I was lured out into the cold, sunny garden early this morning by Baptisia australis, selected as the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year™ by the Perennial Plant Association.
Baptisia australis ‘Purple Smoke’ has been a nice anchor at the end of the perennial border between me and my neighbor for many years.
For awhile, I had some other plants growing around it that I thought were keeping it from reaching its full potential, so rather than move the Baptisia, which has a reputation for being a bit difficult to move, I cleared the space around it, and for the past several years, it has been outstanding.
I remember last May when garden bloggers met in Chicago, the Baptisia growing in the Lurie Garden were at peak and caught the attention of many of us, so much so that when I got home, I purchased two more Baptisia.
The first one was labeled as “just” Baptisia australis, and is a brighter purple than ‘Purple Smoke’.
It’s just starting its second year in the garden so doesn’t have as many blooms as ‘Purple Smoke’, which I’ve probably had for at least seven or eight years, maybe longer.
The second one, in the middle of the border, is another example of my giving in to temptation at the garden center. Who wouldn’t want Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’ with yellow blooms?
It’s a hybrid cross between Baptisia sphaerocarpa and Baptisia alba. The tag said it is also long-blooming. Time will tell on that. Right now, with just two bloom stalks, it isn’t exactly drawing the crowds.
Baptisia is pretty easy to grow in the garden. It does best when you plant it in full sun, give it some room, and let it settle in for a few years. In other words, don’t move it all around all the time. Find a spot for it, plant it, and enjoy it right there.
Just by looking at the flowers, most people can figure out that Baptisia is a relative of the common garden peas. Both are members of the Fabaceae family formerly known as the Leguminosae family. It also goes by the common name “False Indigo”. I would call it that, and for many years did call it that, but a few minutes ago, I decided for no particular reason to not call plants “False” anything. Would anyone else like to join me in this crusade that I just dreamed up? Perhaps the Society should discuss it? They are due to meet sometime soon according to their self-appointed president for life.
So there you have it… a few rambling thoughts on
False Indigo Baptisia blooming in my garden on a beautiful, slightly chilly Mother’s Day. I think I’ll cut a few stems of ‘Purple Smoke’ and take them to my Mom when I see her later today.
Plant some Baptisia in your garden and you can do the same next year (or the year after).