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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Hardest Working Plant in the Garden - Lantana

I find it amusing that a few years ago, I really didn't care for lantana much.  I planted one in my garden at my previous house and this one plant spread over an area about 6 ft x 6 ft, which happened to be where I wanted to grow some other plants.  So I was forever cutting it back and I hated the smell of it when I cut it.  I swore I'd avoid it in future.

When I moved to this house, I discovered the New Gold and White Gold varieties which don't take up as much room and are more mounding in habit. I loved them and planted them throughout the garden. I've shown them on my blog many times.

I think my current favorite now is Dallas Red.  I've got it in the border across the back of the garden, underneath the Southern Wax Myrtle and it's growing like wildfire.  I had to hack it back as it was hanging over the stone border and out into the lawn. I still don't care for the smell when I cut it, but the spectacle of all the butterflies and hummingbirds enjoying it makes it all worthwhile.

This past weekend I took a break from pulling nutsedge out of the front border and spent some time out on the patio with my camera zoomed in across the garden and managed to get some snaps.  I'd love to be able to get closer, but when I did, the hummers went elsewhere which was frustrating. So I had to be content with cropping the photos in Photoshop Elements. As always, you can click on the photos for a larger version.

For example, can you spot the female Ruby Throat in this photo?

How about in this cropped version of the same photo?

Here's another shot of her.

The hummingbirds aren't the only wildlife to enjoy the Dallas Red.  This Giant Swallowtail spent all afternoon flitting around.  I had a hard time getting a good photo because his wings moved so quickly.  Thankfully out of the 10 or so duds, I got this decent shot.

At the end of the day, I loved the way the Pink Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris in the island bed looked with the sun behind it.

Another of my favorites in the island bed, the Cats Whiskers, Orthosiphon aristatus, has done great this year.  It's bloomed non stop since early summer and is about 4 ft wide and 3 ft tall now.  I had wondered how it would do in the new island bed in full sun, but it seems to like it there. 

 I certainly did enjoy the somewhat cooler weather at the weekend -- it almost felt like fall for a short while.  I'm looking forward to more of the same so we can finish my most recent project (adding another layer of stone to the island bed).

Have a good week!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.


Birdwoman said...

I agree that lantana is a very hard working and useful plant in our gardens and it is certainly beloved by the butterflies and hummers.

Lancashire rose said...

I'm with you, i love the Dallas red and generally I don't care fro red flowers. That is before I got to Texas. Now anything goes. I envy you the cat's whiskers. Such a striking plant. One year someone gave me a cutting which I put out int he garden, forgot about until late fall when it gave me surprise blooms one morning. Never see it in the nursery but must really search for it next year.

Carol said...

Love the Dallas red! Butterflies have really been hanging around my lantana the last few days. Hummers are flocking to my feeder=I can;t keep it filled! Hope you have a great weekend. Carol

Jayne said...

I've been wracking my brain trying to remember where I bought it, Lancashire Rose. My record keeping has been very lax this year (tsk, tsk) I think I got it from a local nursery, Plants for all Seasons.

Jayne said...

We had a busy hummingbird season last year, Carol, and this one is shaping up to beat it hands down. They are so entertaining to watch but, like you, I'm having trouble keeping the feeders filled!

Nick Jones said...

Great idea! Creating an overall effect of perfect harmony and balance. Really nice work.