When inspiration strikes.

A standard bit of advice is to head to the nursery, list in hand- specific to your garden, so you don’t return home with a carload of plants and no idea where to place them. BUT, if you’re planning to make broccoli yet you discover the stalks chilling in the produce section are pale and flabby, you must look to an alternative. Be open to plants that inspire and don’t cleave to that list at all costs. Like this pretty thing, found nowhere on my list:fullsizeoutput_21f6.jpeg I have a terra-cotta pot in my garden that is always anchored by a lime cypress, which I typically surround with high contrast colors. This year a local grower had healthy specimens of Lavandula x intermedia Phenomenal™ (Phenomenal lavender). Offered by White Flower Farm at a hefty $21.95 per gallon, this soft gray lavender was loaded with buds and became a new accent for my old pot this year at a reasonable $7.99. I mean, if the broccoli sucks and the asparagus is fresh and crisp…toss the list!

Out went high contrast and I ended up with a monochromatic container of purples and gray. I combined the lavender with Calibrachoa Superbells® ‘Miss Lilac’ (million bells) and  lacy Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost®

I’ve never embraced lavender because of its woody growth habit, but this cultivar has won accolades for strong performance from growers worldwide. After spending this season in a pot I will move it to a sunny spot in with the best drainage I can provide, hoping it will make a permanent home in my garden.

 

 

Stalwart perennial for dry shade

Geranium. The word brings to mind the ubiquitous red flowers growing in clay pots with the requisite “spike” and vinca vine for a classic summer display. The common name “geranium” is given to the genus of plants that are actually Pelargonium species. A true perennial, geraniums are a very large genus of plants comprising both fussy little rock garden specimens to tough plants that shrug off clay, drought and deer. One of the best of the latter type is Geranium macrorrhizum or bigroot geranium (also known as cranesbill). A perennial which actually earns the epithet “low maintenance”, Geranium macrorrhizum makes a pretty edging plant in both sun and part-shade- whether in the perennial border or as an inspired choice surrounding shrubs in a traditional foundation planting. Topping out at around 15 inches high, it has lobed leaves which turn reddish in the fall.   The species and its cultivars have pale pink to warm purple flowers, which bloom heavily in mid-spring and may re-bloom throughout the summer. Its aromatic roots dissuade deer, and plants will naturalize and form a weed-proof ground cover even in dry shade. Easily divided and simple to grow, Geranium macrorrhizum is a stalwart perennial plant which belongs in every garden.