Friday, September 26, 2008

Berries and Bargains

A week ago, Lisa at Greenbow suggested everyone show the berries in their gardens, and several people have followed up with some delightful posts. I enjoy gardening memes, so I thought I would participate and check for any berries in my own garden. Without any flowering shrubs, though, (something that needs to be corrected here!), I don't have many berries. I was completely surprised, however, when I noticed these red berries on my detested yews. I've heard of juniper berries, but yew berries?? I double-checked on Wikipedia, and yes, yews can develop berries in the fall.

A few weeks ago I noticed these little berries on the lantana, which Gail has already shown on her post. This is the first year I've planted the pink and reddish varieties of lantana, and I must admit I've been disappointed that they haven't bloomed more. Interestingly, though, these are the ones producing berries; the yellow lantana, which has bloomed profusely all summer, has no berries.

The showiest "berries" in my garden aren't really berries at all--these are the fruits on one of the flowering crabapples. The pink and red varieties of the crabapples have already lost most of their leaves and much of their fruit, but this white one, which blooms last, still looks very colorful.

And that's it for my berries--can you believe it? Unless, of course, you are willing to count these . . .

We have over twenty pine trees on our property, and they are covered with pine cones at the moment. I usually pick some from the ground in the fall to use in Christmas decorations or crafts with the grandchildren, but most wind up being chopped up by the lawnmower and left on the ground.

Does anyone remember my saying back in June that I would buy no more plants this year? Of course, that was an impossible promise to make, and if I remember correctly, I amended it to say no more annuals. I've been in a bad need for a "plant fix" lately, so I've made a couple stops at garden centers recently just to check out sales. Last week I went to one of the best (and most expensive) centers in town primarily to check out sales on garden statuary or ornaments. I didn't find much in my price range, but they did have their large selection of hostas on sale for 20% off.

This Hosta Sieboldiana "Northern Exposure" was one I couldn't resist. I love big hostas--the tag says this one could grow as wide as 70"! That could certainly cover up some bare spots in the shade garden. Besides its size, it has deeply corrugated leaves and fits the criteria Mr. McGregor's Daughter gave for slug-resistant hostas. (Hmm, where did those yellow leaves come from? Excuse me while I go turn on the soaker hose for awhile . . .)

Yesterday I had some time for a little more plant shopping and visited our favorite garden center, Prairie Gardens. Display cases and bins were full of spring flowering bulbs. As always, I am enticed by the pastel hues of spring. Even though I've already ordered quite a few tulips and daffodils, I picked up some sale packages of crocuses, bluebells, and hyacinths.

It's much too early to begin planting bulbs here, especially since we have had temperatures in the low to mid-80's all week. The best time to plant bulbs in our zone 5 gardens is in mid to late October, but I have planted them as late as November 12. No doubt I will be back to buy even more bulbs next month.

Prairie Gardens had already replaced most of its shelves of gardening supplies and ornaments with rows and rows of Christmas decorations, but I did find a few stray bargains on a clearance aisle including this bird bath. It's nothing special, but I still haven't gotten around to trying to glue together my broken ceramic bird bath, and the price on this one was too good to pass up. The top is molded plastic, but it doesn't look as tacky as it sounds; besides, the deer won't be able to break this one!

Back in the shrub area, though, I found some real bargains. All the hydrangeas were marked down 50%. I could have gone a little crazy here, but I controlled my impulses and limited my purchases to just this one hydrangea.

This is my first macrophylla--I'm a little disappointed in the mopheads, which, as their name implies, tend to flop over. This one is called "Let's Dance Moonlight" and is supposed to have "vivid" pink blooms with "attractive reddish-bronze foliage in the fall." At $6.99, I thought it was quite a bargain. I'm regretting, though, passing up some "Limelight" hydrangeas for $20.00. I may just have to go back next week . . .

While shopping, who should call but Beckie, saying I needed to check out another plant outlet. Danville Gardens Two is a small branch of a larger, very nice center in a nearby town that carries some selections you won't find any place else. I bought some annuals here earlier this summer, but I didn't realize they were still open this late in the season. This was definitely the place for bargains! (Joyce, are you reading this?) I drove over, intending to buy a couple baskets of mums.

Tables and tables of large mums in every hue imaginable greeted me. I couldn't make up my mind what color to buy! I had planned to buy just two, but I picked up my usual mauve color, then decided I needed some "real" fall colors, so I bought a rust one and a yellow one. On my way to check out, I noticed this yellow charmer with the orange centers, and I couldn't resist.

