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With a little love, lovely Liropes will last a long while

Fifteen years ago, I planted some "Liriopes" next to several daffodils. In fact, I went out of my way to do it.

Why? I just couldn't resist putting these plants in close proximity to each other because legend has it that Liriope is the mother of "Narcissus" (daffodil).

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According to Greek mythology, Liriope was a river goddess, and her son, Narcissus, was changed into the first daffodil by Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, as a punishment for Narcissus breaking the heart of Echo, a woodland goddess who was Nemesis' good friend.

Liriope muscari

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Liriope muscari, also known as "lilyturf," is a frost-hardy and drought-tolerant perennial that's native to Asia. A member of the lily family, it forms 18-inch-tall and 18-inch-wide mounds consisting of 2-foot, grass-like, green leaves with yellow-white stripes. Tiny, purple flowers appear during this time of year on flower spikes that get up to 12 inches tall. Some types bloom in shades of white and violet.

Liriopes grow well in most soil types, as well as in full sun and deep shade. They'll flower better, though, when planted in full sun and in soil that drains freely.

Good ground cover and edging plants, too, Liriopes don't demand much in the way of maintenance. Simply shear their leaves to within a few inches of the ground during late winter or early spring — when daffodils begin to bloom — to ensure they'll put on abundant growth during summer.

Even though the 2011 growing season is winding down, seeing Liriopes in bloom reminds me that spring-flowering bulbs — like Liriope's son, Narcissus — should be planted during fall. So I'm beginning to plan for and to purchase spring-flowering bulbs, while the selection in garden centers and mail-order houses is still good.

This week in the garden

Many of our re-blooming plants, such as roses, stopped flowering during the triple-digit heat wave. They're back on track now, though, since daytime highs have cooled.

Which reminds me, tomatoes won't set fruits when nighttime temperatures approach the mid 80s. The plants are setting plenty of fruits now, however, since nighttime temperatures have also cooled.

Curiously, Japanese beetles weren't out in force this summer. I'm not certain why, although it may be due to last summer's heat wave and the accompanying drought, because female beetles need moist soil to lay eggs. In any case, I'll be ready for them next summer.

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