Rusty foxglove

Long after other Digitalis have taken the summer off for vacation, the rusty foxglove or Digitalis ferruginea is flowering during the warm days of July and August here in New England. This tall, slender foxglove is from Mediterranean regions of southeastern Europe. Depending on its growing conditions, it can behave as a perennial or self-sowing biennial. If the climate is mild and soils are perfect, they have a tendency to self seed themselves in the gardens. Perfect soils are those that are fertile with adequate moisture. Soils that are too wet or too dry will cause the rusty foxglove to oxidize itself into a prolonged death.

The common name comes from the reddish coloration of the small, numerous flowers. Our flowers are a warm beige with the reddish-brown veins. The individual flowers are much smaller than the common foxglove. Each flower is one-half to one inch in width to around an inch and a half in length. Because the flowers are smaller, they are much more numerous on the 4 to 5 feet tall flowering stalks. Hundreds of flowers cover each stiff stalk and they make a great complement the middle to back of the mixed flower border. Bees absolutely love the rusty foxglove but it is humorous to watch them climb inside of the flowers to gain nectar. The flower tubes are almost too narrow for the bees. Watching them crawl inside reminds me of having to suck in your belly when trying to slide behind your cousins at the Thanksgiving table, as you shimmy to the desert table for a piece of pie that you really should not eat.

If the main stalk is cut back after flowering, it will produce multiple flowering side stalks which can prolong the flowering time and make a wider plant. This characteristic has me wondering what might happen if the Digiplexis cross is recreated with Digitalis ferruginea  and Isoplexis canariensis.

rusty foxglove en masse

As with all Digitalis species, care should be taken with the plants as they may be somewhat toxic if ingested. Make sure that you site the plants where they are out of reach from those who may not know better. Have you tried the rusty foxglove? This species has me wanting to try other members of the genus in the gardens.

-Rodney

Images: Josh Coceano, The Sproutling Writes

Wow! The last month has been quite a ride. There are just 4 days left in our campaign to raise $12,000 to launch PITH + VIGOR and as of this morning we have just $2889 left to go. We are going to make a newspaper, we are going to build a community! I can’t wait!  This is going to be fantastic and I am so grateful for all of you believing in me and my team and this idea. push itBut first we need to get through these last 4 days….can you help to put us over the top? The perks are pretty fantastic…Everyone who donates gets a copy of the publication….but maybe you want to subscribe or advertise – there are some very reasonable rates. Or maybe you need some help with your garden…we even have a couple perks where I will work with you to design your garden (or even just a portion of your garden).  It doesn’t matter where you live, we will make your garden happen…How fun is that?  If you have questions, thoughts or ideas, by all means let us know (comments or email are always appreciated).  We will build this together.  If you can’t help financially we appreciate all kids of other help too…maybe you can spread the word (tweet, like, share, etc) – as always, the more the merrier.  And if you have already helped… THANK YOU! xo – Rochelle

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mini meadow garden Since seeing this container planting over on Garden’s Illustrated’s website earlier this summer, I have been all sorts of obsessed with mini meadows in pots.  This lovely thing was grown from seed, so my own experiment to re-create something similar with have to be added to next year’s ‘To Do’ list….but my patience for this look can hardly stand the wait so I’ve been casting around for options to create it. Like, right now. The key to this look is to toss aside the Fillers, Thrillers, Spillers way method of container planting.  Opt instead for a mix of upright plants and use them repeatedly (but not in groupings).  They can be at varying heights, but their open habit should be obvious allowing for the tops to mix and dance together.   Have you experimented with this look?  As I try it out I will certainly learn a few tricks that will happily share later. meadow style garden containers from rochelle greayer  www.studiogblog.com Shopping for plants, I think the key to this will be to use just 2 or 3 and mix and match different varieties to create textural interest and exciting but simple color combinations.  Here are somethings that I think would be good to experiment with.

images: Top – Gardens Illustrated, Proven Winners Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Proven Winners.  I am not an employee of Proven Winners and all opinions are my own. See the other posts in this series

