Tag Archives: penstemon digitalis husker red

Studying The Borders At May’s End—Meditation Circle

Digitalis 'Dalmatian Purple' (Foxglove) Near Meditation Circle

Digitalis ‘Dalmatian Purple’ (Foxglove) Near Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

To finish up a look around my garden at the close of May attention turns to the Meditation Circle. My original vision for this area was to feature the walls of the labyrinth with evergreen or semi-evergreen, flowering plants. Too-narrow planting areas, weather, soil condition, moles and now even fire ants have impacted this area and distracted me from taking this beyond the original concept and the first experimental plantings.

Nevertheless, the two types of Penstemon in bloom since mid-May have contributed greatly to the overall spring garden. As early as mid-March, well before the flowers came on, the foliage was recovered from the stress of winter and looked attractive, especially ‘Husker Red.’ A curving row of low-growing Thyme has filled in well between the stones. Several other Thymes have been added to the center.

Garden View- Meditation Circle Looking Toward Northern Border

Garden View- Meditation Circle Looking Toward Northern Border

Last year Alyssum, an annual, bloomed prolifically into late fall near the house, so I thought to try some along the meditation path. It has been very slow to take hold but I hope it soon will help conceal the mulch.

Alyssum 'Easter Bonnet Violet'

Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet Violet’

Near The Back Steps

There have been very few bees so far in the garden this spring but yesterday this one was working its way around another penstemon, this one next to a large stand of Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) near the house. Flowers are forming but there is no bright red yet on the Monarda.

Bee and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Bee and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Along the house at the opposite end from the Monarda is an Achillea whose color and name I adore: Appleblossom. Usually I would not feature the foundation of the house but I like the way the soft hues of this flower work with those in the bricks.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom' (Yarrow)

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

This Achillea is floppy and defies my attempts to hold it up. It seems to enjoy leaning on the Shasta Daisies in front.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom' (Yarrow) With Shasta Daisy

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) With Shasta Daisy

May is done until next year. Welcome June.

Penstemon Abloom In The Meditation Circle

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'  and Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple'

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ and Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’

Two types of Penstemon (Beardtongue) grow in the meditation circle where they form part of the labyrinth’s wall. These were among the original plants I experimented with when once the path was complete. Last summer about half of the Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ died out, but by then I had some self-seeded transplants of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ I could use as replacements. Both kinds of Penstemon started blooming this week and though the original design is no longer intact, the overall effect is a happy one for now.

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – March 2013

It is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), an opportunity to notice the value foliage plays in the garden, as feature or support. GBFD is hosted by Christine at  Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. This month I have been watching as clumps of perennials shake off some of the ragged winter look and start greening.

Monarda is growing noticeably and it smells delightfully minty. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ seeded freely last year so there are several tucked into places now other than just in the meditation circle.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)  and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) began dying out in the meditation circle last summer. Highly drought-tolerant plants, they seemed ideal for this spot, but the summer through winter were unusually wet. Combined with some pesky mole activity the condition of these penstemon worsened.  So nearly half of the Pike’s Peak are gone.  Earlier in the week I pruned the remaining plants and am hoping they will bloom.

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Also in the very center of the meditation circle I this week planted a few clumps of Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme), a low-growing fragrant Thyme,

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Iris leaves are up everywhere. This is Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris) making its debut this year. It is a Tall Bearded Iris with a purple ruffled bloom. Tall Bearded Iris are among the last to bloom.

Iris 'Davy Jones' (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Autumn Joy (Stonecrop) in several spots are contributing interest at this time of year as is an overflowing pot of colorful mixed Sedum that I added to the garden last spring.

Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude'  Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Mixed sedum

Mixed sedum

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is forming a nice mound of fresh leaves.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Shasta Daisy has taken a strong foothold and needs some serious attention to keep it from gaining any more.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura) sports colorful leaves this time of year. I have been unhappy with its performance in this location and need to find it a better spot. It became very floppy and did not bloom very well.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed) sprang up through a thick mulch layer this week. I was hoping to suppress it and have for years been wanting to manage it.  This is invasive but lovely as a ground cover and was a pass-along from a dear friend many years ago.

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop's weed)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ is a nice plant for the front of the border. I’m gradually increasing their number. Looks like I should be dividing this clump but am not sure if it is a good time.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

So as March winds down many individual plants are contributing their foliage shape, patterns, colors and textures to add interest to the early spring garden. Thanks to Christine at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting GBFD each month.

