[rocket ligularia, COMPOST NO MANURE, blue poppy]

As of this writing, launch of the space shuttle Endeavour has been again delayed; here in the garden, though, the Rocket has been soaring for days. That’s Ligularia ‘The Rocket,’ a perennial with a whorl of dark green leaves at ground level from which shoot skyward 5-foot-high vertical spikes lined with small, yellow flowers. The flowers open from the base up so each spike is streamlined by being more slender and less colorful as you look up the spike. Sort of like a rocket.

In contrast to the Endeavour, Ligularia ‘The Rocket” doesn’t need bright, sunny days to launch. In fact, leaves typically wilt in full sunlight. Then again, growing in shade, the spikes would curve towards light, ruining their rocket-like appearance. So filtered sunlight is generally recommended for this plant.

My Rockets are in full sunlight, just outside the low fence to the rear of the vegetable garden, where they provide the same sort of backdrop for the garden that a row of flags on poles do for a architecture. Fortunately, the vegetable bed right inside that fence receives daily quenching with drip irrigation, so the Rockets can steal a bit of water from across the fence and thrive.

Today is dry, sunny, and breezy, but the Rockets are soaring high.



As of this writing, temperatures have not risen over 80 degrees for weeks and weeks. If only I’d known, I could have again tried growing the elusive Himalayan blue poppy, a flower with the clearest blue color imaginable. Or so I’ve been told.

N. K. described the flower to me over 20 years ago, saying that it was in England that he was bowled over by his first sighting of Himalayan poppies, staring at him in both reflected and actual azure beauty from the far side of a pond. Ever since, I’ve wanted to grow or even just see this flower in person.

Twice I planted this perennial. The dust-like seeds need a period of cool, moist conditions before they can sprout, then need light and consistently moist soil. Damping off disease is a threat. Long story short: Both tries I got plants to grow to a reasonable size, potted them up and then had some nice plants going into summer. But when summer heat and humidity arrived, my plants collapsed, dead.

Himalayan blue poppy need cool, moist growing conditions. It might even become weedy in, say, Alaska or Scotland. But summers here kill it, usually.

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