Tag Archives: spiderwort

Green And Other Colors: Scenes From The Garden

After an overcast morning the sun pushed temperatures to 72° F. today. Strong, blustery winds this afternoon caused plants to sway, chairs to topple, and there was a noticeable chill to the air.

The garden is coming into its own now.  It happened suddenly. The weeding is done, but before all the planned rearranging and assessment could take place, the perennial beds bordering the property starting greening and filling out. The succession of blooms is on its way.

This is the view today from the southern gate entrance looking west.

Southern Border Facing West

Here is the northern border facing west on Sunday. Barely visible just left and behind the dogwood is a new Arizona Cypress ‘Carolina Sapphire’ to replace the one lost last year. Zinnias, gladioli and cleome will fill in the space against the fence this summer.

Northern Border Facing West

Also on Sunday, this is view is looking from northeast to southwest across the meditation circle. In the center of the labyrinth, the white blooms of Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) lasted four months from early December. Now they need to be sheared back.

Garden View From Northeast Corner

As one walks around the garden it is nice to take a closer look a the changes underway. A single bloom opened today on the Iceberg rose.

Iceberg Rose

Ants parade on a ‘Pink Parfait’ peony that was added last year to the garden.

Peony Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Amid a green backdrop the burgundy-purple tinge of this iris bud stands out in the southern border.

Iris in Southern Border

A dark pink outlines the leaves and the flower tip of this Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell).

Veronica spicata 'Pink Goblin' (Speedwell)

Deep blue petals of the spiderwort unfurl in the morning for just one day. In the background are dark burgundy leaves of  Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura).

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura), Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

This batik iris is irresistible.

Batik Iris

Flowers are forming on several baptisias in the garden. This is Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke,’ which was discovered at the nearby North Carolina Botanical Garden by former curator Rob Gardner. Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ was introduced in 1996 by Niche Gardens and North Carolina Botanical Garden. This specimen was purchased about three years ago at Niche Garden after one of their Saturday morning tours.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Another rosy-tinged flower, Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena), is framed in front of a stand of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine).

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Unidentified spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.)

Tradescantia or spiderwort is one of the first plants I remember from very early childhood. At the time I did not know its name nor that it was a native plant, but I found the deep purple of its flower so beautiful. Upon discovering that the color transferred easily, I used tradescantia to stain one of the white front-porch columns and was genuinely surprised when my mother put me to work scrubbing it off.

My mother did not garden, but her older cousin did and she became a garden mentor to me. This special gardener introduced me to many plants and was always generous in supplying me with a variety of pass-along plants for my garden, including of course, spiderwort. The color range includes lavender, blue, violet, purple and even white.

Tradescantia does well in sun or shade, but the flowers may close by midday especially in hot sun. Spiderwort is very drought tolerant and self-seeds easily. The plants attract butterflies and this morning were appealing to quite many bees.

Plants have drifted throughout the garden over the years. I always intend to rein them back, but before I can get around to it, they open and form pretty combinations with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) or provide a needed backdrop to other emerging perennials. I think, “Well let’s just leave them for now.” Spiderworts tend to die back during the hottest part of summer. Before I know it, fall comes around again and the spiderworts give another burst of color to the garden. And so they stay.

Late Evening In An Early April Garden

Achillea (Yarrow), Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft), Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

A bit of happenstance in the late evening garden forms a nice texture study. A Candytuft with its bright white flower and slender leaves is tucked between the feathery, dark green of a dwarf Yarrow and the fur-like, silver-gray of a Lamb’s Ear.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

The Tradescantia (Spiderwort) in this garden are violet, purple, and even pale blue, but not usually nearly white with a center that hints of pale lavender.  Unlike the others which are pass-along plants, this was an actual purchased specimen. (Of course, it has moved itself around and is no longer where it was planted originally.)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

The Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) opened a week ago. The large white petals are actually bracts. The greenish-yellow cluster in the center is made up of about twenty small flowers.

Meditation Circle

The meditation circle has been in bloom since December thanks to Iberis Sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft). Since a series of recent heavy rains the Candytuft has looked really tired and will soon need to be trimmed back. After almost a full year I am still undecided on how to finish planting the labyrinth with evergreens. An annual, Angelonia, bloomed here well into October so it may be a good choice again this summer.

Northern Border

The garden in early April is fresh and growing enthusiastically. In the northern border Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ adds a bit of color, but soon the irises will be ready for a vibrant display.

Northern Border

Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’

The Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has been a strong presence in the garden. The bloom time is early to mid-summer, but with this year’s extremely hot spring, there was no waiting for summer.  With summer still two weeks away the penstemon is winding down and forming burgundy seeds. The tradescantia’s blue flowers are bright in contrast to the red stems and reddish leaves of the penstemon.

Transitions

In early spring first the lenten roses, then the daffodils and spirea dominated the garden. By mid-April the first bearded iris had opened. Now, three and a half weeks later, a few irises, along with the old-fashioned rose and the clematises, remain in bloom.  Take a quiet stroll around the perennial beds and it is easy to notice the garden again is in transition.

