Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bloom Day 4, September 7, 2011

B. g. subsp. evansiana.
Shovel, shovel in my hand, what perennial is the fairest in the land?  Why my dear gardening friend, it has to be Begonia grandis.  I know, I know, I always say "this has to be one of my favorite perennials", but honestly it has to be in the top five.  This carefree late blooming perennial begonia should be a welcome sight in any woodland garden. The red stems are outdone only by its underside.  The red veins on the undersides of the foliage remind me of stained glass windows.  Flowers are a soft pink or white.  The white specie is harder to find and  the red tints in the stems and leaves are less pronounced in this botanical variety than in B. g. subsp. evansiana.

Begonia grandis, alba
Begonia grandis is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade.  During dry spells begonia grandis will need supplemental watering as the soil should not be allowed to dry out.  This hardy begonia self-propagates by tiny bulblets which form in the leaf axils autumn and drop to the ground. You can also gather the bulblets from the leaf axils and plant as desired.  Begonia grandis is a late to make its appearance in the spring...sometimes not until be patient.

Begonia grandis with Eupatorium Coelestinum
Eupatorium Coeles- tinum... what can I say... it's  a "love or not-so- much-in- love with" sort of plant. It provides the most amazing blue color in late summer through fall and just looks so good at that time, I would never want to be without it.   The plant emerges late in the spring as small attractive green leaves and slowly grows to its full size of 3 feet, flopping and spreading all the time.  Cutting back every few weeks can prevent most flopping Planting with sturdier plants for support reduces the need for cutting back, thus earlier bloom.

The flowers that will appear in the late summer/fall are very welcome because few other blue flowers are blooming at that time.  And the soft blue goes well with the mums and other fall flowers that you may have blooming.   Cutting them back every few weeks to make them more tidy is well worth the effort and I am always glad that I have this plant in my garden.  

Eupatorium Coelestinum, white
A very adaptable plant that will grow in wet areas and is also drought tolerant, full sun to part shade. This hardy ageratum will spread agressively by seed and runners, but I have found the unwanted seedlings easy to pull. There is also a white hardy ageratum that does not seem quite as aggressive.   I mostly use hardy ageratum as a ground cover on a steep bank, but I also have some plants mingling with other perennials and shrubs.

Eupatorium Coelestinum is great for attracting butterflies and is a nectar food source.

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'
Take a deep breath, because you're about to meet a plant that can change your life...or at least your a way you never dreamed possible.  Maybe I exaggerate just a bit?

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' is so stately, so beautiful, and so self-sufficient that you can plant it once, enjoy it forever. In practically any soil, but with plenty of sun and room,  'Lemon Queen' begins its climb to the skies and only stops when it reaches heights between 6' and 8'  tall then adorns itself with two solid months of 2 inch, soft yellow sunflowers beginning in July.

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' with Eupatorium Coelestinum
When cut back to 6 inches in early summer,  blooms are delayed for several weeks and last well into October.  Cutting 'Lemon Queen' back also controls height.   Helianthus increases quickly in clump form.

"A garden is never as good as it will be next year."-- Thomas Cooper  

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