Wednesday, September 29, 2010

perennial favorites

I purchased a gallon-sized Ruellia simplex last weekend at the Sarah Duke Gardens fall plant sale. It has been showing up in more and more gardens lately...probably because it blooms late in summer and is pretty carefree. A common name for this perennial is Mexican blue-bells. 

Ruellia simplex has simple needs: sun and room to spread...
I am sure if you were to pinch it back it would grow much shrubbier and less lanky. Last fall while visiting the incredible perennial border at the JC Raulston Arboretum, I noticed a clump growing in front of a tall patch of swamp sunflower- Helianthus angustifolius  Not only was the yellow and violet color contrast a nice one, but the Ruellia shielded the lower 1/3 of the swamp sunflower which was looking pretty ratty at the bottom. The picture below is of the swamp sunflower that was planted alongside Ellerbe Creek in Durham’s Northgate park as part of a state funded stream restoration project. I took the picture drive or bike by soon if you want to see this native wildflower at its peak. Hell, you could probably fly over in a light plane and see it just fine.
swamp sunflower in bloom alongside Northgate Park's Ellerbe Creek
Speaking of plant purchases and the JCRA, this Saturday is their famous Plant Distribution Event where (I’m not making this up)....”thousands of choice and rare plants are freely given away.” You have to be a member of the arboretum to participate but you can pay your dues in person on the morning of.

1 comment:

vespasara said...

I've got two mexican petunias, as they called them at the farmer's market, in the back yard under a giant rose bush, and it's beautiful. it's been blooming since, gosh, early july, and seems to be spreading out nicely.
it's definitely staying tall, not getting bushy apart from spreading, despite getting chewed back periodically by the dog. feel free to come by and see any time!

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