Verbena bonariensis

A verbena bonariensis is blooming and echinacea (purple coneflower) are beginning to open.

Several foxgloves are forming their complex flowers. Nearby an ‘Irish eyes’ rudbeckia already has reached two of its expected five feet.

The monarda (bee balm) also is tall and seems primed for a big display of red and fragrance.

A soft gray mound of artemisia accents the border and a perennial Dusty miller is creeping through the garden. Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) will soon add its bright reddish-orange color to the blue palette that has predominated the garden in early spring.

Penstemon

The very tips of the white tubular flowers of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are becoming visible.

These two penstemon are planted inside the meditation path forming a wall at one of the turnaround points.

Yarrow

One of the small pink yarrow is just beginning to open among the lamb’s ears. Rising only 10-15 inches, it has a lacy flower and a dark green, feathery-soft foliage.

Lavender will soon be adding its beautiful color and unique fragrance to several locations. The lavenders responded positively to severe pruning in February.

Lavender

A Garden Highlight

An exciting highlight is the single bloom on the peony recently added to the garden, Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait.’  Although its planting tag indicated a June bloom, it was ready yesterday without regard to the calendar, as was the gardener.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Changes Bring Chores

As the focus transitions away from roses and irises there are many required tasks this week that will help keep the garden looking nice. The faded iris blooms and the bloom stalks need to trimmed back to tidy up, although the leaves need to remain for several months before being trimmed back to 6 inches in a fan shape. Is this the year the irises will finally get divided?

Rose Campion

The southern path is full of white rose campion, but none of the favored magenta-hued rose campion survived the winter.  Deadheading is a must if they are to continue to look attractive and to keep them from self-sowing so heavily.

The many Eastern Red Columbine is done for this year and needs to be cut back severely; it will maintain a nice green mound all summer.

Tradescantia is pretty now but needs to be thinned, as it has spread too widely. Many were sheared heavily ten days ago. The daylilies, the sweet peas–all overgrown.  The spirea finished its bloom weeks ago and should be pruned back hard to maintain its size. Other chores abound.  The fence installation was completed last week and paths to the gates need to be improved.

How to finish planting the meditation circle is still an interesting problem to solve, something to ponder while working on these maintenance tasks this week and contemplating transitions.

Time To Enjoy The Garden

After all the analyzing, planning, digging, weeding, pruning, and mulching since first contemplating back in January a renovation of the garden, today was a fitting time to settle back and enjoy, relax, and appreciate the plants and the setting. Though the to-do list remains a long enumeration, today was a chance to observe and to just be.

The quiet evening air was punctuated by the sounds of cardinals and robins conversing through the neighborhood as a mourning dove, chickadees, sparrows and a towhee flitted about the garden. The sun lowered gently, highlighting along the way a certain branch of the dogwood, then focusing on several iris stalks to form a tiny vignette. The rains last week and this spring in general have ensured a verdant lawn and vibrant garden scene.

Looking into the garden one sees white bearded iris standing tall and erect. Nearby the eye is drawn to the deep blue of meadow sage, but soon there will be competition from drifts of lavender Phlox divaricata (woodland phlox).

The dogwood dropped the last of its petals this week after its best blooming year yet.

Nepeta (catmint) is opening beneath Lynn’s iceberg rose, which is full of buds and the old-fashioned rose has a few pink flowers already.

Both clematises are strikingly beautiful. This one is Jackmanii, growing just outside the new gate at the southern side path.

The penstemon forms a nice clump and displays rich green and red-hued foliage. Penstemon seems like a good candidate to use in the meditation garden. A visit to the garden center this week may offer up other ideas.

Tradescantia (spiderwort) is a cheery, nostalgic favorite from childhood. Although it tends to move itself around the garden too freely, it is easily one of the most welcome plants in this garden.

 Along the side path grows lavender and another old-fashioned flower, rose campion. Neither is blooming yet. Returning in this same part of the garden is monarda (bee balm), lamb’s ears, and a lovely stand of yellow irises.

Tomorrow chores await but today in the garden, there was time to just enjoy.

Encircling The Garden

It was a beautiful day for laying in bricks to edge the meditation circle. There are a few wobblies to straighten, but it is great to have the circle well-defined. Still more soil preparation is needed before the red stepping stones can be arranged to form the labyrinth.

Around the garden many things are growing nicely.  The Hellebores continue to bloom, Eastern Red Columbine is starting to open in various (mostly self-chosen spots), Monarda (bee balm) and all three baptisias are emerging.

An amaryllis from a Christmas past is emerging behind Lamb’s Ears and Yarrow.

The bearded iris which yesterday showed no sign of buds suddenly revealed them today, in different sections of the garden.  These are along the southern side path next to the house.

Rabbits or deer seem to be nibbling the remaining daylilies that still need to be dug out of the garden.  Similarly something for the first time ever has been also eating the spiderwort (tradescantia), an all-time favorite in this garden.  This one, also in the southern side path, somehow escaped being part of the grazing buffet and is the first tradescantia to bloom this year. What a cheerful little flower!