Sunday, February 6, 2011

Uncle Part II

Baptisias are essentially small shrubs in full sun gardens. The flower stems are 4 to 5 feet in height, but the actual plant is shorter, especially after the leafy stems bow down in early summer to hide the plant's bare knees. The rugosas provide a much-needed medium height to the garden, most topping out at 4-5'. Eventually they will end up wider than tall as they sucker.

Foxi Pavement in background

Rosa rugosa alba and Baptisia alba

Baptisia alba and Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

I bought the rugosa Foxi Pavement after seeing it at a nursery where I went to get a Florida azalea.

Then three Buddleia 'Potter's Purple', a Carolina rose, and three Hansas went in.

R. rugosa rubra with Hansa and iris Dusky Challenger

The Buddleias end up around 8 feet high by the end of the summer but are whacked back to around 4 feet every March. I wish there was a native full-sun shrub of similar height and dense texture that could withstand short-term flooding and drought but there are not many choices. I'm thinking the best option may be Golden St. John's Wort.

The front of the big bed is a shallow ditch that presents its own challenges. The bank above the ditch has proved to be a beast, dry and barren. Most of the area has remained stubbornly free of anything truly perennial. Some years Monarda 'Claire Grace' reaches that far before retreating, and other years Bidens grow there. A pain to keep weeded until the Bidens size up in August. Did I say Uncle already? Last fall several Baptisia went in the bank above the ditch.

In the ditch itself are Hubricht's Blue Star, Commuter daylilies, spiderworts, Smooth Beardtongue, Blue Flags and Japanese Iris that have their turn in spring before the Bidens take over.

Smooth Beardtongue in the ditch and foxglove and Verbena bonariensis on the bank, late May 2008

Hubricht's Amsonia forms a cloud of foliage 3' by 3' wide and holds its own again anything, even Bidens, wet year or dry. The Commuter daylilies are the same. On the other hand, spiderworts, irises and beardtongues are happiest in wet years.

April '08

Foxi Pavement and Smooth Beardtongue, May 2008

Iris virginica

The water lovers dive underground or basically shrivel up to the size of a quarter when the weather turns dry. So last fall and this spring I added more Rosa palustris scandens and Hubricht's Blue Star to the ditch. The Amsonia has the grace and movement of an ornamental grass and a soft texture. It's by far my favorite perennial for foliage effect.

May '09, Hubricht's Blue Star center

and lower left, April 2010.

I put this Rosa palustris scandens in about 5 years ago.

I want to add more Meadow Rue from the floodway fields too, just because I like how it looks with the roses, and it gets lovely and full in a garden setting.

The palustris scandens get quite tall, 6-8' in height, but they are at least 3' lower than the highest part of the bed, and are out to the sides and not at front center.

More later.... :)


  1. What a delightful post! I want all these plants in my garden! Oops, I don't have enough space for them! I have a rosa rugosa that spreads wildly. You obviously have more space for it! I love your iris, the picture is great! I want summer after this post!

  2. Oh my gosh, this post is absolutely wonderful and has me sighing at the beauty. Hansa's color is really something.

    Enjoy getting ready for the new garden season ~ FlowerLady

  3. I love the English-border-style of your gardens! It is an impossible look to accomplish down here in the peninsula. I love seeing gardens like this when we visit NC in the summer. Makes me so jealous! Even though we can't grow the same things, I do struggle with similar issues. Our plants must also be able to handle both drought and flood.

  4. You have a real challenge with your flooded but dry bank, and I like how you are constantly experimenting. The plants will tell you who wants to grow there... but it will take patience and a lot of trial and error. Don't cry uncle yet! You have amazing gardens and the space to experiment.

  5. It is so wonderful to see all your happy rugosa roses. I love rugosas but they hate my alkaline soil and water and get chlorotic very fast.... Do you use the hips for jam or tea? Rosa palustris is one of my favorite roses, although I am more familiar with R. palustris plena. Your bush looks so full and healthy. I love your choices of companion plants too, you have excellent taste.

