Category Archives: Early Bloomers

2012 Perennial Plant of the Year! Amsonia hubrechtii

Amsonia hubrichtii – This is from the Ohio Gardener E-newsletter
by Russell Studebaker – posted 07/15/11

The Perennial Plant Association has chosen for the 2011 perennial of the year the Arkansas amsonia, also known as Arkansas bluestar and threadleaf bluestar. Leslie Hubricht first discovered it in Arkansas in 1942 and his name was bestowed to this species, Amsonia hubrichtii.

Light blue flowers appear in late April to early May in domed panicles at the ends of the stems. The flowers are attractive to swallowtail butterflies and especially zebra swallowtails.

The grassy foliage ranges from over an inch to 3 inches long and the plants produce clumps about 2 to 3 feet tall. In October the foliage is second to none with a golden to clear yellow color, making it one of the few herbaceous perennials with good fall color that lasts for weeks.

The Arkansas amsonia is definitely a star in the garden.

QUICK FACTS AND KEYS TO SUCCESS

Common Name: Arkansas bluestar, Hubricht’s bluestar, threadleaf bluestar, Arkansas amsonia

Color: Sky-blue, 1-inch trumpet-like flowers on nodding racemes on stem terminals

Height: 12 to 14 inches

Bloom Period: Late April-early May

Type of Plant: Native herbaceous perennial

Exposure to Sun: Full sun best, but tolerates light shade.

When to Plant: Anytime from containers

Soil: Well drained, average to rich

Watering: Normal applications, drought resistant after well established.

Maintenance: Plant 18 to 20 inches apart; pest and maintenance free, forms a woody tap-like root system.

In Your Landscape: Use as a specimen or back of the border planting. Naturalize it in clearings or at the edge of woods. Combine with butterfly weed, sundrops (Oenothera), black-eyed Susans, purple coneflower and Baptisia. Contrast it with Siberian iris, golden barberry, Black Lace elderberry or ‘Dart’s Gold‘ ninebark.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9
 


The Arkansas amsonia is a star among native perennials in the garden for its blue flowers,
fine-textured foliage and its striking golden fall color. (Photo by Melanie Blandford.)


 

(Amsonia flower photography courtesy of Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association.)


Russell Studebaker is a professional horticulturist, book author and garden columnist for the Tulsa World. He is a frequent lecturer at garden events in the Southern region.


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Let the bees buzz as the perennials bloom!

Hydrangeas in front of the Office de Tourisme ...

Image via Wikipedia

      I love this time of year! There isn’t a day that goes by no matter how rushed I am that I don’t find a new flower, a new bird, a new WEED in my gardens! The hostas are still fresh and green, the Leucanthemums are starting to pop, the Astilbes are blooming and I just feel refreshed!

    The birds wake me up in the early pre-dawn mornings with their calls to one another…the hummingbirds flitter here and there from flower to flower, the orioles pop in from time to time and I await the bluebirds!  The bees are busy and I know they just can’t wait till the Agastache begins to bloom!  They swarm those beauties!  The dragonflies can’t make up their minds if they want to visit the yellows purples or pinks!  It’s funny to watch their confusion!

      There is much discussion out there on the web and among conscientious gardening  groups regarding the natives that are available on the market and the cultivars that are created….but that is for another discussion and another day!  Needless to say I am happy when my perennials arrive from the soil in the spring and perform well throughout the season.   I treasure each summer day and have taught myself NOT to watch the clock each night to see that the sun will set earlier and earlier! (yes…I used to do this!)

   The hydrangea are budded and just getting ready to show off their showy blossoms! I spoke to a woman today that has babied hers so much that the blue they should be blooming has been bleached a Chartreuse green!  I told her to “walk-away” from the Hydrangea!  Ha Ha!

  If you get a chance, try out the fairly new Coreopsis ‘Creme Brulee’.  I have been pretty impressed with the growth habit and the blossom thus far!  (pretty hard to impress me with a Coreopsis!)  The new Echinacea ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’ (I know where do they come up with the names!) seems to be a robust plant with sturdy stems and high bud count and the flower is impressive too! I must also mention Hakonechloa ‘All Gold’….great short, golden arching grass for the shade…..LOVE IT! 

