Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Little Bit of Magic

I want a magic wand. It doesn't have to be big or fancy just magical. I want to be able to zap my dry shade into something moist and rich.



But I don't think it's going to happen. Perhaps instead of moaning about what I don't have I need to find the beauty in what I do have.


Native ruellia humilis, also known as wild petunia, pops up all over my garden and is just as happy in bright, dry shade as it is in sun. 


Native monarda punctata is my new favorite plant. Even though the flowers are beige, which is weird and boring, the plant just glows in bright shade. Soaker hoses keep this bed from turning into the Sahara.



These flowers remind me of pineapples. The pollinators love them.


Calamintha, another lover of dry soil, grows at the front of the border.


Another southeastern native, scutellaria incana, commonly known as hoary skullcap, which sounds either very naughty or slightly deadly, thrives in dry shade as long as you provide extra water during dry spells. It's another dry shade plant that attracts pollinators.


The flowers look like funky hats.


Northern sea oats and coleus

Northern sea oats thrive in dry soils with bright shade, which describes about seventy five percent of my garden.


Variegated beautyberry, callicarpa 'Duet', keeps my shade garden from looking like a black hole. It's one of the few shrubs that grows well in dry shade. A container with a variegated pennisetum 'Fireworks' gives this spot some extra zing.


'Millenium' alliums love dry, bright partial shade. The pollinators have been nuts for them and they bloom for weeks. Perhaps I have more magic in my garden than I realize. 


79 comments:

  1. I agree. That is a cracking Monarda.... and hoary scullcap is fab. You have no need of a magic wand.

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  2. that - keeping shade from looking like a black hole - variegated shade plants are golden!

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    1. Finding big/tall variegated plants for dry shade is a huge challenge. But the native beautyberry does the trick. It just lights the whole area up like a torch.

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  3. If you find that magic wand, please fly out this way and zap my garden while you're at it. I discovered Scutellaria (S. suffrutescens) last year and love it, although I wish I could find one in a lovely shade of blue like yours. I had the impression that Callicarpa wouldn't grow here but I looked it up when I saw your post and it seems some forms may work here after all - now I just have to find it.

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    1. What grows for me usually won't grow for you but how cool that you have a scutellaria that loves your climate. Some of the newer variegated callicarpas are only hardy to zone 7 and I lost one this past winter so maybe they'll grow for you, after all. But 'Duet' is pretty tough so I might be adding another one to the garden this fall.

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  4. I love that monarda - I've never seen that variety before. Dry shade is such a tricky one, but it looks like you've nailed it :-)

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    1. I've nailed it in a few areas while other areas are a mess. 95% of all my redesigning that needs to be done this fall is in dry shade. Some day I will finally get it all figured out!

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  5. I’d love to have a magic wand too….I would turn my elderly next door neighbour into a hunky 30 year old man who just happened to be very interested into gardening so he could come and help me dig up all the roots in my new garden….sorry, drifting off here, just imagining how much could be done with a really GOOD wand!
    Love your plant selection, some I know well, some are new to me.

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    1. Ooohh!! I like that idea! When you find him send him over to me, too. ;o)

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  6. We gardeners are all the same. I was just fretting about a large perennial bed that is more shade than sun, and that I've mistakenly planted for sun, because I wanted something that wasn't possible. You are right to appreciate what you grow and where it grows. I also have a wonderful ruellia, but mine is R. drummondiana--it blooms in our hottest and driest time and what's not to love about that? Your monarda punctata is gorgeous, not boring at all! And the Scutellaria incana gets a bit swoon from me. You've done just fine with your garden!!

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    1. I don't think my monarda is boring but I do think the idea of a beige flower is boring. I should have been more clear in my writing. I love that monarda, too. :o) As for the scutellaria, it's one of the few plants for dry shade that the pollinators love so I'm adding more this fall. :o)

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  7. Really love those funky hats! And that weird beige pineapple thing doesn't appeal to me either, but I can see its usefulness and the bees digging it. You know, I need to do something I did before: ask fellow gardeners for help with my problem areas. If the weather we are having this summer is the new normal, I am in deep do do. It's just too time consuming, as much as I love my garden. Your post inspires me Tammy!

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    1. I love the monarda! It's the idea of a beige flower that's weird to me. Networking with other gardeners is a great way to find solutions. :o)

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  8. Ain't that the truth....we always want more of what we don't have, and sometimes we never realise that what we do have is special.
    I too wish sometimes that I had a magic wand that would allow me to grow some of the plants that do well in your climate (like that clematis of yours for instance)....how I wish.
    I love this post and I'm inspired to be ever grateful for what I have....thanks Tammy.
    By teh way I love the look of your new header.

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    1. Thanks! The header was created by a very talented friend of mine. She gets all the credit. :o)

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  9. I see many of your plants exotics that we cannot grow. It is all a question of familiarity, isn't it?
    We have had perhaps half an inch of rain in the last 4 weeks. It is sunny every day which is nice if you are on a beach but not so nice in a garden!
    The forecast is 60% chance of rain today but not a cloud in the sky - an other evening of watering I suppose!

