Romancing the Garden: Indigofera…

July 13th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

indigofera 2Indigofera kirilowii, laden with raindrops

Poetic. Indigofera absolutely glows in the damp, darkness of rainy days and the shadowy, low light of early mornings and late afternoons. This is a romantic flower; reminiscent of castle-bound heroines and hidden, walled gardens. The weeping form and cascading flowers create a slightly wistful, but classically beautiful presence. Although the habit of this little-known Asian shrub is quiet different, the long, lavender panicles of indigofera blossoms remind me a bit of wisteria. And the hue of this gorgeous flower, slightly rosier than wisteria, positively sings against rusty metal, stone and darkened wood. Striking combinations with physocarpus ‘Diablo’, (or ‘Summer Wine)’, and other burgundy-hued, foliage plants immediately spring to mind. Clearly, I have developed quite a fondness for this woody plant over the past few years. When I first sited indigofera on my windy hilltop, I was uncertain that it would survive the brutal winters here. But survive it has, proving tough as nails in spite of its delicate appearance.

At 3-5 feet high, indigofera is a small, colony-forming shrub, (or a woody, herbaceous perennial in very cold climates, where it can be cut back to the ground in spring). It is rugged and undemanding, (hardy in zones 4-8), adapting to a wide variety of soil types and conditions. In spite of its sturdy constitution, it is also well-mannered and non-aggressive in the garden. Indigofera is beautiful in many design situations; as an accent or solitary specimen, in groupings, or even as a high-ground-cover. The attractive, bright green foliage, long bloom time, (late June – July here in Vermont), and unusual color makes indigofera an excellent choice for perennial gardens and mixed borders. Although this beauty can stand a bit of shade, to encourage the strongest growth, and maximum bloom, position indigofera in full sun, and give it well drained soil amended with good compost.

Because it is relatively uncommon, indigofera may be hard to find in some areas. But like most treasures, this one is truly worth seeking out.

indigoferaIndigofera blooms, as seen from above…

indigofera 4Indigofera, (two year old specimen at Ferncliff)

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Article and photographs copyright 2009 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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