In Winter A Gardener’s Fancy Turns To Ordering Plants
There’s a lot less to do in the garden these days, so I’m thinking more about what I’ll be planting in the spring. I would say these thoughts are about plants that fall into two categories. First, there are plants that are needed to fill some empty niche in the garden. And second, there are plants I just want despite the fact that I have no place to put them.
Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) is in the first category. Seeing how this late-season bloomer performs at Lurie Garden has put me under its spell. Fortunately, I have a good place for it: I intend to mix it in with the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) in the Sidewalk Border.
The Geranium is looking pretty tired by late summer, which is when Bottle Gentian starts to bloom. And this Gentian should be able to tolerate being shaded a bit by the taller plants at the back of the border.
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) would be in the second category. I don’t need this plant, but I want it. So, I’m probably going to shoehorn it into the back of the aforementioned Sidewalk Border. I’d like to add more blue there, plus I think I’ll really like the contrast in flower shape with the various Monardas that dominate this area during the summer. Also, Blue Vervain is a host for Common Buckeye butterflies.
Pasture Thistle (Cirsium discolor) definitely fits into the second category of plants. In fact, I still don’t have the vaguest idea of where I’ll put it. And no, wanting to plant a thistle does not mean I have taken leave of my senses.
Pasture Thistle is a North American thistle that does not spread by rhizomes. Instead, it has a nice, well-behaved taproot. The only place I can find Pasture Thistle for sale is Prairie Moon, and they sell only seeds, no plants. Pasture Thistle is a host for Painted Lady butterflies, and everybody knows that Goldfinches are practically addicted to thistles of all kinds.
For that area where I’m taking out the Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum), I’m thinking either Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) or Purple-Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus). This is a shady spot, so that limits the choices.
Maybe a combination of the two, though Judy is not too fond of Goatsbeard. There’s already some of each in this bed.
There are a few other possibilities I have in mind, but I don’t want to appear greedy.
That’s all for now.