Monday, August 23, 2004

garden talk

Chan, at The Bookish Gardener, celebrates the virtual lunchroom of blogs, where one is free to pick up bits and pieces of interesting conversation. I agree with her.

She also wants to know how my brazilian verbena (Verbena bonariensis) became so abundant -- I pulled out several plants last week.

Last year, I took old flower heads and broke them apart, spreading the seed in places where I wanted it to germinate. They reseed very easily. I did that to a lot of plants that put out seeds (and I know that there is a reasonable chance that they might germinate).

An aside -- yes, this is zone 5, and yes we did have one weekend last winter that got down to 14 degrees below zero (F), but one of my bv plants survived, sprouting out of the roots this spring. I've had a few rocket snaps do that as well.

If I had had the time, I would have taken many of the bv seedlings back in early summer and transplanted them to the backyard garden. I just never had the time to do it.

This weekend, I started looking at plants in my garden that came from re-seeding:

asters (out the gazoo)
columbine (a purple variety that has been quite prolific in re-seeding)
rose champion
brazilian verbena

This year I had a bountiful crop of flowers from seed and I hope their legacy will be carried on from the seed they produced:


In the division category, I am ready to tackle this fall:

perennial begonia
catmint (nepeta)
daisies (becky cultivar)
purple coneflower (echinacia)

A big success story has been divisions I've made with my lamb's ear (Stachys byzantium).

I bought a gallon pot a few years ago from a local nursery. It is slightly darker than traditional lamb's ear, with bigger leaves. It needed to be thinned. I broke apart the roots during a break in late winter, transplanting them throughout the garden. They mutated into several successful clumps. They don't put on flower heads, either (a big plus).

Meanwhile, last fall a neighbor gave me a small clump of the more traditional lamb's ear, and I planted them in the backyard. Numbe one rule is to never let these plants put on a flower stem. The flower is not really a flower, but an ugly stalk that has tiny petals or brackets. It is nothing to look at, and it distracts from the foilage of the leaves, which are pleasant as a textural difference from other other plants.

By breaking off the flowerheads, the plants grown more compactly, making a nice patch of lamb's ear.

My backyard lamb's ear are doing quite well, next to an old purple loosestrife, some mums, and butterfly bushes.

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