Wednesday, April 10, 2013

J is for Jacob's Ladder



Jacob's Ladder, polemonium caeruleum is a perennial that the dogs have repeatedly pummelled into non-existence in my garden. I haven't given up on it just yet, in fact last summer I found a new spot for it in the front garden, where the dogs rarely tread.

To my mind, you want to think about adding Jacob's Ladder to your garden for the foliage. 


On their own, the flowers are small and a bit unspectacular. (This is Polemonium caeruleum 'Stairway to Heaven' in flower above)


The single flower wispers. A grouping of plants covered with flowerbuds and softly colored blooms speaks up for itself and commands some attention.

To make any sort of impactful display, I think you need to plan on a cluster of at least three plants. 

When not in flower, Jacob's Ladder, polemonium caeruleum forms a low, bushy mound of ferny leaves. Flowers appear on upright stems in early summer and the blooms continue for many weeks. To rejuvenate this perennial and keep the flowers coming, clip it back by half in mid-summer.

The good news about this perennial family is that they are considered easy to grow and are perfect for a woodland setting. 

The bad news for gardeners like me is that Jacob's Ladder prefers somewhat moist soil. Particularly, if you live in one of the warmer climate zones, you will need to find a spot for these plants that isn't too dry, gets morning sun and afternoon shade.


It is the foliage that doggedly determines me to keep trying with this perennial. The delicate ferny leaves make it worth all the repeated attempts. 

This is Jacob's Ladder,  Polemonium caeruleum 'Blue Pearl' above. Height: 50-60 cm Spread: 45-50 cm. There is also a similar all-green, white flowering cultivar Polemonium caeruleum 'White Pearl'. Height: 50-60 cm Spread: 45-50 cm


Isn't this pretty? 

This is Jacob's Ladder,  Polemonium caeruleum 'Stairway to Heaven'.  It has pale blue flowers. Height: 40-50 cm, Spread: 30-45 cm.


I think I may have to go back to the nursery and pick up a few pots of this cultivar. I love the blackish-purple leaves and maroon stems (Note: the foliage becomes greener as the plant grows).

This is Polemonium caeruleum 'Purple Rain'. The flowers are a pale mauve. Height: 40-50 cm, Spread: 30-45 cm. 


This variegated form is nice too: Polemonium caeruleum 'Snow & Sapphires'. Sky blue flowers. Height 60-75 cm Spread: 40-50 cm


There are also other cultivars available besides the ones I have shown you here today. 

Many off them readily self-seed, although the dogs have seen to it that I have yet to experience this family trait! To control its spread, simply trim back the flower stems after the plants have finished blooming.

My garden alphabet so far: 'A' is for Astilbe, 'B' is for ButterflyThree 'C's, 'D' is for DelphiniumThe Letters 'E' and 'F' , 'G' is for Geranium , 'H' is for Hollyhocks, 'I' is for Iris and now 'J' is for Jacob's Ladder.

31 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful flower, but so far, I've not had good luck with it. I moved it last year, and am hoping that will make a difference. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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  2. Hi Jennifer...your are right, this foliage is spectacular. I don't have a place for it, so I will enjoy it in your garden!

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  3. What a lovely delicate plant. It doesn't seem to like my soil, unfortunately.xxxxx

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  4. I've never had any luck with these, but always wish I could. Too dry and too hot here in SW Ontario for these beauties.

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  5. I had the old fashioned type in my old, old home and it was lovely. I put in two of the variegated type last year and they were worth it just for the foliage.

    Eileen

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  6. I love my JLs...they are in my rain gardens and grow nicely and of course they seed but not in the very wet rain garden. Great pictures and I love the variegated foliage one as it is in my garden too.

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  7. Jennifer, Jacob's Ladder in my garden has been hit or miss. When it's a hit, it's a lovely mass of blue (and even fragrant) but short-lived. When it's a miss, it "dies on the vine", never even reaching the flowering stage. Like you, I keep persisting. Sigh.

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  8. My peep grows Jacob's Ladder! That's right... she does! I love it 'cause firstly, it's named after my dad, Jacob. Secondly, it's blue and looks so good with my sterling silver tabby fur. And thirdly, it smells good and when ol' peepers has her nose in there sniffin' the flowers, she gets distracted and I can do as I please in the rest of the garden.

