August 13, 2010 | Ellen Hertzman, Former Manager of Volunteer Experience

Here are a few plants you might be curious about this week:

• Stalks of Color: Do not underestimate the ordinary goldenrod (Solidago var.) for color and texture this time of year. (And it’s ragweed that will make you sneeze, not goldenrod!)

Also admire the tall version of Polygonum (Polygonum affine) with its long-lasting, salmony-red flowers; find it along the Perennial Walk and in the Romantic Garden. (Not to be confused with the pink, droopy, and delightfully named Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate—Polygonum orientale—which you can find in the Gates Montane Garden.)

• Is It a Sunflower?: Not quite! August is the month for sunflowers and their look-alikes. Check out these two:

Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) grows in the Rock Alpine Garden. It has large leaves at the base, with thin stalks of yellow flowers waving above.

Also look for Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum), so named because the leaves tend to point North and South in order to expose as little surface a possible to the sun’s heat. The flowers, on the other hand, follow the light, as do most sunflowers. Find Compass Plant in the Ornamental Grasses garden.

• And Other Oddities: In the Plains Garden, you can view Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) with its spherical, white flowers.

For spherical blue flowers, catch Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) in bloom in the Birds and Bees Garden, and just past bloom in the Perennial Walk. And be sure to gawk at the Moon Carrots (Seseli gummiferum)--yes, Moon Carrots--blooming along the ridge in Birds and Bees.

Favorite lunch spot this week: Grab a bench in Sacred Earth Garden, hidden among flowers taller than you are, and within sight and sound of running water!

Gardens to spend time in: Once again, Lainie’s Cutting Garden is breathtaking. Woodland Mosaic Garden and Gates Montane Garden offer a cool escape from the August sun.


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