  6. Lovely collection of roses. I thought Foxi were shorter? Maybe 3- 4 feet is shorter. Just lovley, and I imagine ever so fragrant.

  7. The Foxi Pavement that's been in the garden for 6 years is 4', as are several of my albas. In northern climes rubra and Hansa can get a good 8' tall. So far the rubras are 4-5' and not sure how tall the Hansa will get. I have a Therese Bugnet seedling that's about 7' tall. The Baptisias are usually less than 3' after flowering.

  8. Gosh, that white meadow rue looks great with those pink roses. I also love the sky blue iris.We all have areas in our gardens that are a struggle. Persistence is the best weapon a gardener has. Don't say "Uncle" just yet.

  9. Special moments captured in your garden..lovely to view..always.

  10. Sweetbay, I think that Hypericum frondosum a wonderful shrub~It can take wet or dry and is attractive most of the year~I started with one 'Sunburst' and it has seeded itself beautifully...It looks stellar with Chasmanthium...I know I promised you seedlings of hypericum~I'll check for them when the ground stops freezing!

    I love your roses and think Hansa along with Carolina rose may be my most favorites.


  11. I so enjoyed visiting your garden..the varieties of Baptisia was wonderful to behold and it has inspired me to get one or two more (have one). The Meadow rue looks beautiful with the roses, I must admit..just lovely. All your photos were great. Thanks so much, and also for visiting my blog.

  12. Your rugosa's are spectacular. I don't have the room, unfortunately. I don't know what zone you are in, but have you considered and Iochroma for the flood/drought area? I got one of the woodier frost-resistant varieties, and it looks spectacular on a south-east corner of my house, fronted by roses. The Iochroma still freezes back, but it's somewhat controllable with covering and always comes back from the roots.

    I can't wait to see more!

  13. Sweetbay, It is such a treat to look at these gorgeous photos of your gardens in juxtaposition to my view of cold and snow! Your roses are wonderful and I meant to comment on your arbor below in your first Uncle post! Stunning! Your Rosa palustris scandens is so lush. Obviously happy with your heat and drier conditions. I wish you luck finding shrubs that can fill the spots you want. Drip irrigation sounds like a good idea. Your photos with the meadow rue are so lovely! Beautiful series! It has been a joy to know you and your gardens these two years.

  14. I really like the rugosa roses - do you have FJ Grootendorst? It has always done well here. Everything looks so beautiful. Your photos really warmed me up on this frigid day.

  15. It's all so beautiful.

    How do you grow everything so that it looks natural? And how do you protect it from deer? I live with a small herd and they eat as fast as I can grow it.

  16. Your bit of paradise looks so natural! It must be a delight to wander through and tend your garden, and I am sure the wildlife likes it just as well. I love the color combinations, with all the soft pinks and blues and white. My idea of a romantic garden!

    And thank you for your comments on my posts about deciding to take out invasive, although loved, plants in my own garden. Your suggested list of replacement plants is very helpful!

  17. Thank you everyone for your comments!

    Hi Jane,
    I looked up lochroma and it's beautiful, but would be an annual here. I'm in zone 7b. I'd still like to try it though. Every season there are blank spots that are perfect for annuals.

    Phillip, I have not tried FJ Grootendorst but it's on my want list. I love the fringed petals.

    Hi Phyllis, and thank you. I've been surprised that the deer have left so much of the garden alone, but most of my land is in undeveloped river bottom that comprises hundreds of acres, and we are surrounded by farmland. So we don't face the kind of pressure that so many places do.

  18. A really wonderful summergarden. The look is so easy like the plants have been there for ever. Love the Rugosa roses and also the verbenas find their way in my garden. Daylilies are a good choice too as so many colours can fit into a planting scheme. My garden is a wilderness...soon it is clip clip. It must be such a pleasure to walk through your garden. The textures, scent and colours, just wonderful.


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