Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dry Shade

Growing plants in dry shade can be a problem. 

The Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) thrives In the dry shade of our old French Lilac. I moved the dead nettle two or three years ago.  They are starting to fill in and provide bright leaf and flower color.

Thirty cultivars provide a diverse plant list to choose from.  Among Glories of Snow and Grape Hyacinths (above), 'Purple Dragon' on the left shows a lot of silvery leaf.  'Elizabeth De Haas' to the right has a silver stripe.  The flowers are almost identical.

Lamium 'White Nancy' differs only in flower color.

This yellow-leaved cultivar was a pass-a-long from a friend.  I don’t know its name but it could be ‘Aureum’.  It has yellow leaves with a white stripe.  No flowers yet.

Lamium maculatum is rabbit and deer resistant.  I haven’t noticed any damage from slugs or chewing insects.  They are easy to hoe out if they spread too far.

Simple to maintain and brightly marked, dead nettle is a good plant for the dry shade where not much will grow without constant watering.

Plant Evaluation Notes from Chicago Botanic Gardens here.  

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spring Ahead

Spring ahead means more this year than a change to daylight saving time. Spring in the garden this year is weeks ahead of schedule.
PJM Rhododendron (above), usually blooms in the middle to end of April. It wasn’t bothered by below freezing temperatures the other night. Last spring, I trimmed about 1/3 off and I’ll cut it back by another third when it’s finished blooming this year. It’s just getting too big for the space.

About ¾ of the mulch has been spread. The Helleborus’ (Lenten Rose ‘Royal Heritage’) nodding blooms continue their long bloom time. Mulch makes it all look pretty.

Daffodil season is winding down and some daffs are ready for dead heading.

Pieris Japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ is finishing its pretty winter bloom. When the blooms are gone, new growth will be bright a burgundy. This is what I call a bonus plant – winter bloom and summer color.

The mop head hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Venice”) is leafing out dodging the frosts so far. I cut it for shape last summer. I will only need to cut off the dead branches this spring. We’ll see how well it blooms this year after last summer’s haircut.

The early spring makes me feel like I need to hurry to catch up when, in reality, I need to slow down. The last frost date here in zone 6 is around May 15. Over a month till it’s time to put out tender annuals and vegetables. It’s also important that the soil be warm enough to promote healthy growth.
The coleuses will have to wait for their outside debut.