   If you find that your garden isn’t giving back….drop in to your local garden center and pick up yourself a pretty that will make your day!  Enjoy till next time!

I found this from P.Allen Smith and since Easter is coming I thought I’d share! Don’t throw them away this year. If you can’t plant them, share them and this with someone that can.

 It’s interesting how certain plants have become associated with certain holidays—poinsettias for Christmas, roses for Valentine’s Day and lilies for Easter. Now, my poinsettias usually go out with my Christmas decorations, but I always try to find a place for my Easter lilies in my garden. Seems like such a shame to throw them away.

Lilium longiforum is the botanical name for Easter lilies and they don’t actually bloom during Easter. Greenhouse growers pot up the bulbs in fall and force them into bloom for the holiday. In the garden they flower in summer.

You can plant your Easter lilies outdoors after the holiday. Pinch off the faded flowers but don’t cut the foliage. You want to keep it as green and healthy for as long as possible. It’s this foliage that helps re-invigorate the bulb for next year’s flower.Easter Lily After the danger of frost has passed, plant the lily outside. A spot with full to half day sun is ideal, and make sure the soil is very well drained.

Plant the bulbs about 3 inches deep and 12 inches apart. Since my soil is heavy clay, I always add some extra sand for drainage. And then work in some compost before I tuck them in. Water well. Once the original foliage begins to yellow you can cut it back. New growth will emerge and you just might get a bloom too.

Next year you’ll have beautiful, fragrant white lilies to enjoy in the garden and as cut flowers indoors.

Dreams of the Early Risers on a Winter’s Day

My office is on the back porch of a very old home.  I love it  most of the year. I remember when I was applying for the job and my boss said that my office would be right here, surrounded by windows and I was thrilled! 15+ years later, I still love my office and I can’t imagine being anywhere else day in and day out. (I truly do mean this!) I can look out and see the birds and the trees and flowers in the summer and watch the rain in the spring and admire the leaves changing colors during the fall.  You’ll notice….I said nothing about the winter. On days like this….I am literally the somebody in a snow globe! The snow is whirling around me and let’s just say…I’m not a fan of the white stuff! My boss, ever the optimist says it’s beautiful, I say it’s beautiful up until December 26th….then it can go!

Ok, I live in a snowbelt in Ohio so I guess it’s going to hang around for a while but as my friend just texted me…she thinks the snow is snowing and she has a point! So after all this complaining and rambling…what I really wanted to share today is my favorite early rising plants in the garden. I can dream of them now, waiting patiently for those first sunny warming days and breath a sigh of relief that they have FINALLY arrived and I can really start concentrating on what to do in the garden this year!

PULSATILLA vulgaris Pasque Flower –  The dainty fern-like foliage that is covered in fuzz emerge first and very soon after…these incredible flowers that seem to last and last! Flowers are deep to pale purple, depending upon maturity and stand proudly above the foliage and I can just hear them saying “Hey Looky here…I’m back!  Sometimes these beauties will be blooming in February in our greenhouses if the weather breaks early!  It’s so exciting!  These do well for me in the shade garden where the soil is evenly moist.  They can tolerate more sun but will tend to cook a bit in the heat.  Alkaline soils are best.   Plants only reach a height of 10″ tall but a very worthy addition to your garden if you don’t have it.  

Pulsatilla vulgaris, Botanical Garden of the G...

Image via Wikipedia

 

 HELLEBORUS – Lenton Rose –  These are VERY early risers and many times will stay evergreen in the garden year-round. The flowers come in many many shades from white to burgundy and everything in between depending on the cultivar! Some are single, some are double, some are speckled, some nod, some don’t….there are way too many varieties to mention but very often, these are blooming when the snow has yet to melt. Hellebores require full sun to part shade and reach a height of 2-15″ often with the flowers reaching taller than the foliage.

