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This Week at the Gardens: August 19th


Purple is an easy color to love in the garden. From palest to deepest, you’ll find a shade for every mood this week.

This Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) often appears in white, but in the Birds and Bees Garden, you’ll find it in the palest of purples. Why Obedient? If you bend a stem, in theory it will stay where you put it.

Verbena bonariensis rides on a delicate long stem, and creates a field of color when planted in a mass. See it on York Street, in the Rose Garden, and elsewhere.

Hopley’s Oregano (Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopley’s’) is a flowering decorative oregano. Find a good example in the Perennial Walkway. Mojave Sage (Salvia pachyphylla) is another decorative herb that offers a lovely purple bloom. This extremely xeric, heat-loving plant is happy in Dryland Mesa.

Vitex agnus-castus is a lesser-known shrub with five-fingered leaves and masses of lavender blooms. Find one on the southern edge of the Plains Garden.

The humble annual Nicotiana comes in a deep purple that stands out in our All-America Selections Garden.

Finally, this week, the ever-beautiful Ruby Moon Hyacinth Bean (with one of the best Latin names ever—Lablab purpureus) is showing off its purple-veined leaves, purple flowers, and purple seed pods in the Radichel Plant Select Garden and in All-America Selections.

Gardens Not to Miss:
If you see nothing else this week, be sure to admire the water-lilies, lotus, and other flowering pond plants, found in the Monet Pond and the Anna’s Overlook Pond. The variety of color in both leaf and flower will knock your socks off.


Ann Newman

I bought a start of pale purple obedient plant at Paulino's, after seeing the plant in bloom near McGuckin's and LePeep's restaurant in Boulder. Do you know if it is invasive, or spreads rapidly? I was going to plant it under a tall ash tree, but hope it plays nicely with other perennials and some shrubs that are there.
Panayoti Kelaidis

lilac and yellow: yes indeed, that's August in Denver! All we need is a splash of orange or scarlet and it's perfect!
Matt Pizzuti

@Ann Newman Obedient plant spreads pretty aggressively over the years. Then it seems to deplete the soil of some nutrient (or perhaps just water) because it will die back in the center but appear big and lush around the outside, like a doughnut or eventually a kids' blow-up lawn pool. It's also a plant that will wilt on a hot day even if the soil's moist, or go through constant growth/dieback/growth/dieback cycles because of rain and hot days between. It needs humid shade, and probably to be contained in some kind of barrier to stop it from spreading (flagstones don't work... it easily passes right under 2 feet of flagstone laying on the surface I tried to use to contain it). However it's very easy to pull and get rid of and it seems that the rhizomes it leaves behind don't regenerate as quickly, possibly because it has depleted the soil of what it needs, I don't know. Of course aggressiveness is never reason to give up on it completely; it just needs the right spot. I think you can incorporate it in boxes or planters, or places between the sidewalk and the house. It also seems to be blocked by barriers that only extend 4-6 inches into the soil, like shallow edging. Also, if the plants surrounding it are shrubs and really large perennials (with deep roots), they'll hold their own against it and it will just glide around them.

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