Notes from the Garden

By Julie Hawley

The plant from last week's column has been identified and verified by two alert readers! Thanks to Jean Nelson from Baldwin and Ellen Blom from Rice Lake who both informed me the plant is cimicifuga ramosa, which is commonly called bugbane. According to Jean, the white spikes have a beautiful perfumy fragrance. She grows the "Brunette" cimicifuga, which has purplish-bronze, ferny foliage which turns yellow in the fall. That is the same variety I have here. Bugbane thrives in shady areas, which is a nice addition to the usual hostas we gardeners use to fill those hard to grow places. Thanks Jean and Ellen for your help!

The gardens here have really taken off, especially after the recent rain. Many vegetables in the garden are blooming. We have a lot of purple color right now, These peas are unlike any we have planted before, with beautiful purple, pink flowers. I wish I had saved the seed pack to remember what this variety is called.

In our prairie, purple is the color of the week too. Wild lupine is in its full glory, though I am always amazed it grows well in the heavy clay soil, when it usually is found in dry, sandy soils.

Finally, we have a bumper crop of purple spiderwort blooming in the prairie. It is prettiest in the morning when the blossoms first open. Pictured here, it surrounds the first false white indigo plant that has ever grown in our prairie. I have been spreading seeds and transplanting seedlings for several years, but this is the first to grow. It helped that we burned the prairie this spring, which allows dormant seeds to sprout and surprise us.

We continue to enjoy the beauty of our prairie, which was planted 12 years ago. Yellow is the predominent forb color in the prairie, so I try to add different flowers every year for variety. This year I planted blue false indigo, royal catchfly (red), New Jersey tea (white), and blazing star (purple).

Ah, color in the landscape. While I love the pristine white of the winter, the variety of colors in gardens and fields throughout the rest of the year are a sight for sore eyes. Mother Nature and those beautiful colors will never cease to amaze me.

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