August Playbook-GBBD

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What do you do with a bunch of seven footers?

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You form a basketball team. Coached by the rotting red maple carcass Ferngully, who takes no lip from these giants, may we introduce the starting lineup for the Fairegarden Freethrowers? Posing for their glossy program closeup in the first image is Rudbeckia lanciniata. Beck is the go to player on this team. His prowess with the ball is legendary, the Michael Jordan of the plant world. He has it all, strength, skill and smarts. Beck and his best bud since grade school, Joe like to discuss game tactics with Coach.

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Joe’s full name is Eupatorium purpureum maculatum ‘Gateway’, though calling him by his nickname will get his attention quicker, Joe Pye Weed. Don’t ask about the last part of the nickname, Ferngully runs a tight ship but doesn’t hold past transgressions against any of his players. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

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A walk on, Phytolacca americana, nickname Pokeberry, or Poke has been hanging around the court for years. For some perspective on the height we are talking about here, the arbor is ten feet tall.

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Poke has a softer side too. Some suspect he is really a she, but no one really cares about gender on the hardwood, as long as he/she can make the three pointer when needed.

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Starting at center is the tall man, Tony, birth name Vernonia altissima or Tall Ironweed. The team refers to him as The Ironman. Nobody can get the rebounds like Tony, his stats show he leads the league with triple doubles.

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The ball handler, forward guard, thanks Financier, Phlox paniculata, or Nick, is the hardest working member of this line up. The shortest in stature at six feet, he makes up for the lack of height by working harder than all of the others put together. Speed, agility and knowing who is where on the court at all times allows for those crucial passes that can win a ballgame.

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Coming off the bench when needed is Foeniculum vulgare, Bronze Fennel. Nicknamed Vin, he can play any position with ease having grown up with a very large and very tall family of umbrellifers. He is very popular with the fans, and has groupies that follow him mercilessly. He takes it all in stride, being an easy going gent.

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Coach Ferngully has been trying to recruit a young player he noticed playing in a pickup game down at the rec center. This kid just keeps on growing, even though we know little about him other than his name, Leo, short for Leonotis leonurus Added: this is actually L. nepetifolia.

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Lest you think we are joking, here is the rec center, the potted plants along the wall behind the main house. The wall is four feet tall. An attempt was made to show you, dear readers, Leo’s height by drawing a box around him. The box shape suggested a candle so a flame was added. Leo is on fire when dribbling a basketball. We are still waiting to see what his blooms will look like. We will need a ladder to see them it is feared, for he is even taller than we are when standing on the wall already.

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Still under observation is this tall drink of water along the garage deck bed. Identity unknown, but growing taller every day. We don’t know where this came from. Did we buy it, no record of that. Did someone give it to us, Gail? Chickenpoet? Right now the smart money says it is an aster of some sort. Stay tuned for blooms. But definitely with the right stuff, even if it is planted in the wrong place. Please excuse the lightpost drawn to help point him out to you, dear readers. He is easily six feet and still growing.

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It takes more than long legs to make this team. Plants need to be able to stand up tall without assistance. The Helianthus maximiliani from good friend Tina of In The Garden didn’t make the cut. If Max wants to hang with the big dogs, he is going to have to spend some quality time with a personal strength trainer to beef up. Maybe you could have a talk with him, Tina, about the joys of discipline, military style.

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Let’s not forget the cheerleaders, the Rah Rah Dahlia sisters, daughters of The Bishop. Ready everyone? Wheeeeeeeeee! Spirit Sprinkles!!!! Go Team!

Team Manager
Sponsored by the sports fanatic herself, Carol of May Dreams. Not to worry Carol, this team is no threat to the Pacers.

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39 Responses to August Playbook-GBBD

  1. Dear Frances,
    Lovely August blooms – I love the picture of eupatorium and butterfly, so airy – almost fairy.

    Hi Ewa, thanks, so nice to see you. That part of the garden is the most dramatic this time of year, with the large stump of Ferngully holding court. Basketball court that is. πŸ™‚

  2. hayefield says:

    Love it, Frances! You’ve built quite the team, and with you as a coach, they can’t lose. Do give Max a few more seasons to prove himself: he may end up with your MIP (most improved plant) award.

