Zigzag Goldenrod, the Lovable Thug

Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) may be a thug, but it’s a thug with good qualities, kind of like Tony Soprano from The Sopranos. (Though I know people with deeply opposing views on Tony’s character.)

dsc_0811 zigzag goldenrod
Zigzag Golderod glowing in the Thicket Corner. 

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Supernova: an Explosion of Asters

The name Aster comes from the Greek word for star. At this time of year, it feels like the Asters are exploding into a sort of floral supernova.

Aromatic Aster with Bluestem Goldenrod

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Three New Native Plants for Our Front Garden

The first plants have arrived for fall planting. Yay! All are sun-lovers destined for the front garden.


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Ignore the Flowers Day: September, 2016

For me, blooms make the garden. This attitude is considered unsophisticated by some, who say we must pay greater attention to more enduring plant features: foliage, texture, structure, yada yada.

Grudgingly, I admit that there is something to what these people say, which is why on the 22nd of most months I participate in Ignore the Flowers Day, hosted by Christine of My Hesperides Garden (she calls it Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day). This ensures that at least once each month this blog has a whole post devoted to something other than blooms.


Grasses have a big presence in the garden right now, like the Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) above.


A big challenge in writing about Switchgrass is coming up with synonyms for “airy”, as in airy seedheads, which to me are the most notable quality of this grass. The seedheads contrast with the overall bulk which is the second most notable quality. “Breezy seedheads”? “Well-ventilated seedheads”? Thesaurus.com is of limited help.


It’s almost too easy to take pictures of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).


‘The Blues’ Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), newly planted in the Lamppost Bed, is not as upright as the ones in Lurie Garden, but I like the color.


But ‘Standing Ovation’ (also very recently planted) stays as vertical as its name implies.


Speaking of seedheads (we were, a few pictures back), these Yellow Coneflowers (Ratibida pinnata) look kind of interesting.


Also this Bee Balm (Monarda didyma).


Here’s what’s left of the ‘Purple Senation’ Alliums (A. aflatunense) that were blooming back in May. I’m glad I left them standing.


Most of the berries in our garden have already come and gone. There are a few on the Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum).


Still plenty of crabapples on ‘Donald Wyman’ however. I learned too late that for some reason birds are not too fond of this particular crabapple, though eventually most are eaten by Starlings if nobody else.


The bright red fruits of Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) seem to be hanging on longer than usual. Eventually the leaves will turn a deep maroon.

Were you able to spend any time ignoring the flowers today?

My 2016 Tulip Order!

Yes, once again it is time to order the tulips. This year’s order is a mix of old favorites and promising newcomers.

First, for the old favorites:

‘Annie Schilder’ – A mid-season orange tulip, about 18″ tall. Annie is a Triumph tulip, a cross between Single Early and Darwin Hybrid.

2015-05-03 10.22.15 ballerina

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A Grass Roots Effort?

Sometimes I get emails that look interesting enough not to delete right away, but also not interesting enough to actually open and read.  I might get around to reading them weeks later.

For example, at the beginning of August I got an email with the subject line: “Turf is Tops: Environmental benefits of a lawn”. It was sent to me by a PR firm working with an organization called Grass Seed USA, which describes itself as “a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists”.


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September Bloom Day: Not Quite Fall

September is a transitional month. Summer fades away as fall creeps in. Let’s see what’s in bloom at the mid-point of this ninth month of the year.


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A Grass Undivided Cannot Stand

Of all garden chores, I think that dividing plants may be my least favorite. Even so, there comes a time when it cannot be avoided any longer.

Switchgrass in the Sidewalk Border.


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The Only Summer Container Annuals I’ll Ever Need

You know how it is. When you’re younger (early 50s, say), you want to experiment. Try out different plants in your containers for sun.

‘Mystic Spires Blue’ Salvia, Pentas, Cigar Plant

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Monarch Butterflies Head South After a Disappointing Year

Since the middle of August Monarch Butterflies have been a steady presence in the front garden. There have been at least two fluttering around almost every day. This past Sunday there were three, passing through on their way south to Mexico.

Monarch on Tithonia this past Sunday.

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