Monday, June 06, 2005

Moje Hammarberg and his neighbors

Here’s a section of the middle of my long bed, which is finally showing some promise for the season.

Near the right we see ‘Moje Hammarberg,’ whose first bloom opened 6/6/05. Its loosely double, bright saturated purplish-pink flowers are sweetly scented, and come early and throughout the season. (This year everything is running relatively late; I haven’t seen other cultivated roses blooming to date.) This rose grows 3 or 4 feet tall and at least as wide. Like most rugosas, its wrinkly leaves are extremely healthy, its stems are extremely prickly, it will have large hips, and it’s hardy down to Zone 3 or 4 (it was introduced in Sweden in 1931). Last year I wasn’t blown away by the number of its blooms, but that was its first season, and I purchased and planted it rather late (6/20/05, consequently it was just $10 outside the Building 19 on routes 27 and 9 – their non-rugosas were looking pretty sick by that time). The only care I gave it: planted in a well-dug bed, watered when droughty, and knocked off Japanese beetles (tools: a plastic spatula and a soapy pail of water). While powdery mildew was pervasive among nearby roses and brambles, this plant never showed a sign of it, or of any stress. I heartily recommend it, especially to gardeners who think roses are too difficult.

Next from the right: Narcissus leaves (dead-headed).

Middle: Lillium ‘America is putting up quite a few big, healthy looking stalks. In my previous post I covered its scarlet lily beetle infestation. As it happens, since my one spraying of Pyrethrin, I have only seen 1 or 2 beetles per day, so I’m hoping my daily inspection and squashing regime will keep the plants healthy without resort to more radical measures.

To the left, behind a tuft of daylily foliage and the Lillium, Centranthus rubra (Jupiter’s Beard, aka Red Valerian, among other names). You can see the first small blooms just starting on top of the Centranthus. This plant handles extremes of temperature, soil and moisture – despite its Mediterranean origins and reputed preference for dry, alkaline conditions, it proved healthy and vigorous for me last year (while my Verbascum was putrefying), with a long season of bloom. Individually, its clusters of small flowers don’t compare to, say, roses, but the plant will soon be much more flamboyant than pictured here. I don’t know why it’s not more popular, unless it’s because it’s too easy to grow for bragging rights, and gets large and flops a bit on its neighbors – that doesn’t bother me if a plant is easy to shear back (no picky pruning regimen, prickly thorns or overly invasive roots). Centranthus is also available in lighter pinks and white. It is featured in the book Antique Flowers, by Katherine Whiteside (1988), a great source for discovering old-fashioned and relatively neglected species.

And to the left of the daylily foliage, a pale pink Oenothera (evening primrose). Or actually, a number of seedlings from the Oenothera, as there did not appear to be a returning (perennial) stalk. These beautiful pinkish mauve flowers appear to glow brighter-than-white in low light conditions, and despite the species' common name, appear throughout the day.And behind Oenothera: Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), and pink-flowering Allium (chive). All three of these plants are easy and healthy, although often reported to be somewhat invasive I have only found the Oenothera to be so, and its seedlings are pretty easy to identify and pull up if necessary (unlike some invasive plants which spread by runners). The chive is of course tasty with scrambled eggs.

Back Row near right: Lupines and Lychnis coronaria (rose campion, not yet flowering).


Entangled said...

This past spring, I spent quite some time trying to kill all my pink Oenothera. I grew it from seed from Thompson & Morgan, and it's probably the most aggressive thing I've ever intentionally planted. I never would have planted it if I had known its habits. As you said, it started out with just a few small returning sprouts (or seedlings), but within a year or two had formed a solid mat over a large area using, I think, all the means a plant has to increase its territory. It spreads from underground runners as well as seedlings. And the flowers really are lovely, so I had mixed emotions about eradicating it, but decided that it really had to go. Maybe you'll have better luck containing it.

PS. Your new trellis is a work of art.

DWPittelli said...

Thanks for the trellis praise!

The pink Oenothera pulls up pretty easily, but I recognise the potential problem. I have a low stump behind my trellis (barely visible under a purple inverted kid's pool in my trellis photo) which I intend to surround with a low rock wall and plant with an invasive plant or two or three, which will be contained therein. So if I have to eradicate the Oenothera I'll at least have a place to put some of it -- perhaps with the Lychnis coronaria and/or Centranthus ruber which are currently near it in my main bed.