Castor Bean - Ricinus Communis

This dramatic plant grabs your attention. It's a  tropical plant, so it needs to be started from seed every spring. The seeds are large burgundy colored beans with a reptilian pattern. They sprout in a few days and grow quite quickly, but they start growing incredibly quickly once they are planted outside and the weather warms up. They can easily grow five feet in one season. The red-tinged leaves grow to be as big as a foot in diameter. They grow well in full sun to partial shade, but they really need regular water to become giants. They have red stems and inconspicuous flowers that mature into bright, spiky seed heads.

They are a great vertical accent in the border or in large containers. Be careful though, because like many garden plants, this one is quite poisonous. If you are a "Breaking Bad" fan, you may remember a derivative of this plant making an appearance.

Reblooming Bearded Iris "Blessed Again"

This iris is cheerful and sophisticated at the same time. The lovely white and yellow flowers bloom in early May (usually around the same time as our Plant Sale). They are about 16" tall and never need staking. They have a beautiful scent - jasmine with a hint of anise. 

Unlike most bearded iris, these plants continue to grow after flowering. The special thing about this iris is that they will give you more flowers in October and November! There will be fewer flowers in the fall show, but their clear, bright yellow really stands out against the russets of fall. 

This fall has been very mild, so the reblooms have been particularly great this year. The picture shows the iris with aster "Raydon's Favorite" and a yellow Korean mum.

'Sheffield Pink' Mum - Go Out with a Bang, Not a Whimper

Sheffield Pink Mum with October Skies Aster and a gold chamaecyparis

Sheffield Pink Mum with October Skies Aster and a gold chamaecyparis

It's hard to say enough good things about this mum. It has been in bloom for a couple of weeks, and it will keep looking good until a hard frost (I just checked the forecast, and it looks like it will be in bloom at least until the middle of November). It is a warm pink color that compliments the fall colors, yet it really stands out as a fresh, vibrant flower. It is small and easy to ignore until it starts to get ready to bloom, when it begins to scramble over fading plants. 

It makes an 18" cushion that is just smothered with flowers. Honestly, it has so many flowers that it looks better if you cut a few to bring inside for arrangements. It's disease and pest free and needs no special treatment. It also grows like crazy: plant four or five little 4" pots in May, and by October you will have more flowers than you know what to do with.

Plant it along with some aromatic asters, and your garden will finish out the season with panache.