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The Garden Guru designs and plants continously blooming flowerbeds that rebloom year after year. These are easycare, colorful, vivid gardens for Montreal, Canada, [USDA Zone 4 or CDN Zone 5]. A consultation and coaching service for do-it-yourselfers is also available. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

 

Entries in Achillea (5)

Sunday
May022010

Achillea 'Richard Nelson', a New Pink Perennial 

I cannot remember on which site I first saw an image of this pink perennial. However, as soon as I laid eyes on it I knew that I had to share it with my readers. Pink is such an important color in so many peoples’ flowerbeds that gardeners are always on a hunt for new plants in this color. Some of us believe that there can never be too much pink in our gardens.

What makes the arrival of A. Richard Nelson significant is the fact that Achillea perennials are hardy, reliable, and bloom for a long time. For quite some time now, cultivars of this perennial have been supplying flowerbeds with rich colors that resist fading in strong sunlight. Adding pink to this list of attributes makes Richard Nelson important for the gardener.

This new cultivar is a medium height plant that grows 2 feet tall in sun to mostly sun in Zones 3 to 9. It blooms from summer to early fall in almost any type of well-drained soil. New flower buds appear silver, and then open to wine pink and, with time, age to a pale blush. Such a pleasant color range should add depth from a distance, another desired feature for most gardeners. The plant usually blooms for about 4 weeks and removing spent flowers will strengthen that continuous bloom.

Readers who have grown Achillea already know that this deer-resistant perennial attracts butterflies, and provides excellent fresh cut and dried flowers. The plant is tolerant of drought, wind, humidity, and heat; it is also a spreader and a kneeler that needs room to grow. While the original species Achillea is invasive in the garden and difficult to control, the newer cultivars require less effort to keep them in place. Their spread is managed by digging out new growth surrounding the plant or by removing seedlings that tend to grow close to the parent plant. Lifting it out of the ground and dividing it is another way to keep it neat. Although, neat is not a word one usually associates with this plant. It is lush and floriferous. Some gardeners will partially tie up this plant to control its kneeling as it tries to worship the sun but it is better to leave the plant alone. Even gentle staking will partially squash a few flower stems. This prevents air from circulating around the foliage and some unattractive leaf decay will occur.

Achillea Richard Nelson is a newly introduced perennial. That means that I will not be able to find it locally, here in Canada, for another year. However, it is available online in the USA.

Sunday
Aug022009

The Big Brown Fence

I removed a row of honeysuckle shrubs that ran along my property line and discovered that my neighbor had discreetly installed a brown mesh fence complete with privacy strips. Brown is not my preferred color. It clashes with the main color scheme of my garden. But that fence is a reality that I have to deal with it. What a great excuse to introduce new colors into my garden.

The photo above demonstrates how I have come to terms with a color that is not of my choosing. As you can see, the perennials have begun to camouflage parts of the fence and appear to neutralize whatever it is about the color brown that I dislike. In the picture from left to right, I have planted the scarlet red Lychnis chalcedonea, Anthemis tinctoria “Wargrave” with Nepata "Walker's Low" cascading in front over the rocks, followed by Lychnis coronaria, Achillea yellow something and Anthemis tinctoria “Kelwayi”.

This photo was shot prior to staking all of the yellow perennials. While they look rather elegant as they spread in all directions to bask in the sun, they are actually taking up valuable space that I need for my southern-exposure test garden. Now that I have digitally frozen the new color composition, I will begin to tidy up this part of the garden. There are new varieties of Gaillardia, Coreopsis, Helenium, Echinacea and Eupatorium that are waiting for their spot in the sun in order to grow.

Thursday
Jul092009

More About Achillea

I’ve been had! Again! Last fall, I planted Achillea “Terra Cotta” and it is now in bloom in citron yellow without a hint of terra cotta anywhere. It is truly a magnificent looking plant as one can see from the photo, but that shade of yellow was not intended for that location. I must decide if I shall dig it out now or allow it to fill the empty space in my garden until that time when I can replace it. My plan is to visit the nurseries in order to purchase Achillea in bloom. That's the best way to ensure that I will get the colors that I want.

This is not the first time that a perennial has not bloomed true to picture tag. It happens often. We are at the mercy of the accuracy of the nursery staff at the wholesale level whose job description requires that they tag budding plants. I have sneak-peaked into the work sheds of several such nurseries to see trays upon trays of unidentifiable perennial seedlings waiting to be tagged and without a clear description to guide the staff. The possibility for error is great.

Note: After I posted this blog, a reader rightfully reminded me that some customers, when shopping for plants, will sometimes remove an identity tag from a container in order to read it more carefully. When they try to re-insert it, the tag sometimes gets placed into the wrong plant. Buyer beware!

Tuesday
May122009

Web Photos That I like

Here is another photo from the website "How Things Work". The article is titled " Cool Color Garden Ideas". The flat yellow flowers in the background are Achillea Coronation Gold, The tall pink flowers in mid-ground are Delphinium Astold. To the front left, the shorter yellow flowers are Oenothera, with blue Nepata in the foreground, partially hiding the delicate coral bells of Heuchera. A word of caution: if you plant Oenothera, give it room to spread.

Wednesday
Mar182009

Achillea: a Drought Tolerant Perennial 

This is Achillea millefolium "Terra Cotta". Photo is courtesy of Van Hoorn Nurseries. Click on the image to visit their site.AKA Yarrow, Achillea is an aromatic perennial with soft feathery foliage. I would prefer not to grow it but I do, in order to report on it from personal experience. The mother plant, Achillea millefolium, is a troublesome weed that is found at roadsides, in meadows all around the world, and at nurseries that ought to know better!  Its cultivars, however, make beautiful perennials and are less aggressive. By dividing this plant annually, its spread can be controlled. If not for this annual chore, this plant would merit the label "easy care". Achillea grows to 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Look for hybrids with names like Cerise Queen, [deep pink], Fire King [red], Paprika [orange-red], Moonshine [yellow] and Terra Cotta [peach]. This plant is sun and drought tolerant and does well in poor but well drained soil. Achillea needs good air circulation to prevent fungal disease, so don't crowd it. Although it is hardy in zones 3 to 9, it will wilt by mid summer in the hot, humid climates of the south. The downside of this plant is that it's a spreader. The upside is that it will bloom until frost if dead-headed regularily. Left unharvested in autumn, it will provide textural interest in winter.