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Plants That Had People Talking

Here are a few of the plants that caused a real buzz this year in the King’s Garden.  All are listed on the historic garden plan, yet are used in alternate locations so that the best results could be achieved, while still representing the designer’s selections within the walled garden.

Mask flower: Third time is a charm!

Mask flower (Alonsoa)This little-known flower (Alonsoa), grown as an annual in most zones, is listed on Marian Coffin’s plan for the formal garden along one of the main walkways. After a crop failure then marginal success with a test group of a few plants in 2012, this year’s mask flower border did not disappoint. We lightened the soil and kept close tabs on watering. This South American native also surely benefited from the summer’s hot weather.

Replaces: Pink and coral snapdragons
Variety/Cultivar: Salmon beauty
Seed source: Summer Hill Seeds



Nemesia: The good and the not-so-good!

This dainty annual likes it cool, but prefers full sun. Planting them along brick pavers that radiate heat can be a difficult proposition. The gardeners managed to keep the nemesia blooming all summer thanks to careful watering (never let them dry out!), lots of compost and regular deadheading. They were positioned near the house on a border that receives part sun. We did learn that rabbits like to munch on them and consequently lost one of the borders in the fall in the course of just two nights.

Replaces: Blue verbena
Variety/Cultivar: Poetry blue
Seed Source: Garden Harvest Supply



Columbine: Thank you Mother Nature!

ColumbineOne of the joys of gardening is “volunteers” that pop up, often unexpectedly, and grace a garden with their presence. This was the case with several colonies of columbine that seem to be a cross between the cultivated varieties planted in the garden. The salmony-yellow color was so unique and interesting, but only our earliest garden visitors got to see them blooming in late May and early June. Plan a visit next year accordingly.

Replaces: Cultivated varieties
Variety/Cultivar: n/a
Seed Source: Self-sown



Lilac zinnia: So many comments on the color!

Benary’s giant zinnias have been grown in the King’s Garden for over a decade because they are tall, sturdy, loaded with blooms, and disease resistant. A substitute was needed for the China asters on the garden plan because of the disease, aster yellows. Workhorse zinnias to the rescue…and in a fabulous color that had everyone talking!

Replaces: Purple and mauve China aster
Variety/Cultivar: Benary’s giant zinnia, lilac
Seed Source: Swallowtail Seeds




Happy gardening,

Heidi Karkoski
Director of Horticulture