Thursday, July 9, 2009

Garden Talks July 9--Hydrangea blue, Clematis Paniculata, Rudbeckia Prairie Sun

(This picture is NOT a Blue Hydrangea, it is a Clematis Paniculata by White Flower Farms, I write about it further down this post!)
Hello again,

A common question here at Skillin's (I fielded two such questions myself just in the last few hours) is how to make sure blue hydrangeas stay blue. Blue hydrangeas like the Nikko Blue and Endless Summer will flower blue when their soil has an acid pH. Many times our soil is an acid pH but occasionally not and then the flower is a faint blue at best. I have an Endless Summer and to keep it blue and the foliage a nice rich green I feed it twice yearly with Holly Tone by Espoma (sold right here at Skillin's). Holly Tone is an all natural fertilizer that is fortified to help garden soils stay acid for pH purposes. We recommend Holly Tone for evergreens too (twice yearly) to keep their color a nice rich green.

If a soil test reveals the soil around the hydrangea is actually alkaline we do sell Soil Acidifier (natural sulfur granules) to spread on the soil to change the pH more quickly.

My son has graduated from high school (last year) and now his 12 year baseball career is over. Working here a great deal plus watching baseball games all over southern and central Maine can really take away from tending to the perennial and vegetable gardens, etc. Anyway enough about me!

What this means is I am "into" PLANTING perennials again!

So, what have I been planting?

One recommendation I have is the Clematis Paniculata (aka the Sweet Autumn Clematis). The flowers can be stunning and very fragrant and I have wanted to try one for a very long time. Here is what our friends at White Flower Farm say about the Clematis Paniculata:

"A gorgeous sight when covered in pure white, lightly fragrant flowers in late summer, Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. paniculata, also known as C. terniflora), becomes a silvery mass of fluffy seed heads in the fall. We're particularly fond of the plant that grows on an old stone wellhead at the nursery, but this prolific, small-flowered species will look equally impressive covering an upscale arbor or embellishing a utilitarian fence or garden shed. This hardy climber is a rampant grower that can reach to 30ft, but can easily be kept in check by cutting stems back to 12in in spring. It blooms on the current year's growth, and unlike many Clematis, it will thrive and bloom well in partial shade." Between this description and the picture above; what more can I say? And we have plenty of Clematis Paniculata for sale right here at Skillin's!
My next recommendation is the Rudbeckia Prairie Dawn. She is a sun loving beauty who probably isn't as profuse as the Must Have Rudbeckia Goldstrum BUT her enormous golden yellow blooms are just striking! I hear she is tender though and might not survive the winter so I am going to have to mulch this plant well once winter arrives. Here is a link to White Flower Farm and you can see for yourself how gorgeous this plant is:
Another must have is the Heliopsis or False Sunflower. I planted this plant back in 1994 or 1995 (before the baseball career) and this plant truly flowers from about now (think July4) to the first week of September (Labor Day). This is a true all season perennial and is very, very hardy (again I have kept it for about 15 years--this is rare!). We have some beauties right now and I highly recommend this sunloving tall yellow flowering plant! This plant grows about four feet tall and is covered with yellow flowers.
Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
July 9, 2009

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