Six on Saturday – 06/23

Another “Six on Saturday” – thanks to, the originator, for the inspiration!

1. Foxglove frenzy

I never fancied the spiky (raceme) flower form of foxglove, lupin, or similar, but I think that’s mostly because of how I saw them planted. The large clustered plantings don’t work well with this style of flower – the vertical motion competes with the horizontal effect of mass planting and creates a very busy look; it’s just too much. I find that one or two of them interspersed with simpler forms stand out on their own in a much more dramatic and pleasing way.

After finding a wild foxglove (below), I suppose my subconscious was primed to consider them. These smaller, simpler variety grow in the Pacific Northwest and can become gargantuan in some cases.

Wild foxglove (digitalis purpurea)

Shortly thereafter I found myself buying another one at a plant garage sale. $1 for this ~3 foot tall white specimen.

Digitalis purpurea (‘camelot’?)

So, having a couple, at this point it seemed like I might as well find an interest in them. I quickly became interested in their form for dramatic statement plantings. Below is a new variety (this one is patented, apparently) called “Digiplexis” which itself comes in a multitude of colored cultivars. These have different florets that are fused in an intersting way. Each floret also has a more dramatic gradation of color. It’s quite exotic looking.

Digitalis Purpurea Digiplexis
Digitalis Purpurea – the gradation of color on this is stellar!
Digitals Purpurea
Spires of foxglove – it doesn’t take much!

2. Doubtful Knight’s-Spur (Consolida ajacis)

I have no clue where this came from. But its constellation of ornate flowers and lacy foliage are wholeheartedly welcome in the garden! I had seen the foliage and clusters for months now and had been wondering what it might be. At first I thought it might be the poppy I planted (based solely on the leaves) but it soon became apparent that I was dealing with something else. It does in fact appear in Washington, so I am fairly confident about it now. Pretty wild!

Doubtful Knight’s-Spur
Doubtful Knight’s-Spur

3. Bee Balm

Lovely litttle plant, the thing I’m most attracted to is the smell. I imagine the bees are somewhere in middle, but honestly I’m clueless in the matter. They do enjoy it though!

Cluster of Bee Balm flowers
Bee Balm flowers – closeup

4. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum) – “Ignite Scarlet Red”

This fella was obtained at a clearance sale last year and subsequently stuck in the shed all winter. I totally forgot what it was but it came back with full steam and is now covered in these great little clusters. I have seen it grow wild (or perhaps unintentionally overgrown) all over in Washington, and so I have to be a bit careful with this one. This one is supposed to be a mounding variety but I have no doubt it will take over if left to its own devices.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum) – “Ignite Scarlet Red”

5. Grassening!

When we first moved to our house, the backyard was sort of artificially divided into three sections. I mostly have tried to use this structure to create separations and “zones” that provide different goals: seclusion, roaming, mystery… relinquishing the usual green patch. Though it’s nice to have big green areas to run through, they all need to be connected to a degree, maintaining a sense of flow – both in an abstract and very real sense – it must be easy to get around! I tried to use the artificial walkway (forming a “C” from one set of stairs to another) as a guide, but deep down I never really felt it was appropriate. The curvature of the beds and meandering paths were always conflicting with the right angles. I decided enough is enough, and on a whim started breaking out the sledgehammer and pinch bar.

Recently seeded patch – this was a bed of small perennials that I dug up and moved around.
The first run – done a week and a half before, has started taking off. I am doing them in stages simply because of time, money, and backbreaking workloads 🙂
Prepping the medium. Since I lost about 6-10 inches of depth in the process, there is a lot of backfilling necessary to get the ground flush with the surrounding area. I use very cheap bags of shredded cedar mulch to bulk up the depth, then add a layer of relatively cheap topsoil to provide a home for the seeds. The mulch below rots and provides more material as the grass fills in, and it also harbors beneficial fungi. I expect it to settle a bit, and there may be a subtle dip in the ground, but we’ll see. I pack it down here and fill it in as best I can.
My daughter “breaking” up chunks of concrete

There are a few more walkways to do but I’d say we’re about 60-70% done.

6. Salvia Splendens

I’m not sure what cultivar this is, but it’s a pretty wild color for a Salvia so I thought it was nice. I recently picked this up at the local Ace after I got my member coupon in the mail. It’s much less hardy than the nemorosa species. I’ve got pineapple sage (S. elegans) growing in the garden beds and they came back without incident despite being covered in snow, but they are a bit hardier than these. I’m hoping it’ll work out with a thick layer of mulch, but it might be a one-hit wonder.


That’s it for me, I hope you enjoyed it!


7 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 06/23

  1. I did like it! Lovely 6. Breaking up concrete must be back breaking work….glad you have a little helper 😉
    Foxgloves are definately a ‘grow on you’ plant. I have recently discovered that, I too, love them. It does not help that there is a specialist foxglove nursery near us….enjoy!


    1. Well, the last few piles went behind the fence – i line it with rocks to keep weeds and vegetation off them so the posts don’t rot. I then let the anchor plants cover up the ugliness. But I’ve run out of fence! For now it’s going to have to sit in a pile under the shed. Otherwise the dumps $$$


  2. I was wondering the same thing too about the concrete 😊. Seriously though that salmon coloured Salvia is gorgeous. I hope it’s not a one off!


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