0724before5

Yesterday I opened my inbox to find an email from Danny Cullerton from Aristata Land Arts. She sent along a series of before & after photos from one of her recent projects in Portland, OR and I know you guys are going to love the makeover! The landscape surrounds a beautiful old Victorian house and the re-work definitely brings out a ton of character in this lovely house!  Read the full post

Deinanthe mass

Summer is the time for vacations, warm temperatures, and flowering hydrangeas. Among the things that New Englanders come to count on in summertime include ice cream and hydrangeas in flower. Just in our small town of Boothbay, never have I seen so many hydrangeas planted. Due to our mild summers, hydrangea blossoms here along the Maine coast are enormous. It must be the ample moisture, warm days, and cool nights that lead to the huge flowers. Everyone loves to see big hydrangeas in the garden but lurking in the shadows is a lesser-known, herbaceous relative: Deinanthe caerulea. This native of China has the incredibly creative common name of “false hydrangea.” Come on guys, can’t we think up a better name than that for this strangely attractive plant with eye-catching blue flowers? How about “ground-cover hydrangea?” Or “little blue rarity that nobody else has?”

Deinanthe plant

We have a healthy grouping of Deinanthe at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens planted in the shade of a mature larch tree. A friend was admiring the clump this past weekend and suggested that we move some plants to a sunnier location as they would get larger. I have a couple of spots in mind as right now, they are really tucked away so only the plant connoisseurs will recognize them. For those who do catch a glimpse of them, they will see what look like small hydrangeas with nodding, light cerulean blue flowers. Our plants are around 2 feet in height and slightly more in width. In researching this post, I see that there is also Deinanthe bifida along with hybrid between D. bifida and D. caerulea. I definitely will look to add these to the gardens this year as well. Have you grown any of the false hydrangeas? If so, what has been your experience with the plants?

Rodney

Images: Rodney Eason

Occasionally, I will get the urge to obsess over a group of plants. I have gone mad for Magnolias, frenetic for Fothergilla, hysterical for Hydrangea, but now I am going crazy for a rediscovered genus. That genus is Cuphea or cigar flower (get it? on fire for Cuphea).

Cuphea llavea

Cuphea takes me back to my college days and plant identification class. We had to learn two different Cuphea: C. hyssopifolia and C. ignea or Mexican heather and cigar flower, respectively. Cuphea hyssopifolia was marginally hardy where I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina and in mild winters, it would sometimes come back from the roots. I always thought they were cute but not show-stopping plants. A couple of years later, during a summer internship at Walt Disney World, I got to see Mexican heather growing in its full glory in Orlando. Over the 20 years since that summer internship, Cuphea and I would occasionally cross paths but never engaging in a deep conversation.

This year, I am starting to develop a Cuphea crush. The warm weather we have been having in New England has made our plants ignite. We are growing Cuphea llavea and C. micropetala. C. llavea is a small, mounding plant covered with small flowers that have a deep purple center and red tips to the petals. The bi-color effect is what gives it the common name of “bat-faced cuphea.” Cuphea micropetala is turning into more of a small shrub with erect flower stems producing yellow and orange flowers.

Cuphea micropetala

I am just starting to do some more research on the genus and see that there are 260 different species, all native to the Americas. Next year, I cannot wait to try as many Cuphea as we can find. Some of these newer plants are truly show stoppers with guests in the gardens asking “what is that plant?” Are there any Cuphea that you recommend I trial next year in our gardens?

-Rodney

Images: Rodney Eason

ranch, yard, path, front yard, makeoverFor this week’s Before & After I have a lovely front yard transformation that I found over at Foodie is the New Forty. This sweet little ranch house begged for a yard that would make its mid century-esque exterior sing, but the homeowners knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and a hefty budget, as well as the help of a landscaping crew. Optimista (which is the moniker she goes by on her blog) was tired of the weeds and general frump-factor radiating from the exterior of the house, so she decided it was finally time and enlisted the help of Dearen Landscapes. Read the full post