Plant mystifies the gardener

Garden Corner

I have been mystified by a plant in my garden. I planted it six years ago as a seedling that I received from Blue Stone Perennials. I placed a large order through the Master Gardener program, and the prices were right but the garden was not ready at the Ski Bowl so some of the plants were set in my gardens in North River. I think I ordered over 100 plants, so I had trouble keeping track of what was what.

On May 26, we had our plant sale so I needed to be able to label all of our plants or at least identify them. I usually can come up with a name given time but this one was a mystery. I decided to call Bluestone Perennial and see if they could help. They went through a list but could not come up with it.

The problem is this plant does not usually grow in our zone. It is a zone 5 through 10 plant. Once I sent her a picture, and she told me it was a Salvia Fouskaohlei. It was really fun to talk to a real expert. She was challenged by the question and went out of her way to give me the answer. Thank you, Bluestone!

The real mystery is how it can grow in the Adirondacks. I have been gardening for 40 years, and there are so many mysteries and it is awesome when the answer is shown to you.

There are some plants, given the right conditions, that can acclimate to colder weather given time. When I moved from Queensbury to North River, I had beautiful 4-foot Hibiscus that I brought with me, hoping I could keep them alive. I had lots of colors, but the only ones that survived were the white ones. They did not bloom for the first three years but kept coming back, and now I have beautiful 2-foot plants that bloom every fall.

I guess that must have been what the Salvia Fouskaohlei did because it did not bloom for the first few years and now it is happy. Nature is so amazing!

There was a group of Master Gardeners that got together with some of our other volunteers to help get ready for the sale. We all marveled at how we always are learning something. That is the excitement of gardening. There is always a mystery to be uncovered.

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