Plants of the Week – June 25

Plants of the Week – June 25

This hydrangea is incredible!  Really, Hydrangea arborescens IncrediballTM is one of the few hydrangeas left with a nice display after this past week’s intense heat.  It truly is incredible, with an intensive spread of flower heads which can reach up to 12”.  Not only is IncrediballTM reliable, it also has strong sturdy stems that will support them even during rain, preventing them from flopping like other cultivars such as ‘Annabelle’.  Currently, we have Hydrangea IncrediballTM blooming in the Terry Shane Teaching Garden and the Gold Medal Garden (seen above). Photo Credit: J. Ahrweiler


Verbascum thapsus has been around for a long time.  A species of mullein, Verbascum thapsus was used by Native Americans and, since ancient times, by the Romans as an herb for medicinal remedies.  It has also been called “Candlewick plant” because the dried flower stalks were used to create candle wicks.  When hung out to dry and dipped in tallow they were used as torches.  Today they are still used to an extent by herbalists to make teas, but are also used in gardens as an ornamental.  Seen here in the John W. Nason Garden, the tall flower stalks add architecture to the garden, contrasting next to the low-growing liriope and mugo pine beyond. Photo Credit: J. Ahrweiler


Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ is a hybrid ornamental oregano (O. rotundifolium x O. scabrum).  Though ‘Kent Beauty’ does not obtain the necessary qualities for traditional culinary Oregano, it is celebrated for its outstanding ornamental uses.  Indeed, this oregano caught my eye as I approached the stairs to the Fragrance Garden.  It is a beautiful oregano, displaying arching stems clustered with papery pink bracketed flowers reminiscent of a hops plant. With its cascading habit, it also looks good in hanging baskets and window boxes. Photo Credit: J. Ahrweiler


Tropical plants are currently the trend in summer landscaping, providing large colorful foliage which stands out among our temperate plants.  Members of the pineapple family, known as bromeliads, are popular choices.  Among my favorites here at Swarthmore, however, is Androlepis ‘Paradise’.  This bromeliad has large glossy, leathery leaves which are apple green tipped in red, though it will turn entirely red if placed in full sun.  These colors are even more beautiful when hit by the morning or evening light, making the plant look like it glows.  It will also produce a tall flowering stalk with white to pink blossoms. This Androlepis ‘Paradise’ is currently on display in the Isabelle Cosby Courtyard. Photo Credit: J. Ahrweiler

Jessica Ahrweiler
  • Nancy in NW PA
    Posted at 14:19h, 01 July Reply

    Thanks for the info on verbascum thapsus. Even though “everyone” thinks it’s a weed, it is a welcome addition to my NW PA garden. It’s easy to pull out if it crowds another plant and maintains its elegance even when its season is past.

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