Friday, August 24, 2012

A Good Combination

Echinops and Kniphofia in my front border

Closeup of Echinops flowers

Closeup of Kniphofia flower
     Blooming together now in the front border of my garden are a very large kniphofia and an echinops that I bought as Echinops ruthenicus many years ago, but is now called Echinops ritro ssp. ruthenicus.  Echinops is one of those thistle like plants that the deer do not eat, and in common with most of the thistle like plants I have grown, is also drought tolerant.  I have mixed feelings about this plant, however.  Even though right now when it is in bloom it has nice flowers, I think it is kind of a messy looking plant.  I would not plant it if I had a small garden for this reason.  Furthermore, once you plant one of these it is very difficult to get rid of--I know because I have tried and failed.  Any bit of root that is left will regenerate.  I have seen pictures of this plant on the internet which look very good where all the flowers are standing straight up.  That is not how it behaves in my garden.  Instead they all splay out every which way.  And they don't do that because I grow them too well--I never water or fertilize in my front border.  So, I would recommend this plant only if you have a large, rather wild area of your garden that is not watered and that needs to be deer proof.
     The other plant in this combination is a very large kniphofia that I got so many years ago that I have forgotten its name.  I think I got it from Plant Delights and it was touted as a very large plant, and indeed it is.  Right now the plant is at least 7 feet tall.  Because we had such a mild winter last year the foliage of this kniphofia did not die back and that may have contributed to its great size this year.  Usually I cut all the foliage back in the spring, but not this year.  
     I used to grow a great many kniphofias, but this is the only one I have in my garden now.  Many of them were planted in parts of my garden that got too shady for them, and others I got rid of because I thought that, just like the echinops,  they were too messy.  I have not written kniphofias off, however,  There are many that I like a lot, and the hummingbirds like them too.  I am sure that I will acquire more of them in the future.

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