Ain’t That Purdy

Have you found yourself driving about town, and suddenly spotting a flowering tree so  gorgeous you crane your neck to look, only to find yourself heading into oncoming traffic, having to zoom back into your own lane, heart beating, just narrowly escaping death’s door? OK, my advice is “don’t do that.” Next time, instead, try this… pull over and look. It is much safer.

We’ve had lots of rain recently, and everything is rather green and lush for late August. Are you wondering what all those blooming plants are all around town?

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) you either love them or hate them. My mother thinks Rose of Sharons were cultivated in Hell just to invade her garden. I think they are lovely, but yes, they can be invasive. They require almost no care, the blooms look like gorgeous hibiscus, blooming profusely in pinks, purples and white reliably in the dead heat of August. How bad can they be, really?

Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are those pink, red, purple and white numbers you see growing up to to about 50′ in Baristaville’s zone. It is the tree I get the most oohs and ahhs from my friends visiting from more northern states where Crape Myrtles fail to thrive.

PeeGee Hydrangeas (Paniculata Hydrangea Grandiflora) were blooming all over Baristaville when I first moved to town.
I don’t think I was even halfway unpacked before I ran over to Cedar Grove nursery and bought the last (rather sad, but discounted) one on the lot. It is now thriving. It takes a few years for the branches to bulk up in size to support the large white, pinkish-green flowers. The first few years they bloom it looks as if they are thinking, “Why the crap are these flowers so heavy?” As the tree matures they grow into a lovely free form topiary-style organic shape.

For stronger branches and a more compact shape try the Quick Fire or Pinky Winky varieties. Both start white and turn to red or pink.

What traffic stopping blooms have you seen around Baristaville?


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  1. Fell in love with the crape myrtles on my last trip to Va. Didn’t know the name of the PeeGee hydrangeas. My mom called them snowballs. I love them.

  2. Love the name PeeGee. That is what I call all cute doggies! Peegee-weegies.

    Re: Rose of Sharon. Personally, I love them but this year, due to the heat wave in July, many of the blossoms didn’t actually bloom but fell to the ground. We have both the pink and white blossoms on our trees. They do need to be pruned back every year.

    In 2008, we attended the flower show at Van Vleck and since I love all things sunflower, my husband treated me to a potted sunflower plant that we planted on the side of our house. I’ve since learned that it is the Jerusalem Artichoke variety and every year, we’ve spliced it so that now we have about 5 JA bushes growing around our yard. They make a terrific foil for ugly chain link fences (we have one that separates our yard from the golf course). They also attract both honeybees and bumblebees.

    We also have other types of sunflowers, both annuals and perennials, including the ones with the HUGE heads and red ones.

  3. It’s a bit strange seeing Crepe Myrtles around here. They’re hugely popular down South, looking great in places like Charleston SC, where they grow side by side with Southern Magnolias, Live Oaks, and Saw Palmettos.
    I guess they’ve recently developed new strains of Crepe Myrtle that can withstand NJ winters.

  4. MM-I don’t think many of my planted fancied the cool wet spring and then the super hot heat. I’m coming over this fall when you divide your perennials!

    Spiro- I have talked to many growers wondering the same thing. They tell me they have just become more popular up here in recent years. They are all over southern NJ and when driving around taking pictures for this post I found many that were probably 20 plus years old. They do grow much faster down south so they look more mature.

  5. Can we have a Baristanet perennial exchange? I’ve got phlox, black-eyed suzy, hosta, herbs, lilies of the valley and more to thin. Looking for echinacea and other full sun stuff.

  6. Spiro you and I must follow similar paths from Brooklyn to NJ with an occasional trip to SC. The first time I saw those Crepe Myrtles in beautiful Charleston I though they were pink lilacs. But what do I know? Upon moving to NJ and visiting a working farm I mistook the rear end of a cow for a misshapened horse.

    I do love the flowering trees and regret not planting a few on my property for their August blooms are spectacular. I’ll just have to wait for my Springtime displays while I enjoy my neighbors efforts.

  7. Erika yes we should. I have only been at this house for 2 years so the garden has yet to leap. I think I can dig up some goodies though.

    I am answering a question about plants from Kay from another thread here so you all don’t think I’m hitting the cocktails too soon.

    Speaking of a new type of Sambucas plant. I did not get one. I found myself at the nursery with one in my cart along side of 5 other large plants. I tend to overbuy in the spring, then I get home wondering who is going to plant all of the things I bought. So, I told the Sambuca I would come back for it on a later date. Basically I flat out lied to the plant.

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