Picking Favorites

runktrun(z7a MA)September 27, 2009

Black Snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa)

This has got to be this yearÂs favorite in my garden. The foliage is clean and a great color, the flowers are interesting, but best of all the sweet jasmine like scent has filled the fall air. I have planted a couple of different varieties in different locations and so far they seem to be well behaved. What has been your experience with this plant or whatÂs a favorite in your garden this year?

If only you could scratch and sniff

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KT -

I like the contrast between foliage color and size of your hosta and the cimicifuga. Cimicifuga/Actea one of my favorites as well. The dark foliage is gorgeous the whole growing season and then those lovely wands of flowers appear in September and contrast so nicely with the foliage of the plant itself as well as all the surrounding plants nearby. Just yesterday I was trying to figure out whether the nice scent I was noticing was from the Cimicifuga/Actea or a Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice' that grows nearby and has bloomed lightly since May. My dark foliaged Cimicifuga does well in part sun/shade, but the one I planted last year in more sun, which is green foliaged, looks considerably less happy. Since this was a wet and not too sunny summer, I guess I'll move it in the spring before it gets much bigger. (I had to move the dark one for some construction, and it had developed quite a large root system in a short time.)

Another couple of plants I've really enjoyed are my Endless Summer Hydrangea which has a Ville de Lyon clematis growing through it. The ES really does bloom all summer for me while staying relatively small. VdL has a heavy bloom in early summer, but then continues to bloom lightly the rest of the summer. I like the contrast in foliage texture as well.

I use cranberry plants as a groundcover in many of my mixed beds. I love the shiny dark green to maroon color and the fine texture of the foliage as well as the delicate spring blossoms and the bright red fruits that darken slightly and become translucent after freezing.

I guess I'd better stop - asking me for my favorite plant is kind of like asking for a favorite child.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 11:59PM
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One of my favorites, too, and simply indispensible in shady gardens. . .
another plant that looks attractive all summer and then always astonishes me with it's exhuberent bloom right about now, is Eupatorium 'Chocolate'. Then
there's that totally unexpected burst of pristine white with a solid yellow eye -
Anemone japonica 'Honerine Joubert'. . .

Like the poster above, I could go on and on. . .


    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 12:07AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I use cranberry plants as a groundcover in many of my mixed beds. I love the shiny dark green to maroon color and the fine texture of the foliage as well as the delicate spring blossoms and the bright red fruits that darken slightly and become translucent after freezing.
That sounds truly beautiful, am I correct in assuming that you have your cranberry planted in a wet spot? I wonder how it would do in a dry or average location.
I went looking around for that variety and what a beauty it is soon delicate. I have added it to my list.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 10:11AM
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Agree with Babs about the cranberry. . .finally going to underplant my
blueberry patch (in a mixed border) with cranberries next Spring. . .blueberries
are a companion of choice (they're related) and like similar growing conditions.
By the way, the idea that cranberries MUST grow in a bog, has been perpetuated
by the image of cranberries at harvest time - in the 1940's, they developed the
idea of flooding cranberry fields as an aid to harvest, since the berries have several small air pockets, which allow them to float - prior to that, they were
always dry harvested. They can be quite successfully grown as pot plants (they cascade handsomely), but it requires a particularly large container. . .
perhaps cascading down and around a stone fireplace? :


    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 12:25PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

babs, i have some v happy cimic.black negligee in full sun, though in a moist bed.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 1:07PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

Well I gues I'd better stick by my guns, since i've been touting persicarias so much lately.

The Cotton-Arbo retum From Persicaria Lance Corporal

persicaria lance corporal and corydalis lutea 10/09.
* the dark purple chevron becomes lighter when the plant redirects its energy into blooming

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 5:46PM
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KT - My ornamental beds are moist, well-drained: well-rotted horse manure plopped on top of my native fine sand (I just love the tractor - makes it so easy to make new beds) and well mulched with wood curls from the shop. I don't know how well the cranberries would do in dry soil, but they are fine in average soil, since I have some in my veggie garden waiting to be transplanted, and after 3 years are very healthy and vigorous. Some are in 1/3 to 1/2 sun and some are in full sun. One of the easiest plants I grow - pest-free, disease-free and doesn't seem fussy as long as the soil is at least somewhat acidic, as the soil is naturally around here.

One word of caution about the Eupatorium - many of these are rampant self-seeders and the fibrous roots can be tough to dig out. From responses on the perennials forum a while ago, it seems to be variable, depending on the site, whether it's a problem or not. Just so you keep an eye on it to prevent future problems.

Mindy - Thanks for the input. Mine is pretty average soil moisture and gets 100% sun. Maybe I'll move it just enough to get a bit less sun - there are nearby areas with dappled shade mid-day.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:38PM
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I have to add just one more plant, even though it isn't a garden plant. At this time of year the wild asters, many types, just look lovely. They catch my attention as I walk around my rural area or the small town where I work, and also as I drive on my daily commute. Drifts of delicate pale lavendar flowers, screaming purple blossoms on robust plants, and everything in between. What a gift to live in an area with such beautiful wild plants.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:51PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

I definitey have to agree with the Black Snakeroot, its a wonderful plant and smells divine this time of the year. I've got my 'Brunette' planted with some Hakonechloa macra albo-striata and the contrast in color and shape is really pretty.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 8:59AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

persicaria lance corporal became a horrible re seeding problem in my yard I had to rip it all out and now I see its going to take a number of years (hopefully) to get rid of it all. I even had one growing in cracked asphalt!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 12:52PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Oh now I can't wait this will be a great ground cover around some bluebrries. I wonder why I don't see them in commerce very often? Thanks

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 12:58PM
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Hmmm, my cimicifuga r. doesn't look like much right now - maybe it's because the darn creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') has invaded the shady bed where it grows.

On the other hand, Franklinia alatamaha is covered in flowers. Well maybe not quite covered, but ... lots of nice blooms. I love it all season because of its nice clean glossy foliage, but especially now while it's in flower.

By the way, some of the winter heaths are forming their flowers now (no color yet, but very nice looking) as is the Helleborus foetidus. It's the bittersweet side of fall.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 1:01PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

I have a friend who just bought a house much like yours in its façade. I told her about your wonderful entry garden (instead of grass for her tiny yard). Can you send me a link to photos of your front garden so I can show her how you did it?Thanks so much.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 1:54PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I don't have a photo, but a favorite performer this year were the ice plants (Delosperma). On a very hot and sunny south-facing slope they bloomed a solid mat of flowers. This was their second year and they've spread to about two feet in diameter. No fuss, no muss, actually neglected that slope pending new access stairway construction. They're easy to propagate but not invasive.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 2:38PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Very pretty pics KT, I like that dark Cimicifuga.

I have too many favorites to pick. Right now, there is a flush of blooms on Physostegia, all the Asters, Eupatorium 'Chocolate', Solidago, along with those perennials that are still blooming like Phlox paniculata and Buddleia. Some of the annuals are gorgeous right now, especially the State Fair Zinnias and Salvia 'Lady in Red' and 'Yvonne's'. There is actually a lot still blooming and a couple things yet to bloom!

The grasses are in their prime too.

This is one of my favorite combos in the front garden, Sedum, Eupatorium 'Chocolate', Phlox 'Nora leigh', and Calamagrostis 'Overdam'. This pic is from this time last year, it's odd that this year the Phlox Nora Leigh is still blooming quite a bit -

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 4:45PM
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