Monday, January 25, 2016

Class of 2016 -- Physostegia virginiana, obedient plant

Obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana, photo by Shigemi.J 

Why I'm growing Physostegia virginiana in my garden...

1) It's native to Tennessee and throughout much of the Eastern and Central U.S.

2) Gardeners on the Dave's Garden website say it can tolerate drought, heat and clay soil in hot climates including Tennessee and Texas.

3) Gail at the marvelous clay and limestone blog has high praise for obedient plant, calling it a good colonizing plant that acts as "a magnet for pollinators" including bumblebees, carpenter bees and smaller bees.

4) The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says obedient plant flowers may attract hummingbirds.

Do you grow obedient plant? If so, what has been your experience with this plant?


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Monday, January 18, 2016

Class of 2016 -- Kosteletzkya virginica, seashore mallow

Kosteletzkya virginica, seashore mallow, photo by Bob Peterson

Why I'm growing Kosteletzkya virginica in my garden...

1) It's native to the Southeastern U.S. (although as the name suggests, it's really only native to marshy, coastal places from Texas to Florida and up to Maryland).

2) Despite the fact that it naturally occurs just at the coast, Heather Alley, Conservation Horticulturalist at the State Botanical Garden in Athens, Georgia says that seashore mallow has thrived through downpours and droughts in her inland botanical garden over a number of years.

3) Both my wife and I like hibiscus flowers (in fact, I'm already growing Hibiscus moscheutos, H. syriaca and H. coccineus in my garden), so I'm eager to try growing another member of the Hibiscus family.

4) Alley says that the flowers are attractive to bumblebees and that Kosteletzkya virginica can self-sow and provide some volunteer plants.

Do you grow seashore mallow? If so, what has been your experience with this plant?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Class of 2016 -- Indigofera kirilowii, Chinese indigo

Chinese indigo, Indigofera kirilowii, photo by peganum
Chinese indigo, Indigofera kirilowii, photo by peganum

Why I'm growing Indigofera kirilowii in my garden...

1) Cornell highly recommends it as a deciduous woody groundcover that spreads by root suckers and (as a member of the pea family) can fix nitrogen in the soil.

2) This suckering habit makes it a good choice for protecting slopes and embankments from soil erosion, per the Arnold Arboretum.

3) Scott Beuerlein at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden calls Kirilow indigo an 'amazingly tough shrub' that blooms for a long time and attracts a fair amount of bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

4) Based on the photos I've seen, the flowers seem beautiful and I like the smooth foliage, which reminds me a little of a Baptisia australis that I grow.

Do you grow Chinese indigo? If so, what has been your experience with this plant?


Monday, January 4, 2016

Class of 2016 -- Conoclinium coelestinum, blue mistflower

Happy New Year!

I hope you all will have a wonderful, exciting (yet peaceful) and happy 2016!

This year, many of my blog posts will be for the purpose of introducing new plants that I'm adding to the Garden of Aaron.

Some of these plants were actually added to the garden a few months ago, but since 2016 will be their first growing season, I'll be introducing them throughout this year.

My plant is to introduce one new plant each Monday morning.

As the year progresses, the introductions probably will come to include some details about how the plants have performed their first year in the garden.

Without further delay, here's the first introduction!

Butterfly visiting blue mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum (photo via TexasEagle)

Why I'm growing Conoclinium coelestinum in my garden...

1) It's native to Tennessee and much of the Eastern U.S.

2) Gail at clay and limestone gave it an incredibly enthusiastic review, praising its ability to support butterflies, bees and birds.

3) I purchased some cut stems of blue mistflower from Laura Bigbee-Fott at a Nashville farmers market last summer and was impressed by the way that the flowers lasted up to 2 weeks in a vase.

4) It is supposed to be drought tolerant, capable of growing in full sun or partial shade, and resistant to damage from both deer and rabbits.

5) Some gardeners say it can spread too aggressively, which gave me pause. But I have a lot of open space to fill in a couple of garden beds in the backyard, so I figure I won't mind if this native wildflower naturalizes itself back there -- especially given its wildlife-friendly qualities.

Do you grow blue mistflower? If so, what has been your experience with this plant?