Find The Bobbles-July Highlights

Never let it be said that color is not a primary factor in the selection of plants grown in the Fairegarden. I love color in the garden, all colors, all together, all of the time. There is no such thing as too much color.

Color is life, color is…okay, you get the idea.

There is more to consider when trying to have a garden that pleases the eye than just the brilliant hues of summer flowering plants. Structure and texture add to the visual pleasures, as well.

One plant in particular has matured in its third year in the ground, to become a focal point.

Its statuesque architecture is stunning. But its color is underwhelming.

Maybe that is why capturing the beauty of the bobbles has proven so difficult for this photographer. Or maybe she needs a new camera.

Enough with the narrative riddles already.

Time for the big reveal… the plant name is a mouthful, and not widely grown. Eryngium pandanifolium was first seen in an article in Gardens Illustrated magazine. It was noticed in the listings while perusing favorite online nurseries in the search for unusual and must haves. It was an impulse purchase. Three pots were ordered from Joy Creek Nursery (link) as winter fell upon east Tennessee. The smart folks at the nursery contacted me saying they would not ship at that time of year unless there was a greenhouse available to keep them until spring. There was, and the large plants were repotted into larger containers, for they are fast growers.

The next spring the pots were moved outside but not planted in the ground. We had decided to sell our house to move closer to family. The Eryngiums would be making the move, even though there was no greenhouse at the new house. Only hardy to zone 8 or 9, the three bursting at the seams pots were cut away and the plants plopped into the pile of garden soil that was trucked into the new back yard to form the beds. Winter came hard that year, with devastating ice storms and single digit temperatures.  Survival was hoped for, but not counted on.

Uncertain about the life force remaining within, the mushy leaves were cut back the next spring. Thought was given as to what might replace the large plants, but fate was on our side. New, fresh leaves regrew from the centers, but no flower stalks would arise for another two years. We are solidly USDA Zone 7a, with hot, dry summers and wet, cold winters. The back garden is protected with a (now repaired) fence and the new garden soil is well draining loam. If there comes a winter that spells doom for these spiky, sculptural sentinels, they most likely will not be replaced. However, the tall, stately wands add elegance and whimsy to the messy melange and the evergreen, usually, foliage adds winter interest. They would be missed.  By the way, the shed does not function as a greenhouse, as dozens of dead Dahlias will attest.

For anyone confused as to which plant in the photos is the subject of this post, it is the tall silvery green stems topped with small balls and sword shaped foliage. Getting a clear portrait image seems impossible. I hope you can pick out the Eryngium pandanifolium in most of the photos. I tried my best.

July sees the gardener spending most daylight hours hidden inside with the air conditioning unit running nearly nonstop. Early morning and well after sunset are the best times to enjoy the garden delights. Eryngium pandanifolium is a highlight, among other things. Onward.


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15 Responses to Find The Bobbles-July Highlights

  1. Barbara H. says:

    Yes, the July heat and humidity are here in full swing. Your repaired fence is looking good and provides a nice backdrop. It’s looking very good there, Frances.

    Hi Barbara, thanks so much. The new fence sections are sort of jarring in color, but should fade over time to pretty much match the rest. It’s hot here.

  2. Marguerite says:

    Hello Frances, SO happy to see your garden of color as it settles in and matures. You’ve truly made a gracious and happy new home and so glad you are closer to family . May you enjoy them, and they you and your garden for many years to come. You stay in that AC, its good for your health! be well!!!!

    Hi Marguerite, thanks for the kind words. Family is everything to me, so it sweetened the loss of my beloved home and garden. The garden here is coming along. This is its best year, by far. I hope it continues to give me comfort and delight for a long time. AC is a necessity. You too, stay well!

  3. michaele anderson says:

    I can see why it’s a tricky plant to photograph…those that are subtle, tall and ethereal usually are. Because of the light colored flower heads, it is even more delicate appearing then the verbena bonariensis. However, because it is yours and you have nurtured it now for several years, it probably is very prominent when you gaze in its vicinity….nothing like the effort of planting something to make one smile maternally at its progress. I particularly liked how it popped when the blue shed was the backdrop and also against the fence panels that had aged grayish color as opposed to the new replacement ones.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for dropping by, nice to see you. The subject Eryngium is giving me great joy at the moment, I just can’t seem to capture that beauty to share on the blog. Perhaps it will inspire others to give it a try.

  4. dineshvs30 says:

    Lovely garden !

    Thank you!

  5. It’s so frustrating when a plant is gorgeous to see but photographs poorly. I have that problem with Cornelia cherry (Cornus mas). A close-up of the tiny yellow blossoms fails to give any sense of the beauty of the whole tree.
    This is my first visit to your site and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your garden. Thanks (and thanks to Pam Penick for putting us in touch.)

    Hi Pat welcome and thanks for visiting! Yes, Pam is a treasure in many ways. I am familiar with Cornus mas but have never grown one. Thanks for the tip about being hard to capture in pixels.

  6. Beth friedl says:

    Check out eryngium yuccifolium. It looks similar and is hardy to 6b. I purchased mine from Missouri Wildflowers Nusery.

    Thanks, Beth. I do grow E. yuccifolium and it is quite happy here, seeding all over. The flower is quite a bit larger but the same color. Those need staking in my garden, but are worth the effort. The E. pandanifolium stands upright without help, always a plus for lower maintenance. I love all the Eryngiums, actually.

