Frost Tolerant Containers

Agastache 'Blue Fortune' with purple ornamental cabbage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ with purple ornamental cabbage (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I hate to drop the F-bomb so soon, but before Jack and Jill come down the hill to dump a pail of frost on your tender container annuals, you might want to prepare yourself.  While I agree that heavy covering or inside storage provides temporary  protection from Jack’s icy grip, ultimately you’ll be holding up the white flag and surrendering to their fate.  However, there is another option, which I will sum up in one word: perennials.  Don’t scoff yet, let me explain.  The Merriam-Webster description for perennial plants is: “Living for several years or for many years, existing or continuing in the same way for a long time.”  In other words, you have lots of choices for plants that can withstand Mr. Frost’s embrace, looking good until you’re ready to store your containers for the winter.  [Read more…]

An Herb Named Rue

Here in this place, I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace; Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen, In the remembrance of a weeping queen” ~ William Shakespeare

A Swallowtail caterpillar enjoys some tart rue foliage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A Swallowtail caterpillar enjoys some tart Rue foliage (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I came across Ruta graveolens, also known as rue, common rue or herb of grace, at a local nursery that carried a wide variety of herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes. But you know me, I’m far more intrigued by how a plant will look in my gardens than what it might do for my health or palate. Fortunately, rue (hardy in zones 5-9) has all the bases covered. It is an attractive plant with bluish grey foliage that is cultivated as a medicinal herb, as a condiment, and as an insect repellent. The herbal history of Ruta graveolens dates back to the mid 1500’s; Greeks served it to remedy nervous indigestion, it was used as a defense against witches throughout Europe, and was even thought to bestow second sight. Ruta graveolens emits an unpleasant odor and has a bitter taste, which could explain its ability to ward off witches. However, for the average gardener it seems more practical to consider rue as an ornamental perennial and critter deterrent, and leave the potions to someone with expertise in that area. [Read more…]