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The Buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) is an unusual shrub with curious white pincushion flowers. It is found in the wild all over the United States, usually in swamps and moist areas.  Growing up in rural Alabama, I remember seeing it in the woods behind our house.  It doesn't garner much attention until the blooms make their appearance.  Sources vary on the size of the plant. In the wild, it can get to 20 feet but in gardens, most likely under 12 ft. In my garden, it is about 4 feet tall after five years in the ground. It is located along the back fence in an area that doesn't get much supplemental water although I am working on the area and watering more often this year. The flowers have a slight honey-like fragrance. Bees love this plant! Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Veilchenblau Rose finishing up

The last of 'Veilchenblau' blooms are fading after a three-week stretch which is fairly typical. No more blooms on this one until next year.

This rose, first introduced in 1909 by J.C. Schmidt of Erfurt, Germany was an offspring of 'Crimson Rambler' which marked a milestone in climbing roses in 1893. 

'Veilchenblau' is one of my favorite roses. The flowers are spectacular, blooming in large clusters of a color variation that begins with dark reddish-violet buds that open dark and gradually fade to lilac. White streaks are also visible. This color shift occurs over the extended bloom time so you have all the different hues going on at once. The foliage is also quite nice, thornless (or almost thornless) and light green in color. It is said to have a scent of green apples but I do not notice this.

This time I'm growing the rose on a fence although it has room to stretch up over the gate. It can reach 12 feet. You can see random new shoots reaching for the sky. I trim these back to keep it closer to the fence but will allow growth to go over the arch.

In our old garden in Alabama, I grew it on an archway -

This is an extremely healthy rose, never blemished by disease. Last year, I had some lupine needing a home and at the last minute, plopped them in front of the fence. I was thinking they probably wouldn't work here but they looked nice in front of the rose along with Salvia 'Caradonna'. 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I can't even imagine having a rose that bountiful. The pairing with the Salvia is perfect.


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