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Mystery Plant

Many of the plants in my building's garden were inherited from previous tenants. We have decades-old roses, hydrangea, and hostas that somehow survived years of neglect and are now thriving.

We also have a number of plants that were introduced by the woman who lived in my apartment before me. Some of her choices have given us too much grief- we ditched all the Shasta daisies and foxgloves because they were taking over entire beds and the roses she chose are a pain in my ass. If they're not getting sick, they're getting eaten. (Pretty flowers, though!)

But some of the things she chose are pretty cool. One such plant was discovered in early April. It was unlabeled, had never been planted in the ground, yet still survived the winter with its roots exposed to the elements. I stuck it in a nice pot, waited six months, and now it's finally bloomed and it's a keeper!

It's definitely in the Chelone genus, probably Chelone lyonii (Pink Turtlehead), and it may be the 'Hot Lips' cultivar, but it's really hard for me to tell. The foliage has definitely seen better days. The poor thing struggled this year after being exposed all winter.

I'm going to keep it potted instead of finding it a 'woodland' home in the part-shade. It stands out more against the terra cotta than it would tucked away in the back of the garden. Plus, I've reserved the back of the garden for my Japanese Anemones, which should arrive any day now!

You can read more about identifying Turtleheads on this Wildflowers of the Southestern US website.  Their information helped me pin down the mystery species.

Chelone glabra is also worth studying. It's a host for the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas phaeton) and I'm considering adding it to the garden as well!