Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Days of Wine and...Raspberries?

'Raspberry Wine' Monarda adding some sizzle to the front garden.

If I actually HAD any roses in the garden, I could have said Days of Wine and Roses, but, alas, I do not. I've never really like most roses. They seem fussy and generally are awkward and unattractive plants, except for the flowers. Anyway...this post isn't a rant against roses, but a (sorta) rave about Monardas. I've grown to really adore these tough and wily plants. They seem to just WANT to grow so badly! Over the course of last season I acquired 2 different varieties, the red Jacob Cline and the deep reddish-pink Raspberry Wine. They were both planted as tiny little starts last fall and didn't really do much...not that I expected them to...just to put down good, healthy roots so they could have a head start for the following season. Well, this spring, they both exploded out of the ground, being pretty much the first plants to emerge. They grew rather quickly and are now blooming. They are both quite tall, with Jacob Cline being a bit taller. They are about as different in habit as can be.

'Jacob Cline'
Jacob Cline is thin-stemmed and a bit spindly, being about 5 1/2' tall and about 18" across. It's blossoms are a glorious deep, pure, rich red (a color I limit in my garden).

Raspberry Wine (pictured at the top of the post) is thick-stemmed and robust, having spread to a good 3' across and being about 4' tall. with many more blooming stems and overall a much bushier appearance, it has numerous, large blooms in an almost indescribable shade of fuschia-pink. This despite the fact that they both seem a little stressed, their lower leaves are yellowing and dropping...who knows why...they both get a decent amount of water.

This spring, emboldened by the rapid growth of the first two, I purchased 2 more strains of Monarda. I got very small (4" pots) of Aquarius and Blue Stocking. They were pretty forgiving of the fact that they spent their fist month at my house in their nursery pots as I tried to decide where to put them. Once in the ground, they just took off. Neither has grown any wider, but

Aquarius is pushing the 3' mark and has started to bloom. I was afraid their pink would be a little to precious after seeing some pictures online, but they are actually the lovelies rose-pink you can imaging and really work well with the various shads of pink and purple already in the garden.

'Blue Stocking'
Blue Stocking is my favorite Monarda so far, at least in terms of color (not to mention that it's the only Monarda so far in my garden that hasn't succumbed to PM). It's not blue in the slightest (makes one wonder about the liberties taken in naming plants these days) but is a beautiful and serene sort of lavender-purple.

Now, unfortunately, I seem to always attract the dreaded powdery mildew, and this year was no exception. The Raspberry Wine was the first to show symptoms and the Aquarius followed soon thereafter. I've plucked the lower leaves as best as I could and sprayed the dickens out of the plants with some "organic" spray from the local nursery (despite the fact I hate spraying with anything in the garden) and it seems to have gotten things under control...for the moment! Sadly, as a result of the earlier leaf-dropping and my PM plucking, the plants look a little the worse for wear...but are flowering bravely. I'm waiting impatiently for the Little Bluestem in front of the Raspberry Wine to grow UP to cover the bare stems of Raspberry Wine.


  1. I'm with you on the roses -- pretty flowers, fugly plants. I love Monarda too, but so far I only have two. Gotta get me some Jacob Cline, I love that shade of red in my garden!

  2. You totally should get some, Alison! If you like red, there are few plants I can think of that are so TRULY red! Also...for a slightly different red, you might try some Knautia Macedonica. It's a deeper red, but it blooms ALL SUMMER LONG and is very charming. I have one that gets about 16' tall that I have at the front of the border, but I'm on the lookout for another strain that gets about 4' tall...would love to see that one!

  3. Aren't they great plants! I agree my Monarda was mislabeled and is probably 'Raspberry Wine'. I actually like it better because of what it's planted next to.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and now I'll be following yours and adding it to my PNW blogroll. Great pictures!

  4. Thanks Catherine...nice to have you visit! I agree with you, Raspberry Wine could hardly be called disappointing, it's such an outstanding plant!

  5. Hi Scott: Jacob Cline is the only monarda I grow, because (at least here in Rhode Island, where we grow prize mildew of all sorts) it never ever gets it. Never! Even the "mildew-proof" let alone "mildew-resistant" monardas are a disaster here by August.

    Could you let me know if Jacob Cline is similarly mildew-free for you? And yes, it is red red red. So of course, it's in the Red Gardens. Whew.

  6. Hi Louis,

    Sorry for the delay, i didn't get a notice of your comment for some reason! i'll try e-mailing you as well. So far, it hasn't gotten any PM...although it looks really sad in the spot I have it, I just don't think it gets enough water...of course, it is still blooming like crazy, but on tall and flopping, nearly-leafless stems! I'm going to move it to a different site this fall, it's a great plant otherwise, and I'm sure it's my fault that it's so tall and flopping (should have pruned it back in June to make it shorter).