So my two mums turned into four, but at $5.00 apiece, I didn't feel too bad. I later saw some similarly priced at Walmart, but they were 1/3 the size of these!

But my real bargain here was this Boston fern. I haven't had an indoor fern in years, but again the price was too good to pass up. This photo doesn't show the true size of this plant, but it is huge. I've seen similar ones in nurseries selling for $40-$50. Guess how much I paid for this fern?

Would you believe $5.00?? Who could pass up a bargain like this?!

I may not have "berry" many berries (groan), but I am thrilled with my bloomin' bargains!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gathering Seeds for a Beautiful Garden Next Year

I have to get busy this week! I feel as though I lost all of last week: I worked at a "real" job (substitute teaching) for a day and a half, had a long birthday lunch with Beckie, and babysat my grandkids several times, all worthwhile and enjoyable activities, of course. But the rest of the week I wasted trying to fix my computer, which I couldn't by myself, and due to the lingering effects of the cold/virus I had, I was operating at about half my energy level...which isn't very high anyway:) Yesterday I realized it's nearly the end of September, and I have done nothing, repeat nothing, to prepare my garden for the winter and next season.

Yesterday, to make myself feel a little better about accomplishing something, I did begin one small task in planning ahead--I collected some seeds. So many of you have talked about starting this or that plant from seed that I decided it's time I, too, become a little more thrifty and take advantage of what I already have rather than buy all my plants at the local garden center/nursery. My technique for gathering seed in the past has been random and very unscientific . . . I might take a seedhead from a coneflower, as pictured above, and crumple it all over the garden bed, hoping a few might take hold and become seedlings in the spring.

Although this method does work--one section of my main flowerbed was overrun with coneflower seedlings this spring--I wanted to be more organized this year and collect seeds the "proper" way. In particular, I wanted to collect some seeds from my old-fashioned, heirloom hollyhocks since many of you expressed an interest in these when I posted some photos of them in June. I found a very helpful website through that gives instructions for collecting and storing seeds in general as well as for specific plants. Here are the instructions given on this site for gathering hollyhock seeds:

1. Do not remove spent blossoms from the hollyhock. After blossoming, a plump green disk will appear on the stem, which eventually will turn a yellowish brown. Soon after, the top of the pod will open to reveal a ring of seeds. The seeds are dark gray flat rounds.

2. Remove the pod and allow it to dry for a few days. (Oops! I'll have to remember this step today.)

3. Once the pod is dry, pull back the top of the pod and remove the seeds. Spread them out in an even layer on a plate and place it in direct sun for a few hours. The reason for this step is that the pods often contain weevils, very small insects with pointed heads and visible antennae. The weevils don't like bright sunlight and will scurry off the plate. A good tip: use a heavy plate, not a paper plate, in case a gust of wind comes along.
--------Yesterday was overcast, and we had a brief rainshower, so there wasn't much sun. Even so, I noticed a few tiny insects crawling off the plate. Just to make sure they've all left, I'm going to set the plate out again today.

4. The author of this FAQ page recommended some precautions because some people get an itch after working with hollyhocks. She suggested wearing long sleeves and washing your hands immediately after collecting the seeds. I didn't notice any itch, and I usually get a minor irritation after brushing up against green beans and tomatoes. But it's a worthwhile precaution if you are sensitive to some plants.

5. After the seeds have dried in the sun for at least an hour, stir them to check for more weevils. Once you see no sign of them, bring the plate inside and allow seeds to dry for a few more days.

The website also offers tips for storing seeds, but the main rule is to keep them cool, dry, and away from direct light. The author stores her seeds in paper envelopes, but also said zippered plastic bags are fine as well.

Seeds can be gathered from many other plants as well, including daylilies. Not all daylilies are fertile, but many are and will develop a seed pod after they have bloomed. Once the seedpod turns brown, you can easily pull it off, let it dry, then gently remove the seeds within.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I'm sure you've seen these seed pods before. I have no intention, though, of collecting seeds from these daylilies. These are my Stella d'Oros, and they badly need to be divided this fall or next spring anyway. By the time I divide them, I will have more than enough without going to the bother of collecting seeds!

