Verbena explosion – Digging


May 07, 2020

It turns out a 6-foot-tall stand of Verbena bonariensis is all you need to dispel traces of coronafunk. For years I’ve grown tall verbena in a halfhearted, one-plant-in-part-shade way. Not bad. But now — shazam! — a mass of it in the Circle Garden delights me whenever I step outside.

I didn’t expect it to get so tall and rambly. When I pulled out the stock-tank pond a few months ago, I chose a mix of native and adapted pollinator plants to encircle a potted whale’s tongue agave in the center of the new planting bed. Turquoise and purple, my favorite summer combo.

The verbena soared skyward, though with a pronounced lean to the left, where there’s more sun. Now it towers over the focal-point agave, creating a flowery scrim. I kind of love it, even though it tests my tidying instincts. The small round shrubs around the perimeter of the circle are ‘Micron’ hollies.

The verbena is a butterfly magnet. I’ve observed monarchs, red admirals, skippers, and swallowtails this spring.

It looks beautiful against the cloud-like, chartreuse foliage (with straw-colored inflorescence) of bamboo muhly grass.

A few yellow columbines still bloom on the shady side of the circle, but I think I will pull those out when they’re done. I want only purple or pink flowers here, I think, and the yellow is distracting. I have a few ‘Fireworks’ gomphrena coming up now, and a purple coneflower or two. I’m sure I’ll be adding more and tweaking this bed for seasons to come. And what’s more fun than that — a new place to experiment!

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All material © 2020 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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