Tag Archives: yarrow

In A Vase On Monday—Cottage Garden Bouquet

Cottage Bouquet in Pringle Pitcher

Cottage Bouquet in Pringle Pitcher

Each Monday brings opportunity to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

I think of my garden as an informal one, a cottage garden planted with old-fashioned, easy-to-grow favorites. Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) began blooming about two weeks ago and Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) opened just a couple of days ago. I took them as a starting point for creating this loosely arranged collection of blossoms.

Both of these plants produce their flowers in clusters (umbels). The flat-topped clusters of Appleblossum yarrow range in hue from a pale, straw yellow to this peachy colored one.  The Asclepias, of course, is a bright, deep orange.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom' (Yarrow) and Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) and Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Now that the irises and peonies are but a memory for another year, the garden is transitioning toward summer flowers. Currently there is not a lot of any one plant dominant in the borders, so I gathered a bit of this and that to round out the cottage garden bouquet.

For foliage I selected Dusty Miller from a large silvery clump in the western border. For a tall, spiky accent I found two colors of Veronica spicata, ‘Pink Goblin’ and only slightly darker ‘Rotfuchs.’ Both are just coming into bloom.

Veronica spicata 'Rotfuchs' (Red Fox Veronica) and Dusty Miller

Veronica spicata ‘Rotfuchs’ (Red Fox Veronica) and Dusty Miller

Verbena bonariensis is finally taking hold in my garden after a few years of trying it in different locations. This week it is cheerful, still standing tall. The American goldfinches enjoy it and its stems bend gently under their ever so slight weight once they begin perching on it and harvesting seeds.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) in front of Achillea x 'Appleblossom' (Yarrow)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) in front of yellow straw-colored Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

Three stems of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) provide round focal flowers for today’s arrangement. These flowers are just coming into bloom and usually I can still find one or two for a quick vase in October. Each year I try to add a few more of this native plant to the garden. The Echinacea’s orange cone center echoes the color of the Asclepias, which could be exploited in a more formal design for an interesting effect. The yellow-hued achillea works less well with the color of the Purple Coneflower.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

In A Vase On Monday-Cottage Bouquet1

Today’s floral container was handmade by local artist Jim Pringle of Pringle Pottery. A treasured wedding gift, this ceramic pitcher is part of a set that came with four cups similarly decorated in bands of blue, green and white. Together the pieces have held countless informal arrangements of garden flowers, but they are rarely used for beverages.

Cottage Garden Bouquet



Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)
Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Dusty Miller
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)
Veronica spicata ‘Rotfuchs’ (Red Fox Veronica)

Cottage Bouquet

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. I encourage you to visit her to learn what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

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.

Newly Blooming

Fragrant Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ and a few other plants are newly blooming in this Chapel Hill garden today.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Long before the garden’s picket fence was installed ‘Chuck Hayes’ was planted as a low privacy hedge in the western border. Both evergreen and deer resistant this gardenia variety is very cold hardy in this area. It prefers regular watering, but seldom is anything watered in this garden beyond a week or two after planting. The hedge is benefitting from the very significant amounts of rain the garden has received all winter and spring. It also responded well to the Epsom salts I applied a month ago when some of the leaves began to yellow. Many of the original ‘Chuck Hayes’ shrubs were lost to drought and the spots left bare are gradually being replaced with taller plants that can provide more privacy.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Nearby the first clusters of flowers have opened on the Butterfly bush (possibly Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’).

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

The bees are finding plenty of food, including this Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell), which actually has been blooming for a few weeks now, not just starting today. It seems much revived after last night’s elaborate thunder and lightning storm that brought heavy amounts of rain.

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Pale delicate flowers of Lavender are open today at last and bees are finding it irresistible.  In the background are drifts of pink Achillea and the ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge planted last year.

Lavender and Pink Achillea

The first blossoms of Salvia ‘Blue Sky’ appeared today, revealing this flower’s characteristic azure blue brilliance atop a 5-foot flower stalk.

Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’  is not quite open, but a little of the white flower is visible. The soft grass-like foliage provides a nice texture in the northern border.

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’

One more newly opened flower today, a cheerful Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy). There are many large clumps of this herbaceous perennial all around the garden, so soon this single blossom should have plenty of company.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Sunday Garden Vignettes

The sky was gray since early morning and by early evening soft rain began to fall. At mid-afteroon the garden was a peaceful, serene setting for a leisurely walk.

