keep the fruit off the ground and help keep the plants healthy. Last year, my cucumbers produced heavily but succumbed to powdery mildew. Progress and the other cucumber variety I planted ("Southern Delight", also from Kitazawa) are both supposed to be disease-resistant varieties. 
The Natchez crape myrtles have started to flower!
The peeling bark on the Natchez crape myrtle adds another layer of visual interest. 
I like to post photos of my gardening triumphs, but I think that sharing information on my failures can be equally instructive. This is/was Lamium maculatum, also known as Spotted Deadnettle. This particular variety is/was "Red Nancy". Lamium is supposed to form a nice groundcover in partial shade settings. Some sites even warn that the plant can become rampant or invasive. I would say this is the opposite of invasive, at least in our Middle Tennessee garden.
Back to a more cheerful photo. This sweet alyssum is thriving in the same bed where the lamium flopped. We sowed some sweet alyssum seed this year, but also purchased purple, pink and white seedlings at a local nursery. Our success rate was not great with the seedlings, but the white ones seem to have done best of all. Based on my experiences last year, I hope that alyssum will flower all summer, attracting small beneficial insects like hoverflies and parasitic wasps to the garden. I may need to give the plant a haircut in the middle of the summer, but then it should bounce back and flower strongly in the fall until frost. We'll see if these expectations are fulfilled!
The David Garden Phlox is almost ready to bloom!
Half a zinnia is better than none! Why only half? I suspect the gold finches. I'm not sure if they eat the petals or probably just dislodge them while going after the seeds. Either way, they leave intact the yellow 'crown' that surrounds the pink globe on these improbably beautiful flowers.
We started with blue and let's finish with blue. This is one of the Rozanne perennial geraniums, still covered in flowers.


  1. Aren't purple coneflowers great? They must be the most photogenic flower out there, they're so structural and the contrast of greens, pinks, and oranges work so well together. Also, I've never seen chocolate mint before, sounds yummy!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Julie.

    Totally agree with you on the coneflowers. In fact, as they stand strong and pest-free in the summer heat, they're rapidly becoming one my favorite perennials in the garden.

    I especially like the way that the individual coneflower blooms look great for weeks as the seeds change from a flat disk into the namesake cones. Really cool!

    They don't seem to attract quite as many beneficial insects as the Russian Sage, cosmos, gaura, etc. But perhaps as more coneflowers come into bloom, they'll reach a critical mass and start attracting more pollinators? A gardener can only hope.

    As for the chocolate mint, I keep thinking that I should sprinkle some leaves over vanilla ice cream, but I haven't tried that yet...

  3. I think that you should google echinacea pallida. I'm thinking that you have a Tennessee echinacea there, rather than the typical purpurea. As such... I want to be first in line when You share seed... Maybe I have something that you might want.

  4. @Gardens-In-The-Sand - You may be right. I don't know that I can make a positive ID between purpurea and pallida baed on the photos I've seen online. I think a drought-stressed purpurea with drooping petals might look like a pallida. I can take additional photos if you like and send them to you for a better ID. Happy to try to save and send seeds -- if I can beat the gold finches to them!


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