As if I haven’t had enough outside influences preventing me from blogging as often and as on-time as I’d like this summer, now my computer has been infected with some sort of virus adware which randomly pops up and disables everything. (Anyone have experience with error 268D3?) And of course it happens when neither my husband nor son is home to do whatever magic voodoo is necessary to quash it! Things seem to be working for now, so hopefully I’ll be able to get this post up today!
Today I bring you a plant that blooms happily in nearly full shade in the late summer through fall, Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’:
Chelone (rhymes with baloney!) is commonly known as Turtlehead, after the shape of its flowers. It takes its proper name from a Greek myth in which a nymph named Chelone neglected to attend Zeus’s wedding and was punished by having to carry her house about on her back, like a tortoise. It is hardy in Zones 3 – 8, and prefers moist, shady conditions. Native Turtlehead may be found in boggy forest areas. In my Zone 5 garden, its first blooms open in early September.
The plant can grow as tall as four feet. In its three years in my garden, the tallest it has grown is eighteen inches, with an eighteen inch spread. However, I am growing it in an area that is best categorized as dry shade. Perhaps if I remembered to water that bed more often, my Chelone would be bigger.
Chelone is said to be deer resistant when mature. This does seem to be true for the leaves, but for the past two years, something has nibbled on the buds before they opened. I originally blamed the deer, but after some reading, I wonder if it’s caterpillar larvae. The Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly likes to lay eggs on Chelone. While I’ve not seen that particular butterfly around my yard, it is not outside the realm of possibility. The damage does seem more consistent with that inflicted by insects than deer, and I do see some tiny threads of web in some of the close-up pictures as well:
Bumblebees like popping in and out of the “mouths” of the flowers!
Chelone ‘Hot Lips’ is a great plant to add some color to a shady spot in the garden after the bright colors of summer have faded and before the autumn Chrysanthemums peak!