August Featured Plants
There is much to see in the gardens this month! The Cheekwood garden team has hand picked their top plant picks from each of our 11 distinct gardens. Use this as your guide as you explore the grounds.
Seasons Garden: Summer Section / Trains Display
Asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’ / Milkweed
Nestled within the new trains display of the Turner Seasons’ summer garden, the native swamp milkweed is attracting a myriad of Tennessee butterflies, such as the spicebush swallowtail. Its fragrance is a telltale sign of the nectar within its tiny blooms; the foliage is a perfect egg-laying platform for monarchs.
The species is a pale mauve in color, however the blooms of ‘Ice Ballet’ are a clean white in color and persistent throughout the summer. Full sun and medium to wet, well-drained soils will ensure the best performance. Better yet, rain gardens or any low spot in your garden are ideal situations.
Asclepias is deer tolerant, an environmentally beneficial native perennial, and can be divided after a few years once plenty of clumps have formed.
Herb Study Garden
Humulus lupulus ‘Cascade’/ Hops
Many folks would say this plant is their herb of choice for any year, howevertheAmerican Herb Society has made it official for 2018.H. lupulusvar. neomexicanus and H. lupulusvar. lupuloidesare native to the Southweast and Eastern United States, respectively. Native Americans used these species to make topical creams for pain relief and herbal teas to induce relaxation and even fight infections. Humulus lupinus(Humulus is Latin for “sprawling on the ground”) is also native to Northern Europe. Dutch and English farmers brought their own hops over in the late 1600s for the primary purpose of beer making.
Hops is a stabilizing and flavoring agent used in brewing beer. Over the years, it has been bred to produce cultivars that are low in bitterness and high in aroma. ‘Cascade’ is an American variety developed by the USDA and released in 1972 and is considered the most popular hop variety, “Cascade” was bred from the English variety “Fuggle” and a Russian variety called “Serebrianka.”It grows dark green, beautifully lobed foliage. Its cone-like fruits harbour a spicy, citrus-like fragrance which contributes to its flavor of the same notes when brewed.
The flowers of hops give way to strobiles, cone shaped fruits found on the female plants only. These are harvested at the end of the summer when they have turned a golden amber in color and are papery to the touch. Strobiles begin to lose their potency after just a few weeks. Freezing the fruit in vacuumed sealed packaging until use is recommended as the best storage practice.
Hops has a wide hardiness range, growing in zones 5 – 10. It’s a vigorous climber, growing up to 20 feet in one long growing season and it performs best when given full sun and plenty of water. For the most successful crop, loamy, well-drained soil is a must. A pH of 6.5-8 is preferred and many home gardeners have testified to the wonderous benefits of nutritious composted manure, as hops is a heavy feeder.
Bradford Robertson Color Garden
Agave americana / Century Plant
Agave americana provides dramatic texture and cool blue-gray tones to the Bradford Robertson Color Garden this summer season, adding to the tropical theme along with the bromeliads and cannas. Agave is very drought tolerant and performs best when grown in well drained soils (soils that have poor drainage will invite root rot for this plant) and full sun. A major plus in adding this plant to your home garden (or inside your home in the sunniest room) are the pups, or offsets, that can be removed from the parent plant and given to a friend. Agave’s common name is century plant. It’s a myth that these plants bloom every 100 years, rather it’s more like every 10- 25 years. After the agave blooms, it does die (monocarpicis the term used to describe a plant that flowers once and subsequently dies), but it’s pups will continue to grow. Blooms are showy on very erect single stalks with displays of greenish yellow panicles of flowers. Century plant is native to SW U.S. and Mexico.
Color Garden Arches
Canna ‘Cannova Mango’ / Canna
‘Cannova Mango’ provides a profusion of lush, salmon-colored blooms atop stalks extending upright from green tropical foliage. It makes a beautiful garden backdrop in full sun, as seen while walking through the Color Garden Arches, or as a patio container thriller. Thriving in hot, humid climates, cannas begin flowering in midsummer and will continue until fall. With a hardiness zone of 7b – 10, it may overwinter in Nashville. It’s worth trying. If you don’t want to chance it, lift the plant(s) from the soil after the first frost has knocked the foliage over. Place bulbs in a bag full of slightly moist peat moss and store until spring in a cool, dry room with a temperature of 40°F or higher. Cannas do a fine job of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
Shōmu-en Japanese Garden
Pinus bungeana / Lacebark Pine
P. bungeanamay be a slow grower but it is well worth the wait. It can eventually reach a height between 30 – 50’. Its best feature is its handsome bark, a mosaic of green, white and brown, exfoliating and becoming more attractive as it matures. Its cones are small, only measuring 2 – 3” long, oval-shaped and brown. Lacebark pine makes a superb specimen tree for all seasons, though its winter interest is sublime and so fitting in the Shomu-en Japanese Garden. It symbolizes longevity and has been planted in temple gardens for ages. Native to central and northern China, it is commonly found growing on limestone rich soils, of which Nashville has plenty. Pinus bungeanaenjoys full to part sun.
