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Welcome to My Jungle - September 2017

A personal thank you to the staff and volunteers of Clifftop. I could not have asked for a more beautiful site to view the solar eclipse with my family and friends on Monday, August 21st. A 360° sunset is a site I will never forget. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into making this such a special day for so many. As quoted on Clifftop's Facebook page "It was a long, hot day, but so worth it." I'm already looking forward to April 8, 2024 and hoping Clifftop will host the next full solar eclipse to be visible in our area!

Back to my jungle…

Very recently, I had a pretty annoying moment when I noticed a whole raft of winter annual seedlings of purple dead nettle carpeting my back hillside. Gah! I haven't even gotten on top of the summer annual weeds yet! Virginia copperleaf is my main nemesis; it came in on a load of mulch several years ago and I have battled it ever since. It blends in amazingly well with other plants, making it all the more difficult to identify as a weed and take action. And by take action, I mean eliminate it before it produces and drops hundreds, if not thousands of seeds per plant. When you think about how well weeds have evolved to evade your detection, you just can't help but be impressed. I pruned an invasive bush honeysuckle species for two years thinking it was part of the shrub it was growing in. It wasn't until it bloomed that I knew I had been fooled! Vengeance was mine,

I have reached the end-of-the-season stage where the thought of planting anything else is really off-putting. Good thing I order my fall-planted bulbs in the spring when I'm all energized, or I would never have a single bulb on the property. When they arrive in the mail, I don't have any choice but to plant them, tired or not. As I have said many times before, I will be really glad next spring when I see spring heralded by the flowering bulbs I grudgingly planted the fall before.

There are many plants in bloom in my jungle right now but it is the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) and fall-flowering anemones (Anemone) that are really taking center stage. One of my favorites is Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Little Henry,' which was released as a shorter version (3-4 feet) of 'Henry Eilers' (4-5 feet). It has the same quilled yellow petals, only shorter in stature, making it a great late-blooming herbaceous perennial. It also does not spread as aggressively as some of the other black-eyed Susan selections. Fall–flowering anemones also have a few aggressive spreaders within the group, but there are a number of selections that are well behaved in the garden. Check out Chicago Botanic Gardens plant evaluation notes for fall-blooming anemones at