Echinacea as well as lavender are opening in several places around the garden, just about the same time as last year. Perhaps Spring is slowing down from its frenzied earlier pace. Other observations: Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ will soon be blooming along the southern side path, a bit ahead of that planted in other areas. Liatris spicata is adding feathery softness to the northern border that has been dominated by sword-like iris leaves. Proving to be very weak-stemmed again this year, Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ is falling over into a thick stand of Shasta Daisies. Many of the perennials attract bees, including Veronica spicata, Stachys byzantina, Nepeta and Penstemon. Verbena bonariensis looks strong and healthy this year and the American goldfinches are loving it.

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 3

Record keeping: Last in a 3-part series of notes about what is planted and what is blooming currently in the garden.

Yesterday I focused on long views of the garden borders to document what is planted in each section.  But yesterday morning there also were fresh new blossoms that can be best appreciated by examining them close up.


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

A Peachy ‘Appleblossom’

A lovely yarrow cultivar ‘Appleblossom’ was added to the garden in May and today it is blooming. If unharmed by cold weather and allowed to age gracefully, the flower’s peachy color eventually will fade to cream.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom' (Yarrow)

Galaxy hybrids

In learning about this plant, I found ‘Appleblossom’ being referred to as a Galaxy hybrid. An article on the Chicago Botanic Garden website gave a good explanation of this term (and the rest of the article is interesting as well).

In 1986, the Galaxy hybrids, a group of cultivars with clear, distinctive flower colors, were introduced from Germany.  The original hybrid between Achillea millefolium and A. x taygetea resulted in the cultivars ‘Hoffnung’, ‘The Beacon’, ‘Salmon Beauty’ and ‘Appleblossom’ (Thomas 1990). Since then, other cultivars with improved habits and a broader range of flower colors have joined the original Galaxy hybrids in the market place. (Hawke, 1994)


Hawke, Richard G. (1994). Plant evaluation notes, a report of cultivated yarrows (achillea). Retrieved November 25, 2011 from http://www.chicagobotanic.org/downloads/planteval_notes/no5_yarrow.pdf

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)

Garden Gallery

With daytime temperatures in the seventies, the November garden holds surprising interest.

Late October Garden, Up Close

From late this afternoon here are a few close-ups of the October garden.

Purchased this spring, the ‘Appleblossom’ yarrow performed poorly all summer. It is located in two sections of the garden, neither of which was to its liking. There were only a few blooms but perhaps it will put on a show yet. The feathery foliage looks very healthy now and several flowers promise to open soon.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom'

These chrysanthemums are one of many pass-along plants from a dear elderly cousin. The extra rains this year have given them a better than usual chance at putting on a nice show this year.


The Verbena bonariensis has had an extended blooming period this year. Several new plants were added around the garden this year and all are doing well.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Several Ornamental Sweet Potato vines have given a great show this year. This one survived being nibbled to a nub by deer early in the summer.

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine

The NC State Fair ended today and frequently garden displays there use Ornamental Chili Peppers. Inspired by those showy displays, these pots of peppers add some nice deep Fall color.

Ornamental Pepper

Blooming In Mid-September Part 4

This completes a series illustrating the variety of blooms found in this garden in mid-September.  Once extreme heat and drought set in during July the garden looked browned and parched. Now, eight weeks have passed with little maintenance, and the garden has awakened. Cooler temperatures and some key rainfalls have brought out a burst of blossoms.


Echinacea (purple coneflower) is planted throughout the garden and these perennials have remained in bloom longer this year than usual. As the petals drop the seed cones provide food for the American goldfinches. Most of the Echinacea have dried up now and the brown stalks and cones are being left for winter interest and for the birds.

Crape Myrtle

A pair of pink dwarf Crape Myrtles at the front entrance took forever to bloom this year, while these Southern favorites were coloring the landscape all around town (and even in this neighborhood). The peak flowering period seemed to be about mid-August.

Periwinkle (Vinca)

Because this annual is so commonly used, bringing it home was merely an afterthought at the garden center in early summer.  During the worst of the dry, hot July days though, it added happy spots of color (both pink and magenta) to the border.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Only a few cosmos self-seeded from last year’s effort to fill the side border with feathery greenery and delicate blossoms.  Usually these are very simple to grow but last year neither these nor the zinnia seeds produced a reward.  The deer still graze down this side garden and seem to be attracted to the cosmos.


