Monthly Archives: May 2013

Plant Profile: Verbena ‘Annie!’

Here in The Burrow, it is all sunshine all the time.( Just to be clear I am referring to the garden, not the gardener lol).  There are very few shady spaces and that makes it easy to have waves of flowers season long in a brilliant blooming succession until a hard frost ends it all. The only issue I have found when planting in the sun is the dearth of great ground cover plants. So very many of my favorite ground covers are only happy in the shady parts of the garden and fry in my sun. I use many low growing sedums, dianthus, moss phlox  and some of the smaller campanula varieties here and there , but it wasn’t until I discovered verbena ‘Annie!’  that I was truly impressed.002

Most of you are familiar with the annual verbenas that come on the market here in in May used either in hanging baskets or a the trailing plants in containers. I love them and use them repeatedly, but they are gone at seasons end. This verbena introduction was a cutting taken from a woman’s  garden ( the “Annie” in  verbena ‘Annie!’) in Minnesota ( which is darn cold ) where it had been surviving the winters and blooming like a fool . High Country Gardens is the place to get it, and do so fast, it often sells out.

I planted 3 a few years ago , and now have an impressive spread.

Verbena ‘Annie!’ has deeply cut foliage and sweet lavender-purple blooms that appear in late April and will continue non-stop until a hard frost in late October. No, don’t check your glasses, I really said late April to late October non-stop. As it trails along the ground it roots where it touches the soil , thus creating a happy mass of ground hugging flowers  or giving you new plants to spread  around the garden if you dig them up. I transplanted a few last week that had trailed down into a walkway where they did not belong. They were in full bloom, and never missed a beat in the move. As if you could ask for more, it is also lightly fragrant, sort of reminiscent of the scent of summer sweet , and when planted en masse the fragrance will  perfume the air . If you have just  a few you may need to get down near the ground to smell it, which is one of the very few pleasures of weeding I guess.

The only problem I have ever had is that it will suffer from powdery mildew as  the summer goes on in places that get a lot of overhead  irrigation (in the drier areas  it is fine). Although some of the foliage may look a little spotty you hardly notice as your attention is taken  by  all the flowers.

This plant certainly deserves not only the exclamation point that was given to it in its name, but also to be planted more frequently.004


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and this years winner is….


It is always a race here to see which clematis will bloom first, and this year it was like the Kentucky Derby. Several early blooming large flowered hybrids shot up quickly and budded out, but in the home stretch it has been ‘Elsa Spaeth’ and ‘Omoshiro’ that have been neck and neck with no way to tell who would open first, until today the winner revealed itself…Omoshiro.

Omoshiro is a stunning , maybe even breathtaking clematis. It is one of those clematis that reminds me why I became so enamoured with this genus of plants a decade ago . The flowers can be up to 7 inches across and are sort of a pale gray and pink with much darker margins and reverse . The anthers are dark pink at the tips, white along the rest, and the overall effect is spectacular.  Last year was the first full season Omoshiro was in my garden so it bloomed sporadically , but each flower was worth the wait. this year it has had time to assimilate and it is vigorously growing and loaded with buds.

I have heard differing accounts of the meaning of the name. Some say fascinating, some say amusing, all say the two words “omo” and” shiro “mean ” surface” or” face” and “white” when translated from Japanese (where this clematis was bred by Hiroshi Hayakawa) . I like fascinating , it fits perfectly.

I bought mine from Brushwood nursery  in case you are interested in adding this one to your own collection.


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If you truly love nature , you will find beauty everywhere

                                                               Vincent van Gough

..but mostly in a garden

                           Cheryl Monroe

Busy work week but I managed to go out in the garden in the middle of a sunny breezy day, or in other words, the worst possible conditions for photography, and snap some shots for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol at maydreamsgardenscom. They will remain unlabeled for now  because I have to prepare for a class , but the lilacs are ‘Charles Joly’ and ‘Sensation’ for the curious.001040039037035033032030027025021019017015001011013031003



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Let’s talk Clematis

Hard to believe that we are back in the swing of things so quickly around here. Lazy snow bound days are gone , replaced by full 8 or more hour days cleaning, cutting back, weeding, edging , mulching, dividing, planting, sowing, shopping…are there any  - INGS that I missed?  I hope not because my plate already feels pretty full thank you very much.

