Monday, January 13, 2014

Luxuriant Ligularias

We've had a nice warming trend recently, including a warm weekend, which allowed for us to get back out in the gardens for Holiday Lights Show (HLS) take down today.  Unfortunately, the remaining layers of melting ice have become dangerous with moisture on top but everyone was careful today.  I'm going to focus on ligularias (Ligularia sp.) in the blog today like the selection 'Britt Marie Crawford' (Ligularia dentata) seen above.  However, I wanted to share our productive morning which included lots of Grumpies doing a wide range of tasks.  Directly below is Pat processing some lights and luminaries that he removed from the HLS.  Pat has been spearheading HLS efforts and has some new systems and procedures in place that will help with this process.  Terry, Larry and Dick H. were also out in the gardens bringing in more HLS lights and components for processing by Urban inside.  Rose M. joined us later in the afternoon for some processing.  The second photo down shows (from left to right), Vern, Jim D. and Ron Y. working on some carpentry projects.  Nearby was Gene (third photo down) re-staining benches and Dr. Gredler was in for repainting work.  Maury, Bob (new Grumpy) and Gary (new Grumpy seen in the fourth photo down) worked on a large priming project.  We also saw Gary, Chuck S. (recycling) and Janice was here to work on some projects.  Bill O. and Larry had some afternoon projects out in the gardens as well.  It was a nice productive day and it was nice to have sunshine and not a return of the "polar vortex."

Directly above is the spring foliage of the 'Britt Marie Crawford' ligularia (Ligularia dentata) seen in the top photo.  The foliage is almost black when it emerges from the soil in May.  Directly below is a nice grouping of this same variety at the Morton Arboretum featuring golden summer blossoms.  Ligularias, also called golden-ray, senecio and leopard plant, are members of the Aster family (Asteraceae) with most species endemic to damp habitats in Central and Eastern Asia.  Moist soils are a must for the best growth and appearance of all ligularias.  I've seen so many "thirsty" specimens that are just in the wrong place.  Ligularias, like hydrangeas, will wilt quickly when they are thirsty and really benefit from the moist, well-drained scenario settings.  I've included just some of the more common selections in this blog including those with maroonish spring foliage and some with variable flower architecture.  Keep in mind that the best "marooning" on those selections is from spring emergence thru mid-summer.  Some of the common, dark-leaved varieties include 'Britt Marie Crawford', 'Desdemona' and 'Othello'.  Most varieties, particularly when located in more sun, will fade to some combination of green with maroon highlights by mid-summer.  They still offer bold foliage texture.  The specimens below (photographed in late summer) were well placed in damp soils with adequate shading.  This allowed for a nice retention of maroon in the foliage.  Regardless, the bold foliage of all these selections is an asset and you'll note some of the more cut-leaf species and varieties as well.  Daisy-like flowers (primarily yellow, gold or orange) are usually arranged on a central spire or in clumps.  Bloom time for these selections is typically mid-summer until early fall.  Sporadic blooms may appear well in to early October for some species.  Ligularias will do the best in part shade with reasonably damp soils.  This location is ideal during our hot WI summers.  Supplemental watering may be required if we have a summer like we did in 2012.  Natively, they grow in more sun but don't have the summer heat we experience here.  They will tolerate more sun if their thirst is quenched. However, deep shade and/or dry soils should be avoided.  I love ligularias combined with hostas and other larger-leaved perennials.  Ferns are also a great companion plant.  See just some of the options further below.

'Britt Marie Crawford' (Ligularia dentata)
'Desdemona' (Ligularia dentata)
'Granito' (Ligularia hybrida) - interesting leaves and compact
'Twilight' (Ligularia dentata) - compact with large flowers
'Othello' (Ligularia dentata) blooms in late summer
'Othello' (Ligularia dentata) - bold foliage, maroon has "faded out"
'The Rocket' ligularia (Ligularia stenocephala) - classic upright flower clusters
'The Rocket' ligularia (Ligularia stenocephala)
'Little Rocket' ligularia (Ligularia stenocephala)  - look for the even shorter 'Bottle Rocket' too!
'Little Rocket' ligularia (Ligularia stenocephala) close-up
'Little Lantern' (Ligularia x hessei) - compact
Shavalski's ligularia (Ligularia przewalskii) - look at that cool foliage!
Ligularia japonica foliage
Siberian ligularia (Ligularia siberica)
'Osiris Cafe Noir' (Ligularia dentata) - neat foliage coloration and pattern
Ligularia palmatiloba

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