I am going to collect some coneflower seeds, but my main focus is going to be on the hollyhocks. If any of you would like some seed, just drop me an e-mail. (I just opened a new e-mail account for this blog and have added the link on my profile.) Hollyhocks are well-known for cross-hybridization, so there is no guarantee on what color they may be. However, I did mark my one lone yellow hollyhock, and I'm trying to keep those seeds separate, although there won't be as many of these. Some of you have also offered me some seed. I can't remember now who offered me what, but I am interested in cleome--especially the tall variety; verbena bonarensis; and a bright blue flower that I can't remember the name of but I think are often called bachelor's buttons. Of course, I could just buy these seeds next spring at a garden center. But this past spring Beckie gave me some small tomato plants started from seed that Cheryl had sent her. It was so much fun watching those globe-shaped cherry tomatoes ripen, knowing that they had come all the way from England!

Finally, I hope you aren't tired of all my photos of the praying mantis, because I must show you this one that I took just yesterday.

If these two are doing what I think they're doing, that may explain why I've had an abundance of praying mantises in my garden this year!

Hope you have a good week--it's a glorious day here, and I am off to finally get some work done in the garden!

Oops, I forgot to add that if anyone has other tips on collecting and storing seeds, I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ABC Wednesday: Mantis Invasion

I is for...


If you have been reading some of my earlier posts, you know that one of the changes in myself I've noticed since I began reading gardening blogs is an appreciation for insects. I've shown many insects from my garden in the last few months including an assassin bug, a mysterious beetle, cicadas, grasshoppers, and lots of bees. I've learned that insects aren't something you automatically squish with your shoe because they're "icky," but that most of them serve an important role in our ecosystem--well, maybe not Japanese beetles; they deserve to be squished!

This summer I have noticed in particular a large number of praying mantises. Normally, I might see one or two all summer, but this year I have seen at least a couple dozen in shades of brown or green and of all sizes. The fellow in the top photo appeared on my patio door yesterday. Stretched out as he was, he was at least six inches long! (And yes, if you think the photo is sideways--it is. The computer is in the shop, and I still haven't figured out a photo editing program on this computer that takes less than an hour to load!)

I decided he was better off amongst the plants, so I carefully removed him and placed him on the container of lantana near the door. He wasn't too happy with the stick I used to dislodge him with, but was happy with his new resting place.

He makes this guy on the sedum look like a 98 pound weakling by comparison. Whatever their size or color, they are all welcome in my garden as they eat unwanted pests. However, my friend Beckie reported that she saw one yesterday devouring a butterfly in her garden--not so nice! And I have yet to see one try to eat a Japanese beetle. I guess they're not perfect. The mantis above apparently prefers smaller prey because he was sitting on the same plant as the lovely butterfly below.

My favorite insect of all--the butterfly!

More ABC Wednesday posts can be found at Mrs. Nesbitt's Place.

Two special notes:

Today is the birthday of a special person, the best friend a girl could have. Drop over at Dragonflycorner and wish Beckie a happy birthday!

And tomorrow marks the 27th anniversary of the arrival of our third bundle of joy, our first daughter. Always energetic and smiling as a baby, she grew into a beautiful, talented and wonderful young lady who has made her parents very proud. Happy Birthday, dear Daughter!

Monday, September 15, 2008

GBBD: Windblown September Blooms

It's time once again for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day sponsored the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. This Bloom Day post almost didn't happen--at least for me. The weather this weekend made it difficult to get very many pictures, and I've spent the last two days in bed or on the couch nursing a bad cold and sinusitus. On top of that, this afternoon my computer mysteriously stopped working. So I apologize to all of you whose blogs I regularly visit--I will try to catch up on reading posts over the next few days.

But these are minor irritations that will soon be forgotten. After watching news reports the last few days of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike along the Gulf Coast, I am so thankful to be alive, safe and dry. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have lost their homes as a result of this latest awful storm.

It has been raining most of this past weekend, as you can see in the Stella daylilies above and in the Knockout rose, both of which have rebloomed this past week. According to my rain gauge, we've had about 4 inches of rain this weekend. This morning a heavy rain was accompanied by a strong wind, which knocked down two trees in town, knocking down powerlines as a result.

Good thing I took this photo of the clematis bloom on Friday, because I imagine the petals were blown off in the wind today. This is my weird, "two-fer" clematis. If you remember, it produced many blooms in May and early June that looked like a Nelly Moser. Since July it has produced an occasional lavendar bloom, with several appearing this past week. I've decided that those of you who suggested two plants were accidentally potted together were probably right. Now if I can only figure out the proper pruning next spring!

There are some coneflower blooms still hanging on, but most have dried up. In the past I would often cut these down to make the garden look neater, but this year I am going to leave them for awhile--the goldfinches love the seeds. While the coneflowers may be drying up, many other plants are still blooming--the nepeta, the salvias, baby's breath, Russian sage, galliardia, and most of my annuals.