    Thanks Nan, so nice to see you. But I am only the manager, Ferngully coaches these giants, I am much too small to handle them. So you are saying Max might get stronger? He would be welcomed to join the team. Hooray! πŸ™‚

  3. chuck b. says:

    I grew some Rudbeckia triloba this year (about to start flowering), and one of them grew as tall as this R. lanciniata of yours. (It was in my way, so I ripped it out.) I wonder if some of these seeds got mixed up with my triloba seeds at the factory.

    Hi Chuck, this is a tall plant and doesn’t need staking either. We were shocked at the size of it, for it was a roadside weed gathering, in NC. I just looked it up and it says 3 to 5 feet, but with your loving hands it must have wanted to make the Freethrowers team! BTW, Cobaea is blooming! Hooray! πŸ™‚

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Dear Writer, this is such a delightful post. I have so enjoyed meeting the team and will look forward to more play by bloom action.

    Thanks Lisa, glad you enjoyed hearing about the line up. They are a rangey group without much discipline, but we love them all anyway. πŸ™‚

  5. Janet says:

    Frances – I think you had as much fun writing this as I did reading it!! My ‘Beck’ is done for the year…got mildewy and now with all the rain is kind of gross. The birds are finished with it now, so I will trim it back.

    Thanks Janet, I did have some fun once the idea sprang into my head. I always wonder why your Beck is so far ahead of ours. If it is even the same plant? Ours will stand most of the winter along with Joe. It is not close to the house though, but at the far corner of the property so it is not in the line of vision, if you get my drift! HA

  6. Gail says:

    Frances, You’ve put together a winning team…all handsome and photogenic…what more could a coach and a press agent ask for! I don’t recognize it~Salvia azurea isn’t flowering here, yet and it branches. What do the leaves look like? gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. I was wondering if it was the Salvia, which is only a couple of feet away from it. But it is way taller. The leaves look like aster to me, but at first I thought it was phlox, for they look like that too. They have that shape that could be so many things. But the most striking thing is the height, well over my head and still growing. The flowers will tell the tale, I believe. I will send you a photo as soon as one appears, my friend. πŸ™‚

  7. Les says:

    What a fun post! I am surprised you didn’t cut the Poke Weed from the team. I know they have some ornamental benefit to the team, but they can be a real thug out of uniform.

    Hi Les, thanks. The whole team has thuggish tendencies, so Poke fits right in. Tony helps keep them out of trouble, he is the captain. πŸ™‚

  8. Nell Jean says:

    What an inspired post! Your flowers play well together. Gives us new insight toward a bunch of old friends in the garden.

    Thanks Nell Jean. This group does play well together, blooming at the same time of year when we need them most. Old friends, I like that. πŸ™‚

  9. lynnsgarden says:

    I always root for the underdog player…in this case shorty Nick (at ONLY 6ft!)…empathy, you know! Whoa! that Beck sure is impressive, I bet dunking is his specialty..haha! Can I be the water girl…wink*wink! Love the candle…lol, Frances!

    Thanks, Lynn. You can sure be the water girl, but this is a very xeric group, you won’t have to work hard and can just entertain the bench warmers. Glad you liked the silly candle. πŸ™‚

  10. linda says:

    What a fun post Frances! You sure have some tall drinks of water in your garden! Happy Bloom Day.

    Thanks Linda, so nice to see you. The flowers at this time of year are all so tall, maybe to rise above the wild grasses in their natural habitat and be seen by the pollinators. Happy Bloom Day to you too. πŸ™‚

  11. Frances, I love your tall team and have many of the same players in my own yard. Go, tall plants! Rah rah shish boom bah!

    Great Monica! You have a team as well. How about a scrimmage? πŸ™‚

  12. commonweeder says:

    What tall plants! They are beautiful. And such team players, but they obviously have a good coach and manager. I am definitely getting some Joe Pye Weed. I’ve been pointing it out to my husband in other gardens and he agrees that Joe is a winner.

    Hi Pat, thanks. Some years they are taller than others. The extreme drought years saw them much shorter. A little more rain has raised the roof! You can’t go wrong with Joe! πŸ™‚

  13. tina says:

    Well you still have a winning team even is Max is a bit floppy. Once he blooms (comes into play) he’ll be a star don’t you worry. What a fun post! That ironweed is an awesome color! And wow strength training is working for poke.

