Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday

Oy, I just remembered! Wildflower Wednesday! Since this post is a look back at the NC Botanical Garden in the spring of last year, I figured why not join in, even if this post is (very) late.

The layout of the NC Botanical Garden has changed quite a bit with the addition of the big new education center, but one still enters the garden through the metal sculpture cattail gate. On the left is the Coastal region garden and the Totten Center, and to the right the herb and medicinal garden.

Fringe tree and Southern Wood Fern in front of the herbal garden. I love this fern and don't know why it's not in my garden. It's a magnificent fern. * All pictures are from April 2013 unless otherwise noted. *

White and blue baptisia in front of the herb garden.

Fothergilla in one of the central beds between the Totten Center and the herb Garden, not quite in bloom. I think one of the reasons I haven't bought a fothergilla yet (or, to be totally honest, bought another one after killing the first) is they look a little odd in bloom to me, even more odd when they aren't all the way open. I should just forget about that and concentrate on how they look in summer and fall, and also better appreciate how they look in the spring.

As a reminder to self, fothergilla fall color on the UNC campus:

Next to the Totten Center there is a swath of Woodland Phlox and
Yellowroot with a mix of other perennials and native grasses.

Most of the phlox is a cool pale blue while some are almost purple. I want to know how their wild grasses look so charming and graceful while mine just look like weeds. I need to order some of their woodland grass seeds next month when their list comes out. The seedheads below look a little like Eragrostis and they have offered E. spectabilis seeds in the past, but their lists says that blooms in the summer and likes a hot dry sunny habitat.

Woodland Phlox with Green Coneflower

Sweet Betsy in the medicinal garden. Its fragrance is delicious.

Geranium maculatum with Lilly-of-the-valley

On the other side of Totten Center is the bog garden, full of Pitcher Plant blooms.

The groundcover is cranberry.

Picture from August 2011.
This is Large Cranberry (Oxycoccus macrocarpon), the species
grown commercially for holiday cranberries and cranberry juice.

A pale version of the usual red and yellow Eastern Columbine growing near the water plants.

The adjacent Piedmont garden is a little quiet in spring,
but there is a beautiful spread of Woodland Phlox

some Baptisias, and American Wisteria. American Wisteria has beautiful color
and is quite unique-looking, but it's probably a good idea to check the fragrance
before buying one. My experience has been anywhere from no fragrance to male cat.

The mountain section of the garden is alive with color in the spring.

Fringed Phacelia is a biennial that so far I have tried and failed to grow in my garden.

Here it forms soft blue-violet pools beneath the trees.

Either Piedmont azaleas or Pinxterflower azaleas, and I must look for a name tag for the fern or ask about it next time I'm there. It's so frothy and lacy -- and gorgeous.

Some of these azaleas are enormous ~ literally the size of small trees, over ten feet high.

Florida azalea

We got there too soon for the flame azalea. Its buds were still closed tight.

Cinnamon fern

There are lots of Cinnamon Fern on the farm, but not in the garden, so
I find them in out of the way places in the woods when I am looking
for other things. They look beautiful in Chapel Hill with the azaleas.

Sweet Betsy next to Paul Green Cabin

One day, I am going to get one of these white wild
geraniums, and even if they don't live long it will be worth it.

Check out this beautiful Mountain Laurel. One of these grew successfully
in my parents' yard and they killed lots of things, so I should try it too.

The coastal section of the display gardens has many interesting things in the spring too, including another laurel.

Southern Sheepkill, a relative of Mountain Laurel

I love the deep purple color of Vernal Iris.

Sandhills Bluestar

I need to add this species to my garden. The softness of the
flower color and foliage is unique and I think very lovely.

I am always happy to see the Birdsfoot Violet in bloom.
Probably the loveliest violet of them all, it needs practically
sterile sand and open space to thrive. Periodic burning helps.

I don't think I will ever tire of coming to this garden to see (far more) mature specimens of species I grow, to see species that I can't or someday want to grow in my garden, and to get fresh ideas about using native plants.


