April 5, 2012
Clematis integrifolia Photo Courtesy of Plant Select
Plant Select® is a great organization located in Fort Collins, Colorado that works in cooperation with the Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University, horticulturists and nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region and beyond to seek out the best plants for landscapes and gardens for the Intermountain region and the high plains.
Most people think of Clematis as vines that grow to 20 feet or more and climb over everything. But there is a group of Clematis that only grow to between 2-4 feet. Clematis integrifolia Mongolian Bells is in this group.
A man named Harlan Hamernik, the founder of Bluebird Nursery in Nebraska, found the seed for this amazing Clematis on a trip to Inner Mongolia back in the 1990′s. In an article about the plant written by Panayoti Kelaidis of the Denver Botanical Gardens, Panayoti describes the plant as a “…compact, almost ground-covering race of Clematis integrifolia [that] blooms from spring to fall, with nodding, leathery four-parted flowers in blue, lavender, pink and pure white. It appears to have greater drought tolerance than typical clematis.”
I myself planted this in a landscape I installed in Idaho and it did quite well. Once established it needed little care and looked very pleasing creeping through a bed of perennials. Because of its long bloom season it is a good plant to add to a perennial bed of plants with shorter bloom seasons as the Mongolian Bells will carry the bed through times when not much else is flowering.
March 25, 2012
There are many plants that, in my opinion, are over looked in the plant trade; plants that would make wonderful additions to the garden that are extremely difficult to find. There has been more than one occasion when I wanted to use a specific plant in a design but simply couldn’t source it.
Asclepias is one of those plants. I don’t think it helps that it’s common name is Butterfly Weed. Who would willingly put something in their garden with the word weed in the name. But this is a great plant and there are a few species that make good additions to the garden.
At the top and to the right is A. tuberosa with its bright blooms that practically shout at you when they flower in spring. The blooms are most often orange but I have seen bright red and yellow as well. I am also a big fan of the foliage which I find has a very symmetrical look that compliments the blooms. It is native to Texas as well as many other North American areas.
A. verticilatta (shown to the left) with its creamy white and pink flowers blooms almost all summer and is native to much of North America including Texas, Mexico and Florida.
A. incarnata‘s flowers (shown below) are a pretty rose-pink and, occasionally, off white color. As a bonus they give off a vanilla scent and attract butterflies. Not quite as drought tolerant as A. tuberosa and A. veticilatta it still does pretty well in a dry environment.
Now, I ask you, what could be sweeter than sitting in your garden with the scent of vanilla wafting through the air watching the Monarchs flit around your Butterfly Weed?
All three of these plants like full sun and are heat and drought tolerant making them perfect for areas like Austin and Central Texas. They also need little maintenance, another plus for every gardener.
February 7, 2012
Okay, it hasn’t been quite a thousand days but pretty close. My apologies to my reader(s)? I’ve had some health issues, but things are getting better and I’m back to gardening again. A few things have changed though.
First I’m living in Austin where you can garden just about all year long, which is fantastic. Second I’m living in an apartment in the city with only a deck to garden on which isn’t so fantastic. But, I’ve got sun and I’ve got containers and I’ve already put together a container of Mediterranean herbs and two of leafy greens. It’s so great to get salad greens from your garden in February. (Sorry to all of you living in colder climates.)
I’ve been working my way through the garden centers here in my new home city and so far I’ve visited two I really feel are noteworthy. The first is Barton Springs Nursery on Bee Cave Road. (I just love that name – Bee Cave Road.) On their website read what is written on the About Us page under Our Commitment. Then read the rest of what’s written on the page. I don’t think I could sum things up any better than that.
The second nursery is The Natural Gardener owned by John Dromgoole who you may have heard of as he also owns the Lady Bug Brand of natural organic gardening products and makes frequent radio and TV appearances.
The Natural Gardener has a wonderful selection of plants as well as demonstration gardens that I very much enjoyed strolling through. I highly recommend a trip.