Bloodroot

I love the bloodroot! My aunt gave me a piece of hers years ago and now I have a healthy batch that I simply adore!  You have to be quick to see this bloom though! I keep watch out my window every day as soon as the weather turns because if I don’t…I miss the blooms! The large leaves spring from the soil in early spring (most times before any of us have even had a chance to venture out to the garden!) and are literally wrapped tightly around the flowers.  Then one day….there are the flowers and you know we really have reached spring! It makes me smile!  I’ll have to dig up the photo that she took of a few that she had where she literally watched the flowers open!  They last about a day, especially if it’s warm but what I sight for sore eyes! If planted in the shade in a woody area, the foliage will stay nice all season long and makes a nice ground cover. I have it interplanted with galium, asarum, hostas and Tiarella and it’s very happy! 

 Of course these are just a few of my favorites that keep me waiting for the seasons to change and I’m sure you have many more that are your favorites. Tell me what yours are! Are you a fan of the bulbs like crocus and daffodills?  Share with me!  Till next time!

Annette 

 

2012 Perennial Plant of the Year….Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’!

Unidentified blue flower in upstate New York

Image via Wikipedia

Exciting News! Wanted to share!

 David Kuack January 10, 2011 Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ named 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year - Image

Members of the Perennial Plant Association have selected Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ as the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year. In addition to the winner, the other choices for 2012 were Panicum virgatum ’Northwind’, Heuchera ‘Caramel’ and Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’. Over 400 plants were nominated this year.
Discovered at Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Mich., in 1999, B. macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ was commercially introduced in 2000. The deer-resistant plants produce silver-gray foliage and reach a height and width of 12-15 inches. Plants produce racemes of blue star-like flowers in mid to late spring. ‘Jack Frost’ is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8.
The 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year is Amsonia hubrichtii.

Pictured: 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
Photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

Amsonia hubrechtii Wins 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year!

Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia. Real...

Image via Wikipedia

Just found this and thought I’d pass it along! We grow this plant at Gilson Gardens and offer it in a 2 gal. container!  It’s slow to get started in the spring but the blue star shaped flowers are magnificent and you can’t beat the fall color!  definitely a winner in my book!

AMERICAN NURSERYMAN MAGAZINE

Amsonia hubrichtii named 2011 PPA Plant of the Year
Arkansas blue star—Amsonia hubrichtii—has won the hearts of Perennial Plant Association members, who voted it the 2011 PPA Perennial Plant of the Year. Four plants each year are nominated, and in order to qualify for PPA recognition, each must be suitable for a wide range of climate types; low maintenance; easily propagated; and exhibit multiple seasonal interest. Amsonia fits the bill with small, blue, star-shaped flowers in late spring to early summer and bright green, fern-like foliage that turns golden yellow in fall. Recent past winners include Baptisia australis (2010), Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (2009), Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (2008) and Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (2007).

Putting the season to bed

Forsythie, aus dem Winter geholt (am 9. Tag be...

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Today is December 1st. and with December came our first snowfall. Although it hasn’t amounted to much (yet!) it is the first snow and the hope of seeing anything blooming out of doors is gone. I’m not a fan of winter…don’t think I have been since I was a child but I am a BIG fan of spring. The first crocus, the first snowdrop or helleborus breaking bud even when it’s still freezing outside! Now that is something to get excited about! I knew this winter day was coming when we took our last fall drive through the hills and valleys of NE Ohio not too long ago and I was sorry to see the leaves fall to the ground but then I smiled to myself (and only to myself because my husband absolutly loves fall!) because I knew then that before I know it, the buds will start to swell on the trees and the earth will awaken with life again! Look for plants like Pulsatilla, Spring Heath,  Helleborus and Forsythia to help you celebrate the end of winter with early blossoms, a sign of the beginning of all that’s growing!

Crocus

To stay sane during the winter months I force bulbs to bloom in pots in the house and somehow (I have no idea!) keep my Hibiscus blooming all winter long by a sunny window! How do you keep your winter bright on the dark days? Share with me and we’ll get through it together!