Hellebores And Mid-January Notes

Remembering that many plants were on an extremely early blooming cycle last year, I have been curious about what this year’s timing might be like for the garden.

For the last few weeks I have watched expectantly for the first Hellebores of the season and today I finally noticed an open flower.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

Last winter (2011-2012) these hellebores bloomed very early, by December 30, 2011, whereas the winter before that (2010-2011) there were no blooms until several days after Valentine’s Day. So they are somewhere in-between this year.

I have never been bothered by the leaves on hellebores, but enthusiasts recommend pruning them before the buds begin forming to make it easier to enjoy the blossoms. Too late to do it properly but today I carefully trimmed away many of the lower, older leaves. They do look tidier after this cleanup.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)-2

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

Growing adjacent to the hellebores and full of buds is a winter blooming Camellia  x ‘Coral Delight.’

Camellia x 'Coral Delight'

Camellia x ‘Coral Delight’

The garden is saturated from recent rains. I was surprised to see moss growing along the northern side garden where the hellebores and the ‘Coral Delight’ are planted. The high temperature reached a fine 72°F this afternoon, well above the average 54°F for this time of year. The nice warm weather should stay through Monday so I hope to finally tackle some weeding chores I have been putting off.

My time in the garden was brief today, but I did take a few minutes to walk the labyrinth. As I stepped along the path I smiled to note how well the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has worked  to supply some year-round interest.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Early January Notes

During my frosty morning walk the sun had just begun to peek into the meditation garden, illuminating the burgundy and green hued leaves of this Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue).

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

A very few orange gardenia hips have recently appeared on the ‘Chuck Hayes.’

A patch of Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum) from summer surprisingly has withstood the cold nights. This delicate-looking annual is reputed to be cold hardy (and heat tolerant), but probably Its location near the foundation of the house is giving it some extra protection.

Lobularia hybrid 'Snow Princess' (Sweet Alyssum)

Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum)

Hellebores are not as early in blooming as last year, though I did find a few fattening buds. Camellias continue to bloom and provide sweet fragrance. Several Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) flowers are visible but nothing to compare with last year’s early and prolonged display. Weeds are cropping up around the beds, especially the rather invasive Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bittercress). The garden is overdue for a few heavy maintenance days.

Finally, one plant I noticed and photographed during a recent arboretum visit was Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Little Imp’ (flowering maple). Native to Brazil this shrubby mounding plant begins blooming in spring and still carried a quite a few of its little lanterns on the last day of December. The red calyx (or group of sepals) surrounds the yellow flowers to form its little lanterns.

Meditation Path

Walking the labyrinth late this afternoon  provided an opportunity to consider the wall plantings in between the paths.  The meditation circle is lush and pleasant now, even the thyme has been rejuvenated.  The circle is full of bees humming and buzzing about. The bees are drawn to both types of penstemon found here. The Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)with its looser habit has already required staking in order to keep the pathway clear.  Unless visitors are coming I rarely worry about the flowers tumbling around, I just brush past them as I walk, simply noticing the connection.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) has been blooming for several weeks and I really enjoy its white flowers. Its growth habit is more upright than ‘Pike’s Peak Purple.’ Even so, the two ‘Husker Reds’ planted last year are getting quite large and recent rains knocked over a few sections of the plant into the path. Trimmings are nice though as penstemon is long-lasting indoors.

Magnolias are blooming. This one was spotted today at the Nasher Museum of Art in nearby Durham, NC.

A Perfect Day In May

Meditation Circle

Today’s weather could not have been more perfect to have a group of friends visit the garden, walk the meditation circle and share a potluck lunch. Cloudless blue skies, low humidity and temperatures in the mid-seventies made for a fine day to be outside.

Inside the labyrinth Penstemon (Beardtongue) hybrids are blooming this week and buzzing with bees.

Penstemons In Meditation Circle

Penstemon  mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ delineates a long stretch of path near an outer edge. Its color is deep and rich violet-purple. Its loose form means it sprawls over into the paths on either side, making it necessary to trim the overhanging flower stalks to help keep visitors safe when walking the labyrinth.

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Marking several turnaround points in the labyrinth is another penstemon cultivar, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’ This variety has a tighter and more upright form, making it more suitable and requiring less maintenance in the narrow space between the paths. Both Penstemon cultivars remained green during this past mild winter.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

The garden has transitioned away from the focus on roses and irises, but a few Bearded Irises linger.

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

Yesterday the garden’s peony opened. This is ‘Pink Parfait.’

Peony Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’