The flowerbeds of the Fairegarden all have names, better for journal writing and note taking to be able to easily identify what is happening where. Several are named for colors, the lazy gardener naming technique, no creativity required. One of those is the White/Yellow Bed, although there are other colors allowed to live in there, mostly blues, being on the opposite end of the color wheel from the lighter hues. The entire contents of this bed will be the topic for another day, however. Today is about a single color, one that some people love to hate, but nature adores, for there are ever so many flowers that shine like the rays of the sun. Above, dwelling in the White/Yellow area is the Ruth Aster, A. heterotheca villosa, or is it camponum? ‘Ruth Baumgardner’. Many promising buds require daily perusal as the wait for the grand opening nears.
The day has come, Ruth’s time has arrived, to the delight of all. Three plants were set into the ground last fall, one disappeared for reasons unknown, it may have been pulled in a rare fit of cleanupitis. Tall and with a tendency to flop over, these Ruth’s have been wrapped by nearby dappled willow stems to help hold her aright with a slight gangsta lean.
One plant of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ has filled more than half of the White/Yellow bed. The blooms have been nonstop for months, attracting bees, butterflies and this insect referred to as the love bug for its wanton and public reproductive habits. Mentioning our good friend Ruth once again, owner of our favorite local nursery, Mouse Creeek, we felt the urge to recommend that she name Lemon Queen to be nominated as a Perennial Plant of the year for the future. She agreed, but made no guarantee that her one vote would result in the naming. It certainly qualifies in my garden.
The denizens of Yellow/White, mixing up the name but it is still the same bed, are packed in tightly. The desired look is one of lush luxury. A stray seedling was spotted growing in the nearby gravel path this spring. It looked like one of the myriad wild asters with a slightly different fuzzy leaf. It was allowed to grow, moving the purple Adirondak chair from its prime butterfly watching location to make room for the ever taller stalks. It became clear when buds began to form that this was not an aster, but rather a goldenrod, Solidago of some sort, but different from all the others here. The plan was to move it after blooming into better conditions, for it completely obstructed the ramp leading to the garage deck. As usual, impulsiveness overruled sense and it was carefully dug and placed near Lemon Queen while the buds were still tightly closed. Copious watering in the face of extreme drought conditions here has kept it barely alive. We hope to see a flower open this year, if not, we hope to see it return and prosper next year without the disruptive digging and moving at the worst possible moment of the growing season.
As explained above, goldenrods just show up here, univited but welcome. We don’t know their names but notice differences in leaf, habit and flower form. All of them are tall, so when we saw this ground cover type, Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’, at where else but Mouse Creek, it quickly leapt into the wagon to come live among the skyscrapers cousins. One plant was divided into several last fall and planted at the edge of what is now the Gravel Garden. They have not yet filled in for the carpet effect vision, but weeding has helped give them room to stretch their lax stems. Maybe next year, or maybe we need to buy more plants. And not divide them. And plant them very close together. Bzzzzz*.
Looking for likely subjects to plant in the Gravel Garden’s tough conditions, common tansy, Tanacetum vulgare was decided upon, among others. The aromatic ferny leaf, good height so as not to get lost amongst the grasses and asters and sweet yellow button flowers seemed a good fit. It was not realized that the pollinators would enjoy those pincushions as has been so proven. The aster, or non-aster, I refuse to make the distinction in a rebellious spirit, (*too often does not* was checked on my ancient report cards for the box labeled Respects authority), is the Tennessee Aster, A. paludosus ssp. hemisphericus.
Found in the nearby Smoky Mountain region of the southern Appalachians, Rudbeckia lanciniata grows sky high, eight to twelve feet tall. Beloved by finches, bees and butterflies, the yellow daisy-like blooms are difficult for a hobbit sized camera toting gardener to shoot without a ladder. This plant has kindly sprouted some ground hugging blooms with fresh florals after the rest of the plant has passed on to seed maturing stage. Thank you very much, says she.
The Susans, Rudbeckia fulgida var. ‘Goldsturm’ for the most part, have been blooming for several weeks, if not months. A few hangers-on keep up the show. They are planted along the Azalea Walk, the Gravel Garden and the White/Yellow bed. See how convenient it is for the beds to be so named, it is known at an instant where the Susans can be found.
The provenance of the this plant is a case of mistaken identity. Again at Mouse Creek, the object of our desire was the large and tall Rudbeckia maxima. There were four inch pots bearing the same glaucous foliage and form, literally bursting at the seams to expand. The labels were missing and Ruth was on a speaking tour vacation for the month. The kind woman left in charge had no idea, but said whatever they were, they needed to be moved to larger containers, hence larger price. They came home with me that day, money saved!, and were placed in a location, behind the Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ whose reddish foliage can be seen in the image, where a ten foot tall Maxima would feel at home. As it turns out, these are Nicotiana glauca, not nearly so robust in stature. It is too dry to move them, they could be annuals anyway. It appears someone has drilled a hole in the flower, but it is yellow, so belongs in the White/Yellow bed. And this post.
In 2009 Salvias of all shapes, sizes and colors were added in a fit of obsessive collecting. Many were not garden worthy and/or not hardy. Above, Salvia kayamae, Japanese yellow sage has finally decided to bloom. Only a distracted and somewhat lazy gardener allowed it to stay in the ground so long while it looked so sad and pitiful without enough moisture. Honestly, we meant to dig this out and compost it, for the foliage is crispy at the edges, the stems have splayed to reveal an unattractive midde, (this we can sympathize with) and there has been no flowering until now. It has received a reprieve, for the blooms are attractive, if difficult to capture.
*Bzzz refers to the shock collar needed to force the planting of one type of plant close, very close together instead of spreading them far and wide. There seems to be an innate compulsion to spread the wealth, stemming from tightwadedness, the resistance to spending the money to buy enough plants to fill a space properly.