Introducing Columbine Meadow Rue & Coyote Mint + More
New and Unique Plants for Spring 019
By David Salman
New plants are for most gardeners, one of the great joys of gardening. To find a new and beautiful plant is like meeting a new friend.
As a plant breeder and collector, I’m always on the lookout for new plants. So it’s always a pleasure when the New Year arrives to introduce High Country Garden gardeners to plants that I think have great potential of becoming a valued new friend. But just having a pretty flower is just not enough anymore; potential friends need to be more than just a pretty face. With climate change in full swing, we need to understand that the collective power of our gardens in this country and across the world to sequester CO2, provide food for pollinators and provide habitat for songbirds, the plants we garden with should help to support these goals.
Columbine Meadow Rue is an Old World perennial, grown for both its flowers and attractive foliage. When the lavender-pink, late spring flowers fade, the delicate columbine-like foliage provides a visual treat for the rest of the growing season. A herbaceous plant, it will die back to the ground in winter. The flowers are also good for pollinating bees and butterflies. But the foliage is resistant to browsing deer and rabbits.
In the western US where the sun is much stronger than in the hazy skies of the eastern US, plant it in partial shade so as not to scorch the delicate foliage. Because it does well in partial or dappled shade, it’s a fine choice for under-planting shade trees and beds where sun lovers fail.
Very durable and easy-to-grow, it likes a compost-enriched garden loam with medium to moist growing conditions. Thalictrum is a wonderful companion plant for Sedge (Carex) and Kashmir Sage (Phlomis cashmeriana). This species is native to Europe and central Asia. Zones 5-8.
Coyote Mint provides months of summer color with its aromatic light blue powder puff flowers. This western native wildflower is a favorite nectar source for bees and butterflies. Although much beloved by alpine rock gardeners, plants of this species in general cultivation are typically from very high elevations (around 10,000 ft. in UT). Their high mountain origins typically make them very unhappy when grown at lower elevations, where most folks garden.
However, several years ago, I found a colony of Monardella odoratissima at a lower elevation (8,500 ft. elevation) in the foothills of east-central Arizona. I took cuttings and brought them back to Santa Fe, where I rooted them and planted the new plants into my test garden. They have performed wonderfully. I especially like to run my hands over the plants to release the very pleasing sweet, minty scent from their flowers and foliage. It’s a small compact grower that enjoys sun and part sun growing conditions in non-clay soils. Coyote Mint is best grown in the western US as humid summer heat and lots of rain is not to its liking.
Individual plants are not long lived (usually 3 to 4 years), but set plentiful seed and will produce volunteer seedlings when the seed heads are allowed to ripen and stay on the plant through winter. (Mulch them with small gravel mulch to encourage volunteers.) Because they are such long bloomers, the plant is also excellent in perennial container plantings as a “spiller” along the edges of the pot’s rim.
The New FlowerKisser™ Introductions – Outstanding Plants for Attracting Pollinators
I’d like to call you attention to more of the new FlowerKisser™ brand of pollinator-friendly perennials including FlowerKisser™ After Midnight English Lavender, FlowerKisser™ Dark Shadows Sage and FlowerKisser™ Coral-Pink Sage. I’ve bred and/or selected them for their outstanding flower colors, resilient garden performance, resistance to browsing animals and the outstanding aromatic fragrance of the flowers and foliage.
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