It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! An interesting perennial to grow for spring flowers is Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’. This member of the aster family is very easy to grow, tolerates poor soil, dry times, and full sun or partial shade. From April to June, I can cut the flowers and bring them to work where colleagues gasp, “ooh, aah!” (just kidding, but they do garner attention). The 2-inch flowers have a spiky, thistle-like appearance; purple centers are surrounded by white petals, like spokes on a wagon wheel. The species, often called mountain bluet, produces solid blue flowers while Amethyst in Snow is the first bicolor cultivar and the contrast between purple and white is striking.
My plants are five years old and so far, no problems despite full sun and poor soil. Over time they have spread enough that I can share divisions with friends or plant in other places in the garden. Hardy to zone 3, the plants are about a foot tall and you can tell by the silvery, woolly leaves that they are drought resistant; their leaves will not lose moisture fast. The butterflies love the flowers and supposedly the deer are not interested but in my Northern Virginia garden I don’t have enough deer to know if this is true or not. Grow Amethyst in Snow for a drought-tolerant, spring blooming, cut flower perennial.
Posted in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, plants
Tagged Amethyst, blue flowers, bluet, Centaurea montana, Centaurea montana 'Amethyst in Snow', Garden Bloggers Bloom day, mountain bluet, perennial, spring blooms, spring flowers
volunteer butterfly bush
Early spring is the time to start your cool season vegetable and herb seeds but it also a good time to make more plants from the perennials in your garden, both edible and ornamental. This week, I literally hacked a chunk out of my sweet marjoram in my garden bed and put the chunks in the plastic containers that strawberry growers use (the plastic containers you buy in the grocery store, with the lid cut off). I added soil from the compost bin, labeled and watered the plant, and placed it on the deck to root and recuperate. I also pulled oregano and thyme and put them in similar containers. All of these plants are about 5 years old and have grown so big they would not notice if I removed parts plus they are more likely to root in early spring with cool moist temperatures.
I also chopped up the lemon balm to create new pups, dug up baby plants from my black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), tore out extra blanket flowers while they were still small (Gaillardia), and took a few stems from the ice plant (Delosperma), a succulent groundcover. I still need to pot up chunks of the chrysanthemum while the leaves are small and near the ground, as well as the bluets (Centaurea), hardy geraniums, Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida), speedwell (Veronica surcolosa), yarrow (Achillea), aster, and creeping phlox (Phlox subulata). These perennials have been in my garden for years and tend to either spread outward or become congested inward so I have plenty to share.
marjoram slices in plastic containers
I overturned my plastic containers of chocolate peppermint, peppermint, and spearmint that overwintered on the deck, broke up the plants into chunks, and re-potted into more containers. Mints are also easy to root in water but they are invasive and should always be grown in containers.
Usually I find a volunteer—a seedling in an unexpected place. This year I found a butterfly bush seedling (Buddleia) in January in a patch of dirt on the concrete steps. Last week I dug it up and put it in a small container. When it is bigger and older, I will either plant in an appropriate spot or give it away to a friend. I have started new butterfly bushes, wand flowers (Gaura), and flowering tobacco plants (Nicotiana) this way. Look around your garden for volunteers and plants that can be shared with friends!
Posted in Edibles, herbs, landscape edible, plants
Tagged achillea, aster, blanket flowers, bluet, Buddleia, butterfly bush, centaurea, chrysanthemum, creeping phlox, delosperma, flowering tobacco, gaillardia, hardy geraniums, ice plant, Japanese anemone, lemon balm, mint, Nicotiana, oregano, phlox subulata, plastic containers, rudbeckia, speedwell, sweet marjoram, thyme, veronica surcolosa, yarrow