Saturday, December 30, 2006

Polemonium Stairway To Heaven

Midwest gardens, for the most part, have a certain sameness in terms of the plants that are present; daylilies, hostas, peonies, iris, and annuals abound. It is not so much that gardeners here lack imagination or initiative, but rather that gardens are winnowed every year by our climate, to the bones. Our garden is a bit protected, and I've been pretty adventuresome (some would say reckless) in trying new plants, so we do have some unusual plants growing here. It's always fun to see the reaction of people touring the garden when they find things like wild orchids, Japanese maples, and primroses; yet the plant that most often causes people to stop and stare, and declare "I can't grow that!" is a modest variegated Jacob's ladder. Well, actually I can't grow that either... that is, I can't grow Polemonium Brise d' Anjou, which is the plant that died in their garden; it also turned up its toes here. Brise d' Anjou is a variegated clone of Polemonium caeruleum, the European Jacob's ladder; it abhors hot weather, and if it dries out a little, it's gone. I kept it for about five years, but eventually it just disappeared; I don't clearly recollect whether it was our hot, dry summers or cold, often snowless winters that did it in. Part of the trouble may also be that it gets woody, and needs to be divided. The variegated Jacob's ladder that thrives in our garden now is a different critter; it is Polemonium Stairway To Heaven, a variant of our hardy, native Polemonium reptans, and appeared in a tray of seedlings at New England Wildflower Society. It has lovely, light cornflower blue flowers, and foliage that is silvery green, with cream edges that in cool weather develop areas of pink color. I should go change the label to Brise d' Anjou... while I'm at it, I'll plant some divisions of my plant around the mother, so I can complain it has become a real pest in our garden. Posted by Picasa

You, sir, are evil. EVIL.

*grinning at you*

On the other hand, how long has this newcomer been in your garden, hmmmm?

Might be too soon to crow.
Two summers ago, a neighbor of my mother-in-law was going to put up a garage where the former home owner's perennial garden was and didn't want the plants (why? why? I just don't understand). It was June and I dug up a bunch of stuff that I either knew what it was or guessed was probably a "real" garden plant (versus a weed I didn't recognize). One was a plain, old-fashioned Jacob's Ladder. What a pretty, graceful plant! The flowers are very nice, and the foliage stays pretty neat all summer. I definitely plan to try some more . . . like Stairway to Heaven.
You must have a huge yard, Don!
Happy New Year and Go Bears! Sorry about the Iowa game, today...
Jenn... I've had it four years, and every year it's bigger, so I'm pretty cocky.

Tracy... the woods around here are full of native Jacob's ladder; it is kind of neat.

Sissy... oh, the pain!
Beautiful variegated leaves and I really like the light blue flowers...reminds me of flax flowers so different from the usual ones with flowers drooping in a row.
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