I would show you more pictures, but I don't have access to most of my photos right now. Our power was out for nearly four hours today, and I was worried about the basement with no sump pump running, but thankfully it was dry. However, when the power was restored, my computer wouldn't re-start properly, so I had to resort to using my daughter's computer. It's slower, and there isn't a good photo editing program on it, so I wasn't able to crop these.

I do have a few new plants just putting on a show for the fall. Asters--unnamed, of course--are full of blooms and attracting lots of butterflies.

The sedum "Autumn Joy" has turned a lovely rosy hue; I think this is the best it's ever looked. When I took these last two pictures the garden was alive with butterflies--there were actually four of the painted ladies on this plant and another tiny guy you'll see in left center. Ironically, I had tried to photograph this small butterfly for a few days with no luck. I didn't even realize he was in the photo here until I downloaded it.

I think it's appropriate to end today with the butterflies, a universal symbol of hope and new life. The forecast here is for sunny days this week, and I hope that is true in the rest of the country. I hope that the hurricane victims are safe and can return to their homes soon. Let's hope the hurricane season is over!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baring My Soul (and Garden)

Now that summer is almost over, I have decided it's time for true confessions. Yes, I finally have gotten the courage to show you my "garden." First, let me say I never meant to mislead anyone: my header states that I am a "beginning gardener," and I have mentioned here and in comments that my "garden" should more accurately be described as a few flowerbeds. Even though I have been encouraged by others to show these flowerbeds before, I have hestitated for two reasons:
  1. I have been waiting for the perfect photo op to show them at their best.
  2. After seeing some of your beautiful and extensive gardens, I am afraid that you will throw down your mouse in disgust and proclaim, " She calls herself a gardener??"
But after much soul-searching and inner debate, I realized that 1) There is no perfect bloom time for a garden. If all your flowers bloomed at the same time, then that would also mean there would be long periods of no blooms at all. And, 2.) I have found all of you to be the kindest, least judgmental people around--no matter what you might think of these flowerbeds, I realized you are not going to throw me out of the "Garden Bloggers Club."

So I sit here feeling as exposed as Jamie Curtis when she posed in her underwear without the benefit of airbrushing for a magazine spread some time ago. But here goes . . .

First, let me show you what I have to work with. This is the view from my small front porch where I enjoy my morning coffee watching the birds--especially the hummingbirds, who love to visit as long as I don't have a camera in hand:)

I am blessed with many lovely trees, but when we moved here four years ago there were just the trees and a few shrubs, not a flower in sight. The first area I planned to tackle was this triangular area along the sidewalk leading from the driveway to the front door. I wish I had "before" pictures to show you, but I don't, so you'll just have to take my word for how much work I had to do to create this flowerbed. You may notice a familiar sight reminiscent of Mr. McGregor's Daughter's "green moustache"--the overgrown yews at the back of this area. I thought I had convinced Husband, aka Mr. Procrastinator, to pull them out the first spring, but he backed down. I'm tempted to take a chainsaw to them myself, if I wasn't afraid of lopping off a few fingers in the process.

But these green monsters were not my first concern. This area was completely covered with landscape rock, so the first order of business was to remove all the rock. I removed many shovelfuls in the fall and then started again in the spring. After removing the top layer of rock, I discovered that underneath was even more rock! I am not exaggerating when I say the rock was at least 6 inches deep. I shoveled, picked, and sifted through the rock and soil until I got down to the clay underneath. As the first of May grew near, I finally broke down and asked my husband for help; he used a loader on a small tractor to scrape up most of the remaining rock--along with some soil and the tulips I had planted the previous fall. Finally, I could prepare this bed for planting--it took 1800 pounds of topsoil to completely cover it!

That first spring I started with a design for part of the flowerbed: Russian sage in the back, the Knockout roses I had been given as a gift the previous summer and transplanted hastily in the rocky soil when we moved, "Autumn Joy" sedum in front of those, and the salvias "May Night" and "East Friesland" in front of the sedum. I put this antique buggy seat which belonged to my mother-in-law and two containers for annuals in the middle of the bed as a focal point--and to fill up some space! I remember planting some daisies and a few other small perennials that lasted only the first season. I added quite a few annuals, but I still had quite a bit of empty space.

