Plants with personality: Two choices for a cheerful disposition
By JEFF ABT
Friday, July 13, 2007
Cheerfulness has a lot going for it; this is so on several fronts. Don't you just love cheerful people? Those folks to whom you say "hello" in the morning that respond with "hello" and not just a dreary"huh." They are the kind of folks when you suggest a restaurant say, "Oh, that's a good idea." They come into the room whistling a tune; or if there is a problem, they don't see it as "earth-shattering." They are the kind of people who cope. May I suggest this week, two, cheerful plants for your garden?
The first is known as bog sage (Salvia uliginosa). This plant has bright and cheery, blue flowers. It is originally from South America — Brazil and Argentina, etc. It's clump-forming and, as its name implies, doesn't mind a little moisture — thus, bog sage. It spreads by rhizomes and tends to travel throughout your garden. The foliage is light, airy and lance-shaped. Horticultural encyclopedias call its foliage an unimpressive mid-green. Bog sage is clearly grown for its electric blue flowers. It blooms from mid-summer to late autumn and is trouble free, having few plant or insect problems. Its fine texture makes it suitable for a "cottage garden" look. Some like to grow it in 'wild gardens' that feature ornamental grasses. I'm happy with bog sage because my garden has heavy soils in it and tends to be always wet, so anything that grows cheerfully in such a setting is greatly appreciated.
'purple top' (Verbena bonariensis) and bog sage (Salvia uliginosa).
The other cheerful plant I would like to suggest is "purple top" (Verbena bonariensis). This plant, like bog sage, doesn't mind difficult soils, although, like any plant, it prefers that soil we all wish we had — well-drained, sandy loam. Purple top is also airy and light, making it a perfect plant to grow with roses. It won't shade out other plants. Throughout the growing season, starting in late spring, it produces purple to violet/blue blooms that create a happy feeling in your garden. It, too, is from South America. Verbena bonariensis will seed itself throughout your garden, if you allow some of the blooms to mature on the plant. In other words, it will spread throughout your garden via seed. Both bog sage and purple top will cheerfully make themselves at home in your garden and spread themselves about, requiring little fuss from the gardener.
Dawn Stover, up at the SFA Arboretum, said she likes both of these plants. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are not fussy. She, too, thinks the plants are cheerful. So, if you would like some cheerfulness in your garden, hunt around for these plants. They may be hard to come by, but I've seen both grown at Naconiche Gardens. You might call around area nurseries before you go shopping. It seems like the plants were available at the SFA Arboretum fall and spring sales, as well, so keep an eye out for these cheerful, horticulture personalities. Cheerfulness is always appreciated.