Let’s talk about clematis, how they should look, what you should expect and what to do if there are problems.

First , the emergence thing. Around here we have had some delightfully warm weather so any clematis that are group 2 ( which I won’t even come near with clippers untl after the first flush of blooms) are all leafing out and I even have two , Elsa Spath and Omishoro , covered in ready to open buds.002

If you have group two clematis growing in your New England yard , you should be seeing lots of signs of life . If  you see stems that are definitly dead or broken off the mama plant, by all means prune them. otherwise WALK AWAY and wait to enjoy the show. Pruning now, no matter how tempting, will cause loss flowers and that is a sad thing indeed.

If you have group 1 clematis , like montana or alpina, they should also be ready to put on their spring show. I struggle with these vines here becuase they bloom only on old wood and almost every year no matter what I do the varmints cut them off for me in the winter.  Some day  a solution will occur in my little brain, but for now they are foliage plants. grrr and ugh.

If you have group 3 clematis that bloom later on in the season , many of these are just slowly starting to stretch and yawn and greet the day ( sweet autumn, any of the viticella or texensis hybrids, and the late blooming large flowered hybrids ) .If you have not already, cut your group 3 clematis down to about a foot tall so they will throw out lots of new growth which is where their blooms  will be, Leaving them unpruned will result in long vines with flowers only at the tops. Boring! Go get the clippers please.005

Herbaceous clematis , the ones that die back to the ground and have no climbing mechanism, should also be showing new growth by now ( c. recta, integrefolia, and heracliefolia).  Clean away any old stems and leaves just like you would with any other herbaceous perennial.

Then there are those whose liveliness is in question,   I have a few here every year that are way behind their peers in  emerging and I always get a little antsy. But then I remember someone telling me when my kids were little and I was stressed when they were not on par with others their age in milestones ( especially the  dreaded potty training) that all kids developed at their own pace and as long as they were out of diapers by the time they went to school I should not fret so much. Point taken, there are no absolutes in any aspect of life, so a little  leeway is in order.

Carefully look around the base of the plant in question , do you see any sign of shoots coming from the soil? You can prod  little in the soil and look closer, but do do very gently. I give my lackluster growers a little diluted fertilizer . Patience is also helpful.

Case in point, I had given up on my c. trinternata rubrimarginata for this year. rub Two years ago  we had an episode where the irrigation system was missing a whole chunk of garden and many plants there were lost. The rubrimarinata was alive, but barely clinging to life , and this year repeated checks showed no growth. I ordered a replacement, and of course when I dug down deep enough to excavate, there was the crown of the old plant happily starting to shoot out new growth. A little swearing may have ensued, but I carried on and took out the struggling plant, put in the new one, and move the stressed one to a happy compost filled location where it will be babied until it is thriving again.

As for any clematis you have that overwintered in containers or that are growing in shady locations,  don’t even bother poking around just yet. They are the last of the bunch to re-emerge , but just wait, don’t touch and don’t worry.

It is also safe here to plant any new clematis you bought now. Make sure to follow my planting instructions ( crown set 2-3 inches below soil line before mulching) , and water them if rainfall is not abundant.

Last but not least my indoor clematis, c.florida is entering week 18 of flowering. I had to trim some of it today to free up some of the houseplants it was engulfing so they could get repotted for their summer vacation outsoors. Truthfully, I had to wash the window it was covering too so we could see outside . When it ever winds dowm I will cut it back and repot it like the other plants to spend the summer  season on the porch.




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