Burr Terrace Garden
Passiflora ‘Iridescence’ / Passionflower
Such a unique flower and extremely showy- there is a lot going on between the petals, the crimped fringe of the corona filaments, the stamens and the style; and its displayed so obviously for all the interested pollen seekers to find. Passionflower is a southeastern native vine that attaches to structures by auxiliary tendrils and thrives in a variety of habitats ranging from lowlands and open fields. The egg-shaped fruit, called “maypops” fully matures in July. It is pulpy and edible, often used in jelly-making, but can also be eaten right off the vine. The leaves are used to make tea that helps relieve anxiety and insomnia. Of all the passionflowers, hybrids of P. incarnataare ones most likely to overwinter here in Nashville. ‘Iridescense’ has a hardiness factor of 7-11. For a little extra winter survival insurance, plant near a wall or other building structure and be sure to collect seeds at the end of the growing season. Passionflower prefers full sun to light shade, well-drained soils, and can speedily grow up to 25ft long.
Lobelia cardinalis / Cardinal Flower
The flower clusters of Lobelia cardinalis are made up of brightly lit, red racemes that begin opening from the base up to the apex. The leaves are toothed and lanceolate in shape. It is right at home in the Howe Wildflower Garden amid other North American native plants. The unconventional shape of its bloom makes it challenging for insects to access its pollen. Because of this, cardinal flower depends strictly on hummingbirds for pollination.
For maximum moisture retention that will provide the best nourishment and rich color, soil can be amended with peat moss and afternoon shade is extremely advantageous. These conditions will also help the survival of self-sown seeds. Cardinal flower looks best when planted in groups, and with other colorful late season bloomers like Rudbeckia.
Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden
Lillium pilippinense / Philippine Lily
Originating from the Philippines, Lilium philippinense is one of the most southern-based, naturally occurring species. It grows up to 3 feet tall and is a trumpet form due to the shape of its flower, a white bloom, featuring a green throat and attractive reticulation (petals that curl back). The backsides of each petal are streaked in red. It will produce offset clones and grow continuously year-round in tropical climates. It is not cold hardy and is, alas, only an annual here in Nashville. Plantings are most effective when massed in a garden’s back border.
Aster tataricus / Tatarian Aster
Tatarian Aster is a tall species, usually reaching between 3 – 4’, but, if it’s really happy, it can grow up to 6’ or more. If this height is a concern, a good trick is to cut it back by half in June. This encourages lateral (bushiness) rather than vertical growth. Whatever height the gardener prefers with this species, staking will not be necessary as the stems are structurally sound and strong. Aster is a perfect garden component for bridging the summer and fall seasons, inviting butterflies to stick around a bit longer. Tartarian aster blooms blue-purple ray flowers with yellow centers and it colonizes well. Native to Siberia, it has a surprisingly impressive hardiness range. It can withstand the freezing temperatures of zone 3 and the hot, humid conditions of zone 9.
Robinson Family Water Garden
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ / Panicle Hydrangea
One of the most winter hardy of all hydrangeas, ‘Tardiva’ is very similar to ‘Floribunda’, although the sepals surrounding the base of the blooms are mostly in sets of four and not five. The panicles of showy white flowers become tinged with rose and lavender coloration as they age. The leaves of panicle hydrangeas are handsomely ovate and dark green. There is excellent cut and dried flower potential with this shrub which will grow up to 10 feet tall if conditions are right. Use in a mass hedge or back border for the grandest effect. If larger flowers are desired, prune shrub to 5-10 primary shoots in late winter or early spring. H. paniculatais native to China and Japan.
Pontederia cordata / Pickerel Weed
Pickerel weed is native to eastern North America and the Caribbean. It has soft blue blooms, resembling hyacinth, punctuated with yellow spots on each petal. A freshwater-aquatic plant, it will thrive in your rain garden or backyard pond, and, much like horsetail plant (Equisetum), it can spread rapidly. With its dense root system, it does an amazing job of controlling erosion by keeping sediment it place. Grow in containers, either out of water or in, if spread is a concern.
The leaves of Pontederiaare shaped like arrowheads and, when young, can be used in salads. Its seeds are also edible, and tastes best when roasted, though waterfowl will eat them raw. Butterflies are big fans of this perennial; dragonflies and damselflies commonly lay their eggs on plant stems near the water’s surface. Fish, reptiles, and other water creatures seek shelter in the clumps of these plants. It is often seen in the same habitats as the pickerel fish, hence the common name.