Horticulture Supervisor, Kyle Cheesborough
Veronicastrum, or Culver’s root, is an outstanding summer bloomer, with tall, branching spikes of white-lavender flowers. The name ‘Culver’s root’ refers to Dr. Culver, who prescribed the plant as a laxative, the roots in fact being a powerful emetic and cathartic. Veronicastrum is a native Missouri perennial, with a very erect growth habit, often reaching five feet in height. Culver’s root is best in full sun to part shade, and is adaptable to many garden soils.
Echinacea purpurea, the purple coneflower has become a garden mainstay, due to its prolific blooming from late spring into late summer, and its adaptability to garden conditions from dry to moist, full sun to shade. Coneflower extracts are used in teas and tablets for strengthening the immune system. The genus ‘Echinacea’ comes from the Greek ‘echino’, meaning hedgehog, which refers to the bristly centers of the daisy-like flowers. Often short-lived perennials, the purple coneflower will seed freely – though not aggressively – providing a new generation to fill in where the parent plants begin to fade.
Hardy water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) like in the Sunset Pool below Wildwood Valley, thrive in small to medium sized ponds in our area, beginning to bloom in early summer and lasting into fall. The extremely tropical, colorful, and powerfully fragrant blooms open early in the morning, often closing up by sundown. The leaves, or ‘pads’, provide shade for fish and shelter the delicate eggs of amphibians. Though not considered aggressive or invasive, the hardy water lilies can stretch across a small, shallow pond, leaving little or no window to the water below the leaves. Hardy water lilies should be planted about 24-36” under water, in as little as three inches of soil. Make sure to leave the tubers near the surface of the soil. A shallow, warm pond is best, but even a deeper body of water will work, as long as there is little-to-no current.
compiled by Cara L. Crocker