Chelone lyonii: Lyon’s Turtlehead

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Late Blooming Beauty For Your Fall Garden

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            Chelone lyonii also known as Lyon’s turtlehead or pink turtlehead is a great way to add wonderful color and a unique twist to your garden late in the season. The turtlehead’s name stems from a story in Greek mythology where a nymph (named Chelone) refused to attend the wedding of Zeus and Hera, the gods punished her by turning her into a turtle. However, I’m sure she would be honored to have such an interestingly beautiful flower named after her! The turtlehead adds seasonal interest to your garden with not only its unique blossoms but its thick foliage as well. As the flowers of summer start to fade, this beauty is just getting started.

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            The turtlehead features rose-pink flowers set on terminal spikes piping out of thick, deep green lustrous foliage. The name “turtlehead” refers to the flowers that slightly resemble a turtle’s head, similar to the hooded flower of the snapdragon. They have pink corollas that have lower lips covered in a slightly yellow beard. The foliage is ovate and coarsely-toothed – the leaves are about 3 to 6 inches long with slender petioles, rounded bases and pointed tips.

It can grow to be 2 to 4 feet tall and is easily groomed to have a bushy habit simply by practicing regular pinching. It can also be kept slightly shorter if you pinch back the stem ends in the spring. Being deer resistant, a pollinator favorite as well as being adored by butterflies, makes the turtlehead a late season perennial favorite. When designing your shade garden, accompany Chelone with Heuchera Americana, Polystichum acrostichoides, Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, Lobelia siphilitica and Conoclinium coelestinum for a true late season combo.

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            Chelone thrives in moist soil and light shade, however it can become slightly drought tolerant once it’s established. They prefer humusy soils along with well-composted leaf mulch – this will come in handy if you are growing you’re Chelone is growing in a sunnier spot. If you are decide to plant your turtlehead in a full shade area, keep in mind that your plant is more likely to need staking for support due to its build and mature height – however if planted in optimum conditions, staking will not be needed. Chelone spreads by slowly sending out rhizomes that will form large clumps – it is not considered to be invasive but it will self-seed in moist soils. It can be propagated by division, cuttings and by seed.

            Chelone isn’t badly susceptible to most insects or diseases. It can succumb to mildew if it’s grown in soils that are kept mostly dry or if the air circulation in the surrounding area is poor – but when planted in its optimum environment Chelone can be an incredibly successful plant. It makes a great addition to shade and woodland gardens as well as bog gardens or surrounding a shaded pond. It can be used as a border plant and will make a fantastically interesting cut flower. When the weather grows colder and the bright colors of summer being to disappear, Chelone blossoms will pop and bring life back to your late season landscape. 

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The Moments That Take Your Breath Away

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Tigridia pavonia: The Tiger Flower

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

       Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it literally begged you to stop what you were doing and stare in awe? The Tigridia pavonia is one of those breathtaking flowers that you can’t help but stare at. Known more commonly as the Tiger Flower, it truly is a wonder to behold in a late summer garden. With similarities to the Daylily and Gladiolus, the tiger lily comes in a vast range of colors that can make your jaw drop.

       With brightly colored blossoms sitting atop a slender stem, the Tigridia pavonia can produce several flowers per stalk. The flowers are two-toned with combinations of pink, white, red, orchid yellow or orange and a unique contrasting center point. The flowers can be 3 to 6 inches wide and consist of three large one-color petals surrounding 3 small spotted petals. These smaller petals surround a similarly patterned center cup.

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      The stems are surrounded by sword-shaped leaves that stand upright similar to that of Gladiolus. The interesting characteristic about these delicate blooms is that that they only bloom for a single day. However, since the Tiger Flower produces multiple blossoms per stalk, the flowering period technically can last up to several weeks. You can also cut back the first flowers about six inches down the stem to aid them in re-blooming.

       Tigridia will thrive in areas with well-drained soil and full sun. It has been known to tolerate part shade in a hot climate area. Once established, the Tiger Flower is drought tolerant and deer resistant. It can be used in the landscape as a border or a massing plant; you can also put them in containers as an exotic accent piece. The stems are delicate and the foliage is light so planting it among low-growing plants or groundcovers will work the best.

