MY FAVORITE NEW PLANT OF THE SUMMER

I first saw Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' late last summer at a baby shower. I spotted it from inside the house and ran out at my first opportunity to give it a closer look. It looked to me like a soft, feathery evergreen and I had to seek out the landscaper who planted to gardens to find out what it was. I was shocked to find it out it's a relative of Joe Pye Weed, which looks absolutely nothing like it.

The foliage is bright green with soft needlelike leaves that blow in the wind, indeed much like a feather.

I'm not the only gardener in this area who didn't know about this great foliage plant, which is an annual in our area but can be perennial in my warmer zones, where it can get invasive. I had a horrible time finding and ended up asking that same landscaper for his source.

I got five in gallon containers and they were all about 18 inches tall when I picked them up in June. Two of them went in containers and the other three were planted in a sort of awkward spot along the house by the back door.

And I've been shocked at how well they've done. I'd say they are all about 7 feet tall now and showing no signs of being tired. The two in containers need a lot of water these days and they are quick to let me know because the tips flop quickly when they are thirsty.

The dahlias in this container are in need of some additional support, but you can see how tall 'Elegant Feather' has grown.
Here's a shot of the same container just two months ago.
I'm particularly happy with how it's done in the large container by the door, which is can be challenging to find something tall enough to bridge the gap to the door which is on top of four steps.

Other plants have never really looked quite right in this odd spot, blocked partly by the tomato container, but three 'Elegant Feather' Eupatoriums fill the gap nicely.

It has also been a great filler in that funny area by the back door. There is a skinny bed alongside the house that borders the patio, which I've enjoyed planting mostly with annuals the past two years. But this bed is divided by the rather odd placement of our cellar door. On the side by the back door stairs, there is only about 7 feet of bed there, much of which is difficult to access because I put the tomato planter in front of it. By planting three 'Elegant Feather' plants there, I think it softens the background and makes that area less awkward. The only problem is that the plants have gotten so tall I have to be careful when I close the windows there to not trap them.

I've been so happy with how they've grown that I've been thinking about other applications. They would make a great temporary screen for a seating area. They are also a great way to add some height and I think they would be another plant to repeat in a long border.

Mine are all growing in full to part sun, but the ones I saw last year were in a pretty shady situation. They weren't as tall but they were still beautiful, so I wouldn't hesitate to plant this in a variety of conditions.

I think I paid $6 or $7 per plant. I'd say I certainly got my money's worth. Yes, Eupatorium 'Elegant Feather' will have a spot in my garden for many years to come.



FRIDAY FINDS: OLYMPICS EDITION

I've got Olympic fever. For the past two weeks, if the television was on in our house, it was tuned to the Olympics, although I enjoyed watching some of the less popular events on the channels high on the dial (that reference will make no sense to people much younger than me) even more than the main broadcast.

So I'm dedicating this week's Friday Finds to the Olympics.


Have you seen the O'Donovan brothers, Irish silver medallist rowers? I'm obsessed with them (particularly Paul who is absolutely adorable). Because of them the hashtag #PodiumPants is actually a thing and you can't tell me that doesn't make the world a better place. If you can't get enough of them either, here's another interview with them before the race.

This horse (well I guess the rider) performed to "Ice Ice Baby." I don't know that much else needs to be said about that other than that it's a shame that the only clip I could find is so short.


Just to prove that there is a gardening tie-in to the Olympics, I give you the American athlete with the best name: English Gardner.

And if you're really in the Olympic spirit, you could consider growing some of these 'Olympic Flame' gladilolus next year (affiliate link).

That's it for this week. As for the weekend, if mosquito-swatting and weed pulling were Olympic sports you could consider me officially in training. I've been relaxing perhaps a bit too much on the weekends and the garden needs some attention. What events do you have scheduled?


IT'S FRESH VEGGIE TIME!

The poor vegetable garden has gone mostly unnoticed on the blog this summer. That's a shame because at this time of year it really does provide an incredible abundance for us.

Part of my lack of excitement about is that I've been stewing over a plan to redo the entire vegetable garden area for a couple years now and that's really where my head is. By this time of year the veggie garden is never looking its best, but it's always doing its best.

As usual, my focus this year was on tomatoes. I can't help planting more than I should because I'm no sure it's possible for me to have too many tomatoes. I grew them from seed this year, some more successfully than others.

I see some ripe tomatoes I need to go in and harvest, not to mention cutting away all the blighted areas. Losing leaves now isn't a problem. The tomatoes will be ripen just fine.
As you can see, that area is suffering from a bit of neglect right now. The mosquitoes have gotten horrible, so I keep hoping I'll get home some day early enough to get in there and prune out all the bits that have succumbed to late blight (which always happens). Some plants have flopped, but they don't care. It's just not all that pretty.

As far as tomatoes go, the best producer so far this year is 'Oxheart Pink,' which we grew from seeds from the local seed library. They are relatively tasty but prolific so that makes them the current favorite in our house.

'Blueberries' cherry tomatoes are beautiful but don't eat them before they are really ripe.

