Tag Archives: columbine

A Close-up Texture Study

The garden is losing a sense of overall structure as autumn progresses, something I had planned to remedy when I started a renovation project last winter. Indeed there have been enhancements toward this end. The additions of a screening hedge of five ‘Blue Point’ junipers, a white picket fence enclosing the garden and a meditation circle with a labyrinth are all happy improvements. Still, the overall garden framework is and will be a work-in-progress.

Today I have set aside that larger view to concentrate on the textures that reveal themselves when one closely examines individual elements in the garden. With their leaves puddled around their bases or scattered into the neighbors’s yards, a river birch, a pair of crape myrtles and a Chinese elm prominently display interesting bark surfaces.

Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm

Crape Myrtle

River Birch

The rich green color and fern-like quality of tansy and yarrow leaves are lovely and welcome this time of year.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

Pink Yarrow

With mild temperatures in the seventies the yarrow continues to set buds, set off by the silvery narrow leaves of a nearby lavender.

Pink Yarrow and Lavender

Eastern red columbine adds garden interest year round. Though the colorful leaves are drying now they add contrast to the burgeoning hellebores leaves underneath.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Morning Garden Walk

The backyard garden at the end of May is pleasant and lush, with inviting colors, textures, diversity of plants, and sounds of birds, elevating this morning’s walk to a remarkably satisfying experience for this gardener.

Chrysanthemum, silvery Dusty Miller, Sweet Pea combine with soft leaves of Eastern Red Columbine.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) wake up the early morning garden with intense blues, but close under the strong sun by midday.  The pink yarrow and white rose campion mix well and the tall blades of iris add balance.

Nearby a lantana has sprung to life and soon will be covered in multicolored clusters of red, yellow and orange.

Stachys (Lamb’s ear) brightens the back corner between some irises and a gardenia.  The gardenia will soon add its unique fragrance to the garden.

The Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) earlier seemed terribly crowded by the irises, but as its bloomtime approaches it stands tall.

Verbena bonariensis frequently draws American goldfinches to the garden.  It is surrounded by a foxglove, shasta daisies, tradescantia, a rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ and gardenias.

The meditation circle with its labyrinth still has more mulch than plants. Five bonariensis await planting within but I am hesitant about whether they are a good choice. Meanwhile the penstemon and angelonia have worked out great.  The thyme lacks a strong presence, though it grows fine and has bloomed.  The candytuft bloomed a rewarding second time.

Many more plants are tucked and packed into this small backyard haven, making each morning’s walk new and interesting as they transition through life.


After a week of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching into the nineties, last night’s cooling breezes and this morning’s crisp air were welcome.  Despite the prediction of rain I broke my rule against watering and gave some plants a good drink.  Still only 66 degrees by lunchtime, the heavy rain started suddenly and continued steadily until early evening, and streets flooded in Chapel Hill.  The garden’s meditation circle flooded near the entrance and in the middle, draining pretty well afterwards, but leaving a stark contrast to its bleached-out look under the severity of the sun earlier in the week.  After a rosy-clouded sunset, the rains returned.

Hot and Cold, Weed Or Not


The predicted rain finally arrived late last night and continued steadily until after daybreak.  It is 37 degrees now and temperatures are expected to reach only 43.  Today’s brisk chill caps off a cool week that contrasted sharply with the sunny, eighty-degree days from the week before when warm air seemed destined to stay.

Bishops’ Weed

Emerging Bishops' Weed - March 26, 2011

Bishops’ Weed
Aegopodium podagraria

During a short tour around the garden yesterday I was reminded of my plans to deal with the Bishops’ Weed this year.

This unruly member of the garden’s plant collection is back and filling out quickly.

Bishops’ Weed is rather pretty, variegated ground cover that brightens up a rather difficult narrow space which otherwise would probably just be brown mulch. It has a light green color and a delicate, white lacy flower.

Bishops' Weed - May 2006

A friend passed along Bishops’ Weed when I first began perennial gardening at my former home. This ground cover survived in the shade that dominated much of my old garden where it mostly stayed put.  I do not remember it being a problem and must not have thought so because, when it came time to move and start a new garden, the Bishops’ Weed came too.

Though my current garden space is mostly sunny, I found a partially shaded spot for this plant on the rather narrow, north side bed between my house and the neighboring driveway. It is a ground cover so I expected it to spread, but was unprepared for how aggressively it grew.

Bishops’ Weed spreads by rhizomes and I have learned since it can become invasive. One might think the name would be a tip-off, but not necessarily.  Consider Eutrochium purpureum or Joe-Pye Weed, which is a native plant and one frequently recommended as a favorite garden addition in this area.

Eastern Columbine and Bishops' Weed - April 2009

Anyway, I searched several reference sites for more information on Bishops’ Weed, but did not find it on these invasive warnings for this area:

I cannot remember if I have seen Bishops’ Weed growing in other gardens I have visited. I will have to check around more to see if it is a conservation worry or just a bit of a nuisance in my own little world.

Progress On The Meditation Garden Circle

Amazing progress. Rains were expected starting with occasional showers this morning, but they never arrived. We need the rain desperately, but its delay gave me time to complete the excavation stage of the meditation circle in the garden. For the most part I stopped counting the hours spent on the job this week, but I clocked 5 hours today. Now after four days, the digging is done.

The grass has been turned over within the entire area of the garden circle. Left behind are clumps that must now be chopped up and smoothed, but the work seems manageable now.

Meanwhile the garden is changing daily and chores are accumulating.  Some plants need to be divided and those daylilies the deer love so much are growing taller and getting tougher, stronger roots with each hour that passes.  As much as I enjoy them, they must go.

The Eastern Red Columbine has a delicate pale green leaf, but the flower itself was today’s attraction as a bit of red is beginning to be revealed.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Red Columbine)

The spirea continues to be beautiful and full.


The flowering dogwood is going to make a fine display this year.

Flowering Dogwood