Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Out In A Blaze of Glory

I really thought that we were going to miss out on fall color in Tennessee this year. August and September were horribly dry and the trees all looked so stressed by the beginning of October that I really thought the leaves would just drop without turning. I was wrong. The color has been short-lived, but it did happen. Last week was absolutely stunning--for about 3 days. Before and after those three days were okay, but peak color happened suddenly and the color was fleeting. Oh, there's still some color around, no doubt, but it's not that brilliant, vibrant, oh-my-gosh-would-you-look-at-that kind of color that last Wednesday was all about.

Most of us, when we think of fall color, think of trees and shrubs, but in case you're not familiar with it I want to introduce you to a perennial whose fall color is second-to-none--and it's totally reliable every year! Meet Amsonia hubrichtii. This indestructible native perennial puts on one of the most spectacular fall shows in the garden. Not only that, it's icy blue flowers in early spring and its soft green, feathery foliage in summer make it absolutely indispensible in the garden for about 8 months out of the year. Not bad. Not bad at all.

If you search the internet for more information, you may want to try these alternative spellings, as you'll find it listed under all of them: Amsonia hubrectii, A. hubrictii, A. hubrechtii. I, however, am sticking with Amsonia hubrichtii. It was named for Leslie Hubricht, after all, and his name was spelled h-u-b-r-i-c-h-t. Sorry, it's just a personal pet peeve of mine.

The plant in the photo is nine years old, makes out at about 3 feet high and politely spreads to about 5 feet in diameter by the end of the summer. It doesn't run, it doesn't spread. It does have a serious taproot system and resents being moved once it's established. It will take just about anything you can dish out except for too much shade and very wet feet. Blistering sun? No problem. Squelching heat? It thumbs its nose. Drought? Hardly an issue (though if its exceptionally dry it may go dormant a little early--only to return unharmed next season).

If you don't know Amsonia hubrichtii, you really should take a moment to get acquainted. It will make your fall garden go out in a blaze of glory every year!


Chris Heiler said...

Hi Troy,

I agree, Amsonia is a great perennial. It does really well here in Michigan as well.
I like to incorporate it into my plans but my clients are often times hesitant to use it simply because they are unfamiliar with it.
It should be used more.

Chris Heiler
Editor- LandscapeLeadership.com

Roses and Lilacs said...

That is a lovely plant but one not too common in nurseries. I'm always interested in drought tolerant plants so I will look into this one.
Thanks for the tip.

I enjoy reading your blog because you have presented some unusual things that are hardy in my zone and (like I always mention) don't need excessive watering.