Osmocote Advertisement

A Plant for Neatniks


You know who you are. You’re the gardeners who keep your lawn perfectly edged and weed-free, the ones who maintain an exquisitely proportioned space between plants. You’re the opposite of folks like me whose plants are forever rubbing shoulders with their neighbors and muttering under their breath about garden bullies.

“Overplanted” is the word some might use to describe my garden, especially now that the Joe-Pye weed, ironweed, cannas and ‘Indigo Spires’ salvia are sky high while the heavily laden and thus-far green tomatoes are listing like the leaning tower of Pisa.

Try as I might, I just can’t achieve a super tidy garden.

Well, maybe I could, if I only grew more pentas.

Whenever I’ve grown pentas (Pentas lanceolata), I’ve marveled at how it invariably forms a perfect mound of foliage and just keeps blooming all summer long with no need for deadheading or the slightest bit of maintenance.

This year I have Starcluster™ Lavender Pentas, a plant from Syngenta Flowers that looks more pink than lavender. Pentas comes in white, red and shades of pink as well. It’s native from eastern Africa to Yemen. Its other name is Egyptian star flower since each individual floret in the plants flower cluster is a little 5-pointed star, but when you go shopping the name you’ll see on the label is pentas.

Starcluster™ Lavender Pentas

Photo courtesy of Syngenta Flowers

There are other plants for neatniks. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and all its cousins come to mind (not the ground cover sedums; you want the mid-sized mounding ones). New Guinea and SunPatiens are good too (and here let us pause to shed a tear for the common impatiens that have been perishing right and left because of a deadly virus). Certainly you can shape a boxwood, yew or barberry into a tidy sculptural form, but that requires at least a modicum of work. With the pentas, sedums and the virus-resistant impatiens, you have no work. What could be better than that?

SunPatiens

Photo courtesy of Park Seed

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Photo courtesy of Walter’s Garden

You can shape a barberry or yew or boxwood.

categories

Espoma Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Mike’s Never-Ending Holiday Hort Sing-Along

There’s Nothing Like Loam for the Gardener (Sung to “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”) Oh, there’s nothing like ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
MacGregor Redux

"Hey, where's Stinky?" "Mmmphrgbl?" "Stinky!" "Phbbmmrrggnndr." "Didn't your mama ever teach you not to talk with your mouth ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Recreating that Vintage Garden

When it comes to old houses, it’s not often that you’ll find one with its original garden elements. Wood arbors and fences ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
A Conversation on Color

At some point in a gardener’s life, he or she will likely come across the writings and photographs of the renowned gardener ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
The Dirt on … Oh Never Mind

By the time you get to this page (that is to say, if you’ve read all or most of this magazine), your brain is so crammed with …


questions

I have two 20-year-old pine trees whose needles are turning brown on the west side of the plants. On the east side I have a compost pile.

I live in the St. Charles region and my soil is mostly clay. What is causing the browning? Should I get rid of the compost? How do I correct the damage?

Would it help to apply a starter fertilizer on a poor green lawn in December? Will it give it a head start for spring? It hasn’t been reseeded.

What is rose rosette disease? I lost two antique roses and removed a hedge of multiflora roses that were supposed to be undesirable. How bad is it?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement