Today Alan Weisberg is sharing one of his favorite flowers with us: cleome (Cleome hassleriana, annual).
From the foothills of Haycock Mountain in rural southeastern Pennsylvania I’ve been gardening for 40 years on three acres of what was once a 100-acre farm, with a fieldstone home and barn built in 1741. The restorations of the structures, landscaping, additions, and vegetable and flower gardens have yielded almost as many failures as successes, with plenty of lessons learned.
Of the more than 100 varieties of plants, vegetables, shrubs, and trees on the property, my favorite plants are clearly the Cleome hassleriana, or spider flower. These annuals bloom profusely from early summer through late autumn, are very hardy, and are deer and rabbit resistant. In addition, the bees, butterflies, and smallest garden birds love them.
Great for mass plantings in river pebbles, gravel, or almost any soil, cleomes reseed themselves every year with a high degree of reliability.
The seedpods are plentiful and easily stripped at the end of the season for planting elsewhere or gifting to like-minded gardening friends. Large flower heads are commonly pink, lavender, and white, though a red variety is also available.
I’ve found it far more advantageous to scatter the seeds on a scratched bed in early winter rather than to wait until spring for planting. They need the cold temperature exposure to condition the seed skin for successful germination. And it’s better to lightly press them into the soil rather than to cover them with soil.
Easily growing 3 to 5 feet tall, cleomes love full sun but will tolerate partial shade, though you should be prepared to support them, as they will bend down to reach out for more sunlight.
Colorful, aromatic, critter resistant, and easy grow—it makes good sense to add a few cleomes to your landscape. I’m confident you will not be disappointed!
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What a gorgeous place!! Thank you for sharing.
I also love cleome. However here in Toronto Canada they are hard to find at nurseries. I did take some seeds from plants in a local park at the end of the season. Thank you for explaining the best way to plant the seeds. Your garden and home are awesome. Well done!
I have found http://www.americanmeadows.com to be a reliable high-quality source at reasonable prices.
Lovely setting and beautiful gardens. I'll definitely try the cleome this year.
So very pretty.
Such a darling stone cottage and garden and barn- the whole place is just idyllic!
Your Cleome plants are beautiful, and I like your advice/instructions on how to grow them too.
Would love to see more of your garden, very inspiring!
Thanks for sharing :)
Just lovely - I will try them! Thanks for sharing your very pretty gardens.
Simply exquisite, house, garden and barn!!! I, too, love cleomes. Planted a few 17 years ago and now have them in large groups every year. Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us!
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