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       The bulbs should be planted in the spring and it’s recommended to plant 3 bulbs to a group for that extra impact. When planting these bulbs, set them 3 inches into the soil and about 5 inches apart – make sure to water well throughout the season. For such an astonishing plant, they are incredibly easy to grow! The bulbs do produce offsets and will eventually form a large clump. You can divide them every 3 years or so to keep them maintained.

       The beauty of this flower is enough to make your heart skip a beat, seeing it in bloom is like falling in love at first sight. For a plant as beautiful as this, its hard to believe that it’s so simple to grow and virtually maintenance free! Turn your already beautiful garden in to a showstopper by planting these bulbs next spring. Your garden will surely be the talk of the town, especially during the end of the season after the early and mid season bloomers have faded – the Tiger Flower is absolutely the diamond in the rough!

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The True Cottage Garden Heartthrob

Dicentra eximia: The Fern-leaf Bleeding Heart

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            In almost every cottage style garden you see, there is one breathtaking plant that rules over all others: the fern-leaf bleeding heart. A true shade garden staple, this stunning perennial offers beautiful blooms almost all summer long unlike its cousin Dicentra spectabilis. The fern-leaf bleeding heart tends to stay on the dwarf side and rarely grows more than 15 inches in height. It will bloom all summer long without going dormant and it comes in a range of foliage and bloom color, providing gardeners everywhere with many options for the shady spots in their landscape.

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            A North American native, the fern-leaf bleeding heart has been used by breeders to develop a number of different varieties that come in a wide range of colors from the cherry red flowers of the ‘Luxuriant’ to the pure white flowers of the ‘Snowdrift’. The ‘Bacchanal’ variety offers the deepest red bloom of them all and is adorned with foliage that is almost a silver-blue shade. All varieties are low lying and slow spreading and require little to no maintenance all season long. Dicentra eximia features hearth shaped flowers hanging from long arched stems slightly resembling the look of a dangling bouquet. These incredibly recognizable blooms sit atop finely cut foliage that is typically a blue-green shade.

            The fern-leaf bleeding heart can tolerate very cold winters and don’t tend to be too picky when it comes to soil type, however they do thrive in moist, fertile soil. They can be planted in the sun however they do best in a part to full shade area. Too much shade will lessen the number of flowers. When planting your bleeding heart, avoid placing it where it will be in competition with tree roots – lack of water and available nutrients will greatly shorten its lifespan. To keep it as healthy and happy as possible, it should be divided every 3 or 4 years in early spring and the soil should be amended with organic matter (compost will work the best). Once it is established, the fern-leaf bleeding heart is disease and insect resistant and will flower continuously from spring to fall year after year without needing to be deadheaded or pruned.

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            Thanks to its dwarf habit, the fern-leaf bleeding heart is perfect as a front border plant in a shady garden. You can also use it in a shade-rock garden or woodland garden along the rocks. Its beautiful foliage makes it perfect as an edging plant as well. The blue-green color of the leaves contrast beautifully with the purple-red leaves of Heuchera or the gold leaves of the Hosta variety ‘Daybreak’. You can also plant it along side Hakonechloa as well as many fern varieties. The fern-leaf bleeding heart in combination with these companion plants will give your shade garden an incredible range of colors and textures to provide you with season long interest.

 
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Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee, Smell Like A Buddleia

Buddleia davidii: The Butterfly Bush

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            If butterfly gardens were like kingdoms, the butterfly bush would be the king. Buddleia davidii or, the butterfly bush, as it is more commonly known, is a must-have in any butterfly garden – when it comes to attracting butterflies, it can’t be bested. This beautiful deciduous shrub explodes with blossoms in the late summer and continues blooming into the fall (depending on the weather of course). The butterfly bush is incredibly easy to grow and needs little in the way of maintenance making it the obvious choice for all gardeners from novice to professional.

