12 January 2009

Bloomingwriter's signature plant...

It's been a lot of fun the past few days, catching up with what other bloggers are up to, what sorts of memes or threads they're following, what the weather is doing elsewhere. One of the most interesting threads I've followed has been the discussion over what a gardener's particular signature plant would be. THAT's a great topic for discussion, for sure, and thanks to Tina of In the Garden for starting the discussion, back in early December.

The answers to that question were wonderfully varied, and left me pondering for the past couple of days. There are many plants I'm deeply, deeply fond of and wouldn't want to be without, but are they really 'me"? Sure, I hang out in the monarda 'Raspberry wine' (which really did grow more than 5 feet tall, as I'm 5 feet 4 inches tall), and have a lot of bee balms around the place, mostly for the pollinators.

Likewise, any garden I have anything to do with, be it my own or that of someone wanting some plant suggestions, has to have some milkweeds (Asclepias, various species) for the sake of the bees, butterflies and other pollinators that need these plants. Especially the monarch butterflies, although the bees are highly partial to it too.

We know I'm besotted with coneflowers, and have quite a few around here, including a number of the fancy new colours. These aren't my plantings, but some container at my friend Rob Baldwin's nursery in Falmouth. I do plan to have big swathes like this in another year or so, in pretty well every bed, so Rob will have lots of business from me this year.

Last year, Coconut Lime coneflower was a particularly fine performer for me. I know that coneflowers like this, with double centres, aren't to everyone's tastes, (nor are plants with green or green tinted flowers) but I have yet to meet a coneflower I didn't love. (Some didn't love ME, but that's another story.) Still, I don't think that cones are my top signature plant, despite the plethora of them around the garden.

Lavender. One can never have enough lavender, although it's a bit spleeny here. Winter wet will take it out, but generally the species and 'Lady' cultivar will do quite well for us. I don't have nearly enough lavender plants; I dream of huge swaths of lavender, but that requires either swaths of raised beds or some sort of clay-dissolving miracle. (happening via compost, a work in progress).

And then it came to me, while working on an article. What plant do I have in annual and perennial form, with flowers from early spring until into autumn? Poppies, of course. From the flush of Iceland and Alpine poppies that begin in midMay,

To the first of the perennial poppies, which also come on in late May...

And my beloved, awe-inspiring Oriental poppies, which open like origami-folded silken tissue paper, in a range of colours from blaze orange to hot raspberry pink...

...to the more subtle but still glorious salmon-pink, with the rich chocolate stamens surrounding the seedpod. 

Then come the annual poppies. We have the standard corn poppies with their bright red-and-black petals,, peony-flowered poppies (in brilliant wine and red); these are all freerange poppies, casting themselves all over the garden, and even in the driveway, pasture, walkways, ditches, neighbour's yards...and those don't include the seeds I've sent around North America, to share with other gardeners.  

These bright pink single lettuce poppies festoon one of my favourite beds for a few weeks every July, and sometimes we get a second flush of blooms in mid-autumn, from seeds that fell and germinated because of a nice autumn. 

The field and Shirley poppies come in amazing colours, often bicolour with delicate shadings in contrasting colours, and bright yellow stamens. 

And, well...ahem...this of course IS probably the main signature plant because it's on my business card, the cover of my first book, and brightens our lives every June, right around Father's Day. Yes, it's THAT darned ol' Himalayan blue poppy. I didn't want to focus on only it, although I've certainly written posts about it in the past. But this isn't Reford Gardens; I don't have huge swaths of blue poppies, just a few plants, whereas there are heaps and heaps of other poppies around here all season long. So we'll just say that poppies in general are my personal plant, all colours, all species and genera, and leave it at that.


  1. And a gorgeous poppy it is. All the poppy colors are beautiful, in fact. I particularly like those orangey and yellow poppies in the first (poppy) photos. I don't believe I've ever seen one quite the color of that tangerine one. I can certainly see where you would identify with them.

  2. Grin, I've read about that meme too and stayed clear of it as I do not have ONE signature plant. It would be to hard for me to chose so I won't even go there. You have been braver, I see, Gunga Din. ;-)

  3. Jodi, I live on the Eastern Shore in what is probably a similar clay soil to yours up on North Mountain, and can I just ask you, what is your secret to Icelandic poppies? I have only ever gotten one to over-winter for me, and that one dwindled and fizzled out in its second winter (this current one). No matter whether I pamper or neglect them, well-drained or not, those darn things just sook and die. I try not to take it personal, but I love poppies too, and sometimes I can't sleep at night for thinking of it.

    Okay, so the issue doesn't haunt my dreams, but it has spoiled my morning coffee on occasion. :)

  4. I think you chose the perfect plant as your signature plant. I always think of you when I see poppies, especially the Blue poppy. The blue poppy is unique just as you are.

  5. Jodi, I'm with you.....love, love, LOVE all kinds of poppies! I am also a huge fan of coneflowers.
    Happy 3rd Year Anniversary to you and your blog.....and may 2009 bring you your best garden yet!