'Barred Boar' is a beautiful tomato that is somewhat lacking taste for me. I was hoping it would be a bit sweeter although sometimes later fruits taste better. There's not been much production yet from any others as I'm still waiting for lots of green fruit to ripen. I will say that I'm growing 'Blueberries' cherry tomato for the first time this year and one of the things I read about it was that you have to wait for the entire tomato to turn purple before you eat it or it tastes terrible. That advice is completely correct.
'Mexican Midget' is doing great in a container on the full-sun patio. Elegant Feather in the background is growing behind it.

The star of the tomato show is not in the veggie garden proper, but rather in the container near the back door where I'm growing two 'Mexican Midget' tomatoes. These are lovely, small tomatoes that are the perfect size for munching on while passing by, which is exactly how I've consumed every one. Delicious little fruits that are a really nice size. I don't like big cherry tomatoes because they present a dilemma: bite them in half to take a proper amount but risk the dreaded cherry-tomato spray or stick the whole thing in your mouth and look like a complete pig trying to eat it.


I love me some beans, but they are sneaky buggers hiding under all those leaves.
The cucumbers and green (and yellow) beans are really coming into their own. I have to check what kind of cucumbers I decided to grow this year other than 'Marketmore.' I'm not happy with the size of them at all. I prefer cucumbers meant for pickling that you can eat when they are small and before they've developed a lot of seeds.

I'm just started to harvest beans, which are probably my favorite vegetable. These rarely make it back to the house until there are enough that I can't eat them all on the short walk.


I'm growing banana peppers for the first time this year and they've been going gangbusters. I've already pickled a few jars (I love them sliced on sandwiches). Basil is enjoying this warm, sunny summer as well.
Why am I growing so much kale? No one knows, but I see some of it is bolting.
The celeriac is going gangbusters. Yum.

Outside of the fenced-in veggie garden I'm growing entirely too much kale (what was I thinking?) and the celeriac, which I first grew last year, is doing great. I'm a fan of that one and it's difficult to find in stores or even at the farmer's market.

How's your edible haul this year?

You gotta love zucchini. I feel like it's the most optimistic vegetable.

FRIDAY FINDS: CELEBRITY GARDENS EDITION

I don't want to talk about how it's almost the middle of August, or how the back-to-school ads are incredibly annoying to me (not because I have any stake in anyone going to back to school, but such ads signal a certain time of year). Instead I'd rather revel in the fact that last night for dinner I ate a heaping plate of tomatoes, cucumbers and basil (with a little feta, balsamic vinegar and olive oil) straight from the garden. It absolutely doesn't get any better than that folks.

The Mexican Midget tomatoes I have growing in a container near the door and I love how they ripen from end to end. Not a single tomato has made it inside yet. All are consumed as fly-bys.

Everyone must be thinking about gardens at this time of year because it seems like it was a week filled with celebrity gardens.

First there was a tour of Anna Wintour's garden. Don't miss this beautiful New York Times video of her garden with a tour by designer Miranda Brooks. If I had to guess what Anna Wintour, the notoriously prickly and demanding editor of Vogue, would want her garden to look like, never in a million years would I have guessed it was this free-flowing (but very planned) garden that seems to be rooted in romance rather than cutting edge style. Sometimes I think people's gardens are truly the most intimate spaces, the ones that more than any other truly reflect their style, and if that's the case, the Anna Wintour most of us think of is a different person indeed. More photos and the story of the garden can be found here.

Ina Garten photo via Facebook

Then Ina Garten posted a photo of her lush but proper garden on her Facebook page the other day. Both of these gardens are in the Hamptons, but they have completely different feels to them. I couldn't tell you which garden I prefer because I think it would depend on my mood that day, but I love what Miranda Brooks says about Wintour's garden: "It's an adult, it's 20, it's got its own personality, so it sort of tells you; you know what's right for here."

By the way, notice the climbing hydrangea working its way up either an arbor or an outbuilding in the background.

In a complete change of subject, we're getting a kitten (well, a 5-month-old kitten) this weekend. We've missed having a cat around the house and Odin is getting lonely being the only four-legged in the house. But I've never experienced a kitten before so I don't exactly know what we have in store for ourselves. I did, however, learn that scratching posts and "cat furniture" are required, so I went on a hunt for not-ugly cat furniture. OK, folks, I'm just going to say, there is a market out there. All not ugly cat furniture (and by this I mean not covered in beige carpet remnants) is crazy expensive. I did, however, find this cat tree thing that is at least tolerable.


I know the cat won't care what the thing looks like, but I'm the one who has to really live with it in my face. I may pick one of these up but in the meantime I'm going to see if I can't come up with a creative solution to this problem.

One last note: I'm working on switching over the way posts are delivered via email. If you read The Impatient Gardener posts via email, hopefully all you'll notice is a nicer looking design. I'll probably officially switch things over sometime over the weekend, but if you ever have a problem, please drop me an email or contact me on the Facebook page.

Have a great weekend! What's on your schedule this weekend. I'll also take kitten advice, because I have a feeling I'm going to need it.