    Purrs,
    Nissy

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  9. Love Jacob's ladder flowers, hate the rampant reseeding. and I never make it to deadheading before they reseed. Ever since I discovered power tools, my gardening has suffered...

    Beautiful photos Jennifer. You are such a fabulous photographer.

    Have a great weekend!

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  10. Such a beautiful plant. I haven't seen it earlier. Happy Thursday, Jennifer!

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  11. They are all very beautiful, but of course these are alien in these grounds. The many colors among leaves and flowers are so wonderful, yes i can visualize the beauty they produce in the woodlands.

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  12. Jacob's Ladder loves my garden and seeds everywhere! I let them stay until I need a space for a new plant then one gets dug out. Both the blue and the white ones look very pretty when in flower, they are good supporting flowers I feel, complementing what is around them.

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  13. I'm the opposite of Pauline. I love Jacob's Ladder but it doesn't like my garden. The flowers in the 1st and 3rd photos combine my favourite colours. I wonder why it's called Jacob's ladder?

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    1. Great question Catmint, so I looked up the answer online: The narrow leaflets resemble rungs on a ladder. The flower stems are also upright and ladder-like. "Jacob's" ladder is a biblical reference to Genesis 12-19. In Genesis, Jacob had a vision: " And he dreamed, and beholded a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven..." Here is the source for this background info: http://landscaping.about.com/od/perennialflowers/p/jacobs_ladder.htm

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  14. Jennifer, lovely plant Polemonium. It has got small nice flowers and interesting ornamental leaves. I love it!

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  15. I do love this plant, too. I did have a 'Snow and Sapphires,' but it disappeared. I can't blame my dogs, though--it's planted in rather dry shade, and the last two summers of drought finally did it in, I guess.

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  16. I don't have this plant, but it's very pretty. I love the variegated form!

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  17. I grow a lot of P. reptans, which is lower growing. I also have P. caeruleum, just a couple of plants.

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  18. So many wonderful things to see, just lovely! :)

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  19. Good idea on trimming these back, I'll have to do that this year. I found some of this growing on the property when we moved in. I liked the foliage and moved it to my flower bed where it has grown enormously. I keep wondering if it will actually stop or just take over.

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  20. I had given up on this plant after it died in my clay soil, but I might have a spot for it after all. I love how pretty the foliage is, especially the one with the pink highlights.

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  21. I had a white one which disappeared so last year I bought a blue one I just hope it appears again this year if it does I may move it to a better spot - now it's just fingers crossed and a hope that it made it through the winter.

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  22. Hi Everyone, I think that it is interesting to read that this plant has been so hit and miss with so many of you. Everything I read in my background research suggested that this was a family of plants that was easy to grow. Perhaps this is still true- given the right setting and conditions.

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  23. Beautiful! I grew some from seed last year - so far have seen only foliage. I'm hoping for blooms this year - we'll see!

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  24. How is it that I am missing your garden alphabet? This is such a cool idea! I am going to add the 'Purple Rain' to my shade garden, based on your photo :) I am planting a white and green shade garden with pink accents and this plant would be perfect.

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  25. Hi Jennifer
    I have one Jacob's Ladder plant and it comes back each year but never increases in size nor does it self-seed. I look forward to seeing it, in its regular little spot but wish it would multiply!

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  26. I too have one that returns, but not in what you see in books. It is a mini though. They are a bit temperamental as to conditions and I think mine needs moving too. I have planted them at client properties and they go gang buster. It really is the right place that matters to them.

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  27. I agree Jacob's Ladder, is more about foliage than blooms. A great reminder for me to reintroduce this plant in our garden.

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  28. I don't have this one but you have convinced me with the gorgeous foliage that this is one I should invest in! What I like about this plant is its form....I hope it goes good in the front! My kids are just like pups...they like to trample everything!!!

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  29. Hi Jennifer,
    Years ago I grew polemonium pulcherrimum. A North American native, it took dry shade, and bloomed from late spring, through most of the summer. Destroyed by Agatha, the St. Bernard. Perhaps she's enjoying rolling on it now in doggie-heaven. Very hard to find in the trade. As soon as the fancy-pants variegated varieties came on the market, it seemed to disappear which is a real shame.
    B.

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  30. I have a Jacob's Ladder, it has been in my garden for three years, never blooming. This year it looks the best it ever has....so maybe it will bloom this year.

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