  7. It sounds like your new garden is coming into it’s teenage years. You love it dearly but it doesn’t always love you back. 😉 I like Persicaria filiformis and it’s little blooms are nearly impossible for me to get pictures of. Even the web sites have difficulty getting those blooms they are so tiny and set on wire-like stems.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting. I had to look that Persicaria up, but have grown Painter’s Palette, never even noticed the flowers on it. Sanguisorba is another bobble head plant, Tanna is the one I have been unsuccessful in photographing. Good thing we can enjoy the flowers with human eyes!

  8. Alison says:

    The flowers of E. pandanifolium and E. yuccifolium have both been underwhelming, to me. I like my Eryngium flowers to be blue. Bummer about the shed. Is there an electrical outlet? Would a little heater have helped keep the Dahlias alive?

    Hi Alison, I agree that the blue Eryngiums are wonderful. Too bad they are so short in stature, though. I like the tall and upright plants in the back of the bed, with the grasses and other similar height things. Room for everyone! The Dahlias may have been doomed since they were left in pots. I maybe would have had better luck planting them in July/August and hoped for the best.

  9. Kris P says:

    Thank you for identifying your source for the Eryngium pandanifolium. I was admiring this plant on another blog (A Growing Obsession) just a couple of days ago and wondered where I could find the plant. It appears well-suited to my climate so I wonder why I’ve never seen it offered locally.

    Hi Kris, thanks for stopping by. I was hoping this plant was still available from Joy Creek. It appears to be. Give it a try!

  10. Leslie says:

    Your garden has evolved and grown and is absolutely lovely!

    Thanks, Leslie. Evolving is such a good thing, for gardens as well as gardeners!

  11. Layanee says:

    That is a wonderful plant, Frances. Love it and the gorgeous garden views you have captured. Enjoy this early morning!

    Hi Layanee, thanks for visiting. When I go out into the garden, right now, this is the plant that makes me smile.

  12. Eva Johnson says:

    Hello Frances. I have been following your posts since around the time you moved to your new home. I’ve enjoyed seeing the new garden take shape. I too moved about 6 years ago and was devastated leaving my beautiful garden behind. I had lots of shade in my back yard and almost any shade plant one can think of. Our new home is so different. Not many trees and there was no landscaping here.( One Magnolia tree and a couple overgrown lilacs. ) I did bring as many plants as I could with me and have planted several trees. I have a beautiful weeping pussy willow ( I brought it with me ) and it is thriving here. The garden is starting to look pretty good. I will never have the shade but I am adapting to hot sun gardening. Do you have Blackberry Lilly ? I love it and it seems very easy to grow and will spread from the seeds dropping. If you don’t I would be happy to send you seeds. Thanks for sharing your garden .

    Hi Eva, thanks so much for adding to the conversation here. I love hearing about gardening from everyone! Moving is so hard, and it is made even harder when there is a beloved garden getting left behind. I have moved many times, leaving gardens I created and tended. Favorite things get taken when possible, and seeds gathered are an excellent and easy way to restart some plants. I do grow the blackberry lilies, all from seed shared by a dear friend years ago. See the next comment from Rose about those I sent to her. Thank you for your kind offer of sharing, too. So sweet and something I love about gardeners, their generosity!

  13. Rose says:

    You always find the most interesting plants, Frances! I’ve never had any luck growing Sea Holly–isn’t that another Eryngium?–so I am resisting the urge of plant lust here:) I also like the tall plants with the skinny dark red blooms on top; I’m curious what these are. I just happened to see Eva’s last comment about the Blackberry lilies. Now those I do have–you sent me seeds several years ago, and they have finally spread around my garden. I love them! This is driving me crazy that I couldn’t remember the name of what I thought those red blooms were–Sanguisorba??

    Hi Rose, thanks for stopping in. The tall red blooms are Persicaria ‘Firetail’. I was lazy and did not identify the other plants, figuring if someone wanted to know, like you, they would ask. I do seek out plants that I read about that I haven’t tried before. If it seems that they will grow here and I can find them, why not? So happy to hear about the blackberry lilies! The original seeds were given to me by someone quite dear, so passing the love around the country makes me smile. Eryngiums seem happy here, the need excellent drainage and lots of sun. I have better luck from seed than purchased plants, however.

  14. bittster says:

    I think you’re taking on the summer heat in the best way possible, nice and easy and with plenty of air conditioning! The heat has come up north now too, and it’s different of course. Here we need to soak up as much as we can because it only lasts a few weeks…
    I love all the color. The more the merrier, and nice to see your eryngium pushing onward as well. It may not be the brightest but it sure makes up for that with extra interest.

    Hi Bittster, thanks for visiting. Our heat is long lasting during summer, it’s true. Most of the plants are xeric and love it. This Eryngium seems to be quite happy with hot and dry. I do love its structure and height.

  15. Dee says:

    I sure could spot them Faire! I’ve never heard of this plant. I’m so glad you wrote about it. I won’t even try to grow it. I’m way too much on the prairie, and it would be hard on these structural lovelies. Thank you for your post.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks for reading. Glad you could see those bobbles, they are quite lovely to human eyes, if not the camera lens. They shouldn’t actually grow here, but no one told them! HA

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