Common Name: Jacob’s Ladder
Latin Name: Polemonium caeruleum
This herbaceous perennial is beautiful in borders, cottage gardens, or right in the center of a strawberry patch. They prefer partial shade, but our little gem does well in full sun with a partial beautybush canopy. Hardy in zones 4-8. The deer seem to overlook the blue bells and the fern like foliage.
Corsican Mint. Mentha requienii
My first “real” job was at a locally owned greenhouse in Colorado. Surely, no one is surprised to learn that bit of information! I LOVED working there and continued there all through my high school years. While learning about plants and deepening my love for them, I also became a great customer! My parents yard became the constant nursery for unlabeled varieties and broken shrubs; ‘orphans’, as we called them. Not only did the outside gardens begin filling in with extras, I also brought home MANY houseplants. I literally could not help myself!
One plant in particular, which brings back an intense aromatic nostalgia is Corsican Mint. Having moved to an almost exotic climate, from my beloved and comfortable zone 3/4, I have found this favorite readily available…as a perennial!
Common Name: Corsican Mint
Latin Name: Mentha requienii
Description: A extremely low growing, highly aromatic herb. Sweet spearmint, with a little bit of spice.
- Native to Italy/Corsica.
- Can be sensitive to drying out, but also likes good drainage.
- Originally used as the flavoring for crème de menthe.
- Hardy to zone 7, as a perennial.
- Makes a fabulous houseplant, for a sunny window.
- Outdoors, partial shade.
- A great groundcover or “steppable” plant.
Common Name: Angel Wing Begonia
Latin Name: Begonia aconitifolia × B. coccinea
This hybrid begonia is an easy to grow houseplant. With origins in South America, this plant prefers moist soil and air. This cane begonia can grow up to 4 feet tall or pruned to shorter stature. Easily propagated with cuttings.
Many (many) years ago my husband and I obtained a cutting of this plant from our college union building which contained a forest of amazing houseplants. It has been pruned, trimmed, and restarted many times. But it still resides in our kitchen several homes later. It still provides us with a pretty show every few months. My littlest boy recently mistook the flowers for those of bleeding heart; I can see the resemblance.
There is always a bit of a thrill mixed in with my ordinary seed orders each spring. I spontaneously add a few extra packets to the list. Newbies. Will they do well in my zone 4 climate? I am thrilled with my impulsive purchase this season.
Common Name: Danish Flag Poppy, Feathered Poppy, Fringed Poppy
Latin Name: Papaver somniferum
The somewhat ragged foliage of this poppy could easily be mistaken for a weed.
I planted this beauty in one of the most challenging areas of my garden: a small bed tucked between the heat of southern exposure and wooden siding. It is often shorted on water, as we spare the adjacent kitchen counters a sprinkle. And yet, it is thriving, blooming and dropping seeds, for an abundant patch again next year.
In the spirit of summer, I always try to have a glass of this on hand.
Reaching for a handful of fresh herbs, on a quick stroll through the garden, while taking compost out to the pile.
It starts my day with a burst of fragrance, a bit of nostalgia (breath in, oh lavender), and a reminder to drink. Water. More water.
It feels like a treat, a delicacy and is a token to help cherish these long, hot days of summer. Most days it is mint and lavender, but then there are the sage and citrus marigold days, and cilantro blossoms are running a close 3rd.
So, we (yes, my glass is often in the hands of another family member, or two…) slow down and drink. Quench. And toast, with each glassful, to the beauty of summer.
Common Name: Western coneflower, Green wizard
Latin Name: Rudbeckia occidentalis
Growth Requirements: Native to mountain meadows in Montana and other Western states. This perennial, hardy in zones 3-9, is an easy grower in backyard gardens. Works well as a tall fence or home border. Prefers full sun, moist soil. At 3-5 feet tall, can need staking or support. Rather than rays, dark tubular flowers are clustered in a cylindrical head, surrounded by green sepals.
Additional information: A unique piece for a sunny garden. Beautiful as a cut flower. Also can double as a spear, a sword, a flag, and of course a magic wand.