Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday

Since the natives have not yet started up at my place, for Wildflower Wednesday I thought I'd show some of the natives we saw at the NC Botanical Garden and Arb in the center of campus last spring and summer.

......cue the harp music and wavy lines...

I believe the simple beauty of our wild Geranium is the standard against which all other flowers should be judged.

The color is outstanding, especially in dappled shade, and the flower shape and the stamens make the flowers resemble large Hepatica flowers.

I have wanted to grow Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana) ever since reading about it it in Native Plants for the Southeast.

" is so vibrant that it can throw everything out of balance. On the other hand, interspersed with other whites -- white forms of summer phlox, coneflower and Mississippi penstemon -- it can produce a marvelously showy effect. Don't cut back its flowers after blooming; you'll want to enjoy its equally ornamental, fluffy white seed heads. Flowers and seed heads combine to give you about two months of color."

I got it at the Garden last year before remembering that black blister beetles eat my fall anemones every year. Maybe the Thimbleweed will bloom before the beetles get started.

Bottlebrush buckeye is a perennial for which I'm still trying to find a spot. Here in central NC it appreciates some shade and I've read that it likes a rich moist soil. I've thought of putting it at the edge of the woods but it will have to do battle with blackberry briars and seedling trees and the only intervention would be mowing during the winter.

This magnificent Alabama Azalea is at the street side edge of the big pergola at the Arboretum on the UNC campus. The fragrance is strong, sweet and lemony, YUM.

American Wisteria, on the other hand ~ while I love the purple color, the fragrance seems to range from zero to male cat. I'll take the zero fragrance one, thanks.

Unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture of the label or the label was missing but it looks like Roseshell Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum), native to our mountains. I love the pink color and the twisted buds.

I have both an American smoketree and two bald cypress but they are twigs compared to these specimens! (The bald cypress is the utility pole lookalike in the foreground.) Well, one of my Bald Cypress seedlings is still literally a twig, and the one that grew all the way to 4 feet after 5 years looks to have had a run-in with a deer's antlers. They were both rescued and are currently sitting in pots near my doorstep.

Onto the summer beauties...

I enjoy seeing Swamp Milkweed when it blooms at the Garden. I have it
too but if the summer is very hot and dry it may skip blooming that year.

This Joe Pye looks like a volunteer just outside the mountains section of the Garden. It must have been at least 10' tall. The Joe Pyes on my farm are much shorter, with smaller flower clusters (a bit more colorful too), very occasionally reaching 7' but more usually 4 or 5'. Different species or just differences across species?

Great Blue Lobelia and Black-Eyed Susans make a beautiful combination, but not likely one that will be replicated in my garden. Like Cardinal flower, Great Blue Lobelia acts like an annual here. Cardinal Flower and a more dainty species of blue lobelia grow wild here and pop up in various places every year and I've learned to just enjoy them and not try to cultivate them.

Blue Vervain is a lovely native that I haven't been able to overwinter. Which is strange because I've seen it growing right on the bank of a stream in southwestern Pennsylvania that often overflowed its banks in winter.

Wood Sage or Germander (Teucrium canadense), a member of the mint family, likes sun or shade and a lot of moisture.

I saw a number of flowers and plants in the Coastal section of the Garden that I hadn't seen before. If ever the Garden offers plants or seeds of Scarlet Wild Basil (Clinopodium coccineum), I'd really like to try it. It grows in the Coastal Plain/ Sandhills section of the Garden and is native to AL, FL ,GA, and MS. When I googled the plant name I found that Plant Delights carries a yellow flowered cultivar and Woodlanders carries both the yellow and the red. I think it would like the dry parched sandbox conditions at my mailbox, currently home to rosemary, lavender, orange milkweed and Eastern silvery aster. Scarlet wild basil is very aromatic, more like oregano than basil but still sweet.

I love the flowers and the wispy delicate foliage.

This interesting-looking aster reminds me of White-bracted Sedge, except it prefers dry woodlands rather than sunny wet places.

There was no tag for the plant below so I got a copy of A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region, which told me that the plant below is Dwarf Indigo-bush (Amorpha herbacea) and it inhabits longleaf pinelands. The Field Guide is a useful and detailed reference. In it I saw lots of natives that would be great for a dry sandy garden: pine-barren gentian, pineland dayflower, Carolina sandwort, Carolina pineland-cress, and Savanna elephant's-foot, and that's for starters.

Eastern Sensitive-brier (Mimosa microphylla), so called because the leaves curl up closed when touched.

Sandhill Scurfpea is a wispy little legume with the tiny blue-violet pea flowers and thread like leaves.

I could not however ascertain the identity of the plant below with the fuzzy gray-green flowers or seedpods.

Thank you Gail at clay and limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday.


  1. Thanks for turning off word verification, it was a pain.
    You have such a fabulous collection of wildflowers. I know we have some of the same, have seen Bottlebrush Buckeye and of course the beautiful Swamp Milkweed. These wildflower posts are a great reference.

  2. Sweetbay, What a charming post and filled with so many lovely natives that I pine over...I have tried to get the Bottlebrush Buckeye established twice! It's just not moist enough here. But, I am determined to see it in my garden! This is the first year I've had luck getting the lobelias to act like perennials; let's see if they bloom! Love your opening statement and think that our native geranium is stellar, too. Happy WW. gil

  3. Beauty ... so simple, so delicate ... I will remember your photos all day, maybe I'l dream about wildflowers. Thank you !

  4. Subtle. Delicate. And absolutely beautiful!

  5. So many beautiful choices - the thimble weed is charming...I'm going to try to find a source for seed up here and I love the narrowleaf aster! Beautiful photos, what a lucky gal you are to have such an inspiring botanical garden to visit. Happy Wednesday! Brenda

  6. Dear Sweetbay, I so agree about our wild geraniums! They are so lovely. You show us so many other beauties here too. Love the bald cyprus! Wonderful to see all these wild blooms today. Thank you!

  7. I love all of those wildflowers.

    Thanks again for a lovely post.


  8. what a selection of native plants! can't wait to add a few more of these to my garden this year. a visit to ncbg is always a treat, but it looks like spring might be the best time. pretty post!

  9. So many AMAZING wildflowers (some of which I've never heard of)! I absolutely love Joe Pye Weed...such a champ! I've been looking for that Blue Vervain for sale all over...I think it's a tricky one to keep going...more like a short-lived, reseeding perennial than a true perennial for many, I think.

  10. What a fantastic tour of so many different wildflowers--simply beautiful! I love the little thimbleweed; even the name sounds like something magical that garden fairies would enjoy. Bottlebrush Buckeye is another beauty--I saw a mature specimen in a local garden a few years ago and forgotten how impressed I was with it. Oh dear, one more plant to add to my wish list:)

    I turned off my word verification, too--the words were so hard to read I was beginning to think I had developed dyslexia!

  11. It is so envious when a Botanical Garden plants the natives. They all look wonderful in photos, however as most natives and wildflower behave, the leaves are more profuse than flowers. Your photos are all marvelous and i am envious. By the way, have you seen those Mimosa spreading like wildfire in the tropics? I've posted some photos a few months back, i just want to show you how it behaves in the tropics. thanks.


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