|A comma butterfly sips nectar from a Verbena bonariensis bloom - in my garden last year|
May's always a tense time of the year... it's peak gardening time with lots of spring jobs clamouring for attention, and then there's the key question... have all my precious plants survived the winter? There are always some alarming gaps in my borders which can't be written off and replaced until the end of May.
These gaps are where the tender salvias, dahlias and short-lived perennials live, joined in my daily anxious searches this year by the Verbena bonariensis 'curtain' between my double terrace beds. The good news is a couple of the plants have survived... the bad news is a couple of them haven't.
This was a bit of a surprise as Verbena bonariensis is relatively hardy for my part of the world - rated as H4 according to the RHS - but the cold heavy clay of my garden always causes more winter damage than the hardest of frosts. We had a mild yet wet winter here in Wiltshire, so my plant casualties are a little more than usual this year. I'm sad to see my Salvia 'Amistad' and Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' have succumbed too.
However, my garden has provided me with an immediate solution, for the verbena at least. It's a notorious self-seeder, and indeed a couple of seedlings have appeared in the shelter of my central patio steps. With some careful relocation, the gaps in my display will be complete.
It prefers a sunny spot, in a moist, well-drained soil, and isn't that
|Click on the pic for a surprise!|
I haven't had much in the way of problems pests or disease-wise, though I did have a problem with mildew a couple of years ago. This was due to the dry summer that year, combined with a late planting, which I didn't water sufficiently. Watering, plus the milky drink I refer to in the above link were sufficient to bring my plants through to grace last year's garden.
Verbena bonariensis has the RHS Award of Garden Merit, though non-UK based readers should note that it's regarded as invasive in some parts of the world. For instance, it's considered a weed in Fiji, New Guinea and other Pacific islands, and is on the invasive species watchlist for Washington State in the USA.
* = editing is the term used when a wanted plant needs taking in hand, rather than weeding which is reserved for, er... weeds ;)
Latin without tears
Verbena bonariensis hails from South America, which is reflected in its species name - bonariensis means from Buenos Aires. As well as Argentina, it's found in the warm tropical regions of South America such as Brazil, Chile, and Columbia.
Verbena refers to the Latin name for the sacred boughs of olive, myrtle and other plants carried in processions.
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