Weekend viewing for the topiary-curious

Many of you have probably seen a sculpture by Patrick Dougherty but haven’t realized who it was by. His tilting and spiraling sculptures and structures (and, some would say, topiary) are constructed of cuttings and trimmings of softwoods, which are thus perfectly pliable for the kinds of stick-y edifices he produces. Along with 80 volunteers, he is currently completing a large installation at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, to commence the summer season. For those who do not live close by to one of his installations, this quick video will give you a good idea of the tone and form of his work. Enjoy.

Tomorrow commences Phase IV of the Zenith Avenue Landscape, which includes the area featured in the planting plan shown on the page. Stay tuned for photos of the work in progress.

Plant of the week

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote blue’

PRAIRIEFORM is always on the lookout for drought-tolerant plants that can survive equally well in a mild climate such as that of Los Angeles, or in a bitter cold one, such as that of Minneapolis. This particular variety of Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote blue’, is one such plant. Its marvelous grey-green foliage blends in well with the blue-green hues of a swath of Little Bluestem, or the earthy greens of Prairie Dropseed. And its flowers, which bloom for a good chunk of summer, are the brightest of electric purple and are bonafide honeybee magnets. As with most Lavenders, it likes a good dose of sun, very little water once established (so, after the first growing season), and crummy, rocky, sandy soil (so, hands off the compost with these guys). During the first growing season, water your Lavender deeply but infrequently, so that the plants develop a deep vertical root system. After they are done flowering in fall, be sure to cut the plants back by about a third (in Minnesota, this can be done in early spring), otherwise they will get leggy.

For more information on the wide, wide world of Lavenders, see The Dry Gardening Handbook.