    Thanks Tina. I didn’t know how you would feel about Max not making the starting line up. From what Nan says, he might mature into quite the player in time. Poke is right up there with the others in this particular spot of extra nice loamy soil in the far southeast corner of the property around Ferngully. πŸ™‚

  14. Rose says:

    I’m not a gambler, Frances, but I might have to put some money on this team in the playoffs. Looks like you have a lot of raw talent here, and I know with you as a coach, they will become a disciplined team. (And I see you’re good at drawing up plays on the whiteboard, too.) What a lot of tall beauties! The only thing this tall here are the weeds out by the outbuildings:)

    Hi Rose, thanks, but you had better hang on to that money. These guys are sometimes out of control! Funny, all of these are considered weeds in some parts. You might want to take another look at those weeds, make that team players out by the buildings. You would make a fine coach. HA πŸ™‚

  15. Frances β€” great plants and photos as always; but the text was β€” as the ads say β€” priceless!

    Thanks Linda. I am glad you enjoyed the little playbook. πŸ™‚

  16. LOL – the candle is the height of creativity. What’s in your soil that’s making Phlox grow to 6 ft? That’s amazing. I love the Vernonia too.

    Thanks MMD. That is the old species phlox from my neighbor Mae. It spreads by runners and seeds. Where the soil is better, back by the hedge it grows much taller than the other places it has spread to. I love it at all heights though. Long flowering period and great stamina. We have finally successfully spread seeds of the Vernonia and there are many babies, now that I know what to look for. A mass planting of them would be fabulous. πŸ™‚

  17. Carol says:

    Great blooms and photos Frances… Love all the tall guys!

    Thanks Carol. What else to do with a bunch of seven footers. πŸ™‚

  18. You’ve got quite a team, Frances! A sure bet to make the playoffs no doubt! Whatever you’re feeding those guys, it’s working!

    Thanks, Rose. These are a bunch of wildlings, but the soil under the rotting ferngully is like chocolate cake, it needs nothing from me, just water from the sky. πŸ™‚

  19. gittan says:

    Lovely team you’ve got there! I only missed one player, Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ with a hight of atleast seven feet. I’d love to see them play “LOL” /kram gittan

    Thanks Gittan. We have added several of the Veronicastrum this year and some other promising players. Maybe in a couple of years we will have some more skyscrapers!
    Kram, Frances

  20. Oh, I just love this post, Frances. I have a couple of your team member’s family in my garden too, although I never thought of making them a basketball team. A couple of wannabes that I have on the place out by the pond are Helianthus tuberosus, (Jerusalem artichoke). This one is 7.5 feet tall, and has a companion plant that is every bit as tall which was sold to me as Prairie coneflower but seems to be mislabelled.

    Hi Hands, thanks so much. Sounds like you have the makings for a fine team yourself. Plants that tall that don’t need staking are just amazing, aren’t they? πŸ™‚

  21. Brad B says:

    Beautiful pictures. I especially like that first one of the bee’s behind.

    Thanks Brad and welcome. I had to go back and look at the first shot, I didn’t realize it was a rear view! πŸ™‚

  22. Yep. The season of the tall ones is here. And it all starts with the tiny violets and company in the spring.

    Thanks Christopher, for that perspective. The plants do just keep on getting taller as the seasons progress. πŸ™‚

  23. Diana says:

    Ah, Frances — what prose! You had me laughing all the way. I love the sketches you added in for reference, too, that’s really cool. My Helianthus maxmilliani are puny this year — they’ve been shaded a little by other guys, so they may not make my team either! Happy GBBD.

    Thanks Diana, glad you enjoyed it. It has been mentioned that Max might grow with a few more seasons in the ground. He has the height already, it is just splayed all over. Maybe he would be better at another sport?

  24. RobinL says:

    You have quite a big team there Frances! You will have no competition here from my baby garden, we have nothing but shorties. Wait, I take that back. My climbing Don Juan rose has put on a burst of growth and is now at least 8 feet tall. I have no trellis large enough to support that, for sure. He’ll have to stand on his own.

    Thanks Robin. They are so tall, it hurts my neck to try and see the tops. I do love Don Juan. He is worthy of a fine tall trellis to show off his charms. πŸ™‚

  25. Catherine says:

    What a great post and I love the backstories on all the players πŸ™‚ I wish I had so many tall plants!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. It was fun to give the players some background, kind of like the viola beauty pageant. Do give Joe a try, if no one else, he is a very fine plant. πŸ™‚

  26. Darla says:

    I’d love to see this team in person…Just wonderful Frances. You know, come to think of it my Butterflyweed is just about 6feet now..