Cleome or Spider Flower is a magnificent accent in the border. The complex structure of the blooms and the long seed pods forming below the flower give this annual an architectural look.  This is an old-fashioned flower that is remarkable.

More In the September Garden

Ending the tour of blooms in this mid-September garden, there are several flowers blooming for there are no accompanying photographs, but they have been featured before: Pink YarrowDianthus, and Verbena bonariensis. The pink yarrow bloomed profusely in the spring before browning in the heat.  Only a couple of these are in bloom now.  The dianthus was planted this spring and did well with deadheading though early summer before fading in the heat. It has revived somewhat but is not significantly showy. Verbena bonariensis, a tall plant with small flower clusters on long stems, has been blooming since mid-May.  Yellow American goldfinches love them and love to sit on them, bending the stems eventually. Several new ones added to the garden in late spring survived.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

While this Asclepias tuberosa is not actually blooming now, the seed pods are interesting. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. The caterpillar is feeding on the leaves and storing energy for the pupa stage.

Mid-June Garden

Gladiolus, Liatris Spicata and Echinacea

The garden is holding up well this week despite a lack of rain or watering.  In the northern bed Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) and the first blooms of Liatris Spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather or Blazing Star) and Gladiolus dominate the view.

Liatris Spicata


In the southern bed, sweet peas and pink yarrows are still pretty although the color is fading on the yarrow. Mexican salvia, with its intense blue flower is coming into its own in the southwest end of the bed, while Lantana, with its multicolor flowers, fills out the southeast corner.


Daylilies, which I had many times threatened to pull out completely in an attempt to keep deer away, have persisted and (now that the fence has deterred the deer so far), they may actually bloom this year.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) is winding down its long blooming period that started in early April, so I cut down most of it this week.  I had never noticed a sensitivity to this plant before, but I developed an itchy red rash on my arms after carrying the trimmings away.  The rash lasted a day or so; fortunately the itch lasted only a half-hour or so.

Several Shasta Daisy flowers opened last week but as a group they are blooming very slowly.  The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is starting to form buds. Several types of lavender are in flower, which delights the bees. Perovskia (Russian Sage), echinacea and bee balm were introduced last year into some additional areas and they seem to have adapted equally well around the garden.

In The Pink

Pink Yarrow

When I think of the garden always it is a picture of cool greens and blues.  At this time of year though, when I survey the lush parts of the garden, pinks abound in opposite sides of the space.

A short yarrow given to me by a friend nearly a decade ago, sends soft pink drifts through the southern bed between silver Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and blue tradescantia.


Where the yarrow lets off, a trailing, old-fashioned sweet pea that I brought from my old garden continues the pink theme, and winds through tradescantia toward a stand of woody-stemmed chrysanthemums.

Opposite, in the northern bed, purple coneflower or echinacea mirror the pink hues.  The garden and its colors are heating up.

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.

A Few Hours In the Garden Today

After a wet spring with moderate temperatures, the heat of the last few days has seemed to shock the grass, but so far the garden is holding its own. A very brief, early morning thunderstorm brought little relief, as it was more thunder than rain.

Several perennials await planting.  There are three lovely yellow-pink, peachy Yarrows for height in the back border. There are also five Verbena bonariensis, which are planned for the meditation circle.

Spruced up the garden for a few hours this morning, trying to shape and edit along the way.

  • Trimmed back Tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) that had grown too tall in front of the borders and had expanded into too much of the midsection.
  • Cut back the iris stalks, but kept the leaves to die back naturally.
  • Removed some large branches from a Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ (Butterfly Bush) that did not get its proper trim back in February. It was overshadowing the recently added Gaura.
  • Pruned back the Iceberg Rose that had bloomed so well this spring. Suddenly it looked completely spent.
  • Trimmed the Meadow Sage by half to encourage new blooming. Pulled up stray Rose Campion and Stachys(Lamb’s Ears) in the side path to open up the path again.
  • Cut back the blooms on many of the Stachys, but left as many for the bees which were enjoying them so much.

As always, there is more to do tomorrow.


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.


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.


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.


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.