Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Attention-Getters

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?


Nell Jean said...

You forgot to mention the critters who love cypress vine, esp. hummingbirds.

Garden Lily said...

I'm going to add snow-on-the-mountain to my plant wish list. What a beauty!

A couple of years ago I hosted a plant swap in my garden, and one of the surprise attention-getters was a small strawberry plant which has never borne fruit (although it has flowered), and sends out so many runners, that it cascades down my concrete retaining walls. I happily gave away clumps of it to anyone wanting some.

Robin Ripley said...

I am in LOVE with that cypress vine. In fact, I'm printing a color photo now to add to my notes file for next spring. Thanks, Kylee!


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I really like the foliage on the cypress vine and that bright red bloom is just an eye catcher. Nice clematis, I have not seen this one before. Will have to look it up.
My sister has pictures of that Euphorbia growing 'wild' in Kansas. Sure is a nice variegated foliage plant.

Rosemary said...

What a lovely bloom on your clematis. Most unusual.

Unknown said...

Oh! snow-on-the-mountain. I used to grow that when I lived in NC. Have to put on my list for next year.
I wish I could have come to your garden walk.

Anonymous said...

That is about the best close-up of a cypress vine flower I have seen. I don't know if planting it earlier will help or not. It sprouts when it gets hot in the middle of the year and blooms toward the end of the season. I have some every year. Hummingbirds love it and it is ready for them when they migrate back south.

Diana said...

I don't know if I love your Euphorbia or your Cypress Vine the most!!! What a striking display of lovely flowers. I'm building my list of "must haves" for next year too, and will add them both to my list. Explode-O-Pops sound like fun!

Alex said...

Thanks for the info! I'm pretty new to the whole gardening thing but I do try.

I was recently stumbling along our own yard when I saw those pretty little red blooms and I wondered what kind of flower it was. When I asked my wife she wasn't sure but she did say she was responsible for the little fellows. She had taken a clipping from our barn friends and had planted them this summer. I can't wait until next year now when they grow crazy like yours!!!

Fantastic!! :)

Anonymous said...

Your Snow on the Mountain is just gorgeous! It reminds me of a Christmas candy -- spearminty colours. :) (Glad you found a home for one of your rescue kitties, too!)

Dave@The Home Garden said...

That's a very neat idea to use the old tree for the vine. Hopefully I won't have a similar situation (dead tree) but if I do there's an idea for it!

I'll have to try Snow on the mountain. If for no other reason than to hear the pops!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I planted cypress vine for the last two years in several locations and have had no success at all. I'm not sure what I've done wrong. It starts growing and only gets about six inches tall and never gets a flower, well, actually I did get just one flower to bloom on one of the plants this year. Yours is beautiful, so maybe I'll try again next year.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee I had to laugh at the "explode a seed" thing .. that is too funny : )
I had tried Cypress vine but I think it needed a hotter sunnier place than where I put it .. that clematis is beautiful and I would really love to find that annual euphorbia for my garden pots next year !!

Kylee Baumle said...

Nell Jean ~ You're absolutely right! They do love it! Thanks for mentioning that!

Garden Lily ~ Was your ornamental strawberry 'Lipstick' or 'Pink Panda?' I have both and once in awhile they'll produce scrumptious berries, but most of the time just the flowers. They are strong growers, aren't they?

Robin ~ You'll love it, Robin. Just plant it where it has a chance to do its thing and where you don't mind it growing for the rest of your life. LOL. The seedlings that come up in subsequent years are very easy to pull out, but they can be annoying if you decide you don't want them there anymore. To try and get the seeds before they fall is nearly impossible (there are way too many) and they continue to flower as seeds are produced so unless you want to pull the plant before that happens, you're going to have seedlings. But it's such a pretty and delicate vine, it's worth any annoyances.

Janet ~ I can imagine that once the Euphorbia grows somewhere, that it would grow everywhere. LOL. I find it all over my garden every year. The seedlings are easily recognizable and even after the plant gets large, it's easy to pull. To see it in the wild must be fabulous.

Rosemary ~ Yes, it is. So tiny and delicate and detailed, isn't it?

Mary ~ I wish you could have come, too! You're welcome to visit any time you're in the area!

mothernaturesgarden ~ Thank you. Yes, earlier planting would have helped. I've grown it before and it got a much better start when I planted it right along with my other summer seeds. I just didn't decide to plant it this year until late. You're right, though. It needs heat to get going well and we didn't have that this summer. All of my annuals I planted from seed didn't do much until very late summer and that isn't normal for many of them.
As you know, Cypress vine is in the same genus as the morning glory and they're always later here. Sometimes I wonder if the morning glories are EVER going to do anything and then they really take off.
Beautiful photo of Cypress Vine on your blog, by the way! :-)

Diana ~ I will always grow the Euphorbia because it has so many endearing qualities. It's a good thing I like it, because it's going to come up in my garden whether I want it to or not! LOL.

Alex ~ Gardening is something that is always new, actually. It's what I love about it!
Cypress Vine is an annual here that readily self-seeds, but since you're in Texas, I wonder if it grows there year round? That would be wonderful!

Nancy~ I never thought of that! (Yes, I'm glad Cocoa found a good home, too.)

Dave ~ Snow-on-the-Mountain is a very fun plant to grow for so many reasons. Mainly because it's so pretty!

Robin ~ Yes, keep trying! I know I've had things that I've been a failure at growing a few times then tried again and they do just fine. No explanation for it, but it happens!

Joy ~ Cypress Vine does need a hot, sunny location to do well.
I'm not sure you'd like the Euphorbia for containers, unless you need something three feet tall for them. That could be interesting...

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I'm thinking the cleomes, fireworks goldenrod, and amsonias may be what people ask about when they see them.

My cypress vines self sow, too. I need to find something taller for them to grow on. Right now, they are climbing up my kiss me over the garden gate, rattlesnake master, and 6 foot tall cosmos.

sweetbay said...

Love the Cypress Vine wound around the tree. That is beautiful!

Janet @ bigjobsboard said...

Perfect! It is so beautiful. I think I saw it already in my grandma's house. She have a lots of vines in her garden particularly this Cypress Vine.

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