February 14, 2009

White Chocolate Pairs Well with Raspberry Wine

My husband and I once took a wine tasting course where we learned which red wines work well with chocolate. We couldn't resist the tempting offer of the class. The only problem was that it didn't last long enough!

Delicious-sounding plant names get my attention, too!

Crape myrtle 'white chocolate' and monarda 'raspberry wine' pair well in my deer resistant garden. These plants are tough and last a long time, too.

The crape myrtle foliage is a deep green and merlot, making it a great backdrop for plants with magenta or blue blooms. I must admit that I grow this small shrub for the foliage more than the bloom.

I love the white blooms, but I have to defend the shrub from Japanese beetle attacks. This crape myrtle, for zones 7-9, grows to 8'h x 4'w in full sun.

My myrtle has been kept shorter since I have to prune it to remove the beetle damage. A mix of Neem Oil and bio dish detergent worked well last summer to repel the beetles. I will spray that mixture on the leaves again in late May.

Other companions, though not as tasty, include echinops 'ritro' and echinacea 'ruby star'. I added the monarda 'raspberry wine' to the vignette after seeing the perennial combined with coneflowers by other gardeners. Salvia greggii 'dark dancer' and pink muhly grass also live in that garden neighborhood.

Monarda 'raspberry wine' is suitable for zones 4-9 and grows to a medium height of 30 inches. Bee balm is a perennial that spreads fairly easily in my southern garden, so I hope to enjoy a mass planting this summer. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love the nectar on this monarda.

As a gardener who is already addicted to perennials, a sweet-sounding plant name is just too tempting to resist!

Story and photo by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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