Long time readers may remember Craig Levy, who wrote for this blog for a number of months, and then went on to other things. This spring he emailed me, asking, “Would you like more plants for your garden?” Knowing that Craig used to run a nursery when he and his wife lived on the western side of North America, I was pretty sure he’d send something unusual, or spectacular, or both. And since he now lives in upstate NY, in a climate similar to mine, I was pretty sure whatever he’d send would grow. I said yes without hesitation.
Here are a few of the plants he sent that are now in bloom, with some of his comments on them. Perhaps you will hunt them up for your own garden.
Kitaibelia vitifoliaCraig wrote,
Large plant 5 x 5 feet or more and takes on the stature of a shrub. Pure white flowers that appear to be green and white because the petals are narrow at the base with large gaps between them, allowing the surrounding green to show through. Easily flowers for 2 or more months.
The gaps in the petals remind me of Malope, another mallow relative. But according to this mallow reference site, it is more closely related to hollyhocks and Rose of Sharon.
Mirabilis longifloraCraig wrote,
Tender tuber. All types of Mirabilis can be lifted and stored over winter, just as Dahlias are. Roots can be very large and these are 1 year old. Flowers have long tubes of white that open late in the day. They’re highly fragrant, even emitting through the almost opened buds. Unknown if the odor is wide spread or local to the flower. Plants are nothing to get excited about and the ratio of foliage to flowers is way out of whack. But oh those flowers.
I keep this in a pot near the porch, but I have to get my nose right into the blossom to enjoy the wonderful fragrance. Perhaps if our evenings were warmer, the fragrance would carry more.
I bet Craig didn’t have to dig this in his former home, for Annie’s Annuals calls it a perennial hardy to Zones 7 to 9. It also calls Four O’Clocks (Mirabils jalapa), another species in the same genus, invasive, when it is merely an annual here. As Craig mentioned, if you have a particularly stunning Four O’Clocks plant, you can dig up the tuber and store it over the winter like a dahlia. I did that once, but my plant wasn’t all that wonderful, and it seemed like more trouble than it was worth, when it is plenty easy to grow from seed. I will try to winter the M. longiflora tuber over the winter, as I do like the fragrance, the look of the flowers on long skinny tubes, and its common name, Angels Trumpets.
Salvia verticillata ‘Alba’Craig wrote:
Soft hairy leaves with pure white flowers. Floppy growth habit, This works in its favor because by the time its first flush of bloom is over the plants have opened up and exposed the center so a new round of growth is maturing and close to flowering. Untidy and unruly, my kind of plant.
I need to find a plant that this can weave through. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, this member of the sage family thrives in full sun–which it’s not getting–and is killed by wet soils, which may mean I will lose it next mud season. I have it growing near my purple smokebush, which is notorious for sucking the soil dry, but the smokebush is late to break dormancy. I may need to move this to the southern side of a lilac, which wakes up sooner in the spring, and thus starts pulling moisture out of the surrounding area that much sooner as well.
Salvia transsylvanica ‘Blue Spires’Craig wrote:
Flowers of blue, later than most Salvias with an extended period of bloom. Can be really leafy plants. These are seedlings from Diane’s seeds, so I don’t know if they will be exactly like our garden clone.
Despite Craig’s description and my photograph, the flowers on my plant look like a rich purple, not blue. I have grown blue flowered salvias before, and this isn’t one of them, though it is a good looking plant.
Comparisons With Previous Years
Aside from Craig’s generous gifts (he sent other plants but they’re not blooming now), the usual Phlox paniculata and a variety of Black-eyed Susans are the prominent players in the garden right now, with a generous smattering of annuals. I am happy to say the ‘Distant Planet’ crocosmia mentioned last year made it through the winter and is blooming again. The Oriental lilies that were blooming in 2009 are completely done, but the dahlias, which were blooming in 2008, are mere buds.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.