El Dia de los Muertos is one of the most important celebrations in Latin America and Mexico. The festivals, known for their vibrant colorful decorations, festive music and elaborate displays, play an important part in their culture of respecting ancestors while celebrating the continuance of life.Reflecting Pool
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.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.Martin Boxwood GardensReflecting Pool
Euphorbia characias / Mediterranean Spurge
A native to the Mediterranean, you will find this most commonly planted spurge located around the reflecting pool. The foliage is a verdant blue green and lush with healthy, helix-arranged foliage. Needing well drained soils (they dislike heavy clay), euphorbias prefer all the sun they can get and grow to a height of 3 feet in optimal conditions. In the months of May and June, you can see these spurges blooming in chartreuse. The contrast between the robust flower heads and the blue-toned foliage is very attractive, especially when used as a border planting.
Mediterranean spurge reseeds well (perhaps too well for some gardeners?), puts on a fabulous show with little care, and is deer, rabbit and drought tolerant. After flowers have gone to fruit, and seed is set, you can hear the seeds popping, dispersing into the surrounding garden. In milder winters and in zone 8, this euphorbia can be evergreen. Like croton, another submission for this month’s featured plant list, Mediterranean spurge has a milky sap that is a skin irritant.Turner Season’s Garden: Fall Section
Colchicum hybrid ‘The Giant’ / Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron
Fall-blooming and often called “autumn crocus, it is not a crocus at all. It belongs to its own family, Colchicaceae, while Crocus belongs to the Iridaceae family. They are visually similar, until you take a closer look. First, count the stamens. Crocus have 3, Colchicum have 6. Colchicum have 3 distinct styles, while Crocushas 1 that is divided into 3 just below the tip. The leaves of Crocus are very narrow with a white stripe down the middle. Colchicum has leaves that are wide, with no stripe and have long died back by the time of flower.
Colchicum is a corm, a swollen underground plant stem that stores nutrients, which aids in the plant’s winter survival. If it’s instant gratification that you seek, this plant will send up 5-10 shoots per corm. Colchicum are to be planted in later summer to flower only a few weeks later in early-mid fall. For the best results, plant Colchicum with friends like hosta and artemisia, or a groundcover that will help stabilize the plant as it is known to flop over without support.
‘The Giant’ is a hybrid between speciosa, giganteum, and others.It has a checkered pattern, or tessellation, of dark and light lilac and is white at its center. This Colchicum is one of the tallest and most free-flowering of the genus, its blooms frequently being compared to a goblet or chalice.Howe Garden
Aster shortii/ Short’s Aster
Located underneath the leaning ash in the Howe Garden, this native aster provides a soft overture as the season turns from hot to bearable. Blooming from late August to October, the radial-shaped (and larger than average) flowers of this species appear either lavender or light blue, depending on the light and surround yellow disks that will turn a reddish tone with age. Beside flower size, to distinguish from other woodland aster, the leaves can also be telling. Short’s Aster has smooth leaf edges and not toothed, like others.
Found in upland oak-history woodlands, rocky woodlands and slopes, as well as woodland borders and paths, you will often find this species in areas where limestone is close to the surface of the ground. As middle Tennessee is rich in limestone, Short’s Aster is a common site in our natural areas and provide nectar for many of our pollinators including the long-tongued bee, small-tongued bee, butterflies, skippers, and flies.All of these top plant picks can be seen throughout the gardens at Cheekwood during our Cheekwood Harvest festival, happening through October 21! You can pick your pumpkins, see spooky scarecrows, and gather garden inspiration that will inspire you to go beyond the mum!
For more information, visit www.cheekwood.local.
By Shanna Jones, Plant Collections Manager at Cheekwood
Anemonex ‘September Charm’ / Japanese anemoneWell-drained soils and partial shade are the 2 main ingredients for a winning anemone display. Although anemome can be slow to establish, after year 2 or 3, you may find that it’s a bit aggressive. The late flowering blooms are much appreciated here in the South when most other plants are preparing for winter or too hot and tired to put on a show. ‘September Charm’ is known for her abundance of single-flowered, upright blooms, an iridescent rose-pink in color and ability to extend its flowering well into October. This is a clumping perennial that forms rhizomes and is known to naturalize. Plant in partial shade to avoid leaf burn and with ample room to colonize.
GUEST WRITTEN BY:
Admission to this cultural festival is included with Cheekwood membership and also free for youth ages 17 and under. Please visit here for ticket purchases.Visitors will learn about our Latin American neighbors while exploring beautiful altar displays and shopping for authentic goods in the marketplace.Each year, Cheekwood hosts a festival to bring the traditions of Mexico and Latin America to Nashville with a festival including traditional music, dance, art activities and authentic cuisine.