            Butterfly bushes can grow to be 6 to 12 feet in height with a spread from 4 to 15 feet. These tall shrubs are known for their beautiful long panicles of colorful blossoms. The flowers come in a wide variety of colors included two-tone varieties, however it seems to be the lavender/pink blooms that butterflies enjoy the best. The blossoms provide nectar for many species of adult butterflies, as the leaves are a food source for the larvae of some species. The butterfly bush will thrive when planted in full or part sun and in well-drained soil; planting it in a location that provides these conditions will lessen the amount of maintenance it will require. Keep in mind that the more sun it gets, the more blooms it will have!

            In terms of maintenance, Buddleia does not need a lot of fertilizer – too much fertilizer will promote for foliage growth and lessen flower production. It requires moderate watering and once established it can become drought tolerant – it does not like to have wet feet, too much water will cause root rot. Flowers can be cut so you can enjoy their fragrance in your home and spent blooms can be removed during the growing season to promote additional flowering. The butterfly bush is considered to be slightly invasive so to keep your Buddleia in check, be sure to remove the seed heads in October and prune annually in the spring. Some species can flower on old wood and should only be pruned to maintain its shape and remove dead branches.

            Most of the beautiful flowering plants I see at the nursery and would love to have in my yard are candy for deer – but not the butterfly bush, this beauty is deer resistant! The deer will only dine on Buddleia as an absolute last resort. Butterfly bushes are also not known to have frequent run-ins with diseases or insects either. If the plant is in an environment that doesn’t meet its growth needs, it will become stressed and open to spider mites. Sometimes, but not often, the butterfly bush can be attacked by Japanese beetles, weevils and caterpillars.

            The flowers of the butterfly bush give off a wonderfully soothing fragrance – plant it near a window or patio so you can enjoy its sent throughout the summer months. Aside from being a regular in every butterfly garden, Buddleia can be planted as a back border in a perennial garden, as a massing plant and some dwarf varieties can be used as a front border or an edging plant.  The butterfly bush is also surprisingly tolerant of urban pollution so they can successfully be used in city landscapes as well as along roadsides. Not only are butterfly bushes incredibly attractive on their own, but covered in butterflies outside your window with their fragrance filling the air? That sounds like absolute bliss to me!

 

 

https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/butterfly-bush-buddleia-davidii-plant-buddleja

Look at those neat flowers! Can you Sedum (see-dum)?

Sedum spp and hybrids: Stonecrop

By: Lauren M. Liff

         When it comes to versatility and reliability, sedum is pretty high up there on the list. Sedum ranges in height, habit, garden use, bloom time and color making it a great addition to just about any garden. Some varieties are spreading groundcovers while other varieties are taller and more upright while still others are small enough to be planted in containers and cared for as houseplants. Whether you’re looking for a ground cover to add to your rock garden or a late summer bloomer in your perennial garden – there is a sedum variety to fill almost any position.

         Most of the low-lying flowering varieties will bloom in the spring, as the taller varieties tend to bloom in the late summer or early fall. The low growing varieties are have a spreading/creeping growth habit and the taller varieties can get up to 2 feet tall or more. The blossoms of flowering sedums are star-shaped and bloom in clusters. The flowers range in color: shades of white, red, orange, yellow, lavender and pink – with all the varieties and sedum hybrids, each one is unique. All sedum varieties have thick leaves that grow in clusters around their stems. Some varieties have hairy foliage where as others have leaves that are waxy, some varieties have colorful leaves while others are adorned with light green foliage.

         Even though the varieties of sedum are all different, they are all succulents. As succulents they store water in their foliage, just as a cactus so they prefer to be in well-drained soil and thrive in full sun. Newly planted sedums should be well watered but once they are established they are drought tolerant. Sedums are fairly low maintenance requiring a light layer of compost in the spring each year, division to keep them in check, pruning to keep them healthy and pinching if you prefer to keep them small.

