Sunday, July 19, 2009

Garden All-Stars

Having just passed the halfway point of the season, it's still too early to start talking about the MVP, but the all-stars of this year's garden have made their presence felt.

Without a doubt, this coleus is a starter on the team of elites. Started from seed in mid-winter, this vibrantly colored annual has been making a splash since it sprouted. Its coloration is unpredictable because these plants came from random seeds all grown together. But the purples, magentas, chartreuses, and shades of green have provided kaleidoscopic interest all year. The plants are growing so vigorously that they're engulfing the spearmint buried in the center of this container. (Please excuse the chew holes, most likely from earwigs.)

(I know this shot is blurry, but it gives you a sense of the variegation in the individual plants. And all from a 99-cent pack of seeds!)

Another definite all-star, and strong contender for rookie of the year, is the group of obedient plants (Physostegia virginiana).

While most of my first-year plants are just getting acclimated to the big leagues, these moisture-loving guys have flourished in this year's soggy conditions. Consequently, all four of them are blooming, and those in the rain garden are the only blooms of the year in this new garden.

(These pictures don't really do the flowers justice. They are a light lavender, shading to purple at the edges of the petals, with little flecks of dark purple inside the tubular-shaped flowers. You can get a closer look by clicking on any of the pictures.)

Giving the Physostegias a run for the money in the ROY race is this big-leaved aster (Eurybia macrophylla), whose performance has only improved since its feature in my last Bloom Day post.

(I think the juxtaposition between the dainty flowers and disproportionately large leaves is very amusing!)

(Here is a slightly blurry look at the flowers that gives you a better sense of their light purple coloring than my Bloom Day picture.)

It's no surprise to see Joe Pye back on the all-star team, where he's been for the last three years. At a robust 5' tall, Joe is really hitting his stride and enjoying the fewer japanese beetles this year because they usually feast on his foliage.

(This plant is lovely not even in full bloom yet.)

Of course, we can't leave out the plants whose first-half performances will be remembered for the rest of the season. The peonies are certainly all-stars, and the Canadian columbines had another great year. As I just mentioned in that same Bloom Day post (see link above), the flowers have just now petered out after a spectacular spring performance.
(Somehow I missed getting pictures of these pink peonies at their peak. Here they were slightly ragged, but still vibrantly colorful.)

Who will be this year's MVP? And what plants will make a late push to grab a spot on the all-star team? Will the smooth blue asters overcome some foliage issues for a strong fall performance? The tall coreopsis is late to bloom, but will it match previous years' activity? Stay tuned!


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I do love that Not-Aster macrophylla, it's just too cute! I have a phobia of Physostegia and will not allow it within 20 feet of my property. It's pretty, but it's expansionist reputation proceeds it. The Joe Pye Weed is looking fine. Have you seen many butterflies yet?

Gail said...

Love the big leaved asters...mine aren't ready to bloom yet..Pphysostegia looks wonderful massed and pulls out easily in my garden if it gets problematic. JP is blooming...isn't it a wonderful plant! gail

Rose said...

So glad you included Joe Pye and the Obedient plants on the roster for this season! I planted both for the first time this year and was foolishly expecting more results in their rookie season. Joe remains rather small, and although the Obedient is growing, it shows no signs of blooms. Nice to see what I can look forward to next season! (We Cub fans know all about "waiting till next year":) )

beckie said...

Like Rose, I am glad to see the Obedient plant and Joe Pye blooming somewhere. Mine are newly planted this year as well, and they are growing, but not much else. The coleus is gorgeous and I think it has really like the weather this year too. Will be anxious to see which one is your winner.

rambleonrose said...

MMG--I was concerned about Physostegia's thuggish habit, but I figured I'm safe for two reasons: one, my crappy soil, which slows down any plant, even weeds, and the fact that they're fairly isolated. The ones in the rain garden would have to climb 12" upwards to get into the rest of the bed, and the ones in the front garden are up against the concrete patio and surrounded by established plants. And if they get bad...well, I've got no one to blame but me! :)

Gail--I'm glad to hear the Physostegia pulls out easily (see previous comment :)

Rose--I bet next year the Joe Pye and Obedient Plants will be kicking butt! If only I could say the same for the Cubs... :)

Beckie--I too am wondering if this is a special coleus year because of the weather. I guess we'll find out next year because I want to again grow them from seed!

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