October 26, 2006

Warm me up, Wilma!

It's starting to get chilly around here! See how red my cheeks are getting? You've got a nice warm fuzzy sweater, give me a big hug!

Oenothera fruticosa and Stachys lanata

As you can see, the sundrops turn red at the first light touch of frost. It was a very light touch too; the ones in the more sheltered back yard are still green and the roses near the house are still blooming.

Strangely enough, the tuberous begonias have been zapped and the hanging begonia hasn't. I don't know whether the hanging begonia is naturally tougher, or that the fact it's about four feet off the ground made the difference.

The lamb's ear, Stachys lanata, (alternative botanical names:, S. byzantina, S. olympica) is the common invasive variety. A neighbour gave me a couple of babies this spring in a supreme act of selflessness. I dug up the ones she would have weeded out and took them home... (It's always a bit of a warning when neighbours will happily part with a plant, you know.)

It was quite a shock to me earlier this year to discover that earwigs and sowbugs like munching on the leaves. You'd think the hairy texture would deter them, but no. I will have to remove the outside of the clump in spring to keep it under control, but I really do love the effect of the fuzzy grey leaves against the glossy green rose leaves behind them.

To my mind, lamb's ear is a great companion plant, providing a nice contrast in texture and colour to just about everything. On its own, it's not too exciting, but it does great backup. Doesn't have the voice for solo, but she can sure lay down a mean harmony. If I get fed up with its rambunctiousness, I'll probably go out and get one of the tamer cultivars. I just like the effect too much to give it up.

(Sorry I've been AWOL again. After being overly busy, I got overly tired and needed a couple of days just to rest.)

Previous post on the topic of Sundrops

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7 comments:

Kathy said...

I have never had problems with lambs' ears being invasive. I have more trouble keeping it alive. I think it prefers better drainage than what it gets around here. I had a clump that I've kept going through several years of dryer-than-average weather, but this year, when precipitation was above average, it died out on me completely. But yes, almost everyone has it, and I already know who I'm going to ask for a piece from next year.

pinar said...

I thought hairy leaves would be left alone by bugs too.. how bad..
but now they look fine with their companions.. enjoy..

Kasmira said...

I have also been enjoying my sundrop's fall color. And I LOVE lamb's ear!

melissa said...

oh yes , when it likes where its living it spreads .
i dont have any now ..too hot and open but when i did it harboured every earwig ,snail and slater (?sow bug)in the neighbour hood ....but its leaves did look pretty

bogie said...

A couple of months ago I found an escapee from the neighbor across the street - a lamb's ear. It had happily ensconsed itself under our fruit trees. We were taking out that whole area later, so I dug it up and planted it elsewhere - as I too like the soft leaves.

Maybe our bugs are more fussy - I never did see a chomped leaf.

Ann said...

A beautiful and telling picture :-)

Lauren said...

Great photos. Our "ears" are still doing well late into November:
http://indianhillmediaworks.typepad.com/gardentalk/