         Sedum can tolerate part sun however this may cause your plant to become leggy and flop over. If this does happen, a cage can be used to keep them upright or pinching the new growth in the spring to promote additional branching – this will also help to keep your sedum on the shorter side. They can be easily divided – in older plants the center of the “clump” will start to die out. To do this, simply divide your sedum into wedge-shaped sections and be sure to replant it in a similar location as to not shock the plant. Sedum cuttings also root rather easily; simply take the cutting and plant it into the soil – with proper watering and an ample amount of sunlight, the cutting will take root in no time! There is no need to deadhead sedums as the spent flower heads are almost as attractive as the blooming flower head – you can cut the whole plant back to the ground after the first freeze (the tops can be composted if you like).

         Sedum attracts a wide variety of pollinators and they are very much adored by butterflies making them the perfect late blooming perennial for your butterfly garden. When used in a butterfly garden or perennial garden, the taller varieties of sedum can be planted amongst coneflowers, rudbeckia and Russian sage. This combination of summer bloomers will give you an extra burst of color later in the season. When using a creeping sedum variety in your rock garden or as a low-lying border, it can be paired with other low growing and/or spreading flowers such as alyssum. With all the different varieties and sedum hybrids, it’s quite easy to find the perfect spot for it in your garden. In your flowerbed, amongst the rocks, on your windowsill or in a planter – sedum is truly one of the most interesting and versatile plants around!

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Kopper King: The Hibiscus With Larger Than Life Flowers

Hibiscus x moscheutos 'Kopper King': The Kopper King Hibiscus

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            In New Jersey, the tropical hibiscus is one of the more sought after annuals seen quite frequently in entryway urns, patio planters and especially surrounding pools – but did you know that there are hibiscus plants that are actually hardy for our area? The Kopper King hibiscus is stopping people in their tracks wherever they are seen and for good reason! Becoming more popular in the New Jersey landscape, this perennial beauty is absolutely breathtaking with its massive blossoms, striking colors and stunning foliage. As opposed to the tropical hibiscus, this perennial is easier to grow and maintain and will be your landscape show stopper year after year.

            With a sturdy, compact and slightly rounded habit, this woody-based perennial grows to be about 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. The size of the flowers is comparable to that of a dinner plate measuring from 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The remarkable size of the blooms makes them one of the largest flowers produced by any perennial in this area. The flowers resemble that of its cousin the hollyhock; they are light pink with showy red veins leading to a bright red center. These massive blooms sit atop foliage that has a striking deep purple-red color, giving the plant its name ‘Kopper King’. One of the wonderful characteristics of this perennial is its extended bloom period, which goes from mid summer to early fall and sometimes even to the first frost.

            The kopper king will thrive in full sun but can tolerate some light shade. To produce sturdier stems and the best flowers, make sure to plant it in medium to wet soil with good air circulation – this will also help the plant to be stronger and better at resisting diseases. This perennial is susceptible to wind burn so be sure to plant it in a protected area to minimize its risk. Once established, the kopper king does not like to dry out, deep and consistent watering will help to ensure a happy healthy plant! When the flowering season is completed in late autumn, you can prune the stems back 3 to 4 inches to allow for new growth in the spring – this perennial will also benefit from organically rich soils and regular fertilizations during the growing period.

            The kopper king has many uses in the landscape; it can be used as a border, a specimen plant or, for a greater impact, you could use it as a massing plant. Since this plant prefers moist soils, it does very well along streams or ponds and in low or wet areas on your property. This unique plant is the perfect combination of a tropical vibe and a sophisticated appearance. With its beautiful foliage and massive blossoms, the kopper king is a no-brainer when searching for a landscape plant that is a definite head-turner while still being beautifully elegant at the same time. 

Asclepias tuberosa: The Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed: The Monarch Magnet

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

            It’s quite easy to imagine how the butterfly weed earned its name. Asclepias tuberosa is a beautiful perennial with nectar and pollen rich flowers that attract tons of beneficial insects and pollinators including hummingbirds, bees and yes, you guessed it, hordes of butterflies! This beautiful perennial produces unique clusters of blooms all summer long and they range in color from bright orange to yellow and red. Being that the butterfly weed is a North American Native, it is fairly easy to grow and once established, requires little effort in terms of maintenance.