    Wow, Darla, that is a giant butterfly weed! They don’t grow nearly that tall here, lack of moisture is my guess. I would love for you to meet the team too. πŸ™‚

  27. Kathleen says:

    You’ve assembled quite a team there Frances. Olympic level to be sure. I don’t have nearly as many towering giants as you do. I love Leonotis Leonurus and I bet you will too when it starts blooming. I grow it every year but it’s a heat lover so this year it’s not going to make it. I also like your Ironweed and that Dahlia has to be the head cheerleader?!!!

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. Was it your Leo that was shown in a container with snow on it? That is when I first decided it must come live here. I didn’t know it would get so tall. Hope the weight of flowers doesn’t cause it to tumble over. Some sort of tower will need to be erected soon! The dahlia is a real crowd pleaser for sure. πŸ™‚

  28. Patsi says:

    Shame about the Helianthus maximiliani.
    Like the ironweed.
    Phlox are so pretty….on list for next year.

    Hi Patsi, thanks for visiting. It has been said the Max might yet make the team in future years. The phlox is a standout, I am working to add more varieties here as well. πŸ™‚

  29. Beckie says:

    Thanks for the chuckle of the day, Frances. I do enjoy a good basketball game and getting to know the players by name. I can’t believe the height of some of them! Way bigger than we grow them here. Will be watching to see how well they play the game. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Beckie, glad you liked it. This is a tall group, even taller than normal this year with the extra rain we have had. They will escort us into winter still standing tall. πŸ™‚

  30. Frances, Thanks for the tall tale. Some of your opening shots especially were real wowsers.

    Thanks for that Helen, opening shots, I like that!!! πŸ™‚

  31. Sweet Bay says:

    Green Coneflower and Joe Pye makes a great combination. They grow wild together in the floodway fields on our farm — although not as tall as yours — and I keep meaning to put that combination together in the garden. I really like the coneflower with the phlox too — lovely color combination!

    Hi Sweet Bay, thanks. Those two are bestest friends here as well as in nature. The yellow is a good match for the gold mops hedge of chamaecyparis too, and the hedge is now tall enough for that combo. Not so in the beginning. πŸ™‚

  32. Phillip says:

    Great bloom day photos Frances and terrific commentary.

    Thanks Phillip, glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

  33. Jake says:

    Great pictures! I can tell you had some fun and got creative with this post and I enjoyed it.


    Hi Jake, thanks so much. It was fun to do something different this bloom day. πŸ™‚

  34. love the color of Joe Pye Weed. great stuff

    Thanks, MK, and welcome. This cultivar, ‘Gateway’ of Joe Pye is a very good one. πŸ™‚

  35. You are so funny! Frances, that was a great post – were you ever a Sports Writer?? πŸ˜‰ (Or perhaps a dedicated cheerleader?) lol. I have this image of you, out there, with a basketball…

    Love the team and am glad they have lots of room in which to play. Have a great day!!

    Thanks Shady, glad you were amused. Neither sportswriter nor cheerleader, but married to and mother of sports nuts, particularly during the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls era. Me with a basketball? I am was not much of a team sport player, I was a runner. πŸ™‚

  36. Funny, Frances. After spending the summer trying to figure out what my 6FT rudbeckia was (it’s like the one in your first photo) I came to the conclusion, “don’t buy a flower taller than you.”

    Hi Sorry, thanks and welcome. I loved your post about the tall guy! Very funny! πŸ™‚

  37. ricki says:

    Oh, Frances…how you do spin a tall tale, to the amusement of all. I picked up some great tips for assembling a team of my own. Wanna play?

    Hi Ricki, thanks. Sure, we’ll set up a scrimmage, my guys like to play for the love of the game. πŸ™‚

  38. brokenbeat says:

    absolutely brilliant. much love.

    Dear Brokenbeat, thanks. How nice to see you. How is your White Cloud muhly doing? I was looking for flowering on mine, but with the white it is so hard to see anything.
    Love, Frances

  39. Semi says:

    Too funny! That dirt around ferngully must be great. Joe pye and beck are a good combo. My joe is just hidden amongst the beck. Your garden is beautiful! Love u

    Dear Semi, thanks. That soil is amazing, it must be the eons of leaves that fell from the living giant ferngully. I do believe your Joe needs to be moved to the front of Beck. We can put that on the to do list when the weather cools a bit.
    Love, Frances

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