Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sloppy Coreopsis

This is the Coreopsis I've been griping about lately ... well, and last year too, and the year before. I have a love hate relationship with this particular Coreopsis due to its sloppy habit of growing fast and inevitably flopping onto the sidewalk from within the Hibiscus bed where it's planted. It seems like I spend time finding a way to prop it up off the sidewalk and it just finds another way to get around my constraints. So usually about this point in the summer, I just give up!

By all rights, this should be one of my favorites ... it's a cheery yellow (and I have a big weakness for the fire colors as you might have already guessed), it's a prolific bloomer all summer and is planted in some of the poorest soil on our property and still manages to thrive. But it frustrates me by its sloppy growing habit! I know there are other varieties that manage to stay more upright, and when I bought this plant, I knew next to nothing other than it's reputed to do well in poor soils, even clay (take note, Gail!).

Earlier this year I was so disgusted with it that I nearly yanked it all out and sent it to the compost, but Fernymoss saved it by convincing me that it has a place, because this is where I discovered our first Praying Mantis last year. Having mantids in our garden was a real thrill for both of us, who had previously never seen any frequent our garden.

Anyway, back to the Coreopsis ... I think that if I can maintain my ambition (and energy levels) later this summer, I think I'll cut it back hard to promote a fall regrowth to kind of keep it in check. Or I could just divide it into several clumps (it has naturalized to other spots of the bed where I don't really want it, such as in front of the Butterfly Bush) and move it around. Yep, that's the idea! Then I might have it flopping all over the place, a real bright idea there. Actually a much better idea I've had was to just move the whole mass across the sidewalk and inside the fence in the wild bed with the Bee Balm, Hollyhocks, Rudbeckias and Baptisia ... I could plant it at the edge of the fence, so it would flop onto the fence and poke flowers through the fence. Hmm, I'll have to think this one out more, but I'm liking that idea.

Shady Gardener asked me in a comment to post something of the backyard (which is mostly utilitarian planting ... veggies ... grass for the dogs, etc.), well this bed is almost in the back yard, just across the sidewalk!

And this is probably the most "planned" of any of the beds I established several years ago, and it's maturing nicely, even though I don't have it the way I see it quite yet. The centerpiece is Buddleia davidii 'weyeriana' with its lovely deep yellow honeycomb type flowers, a bee and of course, butterfly magnet with many Monarchs to arrive in August ... Oh yeah, and to the left of that, there's a big ole unruly mass of Coreopsis ... There are a couple of Kniphofias behind it, one of which is just now starting to bloom and though you can't see it in this shot, there's a small clump of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias) that I planted from seed about 3 years ago. The Centaurea montana I featured in a post recently occupies the other end of this bed, next to Kopper King and in front of the 'Blue River' Hibiscus (the really big one). I've put some various annuals such as 3 Flowering Kales toward the front (you can see 2 if you look hard, and they have grown since), nasturtium seeds, and a few 4 O'clocks to round out this year's caprice of annuals ... we'll see what thrives.

Personally I really have missed having 4 O'clocks the past couple of years because we once had them in abundance, as weeds even ... and they attracted the Sphinx Moths in droves! We just didn't keep up with them, and now that we've been trying again the past couple of years, they've just suddenly decided they don't like us? I don't think it's as harsh as that, because I looked yesterday specifically for 4 O'clock seedlings and found at least 5 of the 10 seeds I planted. They're still small, but they thrive on the heat and humidity the Iowa summer provides, and they, along with the Zinnias really spring into action quickly! And I really long for the return of the Sphinx Moths, one of our favorite garden visitors when we have the right things planted (4 O'clocks, Daturas). We did put out a bunch of petunias this year and they love those too ... maybe this time we'll have struck the right chord for them? I hope so.


FARfetched said...

Sloppy can be a good thing in the right place. I think if y'all were starting from scratch, the boulder bed might be the right place for it. The sprawl could soften up the bed a bit.

Maybe hang a tomato cage (or even a trellis) around it?

Roses and Lilacs said...

I gave up on that type of coreopsis for the same reason. Moonbeam isn't as pretty, but it doesn't flop. My yarrow is prostrate also. At least I can cut the yarrow and dry the blooms for fall arrangements.

I usually have a couple sphinx at my phlox. Maybe next year I'll try a couple 4 oclocks. In the past I've sacrificed a tomato to the larva. This year haven't seen any yet.

Gail said...

I can't grow this plant...who knew! I think I want more from Coreopsis then he wants to give. Apparently, I need to read that best seller, now a movie..."He's Just Not Into You"

I tried again this year with the coreopsis and decided that going out with Lowe's plants isn't going to work.

Four O'clock are another plant that is not into me.

We are obviously too healthy or too dysfunctional at Clay and Limestone for these simple plants!


Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Have you seen the "grow-through grids for plants? Although, I must admit, your coreopsis is about the healthiest I've seen! Would it be too tall if it stood straight? Anyway, I kind of like your fence idea, and it would be beautiful with monarda, hollyhocks, etc. :-)
Your description of your "backyard" garden is wonderful! A great variety of beautiful flowers.

boran2 said...

My Yarrow also does this. Madame boran always gets frustrated because it drapes across part of our driveway, near where she was parking. It would literally flop into the car interior as she opened the door. (This is a big plant.) I put a small pole amidst the branches and lightly tied it up, covering the supports a best as I could. It works for us.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
The tomato cage suggestion really got a laugh out of me there ... I used to put sectional wire fence around that bed to keep dogs coming by from getting in, but gave up on it.

There's a lot of dogs in this neighborhood and they get walked a lot around here, thus the resignation. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
It's reassuring to hear that from someone else! I think I'll just do the flop on the fence thing with it after all. Yeah, that yellow yarrow sure can flop, as ours is doing as well right now. If only we'd known when we planted it that it really needs support!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Don't you just hate feeling rejected by a flower? I'm getting to feel that way about 4 O'clocks, but I'm keeping the outlook on that positive.

Here's one for ya: we've tried 3 times to grow Potentilla 'Goldfinger' -- you know those yellow bushes seen in mall parking lots, McDonalds, gas stations, everywhere? They hate us and die every time. Maybe they felt they were in too snobby company, lol.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Shady,
I think I've seen those in catalogues, but honestly, I don't want to spend any money on this plant! I know, that sounds mean, but I could have the space to plant another hibiscus if I got it out of where it is now, hehe.

I think the Coreopsis could give the rest of those plants a run for their money.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

B2, that makes me chuckle to hear of yet another floppy yarrow incident! We used to stake ours, but the past few years we can't seem to get to that fast enough (the front is always top priority!) and just let it do what it will do.

That corner bed it's in has really run rampant the last couple of years and we have some serious work to do back there soon. We have to move some oriental poppies, a baptisia and some other things. We'll get there eventually...

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