Posts Tagged ‘Perennial’

Amsonia (also known as Bluestar) is an underutilized native wildflower you should consider adding to your perennial beds. Two species widely found in retail nurseries and garden centers include Amsonia hubrichtii and Amsonia tabernaemontana. These species are very similar but the latter has wider leaves in addition to tongue-twisting binomial nomenclature.

Finely textured Amsonia foliage

Amsonia provides three seasons of interest in the garden. Clusters of small star-shaped flowers in shades of blue cover the plant in June. The blooms peak at a time in the season when many perennials are on a flowering hiatus. The bright green foliage lasts through summer and has a striking fine texture not commonly found on herbaceous perennials. Amsonia provides an additional season of interest with a glowing fall color. The vivid yellow-orange leaves are a highlight in the autumn landscape.

Fall foliage

Reaching a height and width of about 2-3 feet, Bluestar can easily find a home in the garden. It thrives in sunny locations and can tolerate poor soils and drought conditions. Bluestar will steal the show on its own, but a mass planting would be absolutely stunning.

Article and photography by lilyofthevalley for Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design.

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I often say that gardening is the best kind of therapy. It is cheap, and plants always listen. There is no prognosis, diagnosis, or prescription at the end of a day of gardening, and the mixture of aesthetic bliss mixed in with the honest sweat on your brow goes beyond the feeling of satisfaction.  

I  find that I take the most joy out of gardening by noticing the small details. When I worked on my gardens in Pennsylvania, my cat was my garden companion, and I was in such a relaxed state when I was pulling the thistles out of my perennial borders with my delightfully obese orange tabby by my side. In New York, my garden is now in the shape of a 50 square foot terrace, limited to several containers with room for a small grill and cafe seating for two.

While cleaning up the annuals for fall, I pulled out the Ipomoea batatas (Sweet Potato Vine) to find little sweet potato tubers growing in my containers. Of course I have had this happen in planting beds in the country, but I didn’t expect to find so many growing in my limited container space. I have never heard of anyone eating the tubers of the ornamental sweet potato vines, and don’t recommend it as these plants have been cultivated for their showy qualities as opposed to their agrarian counterparts. Regardless, it is fun to find these little surprises in the garden. Perhaps this spring I will try some actual veggies on the terrace in addition to my herbs.


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