Hey Joe (Pye Weed)

August brings not just the Susans, but also Joe – as in Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium). Note that Joe Pye Weeds used to be Eupatoriums, but now thanks to the ever-busy taxonomists they are Eutrochiums. This is arguably an improvement since Eutrochium is one syllable shorter. (I’ve written my Senator demanding passage of a bill barring taxonomists from introducing new genus names with more syllables than the old ones. I should hear back any day now, though I can’t imagine what’s taking so long.)

Of course, Eutrochium has that belligerent hard C, while Eupatorium has a gentler sound to it. So I don’t know.

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The Susans Are Here!

The Susans always make their presence known in August. There’s Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), also known as Orange Coneflower. And then there’s Brown-Eyed Susan (R. triloba), which I like to think of as R. fulgida’s big sister.

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Black-Eyed Susan

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An Information Superhighway for Plants

So let me tell you about another website I just discovered that is of interest to the botanically-minded. It’s called Soils Matter, and it’s sponsored by the Soil Science Society of America. These are folks devoted to educating the public about the importance of sustainable soil practices.  They also have a website, www.soils.org.

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Blighted Impatiens, Dead Wheelbarrows, and Partridge Peas

So here is a bit of garden miscellany for today. Those of you who grumble that I never show the seamy underside of my garden should appreciate this post.

First off, I have been blithely ignoring the Heartbreak of Impatiens Blight ever since news of this scourge spread to these parts. And for years, everything was fine. I thought the Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) and I could lead a charmed life, safe from the devastation around us.

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Impatiens in a window box: After the blight.

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Light in August

The light changes in August, and so does the feel of the garden. The days have begun to shorten and the sun is lower in the sky. The light still brings heat, but there is a softening, especially in late afternoon.

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If You Plant Just One Annual for Pollinators …

Pollinators love Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). DSC_0101

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The Case of the Mistakenly Labeled Lobelias

I love Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis), but they don’t love me. Which is to say, they always die on me after a couple of years. They’re fairly finicky. They like lots of sun, lots of moisture, and bed sheets with a thread count of at least 1,800.

 

 

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Summer Containers in Sun: An Update

Now that it’s almost the middle of August, maybe it’s a good time to do an update on the flowering containers in the front garden. Overall, my assessment would be: they’re doing pretty well. Not spectacular, perhaps, but certainly pretty well.

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And Now, the Onion Patch

Remember that song, “I’m a Lonely Little Petunia in the Onion Patch”? That Judy said everybody knew? Well, I asked people at my office and not a single one had heard of it, though they did think it was pretty catchy. Be that as it may, let me now tell you about our onion patch.

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Little Wild Petunias Near An Onion Patch

Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) is a lovely little perennial native to most of the eastern half of the United States. It has Petunia-like lilac flowers, but it is not really a Petunia. It’s not even in the same family of plants – R. humilis is in the Acanthus family, while Petunias are in the Nightshade family, along with tomatoes and tobacco.

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Wild Petunia. The dark purple lines are nectar guides, which are like “EAT HERE” signs for pollinators.

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