When our gardens were in the Van Wert County Master Gardeners Garden Walk in August, there were three plants that caught the attention of several visitors. If you would have asked me prior to the garden walk which plants would be the subject of so many comments and questions, I wouldn't have chosen any of these!
- Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
One of our weeping willow trees died in the middle of last summer, but we left the bare tree and pruned the branches. We didn't know what we were going to do with it, but I knew I didn't want to cut it down until I'd thought about things a little bit.
About the middle of June, I decided to plant some Cypress Vine seeds in the hopes that the vines would twine up the tree and out onto the branches. That's what they did, but it took them until the first of September to make it to the branches. Even so, with the trunk entirely covered with its airy, ferny foliage and tiny red and pink blooms, people wanted to know what it was.
Next year, I'll be sure to get the seeds planted early. It's an annual, but it's a prolific self-seeder, so I may not need to plant seeds at all. I'm still pulling out seedlings from the place where I grew it three years ago.
- Clematis 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'
This climbs up our light pole in front of our house, so it was one of the first things people saw when they arrived. Technically, it doesn't climb like most clematises. It's a bush-type, but I have transparent fishing line strung so it grows up through that, which keeps it somewhat in control around the pole.
It's a fast grower and I've had to cut it back twice this summer. It has tiny lavender blue blooms that look like little bells.
When they mature, they turn fuzzy like most clematises do when they make their seed heads. Mom tells me those fuzzy things are called 'frets.'
- Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)
By far, the plant garnering the most attention and comments was an annual that I grow every year. Snow-on-the-Mountain is easy to grow from seed and is another prolific self-seeder. Growing to a height of 2-3 feet, it starts out with almond-shaped leaves of solid light green. As the plant nears its maximum height, the upper leaves begin to turn white on the edges and tiny flowers open at the very top.
Like all Euphorbias, this plant exudes a milky sap containing latex, which causes skin irritation in some people. When I first started growing it, I only handled the plant with gloves on, but in subsequent years, I have gotten careless about it. Personally, I don't experience any reaction to the sap, but those with latex allergies should avoid handling this plant.
The seed pods are interesting. They have three rounded sections and when completely dry, they explode, propelling the seeds several feet away. I call them Explod-O-Pop seeds. When I bring them in the house to finish drying, I have to cover the dish because the seeds end up all over the kitchen if I don't. You can actually hear them "exploding." SNAP!
Which plants are conversation starters in your garden?