Plant Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse
The next time I collapse into a recliner to watch Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland, I'm going to bring this pot of hens and chicks with me. If you need a plant that requires absolutely zero care, hens and chicks are for you. Since zombies are horrible at remembering to water plants, despite the number of brains they've eaten, sempervivums are destined to rule the world.
If you have a sunny spot and want more butterflies, add some coneflowers this fall. While they love compost and water during dry spells, they'll bloom from late spring til frost with only a small amount of care.
'Monch's' aster is a blooming machine.It starts in mid-summer and keeps up with the fall blooming asters all through autumn. Orange milkweed, heavy with ripe seeds pods, grows through the lounging asters.
My heliopsis has also bloomed since spring. It likes moist, well draining soil and full sun. Cut it back once in early summer to thicken it up and then just sit back and watch the show. I often find butterflies using the wide flowers as basking spots. Tall annual milkweed grows in the foreground.
My Rose of Sharon bloomed twice this year. I just took these pictures on Sunday. It occasionally blesses me with a few extra flowers after the main show in June, but this year is putting on an encore performance. Lucky me!!
Do you see that innocent little tomato plant sticking up between the petunias in the left side of the picture?
It's growing out of a crack in the patio pavers. Don't let its precarious location fool you.
It's now growing through the agastache, across the sign, and around the rose.
When this little grape tomato sprout thrust its head between the agastache and Abraham Darby rose in my container garden, I wondered how long its roots would survive the rotten soil under my patio pavers. I needn't have worried. Not only is it thriving, it's launched a full scale attack on its neighbors, scrambling across their branches and vining its way from pot to pot. The tomatoes are tangy and I swear they taste a bit like fish emulsion but I don't care. Any vegetable capable of growing between patio pavers, only to thrive and fruit, can do as it damn well pleases.
My rain garden has been a fabulous addition to the garden. It works extremely well at keeping the water in my garden to replenish ground water supplies. I often find butterflies using the wet rocks as mineral licks after a storm. I'd tried for several years to create butterfly puddling stations around my garden only to find a rancid, sandy mess a week later. But a rain garden full of cheap pond rocks works perfectly!
Last year two Peggy Martin roses were accidentally delivered to me via a computer error in a new ordering system installed by an online nursery I had ordered from. My little mystery roses have grown about 6 feet this summer and even bloomed a bit this spring.
I'll prune them in late winter and train them to the fence.
The Peggy Martin rose is also known as The Rose That Survived Hurricane Katrina and is available at Chamblees.
I had given this pipevine up for dead earlier this summer. Covered with brown, sunburned leaves it looked wretched and I was irritated it wasn't thriving. I cut it back, gave it a big dose of John and Bob's Penetrate, a truly magical solution that breaks up clay soil, along with a couple of gallons of my epsom salt/seaweed solution, and it decided to grow.
I'm hoping to it will cover the front of my porch and attract pipevine swallowtails. This little Daddy Long Legs enjoys the shade of its big leaves.
Best Bad Idea
I've reached the point with these containers that I no longer cringe when I see them. It's actually all I can do not to burst out laughing. They look like a giant green octopus. If only a team of Garden Interventionists had grabbed me and stopped me from torturing these stephandra, I could have a sweet pot of impatiens on my porch. I thought the stephandra crispa, a gorgeous shade loving ground cover, would find botanical bliss in the pots on my mostly shady porch. A low arching shrub that roots where it touches, the stephandra wouldn't be able to root into my concrete patio, thus spilling from their pots in a cascade of mini maple leaf foliage. Desperate for more water and soil, if these shrubs had fingers and anything sharp, I'd be a goner.
Best Pollinator Attractor
Not only do coneflowers bloom all summer, they attract boatloads of butterflies and other pollinators.
Swallowtail butterfly on the coneflowers.
The number one pollinator magnet in my garden, next to the Rose of Sharon, is the 'Blue Fortune' agastache. It also blooms from early summer to fall and likes more moisture and compost than most agastaches.
Best Bang for Your Buck
I love zinnias! These were knocked sideways by a severe storm this summer but continued to grow. They just did it sideways. This picture was taken prior to the storm. Pollinators love the nectar, finches love the seed, and because they're easy to grow you can cultivate a large patch for just a few dollars. Zinnias are tough plants but they like extra water and a bit of fertilizer. Be sure to give them full sun and cut them back to keep them bushy.