Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday

One of the first signs of fall here is when the wild persimmons trees turn... purple. Laurrie, of the blog "My Weeds are Very Sorry" has a wild persimmon of the same species that turns a bright golden orange, almost like a pumpkin. Very seasonal. Who wouldn't love a tree that turns that color? (Although she doesn't post on that blog anymore, she still has an online gardening journal that I read regularly.)

Persimmons are a common understory tree on our farm. They are handsome, striking even with their layers of slightly drooping dark green leaves; their leaves often look a though they are hung in festoons rather than on branches they are so thick. I sometimes think that a bomb would be necessary to kill one. One keeps shooting up in the pony's old stall in the shelter down in the pasture...for the past 14 years. Occasionally I see fruit but the leaves often hide them. As a kid Gene tried a persimmon from a tree on his grandparents' tobacco farm, picked too early from his description of the taste as the most sour thing you can imagine.

See? Purple. Or at least purplish. I like the purple. It's unique. The sweetgums turn purple too but usually more in shades of wine and burgundy before changing to red orange and yellow. But I wouldn't say no to a gold or orange persimmon tree either. If persimmon trees weren't so common I would buy one to see if I could get that pumpkin fall color, but they are literally weeds here.

The persimmons pictured above are next to the shelter paddock, and there are several next to the floodway fields too. The floodway fields have quite a lot of flowers this year thanks to plentiful rainfall over the last two summers. I won't mow these fields until early March. It's difficult to find a window to keep the saplings down and not mow the flowers and cover for wildlife.

From July: Rosepink (Sabatia angularis), an annual that blooms in midsummer and has very sweetly fragrant flowers. I've seen it blooming just 3" high in the ditches next to the grass road between the pastures, and this year 2 feet high in the field with the pond.

Meadow beauty grows all over the farm, from the edge of the woods up top to the floodway fields. Two different species grow here and their flowers in colors from pale to bright rose pink, Maryland meadow beauty (Rhexia mariana) and Virginia meadow beauty.(R. virginca). This is Rhexia virginca. R. mariana has thinner leaves and generally paler flowers. One of its common names is pale meadow beauty. Meadow beauty blooms from June/July to October.

Gerardia, goldenrod and Bidens. These pictures were taken in late September and early October.

Gerardia with rugose goldenrod.

I am always saying that I love things, and that they are one of my favorites, but I really do love Gerardia. Even if the name does sound like a dread disease. It's an annual that grows wild on the farm. It's part of a select clique of natives that grow here that I have not succeeded in growing in the garden and includes our native crabapple (Southern Crabapple Malus angustifolia), Sabatia, downy lobelia, and a lovely blue gentian called soapwort.

Gerardia tenufolia, so called because of its delicate wiry stems that turn burgundy as the flowers age, is also known as slender gerardia and false foxglove.

The sulfur butterflies and skippers looked to be feeding preferentially on the lobelia.

Silver-spotted skipper

Sulfur on lobelia

and on these pale butter yellow daisies.

Today I am joining Gail at clay and limestone for Wildflower Wednesday.


  1. What a pretty flower! You're so lucky to have such a large wild area full of it.

  2. I always love seeing all of the different purple blooms growing in your wild gardens. I need to find more purple bloomers myself. Your photos are great and I thank you for sharing your bit of paradise here.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  3. I really love your gerardia. The flower reminds me of hardy geraniums.

  4. So delightful...I wish I had the sun to grow Sabatia, it's lovely. Happy WW!

  5. I'd love to have that gerardia running wild in my garden. Your purple persimmon foliage is very pretty too. I have 2 persimmons, both of which turn orange, providing most of the little fall color we get here. There's no sign of any color change yet but I suppose that's due to the fact that the temperatures are just now cooling.

  6. Your garden must be a pollinator paradise. :o) I love that gerardia, too. I wish it grew around here. I've never seen it before. Beautiful!

  7. Hi Sweetbay, I am glad I made it to your WW post. Usually, I am familiar with more of the plants people post. It's fun to see the overlap of plants that are native to different areas, but only the goldenrod and maybe the lobelias also grow around here. I love your gerardias!


  8. Gerardia is a new plant for me. It looks as its blooms are floating in the air!

  9. I wasn't familiar with Gerardia, but what a sweet wildflower! I love your meadow area, and these pink blooms just add to its charm. My husband's aunt used to always make persimmon pudding for family get-togethers--it was delicious, but I suspect full of lots of sugar:)

  10. When we lived in Texas, we had a horse who loved persimmons. I've never seen a persimmon tree turn purple, though.
    Your garden is still looking lovely.

  11. My most romantic dreams are set in fields of wildflowers! I am growing a couple of Asian persimmons and had no idea that we had the American persimmon on our property until one day I found its fruit on the ground, no doubt carried there by a squirrel. I still have not found the tree, though I confess I have not searched very hard. Now I know to look for purple foliage!

  12. What a gorgeous wild meadow area! You are so lucky to have space like this, it's very dreamy :-) .


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