Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Death, taxes, and these three plants: Dendranthema cv., Symphyiotrichum oblongifolium, and Anemone x hupehensis

Actually they're in the second tier of dependability: just below death and taxes. But as far as color in the late fall garden is concerned....they're the best.

When I did three hour designs for Behnke's Nurseries, I came up with some cheats to help me speed the process up. Sometimes the clients were perfectly happy with me choosing their plants. Sometimes they wanted input. Hey that was always fine with me; I figure if it's your garden so you should get to decide what goes in it....within reason. It's just that we didn't have enough time to dilly dally, so I made lists of rock solid plants: trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and bulbs. If the goal was to design a perennial garden, I handed them the list of "rock hardy perennials"; they chose plants they recognized and liked. I added what was needed. It helped speed the process up and avoided time consuming detours into delicate, disease susceptible, pest ravaged, short-lived taxa. For beginning gardeners it seems to work to start with non-problematic plants. As skills, knowledge, and confidence grow they can make their own ventures into the rare and the fragile.

The perennial list included these three fall bloomers that actually are among the most dependable perennials for any season. The Aromatic Aster is a full sun plant that will tolerate poor soil and essentially no water. I grow it in Adelphi in sand. All watering is done by hand directly on the plant and this plant is never watered. I've never seen disease on it and never seen it eaten by vertebrate or invertebrate. Like the other two plants, it flowers reliably and heavily. Like the Chrysanthemum it also holds off flowering until October. Yes, this mum won't start to flower in mid-summer like so many of the "bedding mums". There are a handful of varieties; the foliage is clean and distinctive and the flowers, like those of the Anemones, float above the mass of the plant on elongate peduncles. The Anemone in the picture is 'Honorine Jobert'; it doesn't flower until late summer to fall. There are other varieties, and other colors ranging from white through pink to rose-not-quite-red, that begin as early as June. The bulk of the selections, though, do flower in the fall.

1 comment:

AmyF said...

Don't suppose you'd be willing to share those lists?