CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Our front garden has been many things. Originally, there were huge grasses, which were too big for the front of the house. Those were divided and moved to various places in our yard and throughout the neighborhood.
Next, it was a mass of pink coneflowers. Two little children at home allowed for little time; the weeds took over. Thank goodness the birds planted many of these coneflowers all over the yard, so even though the big bed is gone, I have plenty of the pretty pink flowers in pockets everywhere.
Now, I'm happy with the combination of some tall and average-size grasses, several Nandina domestica'Firepower,' and yarrow of many colors, including Achillea'Walter Funke,' and a semi-evergreen 'clypeolata' with hairy silver leaves and dense, flat heads of small yellow flowers. The yarrow has long-blooming flowers that go from early to late summer with deadheading and are good for cutting. I'm adding 'Apricot Delight' yarrow (Achillea millefolium) this year -- it starts out a deep reddish apricot then matures to a pale salmon. Isn't it funny how colors we probably wouldn't mix indoors blend beautifully in the garden?
The Wright price
We've had containers on our front porch for as long as we've had our home. While I usually go with the traditional clay pots, I once ventured to brightly colored plastic (not so good). I'm always on the lookout for the "perfect pot" to put out front, and I was delighted to find it online.
It's a design from my favorite home in the world, Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie-style Robie House in Chicago. Our home's design takes many cues from that house, so I was thrilled to see Wright's planters available for sale. I was ready to order one of the large, low, round bowls that rest on simple pedestals ... and then I looked at the price.
Well, I'm afraid they cost about the same as a semester's worth of room and board, so my son's college costs will have to come first. They are 1,700 pounds each and cost $2,576. When I entered my ZIP code in the Web site to get a price for shipping, they said they would have to call me with the cost! (I even considered two of the "small" planters, but at $934 each, with the cost to ship them at a total weight of 430 pounds, I think not.)
Roses, roses everywhere
I'm seeing Knock Out roses everywhere! What a treat. The medians in Kanawha City are filled with them, and they look great. I'm sure some rosarians would like to see more rose varieties around town, but the Knock Outs are easy and profuse bloomers, allowing lots of folks to have roses who were afraid of them in the past.
I recently read about rugosa roses: fragrant, cold-hardy shrubs. According to Fine Gardening magazine, they have bright green leaves in the spring, followed by the avalanche of fragrance and color from their blooms, beginning in June and continuing well into July. They continue to be lush through late August, coming on with a flush of new blossoms. Pest- and disease-resistant, they have leaves with a crinkled look. According to the article, deer rarely browse them, and while Japanese beetles may affect midsummer blooms, early and late flowers are typically spared.
Some varieties suggested are 'Polar Ice,' a pinkish-tinged white bloom; 'Purple Pavement,' a fuchsia-colored bloom; 'Foxi,' a beautiful, clear pink rose; and 'Henry Hudson,' a pure-white bloom with a beautiful yellow center. Yellow is an unusual color among rugosas, and 'Agnes' is touted as the best yellow, with double blooms that give an old-fashioned appearance.
Rugosas are old-wood bloomers -- they bloom on old canes. In early spring, when the rose is in bud, carefully prune out any nonperforming or damaged canes. The shrub will compensate and sprout new growth without sacrificing any summer blooms.
Speaking of roses, the Living AIDS Memorial Garden on the East End of Charleston, near the Capitol on Washington Street, is just lovely. Thanks to Bruce Severino and his cast of many who tend this little spot of beauty.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.