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.