  6. I must admit that I can't see a green Coneflower without thinking of you, but, yes, your signature plant is definitely a Poppy, specifically that blue one that nobody else can get to grow. I have yet to figure out which is my signature plant.

  7. Jodi, that is for sure your signature plant. I was expecting it to be named from the start of the post.
    I don't think I have a signature plant, at least I'd have a difficult time picking just one.

  8. Hi Jodi, I had to scroll through quickly to make sure you were going to end up with this as your signature, it absolutely had to be. It seems that you have even called this your signature plant in one of those other posts too. We all admire and envy your ability to have such a creature grow well for you!

  9. Alas, a gardener who truly must have magic eminating from her green thumbs.... the Himalayan poppy - I am left speechless whenever I see one growing, and thus far its only been once! What a wonderful signature plant....
    I consider the blue flowering Corydalis elata to be mine, but t's not nearly as hard to grow! Can one be 'blue' with envy of your talent?

  10. They are beautiful Jodi! I can understand why you'd choose them as your signature plant. I've yet to meet a blue flower I didn't like.

  11. What a wonderful post, and I'd have to agree with the other commenters-poppies are super beautiful and seem to already be identified with you. Good thing you too identify with them:) I added your link to my sidebar and thanks for joining in, it has been a pleasure to 'meet' you! It has been most interesting to see everyone's idea on signature plants too. ttyl

  12. That's a very good pick for a signature plant! The blue color on that Himalayan poppy is spectacular. Poppies are impressive.

  13. Sarah O, I tell you what; I'll do a post on the art of growing poppies, and give some pointers. Maybe later this week, once I get my 'real' work done.

    I'm still way behind in my blog-reading, everyone, so I won't answer all the comments right now; instead, I'll go visit your blogs and leave a note there.

  14. Jodi, I was pretty sure I knew what your signature plant would be, but getting to it was wonderful. I loved the shot of the monarda- wow! The milkweed and coneflowers are favorites of mine too. Oh the poppies. Just lovely. I do hope you do a post with some pointers for growing them. Try as I might neither the perennials nor the annuals will grow for me. :{

  15. Such an array of lovely photos! I had no idea there was such a thing as blue poppies. It is beautiful!

  16. Hi Jodi, I hope you are feeling better.
    What a lovely post, I must say your favorites are mine as well, perhaps it has to do with the climate. I'm unfortunately not besotted of cone flowers and poppies yet but I'm working on it!

    LOLove Tyra

  17. Fab photos. I'm impressed at how much you can coax out of the ground so far north. Once again I'm left thinking I need more variety...and flower beds...

    Robin Wedewer
    National Gardening Examiner

  18. This is my first visit and I must say you have a great blog. Loved your poppies and I'm really looking forward to seeing your tips on growing them. You've inspired me to try some annual poppies so please mention some that will do well the dry Great Plains states.

    We share a passion for cats. I enjoyed meeting yours. I've added your url to my favorites.

  19. I love coneflowers and like you, Jodi, exploring new varieties. But I adore photogenic Poppies :) Love my Iceland and Alpines and explode with happiness when my Orientals bloom. Your Himalayan blue poppy is haunting ... and definitely YOU!

  20. Jodi,

    I am crazy about this plant group and your photos are lovely! The papery petals photograph beautifully and the petals are so water colored beautiful~~ I am glad this is your signature plant.


  21. Great assortment, Jodi! Coneflowers, milkweeds, and monardas abound in my Cultivated Wild Meadow, so I was thrilled to see them here. But I'd have been appalled if you hadn't selected the Himalayan blue poppy as your signature plant! I love the lettuce and California poppies myself, much better than they love me, alas. But a few tough orientals come back for me every year, so I'm not completely poppyless! Wonder if the Californias would grow for me in a container. It practically makes me cry to see lush stands of them self-sowing in everyone else's gardens...

  22. Columbines. I cannot live without my columbines. :))

  23. This question was easy to answer for most of us who have known you awhile. I too scrolled to make sure you chose the blue poppy.

  24. Ah... Jodi, it just had to be the wonderful Blue Poppy for you - the only choice really ;-)

    Like Yolanda, I too haven't gone with this one but funnily enough it was a toss up between the allium and the blue poppy for my blog banner. Great to have you back blogging once again :-D

  25. When I think of you, Jodi, blue poppies are the first flower that come to my mind. I would love to be able to grow these beauties! It was fun to see all the other possibilities in your garden along the way.

  26. HA! You tried to lead us up the garden path, but we still ended up at the poppies ;)

    It really couldn't be anything else!

  27. Oriental poppies grew so well for me in IL - not rare like your signature blue poppy, Jodi, but as you say, beloved! What a variety you've shown us.

    Years ago I read "Mrs. Thaxter's Island Garden" by Candace Wheeler, describing Celia Thaxter's famous poppies. Bet your garden is close to that vision.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


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