            Cousin to the milkweed, butterfly weed plants typically reach heights between 12 and 36 inches. The brightly colored blooms sit atop fuzzy green stems surrounded by lance-shaped leaves. Although it is related to the milkweed, this species does not have the milky-sapped stems as the other milkweeds do. This beauty normally grows wild in meadows, open woods, prairies, fields and along roadways however it has enormous garden bed potential. For garden use, they look fantastic when planted in wildflower meadows, garden borders, rock gardens and even as a mass planting in a perennial bed. They require full sun and will thrive in sandy or rocky soil; once established, the butterfly weed is also drought tolerant.

            When planting the butterfly weed, make sure to put it in its permanent place in your garden as the roots are long and very sturdy making transplantation incredibly difficult. Once planted, keep the soil moist until the butterfly weed is established and starts showing new growth – after that it requires occasional water (but keep in mind, it does prefer dry soil). When pruning your butterfly weed, you can trim old growth every spring to keep it happy and healthy. Do not fertilize this perennial as it might actually do the opposite of what is intended and harm the plant. The butterfly weed is susceptible to mealybugs and aphids however these can be easily controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

            In the fall, the flowers give way to spindle-shaped seedpods, which are admired when cuttings are used in arrangements of dried flowers. The butterfly weed is self-seeding unless the seedpods are removed. The pods split open and the silky-tailed seeds are dispersed by the wind. An interesting fact about this perennial is that aside from going by the name “butterfly weed” it is also referred to as pleurisy root due to the fact that the plant roots were previously used for medicinal purposes to treat lung inflammations. 

            Asclepias tuberosa will obviously work famously in a butterfly garden. Not only do the blooms provide nectar and pollen, but also the thick leaves are perfectly designed for chrysalis formation. To start a butterfly garden, plant your butterfly weed alongside Coreopsis, Echinacea and butterfly bush (to name a few). Throw in a birdbath to provide water and some large rocks to give the butterflies a spot to catch some rays and before you know it, you will have your very own backyard butterfly sanctuary!

 

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/milkweed/growing-butterfly-weed.htm

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b490

 

Echinacea purpurea: The Purple Coneflower

Echinacea: The Magical Cure-All Coneflower

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

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Echinacea purpurea is arguably one of the most common plants one will see in a typical New Jersey Landscape. They are very showy, and, because they are native to Eastern North America, they are easy to grow and require little maintenance. This beauty is also pollinator friendly by attracting bees and butterflies and is also deer resistant. Not as obvious as its outward beauty are the medicinal properties contained within the plant.

Echinacea, also known as the eastern purple coneflower, displays flowers with showy lavender petals surrounding a brown spikey looking center. The single flower sits atop a long green stem adorned with rough, almost spiny-feeling leaves that grow smaller as they move up the stem. The coneflower prefers full sun and can grow in a wide range of soil types including clay. It’s become a fan favorite because of its ability to bloom heaviest in late summer while withstanding the higher temperatures.

This wildflower makes a great addition to any landscape as a massing or border plant as well as in rain gardens and butterfly gardens (commonly in combination with Rudbeckia or the Black-Eyed Susan). The coneflower can shoot out a second round of blooms in the fall and the stems should be left up with the spent bloom intact during the winter. The center cones provide a food source for common backyard birds that will feast on the seeds—it is best to prune the stems back mid-spring.

Echinacea is among a group of ornamental plants that have been recognized as medicinal herbs. These ornamentals were traditionally used by the Native Americans and are now widely recognized by modern herbalists. Of all the species of Echinacea, the purple coneflower is probably the most studied for its medicinal properties. Native Americans used it as a cure-all herb but it has been used as a short term cold treatment as well has an immune system booster. Recently researchers have found that it shows chemopreventive potential by inhibiting tumor growth and pain chemicals. As the research progresses, it is said that the purple coneflower shows promise as an adjunct treatment for cancer!

 

https://vitanetonline.com/forums/1/Thread/1840

http://www.prairienursery.com/store/native-plants/purple-coneflower-echinacea-purpurea#.WWkeLhQ4nL8