NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR MAY 7, 2016 *************************************************************





          For contrast in our gardens we often need tall spiky plants to say “see me”. They do not always have to be at the back. A spike in the middle of a shorter bed shows off both sizes. Most perennials tend to be round so a change calls for attention

          The tallest perennial in my garden is the late blooming MAXMILLIAN SUNFLOWER that is over 7 feet tall and covered with golden flowers. Each year the clump gets a little wider, and taller, and thicker. The first frost usually does not affect it much. All summer long it       is a background for the quick blooming annuals or IRIS. Then come fall and the DAHLIAS come into their own with their massive “dinner plate” blooms. I grow the DAHLIAS in cages to help support that weight. They also come in smaller sizes and colors. The DAHLIAS must be dug and stored after the first hard frost. Each one may have several children when you divide the roots in the spring before planting.

          Another fun tall one is the HAIRY BALL, an annual, shrub like with long slender leaves and chains of  blossoms by November about 3 inches around and covered with spiny hairs. A long stem cut for an everlasting bouquet will last for several years. They go well in “spooky” arrangements containing CHINESE LANTERNS, a black crow decoration, or even a small witch and her broom.  There pods contain light seeds attached to a white parachute.  Most of my stalks are cut by someone wanting a winter bouquet.

          If you like a large, puffy plant try one of the grasses such as the  PAMPASS GRASS type. I see them in Lincoln by doorways, and next to fence gates to point out a trail to follow.  The big fluff at the top looks good inside too. They do not need a lot of care as they grow larger in good soil, pushing other plants aside. To get a new plant one can dig the clump and divide. I use a saw as it usually is very woody. Or you can dig out a side section a clump in the fall or I prefer spring.

           I do not see many         DELPHINIUMS in Lincoln but they certainly stand out. Not a long lived perennial  in  whites, blues, and purples. They bloom mid-summer with many inches of blooms or long stems. Each bloom with the base ones 2 inches across may go 12 to 15 inches tall with blooms at the top smaller. Sometimes you can cut the first to get a smaller one. They need full sun, water and protection from wind to support that growth. You can imagine what hail did one summer to my 6 foot tall slender stalks. Sometimes I grow them in cages to support the entire plant.

          Another fun plant that may reach 7 feet is the RED-HOT POKER (Kniphofia uvaria). It likes full sun and well drained soil. It likes my front yard that slopes to the South. The leaves of this plant are grass like. The blooms can be 2 to 6 feet tall in red, orange, and yellow. Many stalks may start with one color and end up a very different one. Also called the TORCH FLOWER you can find plants that reach 20 inches or 6 feet. I have never had them live for very many years.  They can be raised from seed.

          COLEUS ROOT (Veronicastrum virginiastrum) has  early fall blooms on a tall, very slender, unbranched plant with white, pink, or pale blue flowers. Again I usually use cages as the wind can bend the entire clump. The flower stems may be as much as 8 inches.

          If you need a shady one, GOATS BEARD (Aruincus diacus) can get  to 5 feet with white “beards” hanging down in early spring.  The beards are made up of tiny white flowers.

Copyright 2016