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    1. That is sooo dry! We've been much moister than you this summer but in dry spells keeping my dry shade garden alive is a major chore. Sometimes too much sun isn't as wonderful as it sounds.

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  10. Hello there Tammy girl !
    When you figure out that magic wand business let me know too? .. I want to move plants around with a flick of the wrist instead of dead sweat gardener grumbling about bad back and bugs that just won't quit bugging me ! The more I see the "OOPS!" factor in my planning the worse it bothers me in any spare moment my brain logs off (and that is a lot ! haha)
    I too am fascinated by that bee balm .. the structure is amazing .. beige doesn't bother me that much because I just keep looking at that amazing flower form.
    Yes ! Placing some pots here and there is perfect ... I should have done that .. I meant to ... and now ... hum ... time is slipping away.
    OK .. I'll admit looking forward to FALL !!!!!! there I said it ... argh !!
    Joy : )

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    1. That monarda is a super cool plant. It feels very avant garde. I like the physical labor of gardening because it gives me an excuse to eat cookies after working so hard!

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  11. I was out watering this a.m. -- but I haven't watered much this summer at all. Perhaps only 3 or 4 times total. I'm torturing my plants to see which of them are *truly* drought tolerant. It's been illuminating (OK, occasionally discouraging) to find out.

    The Ruellia looks lovely. I'll have to investigate further.

    One of the woodoats is supposed to reseed massively. Is that the one you have?

    Oh, and does your Millenium allium need good drainage? I'd like to try it, but I'm worried it will commit suicide on my heavy clay soil (wet in winter and spring, concrete in summer, you know the drill).

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    1. Geez! That is torture! Water is a staple of life. Maybe you should switch to cactus. The sea oats do reseed but I just pull the seedlings. The alliums are in well drained, amended clay loam soil. Drainage is key for any allium. :o)

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    2. Well, we get plenty of water here in Middle TN, but it is not evenly distributed throughout the year. You know, either feast or famine. So plants here have to be able to cope with both soggy and parched conditions. Yeah, I guess I'm tough on them, but no one said it was the Garden of EDEN, it's the Garden of AARON :)

      PS - I'm interested in growing our native cactus - Opuntia humifusa - but again, I think drainage would be an issue. It would be fine with our summer droughts, but I doubt it could stand the wet winters and spring on heavy clay. Although maybe if I planted it on a slope... Anyways, per my latest post - it turns out there are plenty of plants (both native and exotic) that can stand our harsh conditions and a recalcitrant gardener - http://www.gardenofaaron.com/2015/08/getting-fresh-with-natives.html

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  12. Hi Tammy, dry shade is such a difficult area to garden in, isn't it? I don't think you need a magic want, because you have it already ;-)! The plants that you have chosen for this area are all very pretty and interesting. My favorite being the monarda punctata. I have never heard of or seen this plant before. Your post just proofs that you need to find the right plant for the right spot and you will be fine.
    Wishing you a nice rest of the Sunday!
    Christina

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    1. The monarda is a native but only to the mid-western and eastern half of the country. I wish I'd discovered it years ago!

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  13. I LOVE that monarda! In total agreement about it looking pineappleish. And, at first, I thought the spots were just dying blooms, but they're actually polka-dots! How cool is that.
    Hmmm. Dry shade? Other than the fact that we're in a loonnnggg, dry, heatwave, my shade is all pretty damp. And the clay (oh the clay) that calls itself "soil" holds every last bit of water in. Can you reroute your newly dug stream? Probably not. More monarda?

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    1. It has freckles! I have a list of dry shade plants to add to the garden this fall. All will be well. :o)

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  14. Your garden is magic. I can't grow any of the plants you showed in my garden. That's why I love visiting yours so much.

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    1. Thanks! That's how I feel when I visit yours!

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  15. Hi Tammy, I want a magic wand too, what it does it make a clone of me that goes off to work, leaving me to sort out the garden, or better, just relax! All gardens in the care of a keen gardener have magic, I know mine has "magic moments" when the light is just right, at the right time of year, the right weather, the right plants all come together for a brief moment and bam - a glimpse of paradise is revealed - and then it's gone and you have to wait for all the conditions, plants and factors to "line up" again.

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    1. I agree with you about the moments. :o) They make up for everything else.

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  16. Oh, I'm glad you were able to incorporate the Monarda punctata and the Calamintha--two of my favorites. I'm surprised the Calamintha will grow in the shade--I'll have to try them, too! The M. punctatas we have at the cottage (the seeds and plants I sent) have more of a lavendar/purple cast to the bracts, but I know there's some variation in the species. Love those 'Millenium' Alliums! I was thinking of adding Allium 'Summer Beauty' and 'Purple Sensation,' but now I think I'll have to add 'Millenium' to the mix! Looks like you do have some magic going on there. :)

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    1. The calamintha's in bright partial shade. :o) None of the seeds germinated in my clay soil. :( But I have some of your lavender toned monarda in another spot. These are locals I added because I was so excited about them. I looooove the 'Millienium' alliums!

