Plant of the Week: June 27

Plant of the Week: June 27

Pinus nigra.DCA5_edited_res72Pinus nigra

Entering the Wister Center parking lot, it is difficult not to notice two towering, stately, Pinus nigra. These Austrian pines have striking, patterned bark; undulating, light gray bands inlaid with creamy, golden hues; and are cleaved vertically with soot-black stripes. Pinus nigra grows quickly (1 -2 feet per year) for a coniferous tree, can adapt to different types of soil, and is frost-resistant; it can tolerate shade but prefers full sun. The conical shape usually associated with conifers comes with age for Pinus nigra. Austrian pine, like many other trees, can be used to make timber or paper, though in the U.S., it is usually an ornamental tree. Given its beautiful bark and long, thin needles, it is little wonder that Pinus nigra is part of Scott Arboretum’s vast collection of lovely trees. Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Nassella tenuissima.DCA13_edited_res72Nassella tenuissima

I have a thing for fuzzy plants; I cannot help reaching out and touching them, feeling the soft sensation between my fingertips. It is a delightful feeling, and because of that, I immediately took notice of the Nassella tenuissima in the Entrance Garden and the Nason Garden. Also called Mexican feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima is a fluffy, golden bunchgrass  resistant to drought. It likes full sun, grows from 1 to 2 feet tall, and needs only occasional watering. Nassella tenuissima produces fine, soft hairs on its crown, which billows gracefully in the wind. Nassella tenuissima would make a simple, attractive, easy-care, fun addition to your garden, giving it a charming, prairie-like feel. Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Monarda didyma.DCA9_edited_res72Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’

Appropriately enough, Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’, otherwise called bee balm, resides in Scott Arboretum’s Pollinator Garden. Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’ blooms with dramatic, dark red flowers resembling crowns. Like many other members of the Lamiaceae or mint family, bee balm leaves contains fragrant oil which have many uses. The leaves can be steeped in hot water to make a spicy, bitter tea that is, allegedly, an old herbal remedy for fever and headaches. Having highly antiseptic properties, Monarda didyma leaves were also used by Native Americans to disinfect cuts and fight mouth and throat infections. Today it is still used as natural ingredient in mouthwash, and can be used to season food. Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’ grows well in full sun, well-drained soil, and can grow from 8 inches to 35 inches tall. As its location at Scott Arboretum would suggest, Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’ attracts pollinators like hummingbirds and bees, so for a colorful, dramatic, yet utilitarian additional to your garden, choose bee balm! Photo credit: D. Alvarez

Dennis Alvarez
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