NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR OCTOBER 11, 2014 *************************************************************





          Sometimes I read about a plant called a “slug” or is listed as invasive.  This list will be different wherever you are as they find their favorite spots. If you look in the “Weeds of Nebraska” book (1) you will find a number of our garden plants listed. The definition of a weed is “a plant out of place”. I like many of them to fill in vacant places.

          A bright one is “BLACKEYED SUSAN” (Rudbeckia fulgida) and Rudbeckia hirta, also known as “GLORIOSA DAISY”. I have a clump or two of brilliant yellow flowers that moved in. They are about 2 1/2 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. Each year the clump gets a little larger.  When I carry frosted plants to the compost pile I probably scatter seeds. Since their natives they do quite well.

          A contrast to the yellow is “PERILLA”. A 2 to 3 foot, almost black-reddish plant, which spreads by thousands of seeds. I love the color among the green, making the other plants shine. Every summer I must pull many of them but leave clumps here and there.  This is probably the plant closest to a weed in my yard that I deliberately grow.

          Our state flower, the “GOLDENROD” (Solidago) is listed in the weed book (1). Hybridizers have been working with it for years and many species are available. I just have “LITTLE LEMON”, which is a small, bright yellow. But the big tall ones come up everywhere. I let a clump or two remain in the background. Strangely the “MISSOURI GOLDENROD” is Nebraska’s state flower. Native Americans chewed the leaves to relieve sore throats.

          On the parkway I have a “PURPLE POPPY MALLOW” (Callirhoe sp.), also in the weed book. It creeps along, over other plants or rocks, and hangs over the curb with its bright purple petals and a white center. Nothing seems to bother the plant.  It just creeps over or under it way.  It is sold in some nursery and flower catalogs.

          ‘BEE BALM” comes in red, pink, purple, and lavender and grows about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall.  Clumps send out runners on each side so you can have as many plants as you like. The native is lavender to pink but nurserymen have developed the brilliant red as well as a deep purple. It doesn’t need any attention and will spread slowly. I find it easy to move from one place to another. If you go out at night with a flashlight you can find Bumble Bees sleeping on the flower heads. The plant is also called “OSWEGO TEA” as the Oswego Indians taught the early settlers the process to make a tea from the plant.

          “MILKWEED” is so named for its white sticky sap which oozes out. It is beloved by Butterflies. Every summer I have at least a few of the plants who get here with the wind on their parachute seeds. I generally let them stay until time to harvest the seeds. As kids we played with the pods that contained a “baby in a blanket”. The orange one (Asclepsis tuberosa) is sold in garden centers and nurseries. It is shorter (1 1/2 to 2 feet) with those same pods. The floss in the seed pods is used to stuff life jackets. Also birds and small animals use it for nesting material. Hybridizers have developed a yellow one but it does not live long for me.

          CLEOME aka (also known as) SPIDER PLANT or ROCKY MOUNTAIN BEE PLANT is a tall one for the back border.  About 6 feet tall. There are white, pink, and lavender ones.  The SPIDER part comes from the “legs” or seed pods. They shed many seeds so you can always have them.  It is a native, an annual, and listed in Nebraska’s weed book (1). Birds love the seeds, and Butterflies like the nectar. During August especially, my yard is full of a variety of Butterflies and moths. The lavender seedlings show their color in the young leaves so you can pick your colors. I have a pink bed in back and a lavender one in front.

          ANEMONE (aka Wind Flower) has 120 species of short to tall (12 inches to 3 feet) plants that do very well in the shade. The Wind Flowers and spread very easily by root runners, bloom in early spring. The fall bloomers I have are Japanese species (3 feet) with pale pink blooms and not nearly as vigorous as the Spring bloomers.  As with many other flowers the hybridizers have developed many colors and heights.  A number of them are not hardy in Nebraska.

          I started “CHINESE LANTERNS” from seed a few years ago. It is only 18 inches tall and wide but sneaks all over by root runners.  Its Lanterns are bright orange. Not too fussy, it is under the trees and comes up in the path.  It is easy to pull. The Lanterns dry well for winter bouquets, and are 2 inches by 2 inches.

Copyright 2014


1. WEEDS OF THE GREAT  PLAINS, James Stubbendieck, Mitchell J. Coffin, L.M. Landholt, published by Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Lincoln, Nebraska:2003