Friday, September 10, 2010

Final Exam

"The Chocolate Flower prefers dry, pitiful soil."

That statement got me sooo excited!

After all, shopping for perennials that enjoy my harsh, garden environment is like braving the Nordstrom's shoe sale when you know, full well, your size 7 foot is the same size as a million other women sporting a Mastercard. (When you do find something that fits, chances are good that it's probably sold out.)

Which is why I was thrilled to find the Chocolate Flower.

It's easily mistaken for a Tickseed Coreopsis, until you brush past it, without thinking, and get a surprising whiff of that pretty chocolate fragrance.

This time of year, my waterwise perennials fidget nervously in the soil. It's report card time.

Did they learn their lessons? How to survive in the land of the inept gardener who sometimes wishes she'd started a horseback riding blog instead?  Because it's not like I'll coddle them with the promise of a do-over. No, no. Visions of the compost pile haunt them night and day.

Chocolate Flowers get an A+. Berlandiera lyrata USDA zones 4-8. Save yourself some $$$ and plant this easy bloomer by seed.
Hey, Smarty Pants:
Think you know a thing or two about native perennials who dream of a comfy life in your garden? Click here and take this wildflower quiz.


Liza said...

I want chocolate flowers!

Rosey said...

Thanks for steering me in the direction of this plant. It sounds like one I would love.
I thought you did pretty good on your test! Don't beat yourself up.

Iron Needles said...

Well, I love chocolate flower. And I hardly ever pass up a challenge, especially like a wildflower quiz...

-0 on the beginner
-0 on the intermediate
-1 on the advanced.


Melospiza said...

Ooh, I need to try me some of that chocolate flower, especially if it grows from seed.

And? 80% on the wildflower quiz--I mixed up two verbenas. Not too bad, Self.

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shady Gardener said...

Not that a person should assume that I'd know about this flower... but I'd never heard of it. Thanks for the grading system - what a pretty! :-) (Easy to grow is a prerequisite!)

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

A pretty plant, and one we don't have here. I'm glad it's doing so well for you.
My results (eastern region):
Beginner: 12/12
Intermediate:11/12 'Canadian wildflowers'; they have one incorrectly labeled, which is hilarious. I've sent them a note.
Advanced: 12/12 (I chose Maine, closest in climate and flora to Atlantic Canada).

Wunx~ said...

I lucked out and got 'em all right on the first level. Figured I'd stop since I had a perfect record.

Thanks for the link. :-)

Iron Needles said...

But I can't figure out how to post the quiz! I get the link, but can't get the pretty pictures...Both you and Wunx~ are smarter than me.

Kate said...

Hi, Shady;
I don't think Ms. Chocolate Flower would like you all that much. I've been to your neck of the woods and you most certainly don't have the poor, poor pitiful soil that we do. :)

Get on 'em, Jodi!
I missed one that's kind of embarrassing. I'm growing it, for crying out loud. You'd think I could remember what's in my own garden...

Nice work, Wunx.
Dig that comment from Iron - she thinks we're smart. Let's keep her in the dark on that one.

Dearest Iron --
Grab yourself a free version of Photoshop so you can have fun showing off your flower quiz skills. Here's a good place to start.

Kate said...

You would love 'em Liza! I'll bet they'd grow very well for you. :D

Hi, Rosey ~ They would be quite happy in CO, too.

Oh, Iron, you teacher's pet. Shoulda known you'd be the valedictorian. :D

Nice try, Melospiza (let's just ostracize Iron and we'll feel much better about ourselves.)

Liz said...

One of the only flowers I've seen do well with no extra water. It smells stronger in the morning too.

ProfessorRoush said...

I've grown this plant on two different occasions but lost it both times here in Zone 5b...marginally hardy? Doesn't like my clay soil? Doesn't like my alkaline soil? I don't know. I just know I miss the fragrance.

Missed one on the quiz...thank god for multiple choice.

donna said...

The Chocolate Flower goes on my list of what to plant in the future.

This was a lovely, fun post.


Kate said...

Hi, Liz;
I agree. Polar opposite of lavender, which seems to be most fragrant during the hottest times of the day.

Hi, Prof;
You were most likely too kind to this plant. They're not kidding when they say it likes abuse. :)

Hi, Donna;
I saw your sweet note on FB. I've been a bit of a vagabond lately and haven't visited facebook as often as I should. Anyhoo. Thx for taking time out of your day to comment there! Now that it's autumn [grrrr] I might become a more diligent facebooker...

Kiki said...

Yay Kate! I love this beautiful and makes me crave..well..chocolate of course ha ha! Lovely post as always..very cool! Love the autumn leaves on your blog page..dazzling and beautiful!
have a fabulous day!!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Might you be saving seeds from these? I've had tried sowing these three times and never have had luck with them!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

"Visions of the compost pile haunt them daily"... LOL! And right on, sister. Tough love is the way to go! :-)

About the passionflower: Mine is passiflora 'Lavender Lady,' a hybrid, and yes, I dug it up and overwintered it in the attic last year since it's only hardy to zone 7b. I might live dangerously and try to heap a bunch of compost over it for added protection instead... we'll see how brave I'm feeling in another month or so. :-)

p.s. I'm not sure what zone you're in, but passiflora incarnata and passiflora caerulea are both supposed to be hardy to zone 6. If I lose the one I have, I'll probably look for the caerulea somewhere, because it has edible pulp!

Kate said...

Thx, Kiki. Loved your pics today.

Sure, Monica -
I'll save you some seeds. I probably won't get around to mailing them until much later in the year...

Oh, yay. Thx, Blackswamp Girl!
I may have to start a whole 'nother blog just to document the life and times of my new passion flower! :D

Rose said...

I wonder if smelling chocolate in the garden would satisfy my chocolate cravings and keep me from eating so much:) A lovely flower; this summer I could have used a host of drought-tolerant plants!

Melanie said...

I would like to grow this but unfortunately Tickseed Coreopsis is not hardy where I live in fact even though I set the test to Canadian wildflowers I still couldn't identify many of them.... Counting down the days to ski season :)

Kate said...

Hi Rose;
I tried the chocolate flower as a new-fangled diet but it's a terrible substitute for the real thing. :D

You'd best get out here to ski this winter. We've got some amazing backcountry trails.

Friko said...

Is that a chocolate cosmos I see before me?

I thought they only come in dark brown - chocolatey, in fact. Even the smell is heavenly. They are NOT hardy and absolutely detest my soil.

joey said...

I am totally unfamiliar with this lovely plant, Kate, but if it smells like chocolate, we would get along together very well. (I have chocolate cosmos.)

Wendy said...

Those cosmos are perfect! If we could find a clay-loving one, I'd be in good shape. Took the quiz - thought I'd kick ass, but sadly...failed miserably.

Kate said...

Hi, Friko;
Nope - it's not a cosmos. Some daisy kind of perennial that really, truly smells like chocolate! :)

Hi, Joey;
I keep meaning to try the chocolate cosmos -- it's so pretty. Perhaps next summer.

Hi, Wendy;
They do love clay soil so maybe you could add 'em to next year's list. Just remember: thou shalt not water them! :))

Noelle said...

What a gorgeous flower....I love how you captured the beautiful detail in the center. Now, I just have to find some for my garden :-)

Kate said...

Thx, Noelle;
I'd be happy to send you some seeds, if interested. :D

thismngardener said...

The quiz was fun! I got 11/12 on the intermediate, Midwest version. :)