Monday, January 3, 2011
A Year in the Life - Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
For my next entry in my "Year in the Life" series, I'm going to focus on another of my favorite plants, Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'. Unlike Joe Pye (my first entry in the series), which I've loved for years and years, I was only introduced to 'Golden Jubilee' last year. I had just planted the first part of my garden, and instead of any sort of plan, was running through the nursery grabbing things I'd always wanted in my garden, if I ever got one! Of course there was Joe Pye, Ornamental Grasses, Helenium, Salvia, Geraniums, all the usual suspects. One plant, however, wasn't on my list, but caught my eye anyway. Agastache 'Golden Jubilee', with it's bright yellow foliage and cheery blue-purple wands of flower, immediately grabbed my attention. I love combinations of purple and yellow, and here was one plant that had both in one package. I was smitten. To be honest, 'Golden Jubilee' didn't do much that first year. I deadheaded it right after planting, wanting it to put all it's energy into good roots for next year, so it was pretty unassuming and I kind of forgot about it.
That all changed with the following spring when the new shoots emerged from the ground. Impossible to miss, they are bright golden-yellow flushed with purple, as beautiful and striking as any coleus. It didn't hurt that they were also one of the first things to emerge in the spring, at a time when all gardeners are desperate for any growing thing!
After a few weeks, I realized how wonderful the foliage of the plant really was, and I ran out and bought 2 more plants to site near the original, wanting even more of an impact. As spring turns to summer, and the plants race upward, their foliage does lose a little of its intensity, fading to a pleasant sort of chartreuse color.
Being so early in the spring, the 2 new plants grew at practically the same rate as the original, and if I hadn't know, I would have thought they had all been planted at the same time. They grew rapidly to over 3' tall (much taller than the 2' the labels had indicated), but I was thrilled, as I love tall, robust plants! They harmonized beautifully with the Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' they grew near, as well as offering a wonderful foliar contrast to the Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and the Pennisetum 'Karley Rose'.
The blooms started around the end of June and those first few weeks are the most delicious shade of violet, almost grape-ey, I'd say. As they lengthen, they fade a bit and loose a little bit of their saturated richness. Regardless of their color, the blooms are LOVED by bees, the plant practically swarms with them.
I can't tell if the speed with which they faded this year was normal, or if it was the sudden blast of heat in July. We'd had a very cool and rainy spring, which made for lush, fast growth and lots of vibrant blossoms (not having bright sun to bleach them out). Almost overnight, however, the temps went from cloudy and upper 70's to full sun and near 100° temps. It seemed to bleed the color of the Agastache almost overnight to a dull blue-gray.
Even if the blooms weren't as richly colored as before, they were still lovely and continued to lenghten and bloom for a month or so. At this point, I had to decide whether to let them continue, as the shape and form of the blooms was still very striking and a nice addition to the border, or should I cut the spent blooms off in the hopes I'd get another flush of bloom later in the fall.
Well, I decided to cut the spent blooms off, but may have waited a bit too long, as when I picked the cut flowers up off the sidewalk, there were literally millions of tiny seeds on the ground! Oh well, perhaps they had already spent too much energy on seed production, perhaps I should have cut back further, either way, they didn't grow much new foliage, nor did they re-bloom. This year, I think I'll cut 2 of the plants back earlier and leave the other, just to see what happens, after all, gardening is partially about experimentation, right!
Without much fanfare, 'Golden Jubilee' sheds its leaves in late autumn (it holds onto them longer that some perennials) and the bare stems remain standing until they are cut back in spring. I left a few seedheads standing, so we'll see if I get any volunteers next year :-)
In closing, I think the reason I think of it with such admiration is that it was the plant that introduced me to Agastaches, which are now one of the most numerous plants in my garden.If you are looking for an easy-to-grow plant for full-sun and well-drained soil, Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' is a good bet!