Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What a heatwave we had  on the eastern coast, if your in North Carolina I'm sure your feeling pretty good after those major Thunderstorms broke up the oppressive weather! For all you gardeners out there welcome back to another edition of Lost In the Farmer's Market. Today we have a trio of plants that  can bring serious color to the dull foliage in your beds. Before we get into the plants I must state this disclaimer and then a  horticulture fact.
'LITFM is not responsible for any blindness or partial blindness caused by staring at the following photographs of  the topic plants of the day. All readers are strongly urged to wear sunglasses or a welder's mask not doing so could result in blindness, more different blindness and or the sudden urge to buy more plants for your garden.'

Did you know that a plant noted as a 'Native' on it's plant tag may not be native to your area at all? In fact there is little regulation of the truthfulness of the native plant craze, so plants tagged as natives may originate from a wide swathe of the continent. Furthermore it is common to find that these 'Natives'  have incorrect or incomplete care information. When considering a native plant for your garden it is recommended you do a bit of internet research at the USDA site using the plant's full Latin name to determine it's suitability for your garden.

Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee' - Golden Jubilee Anise-Hyssop

Brighter then bright, and still medicinal type Anise-Hyssop!  The flowers while not
exactly as flamboyant as the foliage are pale lavender and are borne in spikes atop
the plant in late spring.

I admit, golden jubilee is not a new variety but it certainly does not get the press it deserves.  This herb aside from being a true Anise-Hyssop has dramatic golden yellow foliage and a tall cylindrical form that draws the eye.  This variety of agastache bears ovate leaves with serrated margins that add texture to the almost neon foliage. When paired with herbs that have darker or finer textured foliage such as rosemary, echinacea, tansy or traditional evergreen germander this agastache really stands out.  Thankfully Golden Jubilee has not lost the expected Anise-hyssop toughness and will withstand full southern sun and doughty periods. As a perennial if your soil is good you can expect better displays year after year. Generally this anise hyssop can get by with limited watering, virtually no fertilization as long as the soil has good organic matter and drains well. Plain green agastache is more likely to survive reliably up north,  as golden jubilee was not available when the test garden was running in New Jersey I cannot say of it's survivability above Virginia. In North Carolina it has yet to disappoint.

Teucrium chamaedrys 'Summer Sunshine'  - Summer Sunshine Germander

The picture above was taken on a cloudy day so the flowers would 
be more visible against the bright foliage. Generally Summer Sunshine in 
early summer is covered in lavender flowers.

Check this one out!  This particular variety of germander is not for the knot garden unless you really want to scare some old gardeners. Summer Sunshine germander has all the fine qualities of traditional germander; the neat heart-shaped leaves with toothed margins that stand out as almost being too formal. Like traditional germander summer sunshine is evergreen well behaved and looks especially good guessed it plants with darker or contrasting color foliage.  A few of these little guys inter-planted with green santolina with a backdrop of black potato vine is liable to cause a three-car pile-up in front of the house! Thankfully for all it's flashy color  summer sunshine is undemanding, it can tolerate average soils but will do better in soil that is enriched with compost. As a rule the germanders will not tolerate wet or waterlogged soils but are quite successful when nestled amongst the rocks of a rock garden or as part of a raised bed. Given that Summer Sunshine is evergreen you can expect to have a neon herb to cheer you up even in the most bleak days of winter. The T. chamedrys type of germander will survive as far north as New Jersey for sure. The one planted in the test gardens up there remained strong year after year.

Teucrium viscidum 'Lemon & Lime'   - Lemon & Lime Germander

 Lemon & Lime is bright in full sun and will bleach a little if left in full southern sun,
against finer foliage or darker colors it really illuminates a corner of a bed.

Finally we have Lemon & Lime Germander, the germander that delivers a swift kick to what you thought a germander should look like. It neither looks like nor in habit grows like a traditional germander and were one not wary it could be mistaken for a lantana or some odd tree seedling.  Seriously Lemon & Lime is unique among germanders because it is deciduous, that is it drops it's leaves in winter. Unlike other germanders this one will need a warmer spot during winter as it's a bit more cold sensitive and will probably not survive northern winters outside. Even despite this the elliptical leaves have a fine serrated margin and are a bright lime-green color with varied yellow and green variegation in the center. What is unique is that the variegation are somewhat angular, as if the plant was trying to make it's colors artistic. This variegation of course is very eye-catching, so much so that after a while you can recognize this plant from thirty paces with no problem. Paired with bronze Fennel and or Artemesia you can get a really eye-popping metallic effect. If you can imagine a row of this germander with  a mixed row of Powis castle artemesia and the bronze fennel  the foliage and colors blending to make a display distracting enough to possibly cause plane crashes. It is noted that this particular germander can survive with some protection as far north as some southern parts of Maine, while I personally have not tested this it may be possible with good planning. Also other possible common names for T. viscidum are Variegated germander and Caucasian germander.

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