  1. I just loved this tour. I've been to the NC Botanical Gardens only in summer and fall - not spring. I must get out there in April, now that I've seen your pictures. I am in love with that Mountain Laurel and those azaleas! BTW, that is one of the strangest looking Fothergilla I have ever seen - very tall and leggy. Not at all like mine (which I think is Mt. Airy).

    1. You really should go to the Garden in April.

      When I buy a fothergilla I'm going to get Mt Airy. I've read nothing but good things about it.

  2. Beautiful, beautiful tour. Thanks for the refreshment this bitter cold winter day! I agree with you about fothergilla. I found that it does not stand by itself when blooming -- it's too "odd" as you say, and too spindly. But in front of dense evergreens, with a saturated magenta redbud blooming nearby, it works as an open, neutral layer in the early spring garden, not obtrusive. Then later, the foliage is the star in summer and of course in fall. You need to try it again : )

    1. Thank you Laurrie, and I agree about the placement. Both in your garden and Sarah's the fothergillas are very well placed and look lovely.

  3. Thanks for sharing pictures of your visit to the Botanical Garden. The woodland phlox is so pretty en masse, and the short grasses do look lovely interspersed with it. The ferns are so pretty too, all that green is wonderful to see (even if just in pictures), at this time of year, when everything here is brown and dead.

    1. I love their spreads of Woodland Phlox. And the ferns! The ferns are amazing.

  4. I am so pleased you have taken us to a beautiful tour at the botanical garden. The phacelia stole my heart, so beautiful. I hope to find the Amsonia one day. I love it.
    Have a wonderful weekend Sweetbay.

    1. I hope you do find an Amsonia one day, they are wonderful!

  5. What a perfectly enchanting place! I don't know where to start with my comments. It's not just the incredible plants and combinations, but also the hardscapes and the benches and the trails. I would feel so at home, there. If I ever get over that way, it will be on my "to do" list, for sure!

    1. The Garden is an enchanting place. I have visited it many times over the years, ever since I was a kid, and would encourage anyone else to visit it too!

  6. Hi Dear,
    a place in which you can dream all dreams you have! Wonderful pictures! Thank you so much for your lovely words on my blog.
    Have a wonderful time. Spring is starting in Austria so hopefully I'll see some of the plants of your pictures soon.
    All the best

  7. What you were calling Sweet Betsy looked like Carolina spice shrub to me. Same plant, different name maybe? That phacelia is beautiful! I can't believe those 'trees' are azaleas! WOW! Gorgeous garden. What a wonderful way to spend the day. :o)

    1. Same plant, different name. :) Scientific name Calycanthus florida. Aren't those azaleas amazing? Mine still look very much like bushes. lol

  8. OK, I've just added another place to visit in NC.

  9. I want to move into that beautiful garden! It's heavenly and I can't think of a better place to spend a cold day then looking at your marvelous photos. Thank you. gail

  10. What a beautiful post! The sunlight in the photos practically sings. I love the pink Mountain Laurel and the purple Fringed Phacelia. The woodland Phlox is lovely, and the ferns, such a fresh shade of green! It is snowing here. Spring is a very welcome sight indeed!

  11. What a beautiful place! I love the azaleas and mountain laurel. I remember seeing some native azaleas when I was in North Carolina two years ago and thought they were beautiful. I was enticed by photos of a fothergilla with its autumn foliage and planted one here, but it's not doing very well. If you find out the secret to keeping these shrubs happy, let me know:)

  12. That is actually a most wonderful post about wildflowers and native plants in your area. Many of them, of course, I have never heard of. I think the fringed phacelia is my absolute favorite! The photos of the mature azaleas underplanted with the ferns and the fringed phacelia or is it wild phlox are just stunning! I have to admit for some reason I am a bit ignorant about wildflowers, even though I do like them a lot. I don't grow any of them in my garden, but your post has made me want to go out and look at the wildflowers blooming in San Diego. Because they grow in such abundance at this time of the year and are so bold and colorful, wildflower watching is quite famous here. Wishing you a nice rest of the week!

  13. Wow, at first I thought all these were in bloom in NC already! Then I saw your note about last April! Gorgeous, all of them!


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