Today we’re catching up with Meryl Trebley. Meryl does most of her gardening at her job. Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, where she is in charge of the Rock Garden. She is also a board member. North American Rock Garden Society, and she grows lots of cool rock garden plants. Sometimes these plants have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but mostly they just need good drainage and a good choice of plants. The St. Louis area has hot, humid summers and fairly cool winters (zone 6), but Merrill grows many great plants that love these conditions.
Note: Many of these plants are so uncommonly grown that not much is known about winter hardiness, so the zone classifications below are more educated guesses.
This CAmpanula formanekiana (Zones 6-8) is just loaded with flowers! The species usually grows as a biennial, so this burst of flowers may be its swan song before it leaves the garden, but wow, what a beautiful display!
A bee visitor is pollinating it. Aristolochia tomentosa (Zones 5-8). Aristolochia’s strange flowers lure bees with colors — and sometimes smells — that trick them into thinking the flowers are dead on which they can lay their eggs. Once the bee crawls into the flower, the backward-pointing hairs trap it. As it buzzes, it becomes covered with pollen. It is only released when another bee enters that is already pollinated by another flower. It pollinates the flower and causes the hairs to fall off, allowing the pollen-covered bee to leave and pollinate the next flower.
Penstemon cobaea (Zones 5-8) are in full bloom. There are about 300 different varieties of penstemon, mostly native to western North America, and many of them make beautiful additions to the garden. Most, but not all, need well-drained soil to thrive.
If you want to see more from Meryl, check out her Instagram: @rockeryplantess
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