Cleome. Some people hate it. I always loved the old-fashioned cleome in my Virginia garden. A prolific self-seeder, it was fun every spring to see where it chose to pop up in my large gardens. And to see the different colors of blooms was exciting, too, since the babies could vary from white to purple, quite different from the parent.
Complaints according to those who avoid cleome in the garden:
Spines and thorns
Sticky excretion that could irritate
Tall and leggy later in the season
and a self-seeder
All those criticisms have become passé with new varieties on the market. The hybrid cleome I grow is compact…. only a foot tall and an annual. No thorns; no odor; no seeds (sadly); smaller blooms than my Virginia plants but just as floriferous all growing season; bushier than my original; planted in my soil/compost border and seem to be happy there; still loved by insects; still visited by hummingbird moths and hummingbirds. No good reason I can think of not to consider it for your garden…. unless you just don’t like the color!
There’s a nice home nursery that we like to visit in the spring when the owners announce their sale of starter plants. This is our second year to visit Wellington Gardens, located a bit out of the way and tricky to find,
down up a long dirt road in Brentwood NH, just 20 minutes from our home. There the family raises all their own annuals and perennials in their 5 greenhouses and offer great early sales at a time when we are itching to plant.
Last weekend, the tiny starter perennials were on sale and we were among the first customers that day…. just before the parking lot overflowed with autos.
Shoppers wandered in and out of the greenhouses shopping for vegetables, herbs, and annuals but it was the tiny perennials that were on sale this day. I like to buy small and allow the roots to develop in my own garden and, gee, their starter plants were perfect. They are lovingly cared for and quite healthy… all grown from seed.
Although perennials were what we were after (and I did pick out a few), I happened to spot their spectacular hanging baskets in one greenhouse. I couldn’t go home without one of the annuals hanging baskets, healthy and packed full of goodies. Nothing like the root bound, dry baskets you find at the big box stores! How could I resist??
This weekend is the big sale of annuals at Wellington Gardens, only $1.75 for 6-packs…. a Mother’s Day special. I think we’ll be there for the plants for sure, but also to visit Linus, the resident 18-year old African sulcata tortoise that comes ‘running’ when she sees company. I should take her a few strawberries, yes?