In Year Two of the flowerbed the design I had in mind got tossed out, and I planted what I liked regardless of how they fit in--some coneflowers at the back, a baby's breath plant, a threadleaf coreopsis and a nepeta. And more annuals to fill in the empty spaces . . . By the end of that summer, the perennials were thriving and growing beyond their alloted spaces, and I decided I needed to give some of them more room. So on a warm day in early April of Year Three of the "garden," I dug up most of the original perennials except for the Russian sage, and moved them all forward. The next day, we had a hard freeze, and I was sure I killed them all. Fortunately, they survived, although the one Knockout Rose has never been quite the same . . . That summer I added the asters and a new nepeta to replace the first one which mysteriously died.

This brings us to this year--Year Four of the original flowerbed. This year I added three small Monardas, "Petite Delight," which have yet to bloom, but that was all! I have finally achieved one goal--the whole flowerbed is filled with perennials, except for the container plantings and the alyssum bordering the sidewalk, although some of those were the results of self-seeding last year. It does look like a jungle, though, doesn't it? I keep studying it and thinking what I might remove to make it look more orderly. I haven't decided yet, but there is one important lesson I have learned from this experience:

When the tag on a perennial says to allow 24" for spacing between plants . . . .
Pay attention!!

Here's a photo of a lovely Red Admiral to cleanse your palate . . . Think what you will about my haphazard plantings, this flowerbed has been a haven to bees and butterflies alike this summer.

Now let's move on to what I loosely call "the shade garden."

Oh my, this really looks pathetic . . . In taking these photos I learned an elementary lesson in photography: landscape photos don't show true perception. This flowerbed is really much larger than it appears.

I won't bore you with as many details about this area as with the first, but I do want to give just a little background. This was actually the first flowerbed I dug up, one without any rocks, fortunately! I had just planted a small shady flowerbed at our former house the spring before we moved, and I didn't want to give up those plants, especially the new hydrangeas I had bought. So that fall I hastily dug up a small area near a large evergreen at the front of the house and transplanted as many shade plants as I could. Other than adding a few more plants the last few years I did nothing to this area until last fall. At that time, I dug up more soil, expanding the flowerbed to at least twice its previous size. I've added quite a few hostas, heucheras, and other perennials this year, but there still is plenty of space for additional plantings next spring. I did learn my lesson from the main flowerbed and plan to give these perennials some room to grow. This area is definitely still a work in progress, which explains why there is no edging in front of the bed. My husband is debating about removing the evergreen, which was planted too close to the house. So I may expand this flowerbed to the back, or I may continue digging up more grass in front. We'll see . . .

Finally, the third flowerbed, which I usually refer to as the roadside bed. I've shown you most of the plants in this area before. Two years ago I decided I wanted to plant some flowers in front of these burning bushes near the road where everyone could see them. Again, I started out small, though when you're trying to till up a grassy area with a large tiller, it seems much bigger than it really is! I kept this area simple, with daylilies, coneflowers, and the annual salvia "Victoria Blue."

This area had been pasture for many years before it was left as a lawn, so the soil was wonderfully rich black dirt. All the flowers planted here have thrived, but I still wasn't completely satisfied with this bed, because it seemed too small for the visual effect I wanted. So this spring, I expanded it, too, so that it stretched across in front of all the burning bushes.

Next spring I'll put some finishing touches on it and move some of the daylilies, but I doubt that I will expand it too much--I have to leave enough room for Husband, also aka Mr. Mowerman, to get around it without lopping off any blossoms.

That's it for the main flowerbeds, but I do have some other plantings as well. Above is what I sometimes call "the back forty," which, of course, is nowhere near forty acres. It's a circular yard near the farm buildings where the old farmhouse once stood. Here is where I've planted my vegetable garden (not shown here--I have to draw the line at total humiliation somewhere); the apple trees, a lilac bush, and the hollyhocks also are in this area. This is where I plant a passalong plant when I don't know where else to put it; as a result, there are random plantings of irises, daylilies, and an area of plants known to "spread freely."

I also have quite a few container plantings placed all around the house as well this built-in planter on the front porch, where the sweet potato vine "Marguarite" threatens to engulf anything in its way.

So there you have it--it may not be much, but it keeps me busy! And I have lots of room to dream and grow . . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ABC Wednesday: Adventures in Gardening

This week we have reached the letter G which is for . . .

. . . A Garden Path !

I wish I could tell you this leads to my garden, but of course it doesn't. This path is located on the University of Illinois campus in an area devoted to various horticultural exhibits. If you would like to know more about this place, read on . . .

