inspired by spires

Italian cypresses

We have about 10 Italian cypresses scattered along the drive leading to our house. They act like a series of exclamation points. Some shoot up from bare ground, while others provide vertical elements amid lower growing plants.

stachys ‘Helen Von Styne’

With Stachys ‘Helen Von Styne’ sending up flowering stalks from her mounds of silvery foliage, it amounts to the best of both worlds. Beloved by bees, these stems also exude a subtle fragrance and avoid flopping.

Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’

In late spring, Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’ towers over this same berm, anchored by an Italian cypress at the far end. I might be accused of overdoing the spires, but there are billowy Euphorbias, rounded Rhododendrons and a few groundcovers to soften the effect.

kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’

After Cleo has faded, Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ steps in. I always knew kniphs as red hot pokers, but Percy is more of a white hot poker, pale yellow shaded to light green. K. ‘Primrose Beauty’ is less vigorous, but it may just need a little more sun than it gets on the other side of that Berberis jamesiana.

Acanthus spinosa

About mid-summer, Acanthus spinosa produces tall columns of exotic looking blooms that dry in place and are dressing up their berm even now. When happy, they can be thuggish, but I love them too much to complain.

digitalis purpurea

I never know where the foxgloves will show up, but they seem to have a knack for placement. You may recall my puzzlement over the cupped flower at the top of the wand of more expected gloves. I was just reading up and found that it is typical of Digitalis purpurea ‘Monstrosa’.


This Verbascum is another volunteer, so I can’t tie down its identity any further.

Eupatorium maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’

I’m not sure these could even be called spires (they are pretty fluffy), but they do reach for the sky, and they sure do inspire me. So what about you? Are there spires in your garden? What are they, and how do you use them?

11 thoughts on “inspired by spires

  1. I think I’ve just hacked down all my spires, had a bit of a tidy up. I’ve been thinking about getting an Italian Cypress or two , I need a shire to obscure two very ugly telephone poles. They spoil my window view, lovely sky and distant views and just the tip of Mt St helens on a clear day . And that telephone pole !

  2. Spires are just about my favorite shapes for plants, so architectural and pointy. We have a fair amount of the Italian cypress down here, and in fact the house I grew up in had a pair planted in front–way too close to the building, of course, like they often are. Yours look much more sensibly placed, with room to grow.

  3. I agree with Loree, Ricki. These sunny, summer photos are a wonderful prescription for this dark December day! I think it was three years ago when my annual-obsession-for-something-garden-related zeroed in on spires. And I’m still obsessed. The Verbascums and Lupines are favorites but the conifers do indeed ROCK! Thanks for the memories!

  4. Martha~I keep telling myself to figure out how to let people get emails of new posts. In the meantime, bookmarking works if you know that I post, on average, once a week. I also usually put a link on Facebook (Ricki Grady). I’ll watch for you in case you make a friend request. Sorry, I’m sort of klunky at this electronic media stuff. I tracked back to your site and enjoyed it very much (bookmarked for future reference). Thanks for stopping by!

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