|Cleome is a tall summer annual for filling big spaces.|
|Temporary help is needed to fill in garden space during the heat of summer. The perfect candidate must be tall, colorful and play well with perennials. Additional skills required include deterring deer and rabbits while attracting hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.|
A big gap in my deer resistant garden needed a summer filler to add color and height among the foliage of the fall-blooming perennials. The annual, Cleome hassleriana, fit the job description—planted among Joe Pye Weed (native eupatorium purpureum), solidago 'Fireworks', helianthus angustifolius 'First Light', stipa (grass), asclepias incarnata and a tall pink mum.
Without cleome, there would be nothing but foliage in the midsection of my front garden during the summer. In spring, rose campion and larkspur provide blooms for this space. When the temperatures rise and the rain is scarce, I can count on cleome to deliver!
This is one annual that I don't grow from seeds because I am still developing the space. I buy the tall annual in bloom at a local greenhouse so that I can transplant directly into the summer garden where needed. I don't have a greenhouse to do this myself and I find the price affordable and worthwhile given how barren the garden would look without cleome. These are hybrids (I don't even bother to remember/save the name), so I've not had any self-sowing seedlings pop up.
In the above photo (click to enlarge), you cannot see the three Joe Pye growing between the cleome. The cleome not only provides height and color while waiting for the Joe Pye, it shades the roots of the companion plants, helping to retain moisture in this south-facing garden. I like a mass planting of at least five cleome.
Without cleome, there would be a nothing but a low hole of foliage in my summer garden. Cleome bridges this gap from June until August, when the late summer flowers take over until frost.
As for maintenance, I provide water only when the cleome leaves droop. There are no supporting stakes around the cleome, and while they are packed in among perennials, I've not noticed any need for support of these strong plants.
Colorful, carefree and cheap. Deer, drought and rabbit resistant. I'll use cleome for temporary garden help every summer!
Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.