If you are a regular reader or have at least read my profile, you know that I retired about a year ago after many years of teaching. Retirement is wonderful and has given me the chance to pursue some interests that I never had time to fully enjoy before. One of my greatest joys this year has to been to take part in many Gardening Adventures with my best friend since childhood, Beckie. Since spring, we have attended two all-day workshops at a local gardening center, taken a Garden Walk sponsored by the local Master Gardeners, gone on many plant shopping expeditions (much better than clothes shopping!), admired each other's gardens, traded some passalong plants, and visited several garden spots. One of our favorites is the local Master Gardeners' Idea Garden located near the path pictured above.

Last week Beckie and I made our third visit to the Idea Garden this year. I've written about this plot before, as has she, so I won't go into all the details again. The Garden has been an educational journey for us as we visited in late March when only a few green shoots were popping through the soil and again in May when the spring bulbs were dying, but the perennials were just beginning to bloom. This time we were curious to see what was still blooming in the dry heat of late August.
It was a beautiful day, and we wisely chose to visit during the late morning before the bright sun made us uncomfortable. This time we parked a little way from the Idea Garden and started by looking at the plantings in an area maintained by the U of I's Horticulture Department.
The sidewalk in the first photo was bordered by coleus, fountain grass, and varieties of cannas, including these variegated ones.

A wide swath of Profusion zinnias provided a border next to the grass. I didn't realize until I wrote an earlier post about zinnias that they were such a butterfuly magnet. A host of different butterflies were swarming all about us as we walked down this path.

After admiring this pathway, we turned to our intended destination, the Idea Garden.

As we walked toward the Idea Garden, it was immediately obvious that there were plenty of flowers still blooming here. It was also apparent that this was the height of insect season as the garden was teeming with bees and butterflies.

Bees were enjoying the zinnias...

. . . and this flower--a phlox? This huge bee has been visiting my garden, too, and I think someone has identified it on one of their posts, but I don't remember its name.

And a buckeye butterfly was kind enough to let me take its photo. I was so focused on him that I didn't even pay attention to what flower he was enjoying.

Like all good display gardens, the Idea Garden has labels staked near each plant clearly identifying each one by its common name, Latin name, and specific variety. However, the plants had grown so much since spring that many of the labels were obscured. Probably most of you more experienced gardeners would easily recognize this plant, but Beckie and I weren't sure what it was.
A good friend not only shares your enthusiasm for common interests, but lends a helping hand when needed. Thanks to Beckie, we discovered this red-bloomed flower was a globe amaranth.

We didn't need to climb through the foliage to find these two tags, though. The smaller plant is a type of sedum, and the pink-tinged grass is called "Purple Love Grass." Since our main interest on this day was to find flowers that bloom in late summer and on into August, I tried to take photos of the tags of plants that interested us. I really like the airy look of this grass, but wish I gotten a close-up of the sedum tag as well.

I made sure, though, to get a photo of this plant's tag-- Verbena Boneriensis "Little One." Several of you have mentioned this plant before and said it really attracted butterflies. I'm curious, though; is this what your verbena looks like? Throughout the garden were some taller plants that I thought might be this variety of verbena, but we could never find a tag. The plants grew on slender single stalks about 3-4" tall with clusters of blooms that looked much like a verbena. They appeared to have been planted in one area, then spread throughout other plantings. Of course, I neglected to take a picture! If anyone can identify this plant by description without a photo, I would be very happy, not to mention impressed!

I didn't need a tag to identify this plant--a cleome. I took this photo purely for myself, to remind me what a cleome is supposed to look like! I was so happy when I found some cleome this spring and bought two potted plants. Apparently they weren't so happy with their new home, because they are both looking near death right now. I wonder if I can sneak some seed from this one later this fall . . .

All I could think of while shading myself under this giant sunflower was the song from "Oklahoma" . . . "Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day...the sunflower's as high as an elephant's eye..."

We had a great morning at the Idea Garden and, as always, left with lots of good ideas and even longer plant "wish lists." While Beckie's and my gardens are looking a little droopy right now as summer comes to an end without a raindrop in sight, this garden was a riot of color with not a brown stem to be seen. I must admit to a bit of garden envy every time I visit, but I have to remind myself that this garden is maintained by a group of people, not a single gardener. And there is someone assigned to regularly water the garden as well. So, while my garden will never come close to looking like this one, I can at least take advantage of their successes and create my own little showcase.

ABC Wednesdays are sponsored by Mrs. Nesbitt. You can visit her blog for links to more ABC posts or visit an anthology of many of the posts at ABC Wednesday Anthology.