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  17. The Monarda is so unusual - I've never seen one before either. And those alliums are incredible - I'm making a note of those. I'm always on the lookout for perennials with an extended bloom & being pollinator attractors definitely adds to the want factor.

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  18. I enjoy reading about natives and learning from gardeners

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  19. Lovely to see so many native plants in your garden.

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  20. It must be beautiful everywhere you look! The hoary skullcaps look like Smurf hats....

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    1. Thanks! I assure you I have some Ick spots that I'll be working on this fall. The scutellaria does look like a Smurf hat!

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  21. Seriously cool monarda. I don't know, it really doesn't look all that dull to me..seems like you've planned a pretty summer garden in all that dry shade!

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    1. It's not dull. But the idea of a beige flower is a bit off to me. But I love this native monarda. It just glows in the shade. :o)

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  22. I love wild plants and flowers as well Tammy. Your monarda is pretty but here we have no wild ones, it's not from Northern areas.
    Lovely garden!

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    1. Thanks! But you can grow many plants I can't. Do the hybrid monarda grow for you?

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  23. Lots of gorgeous natives that must make gardening a lot easier.

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    1. Natives are a tough bunch that need little pampering as long as they're in the right spot. :o)

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  24. For myself, I would like a magic wand that can control the weather and also mosquitoes. Great Allium - reminds me a bit of 'Summer Beauty'. I'd say I am becoming more of an Allium fan the last couple of years. So tough, so beautiful, so great for pollinators, so resistant to evil critters.

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    1. I would have used my wand to make it rain tonight. :o)

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  25. Our restless souls always want what we can't have. Just click your heels together three times and repeat...

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  26. I too would just love a magic wand to sort my dry shade areas, especially beneath the five enormous 60 foot beech trees, unlike you I can't get anything to grow there...
    You certainly do have lots of beauty in your shady areas, I love the wild petunia, and totally get how that monarda glows there, I think it's lovely!
    Wow...loving the hoary skullcap!!!xxx

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    1. Hoary skullcap sounds like an ingredient in an evil potion. ;o)

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  27. Dry shade is always a challenge. Thanks for highlighting some plants that tolerate it. I love your monarda punctata; it does have a pineapple flare to it.

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  28. Native monarda punctata! Wow, love the photos of this plant. Is it native out our way in the midwest? I agree pineapple look alike-lol

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    1. Yes! Prairie Nursery sells them online. :o)

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  29. It sure is a puzzle sometimes getting the right plant to grow with the other plants for the right growing conditions!! Then you get hit by a drought to make matters worse ! Oh crumbs. Back to the drawing board for me! I love looking at your plants and it gives me hope one day one time I will be able to grow plants in hot dry shade!

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  30. When you are done with the wand, may I borrow it? In my own garden I have found toad lilies, autumn ferns, rhodea, hellebores, and var. Solomon's seal to all be extremely drought tolerant perennials.

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    1. Toad lilies? Really? I have those in a moist spot but have all the others except rhodea and autumn ferns in dry shade. The struggle is finding tall plants for dry shade. Short's asters do well in bright partial shade.

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  31. I'd like a computer mouse for my garden so I can undo/delete my mistakes or click and drag a plant/shrub from one section to another :) My dry shade section starts off well in spring but by August (which is now) there's nothing that can save it, so I just close my eyes as I walk past it. Have you tried Gooseneck Loosestrife? It's the only plant that's blooming right now in my dead zone.

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    1. Gooseneck loosestrife is massively invasive here! It will take over the entire garden if I let it. But it's so pretty I have some in a pot. But I do love the idea of drag and drop gardening. Much less sweaty. :o)

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  32. Those Alliums are To. Die. For. So pretty! I love the variegated Calicarpa too. Dry shade isn't so bad after all.

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    1. There are worse things than dry shade. The variegated callicarpa is my new favorite shrub. :o)

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  33. Finding flowers for dry shade isn't easy. This is a nice collection.

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    1. Thanks! I have so much dry shade that I'm constantly on the search for more plants that will thrive in these conditions while also nurturing wildlife.

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  34. How beautiful !! I love all your flowers !!
    Greetings

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  35. Gardening with dry shade is a challenge, but it is surprising how many plants you have found that do well. Still, if you do manage to find a magic wand, can I please borrow it some time?

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  36. You do have some stunners there especially the monarda punctata which does not like my moist garden...and I must remember the wild petunia!

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  37. Your garden looks like summer. I swear I can feel the heat. Those monarda are great. I like that they look like pineapples.

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  38. Well, you don' t really need sunny rich moistness when you can grow so many beauties in your dry shade. I particularly like that lovely Monarda.
    For some reason I have not being getting your posts for a while. This seems to be a perennial problem with blogging , suddenly losing blogs that you follow.

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  39. Your garden certainly does have magic as does it's creator! Bravo! Now where did you put that black hat and bunny?

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