Thursday, February 19, 2009

The NC Botanical Garden, or A Favorite Garden Center (NCBG) Part III

As I wrote earlier, I've gotten a lot of plants from The Botanical Garden. Some were purchased as plants, such as this trout lily. There is a bank in the woods at the Garden that is covered in trout lilies every March. That hillside is an amazing sight in early spring. I've read the secret to trout lilies is to feed them just enough to get them to divide, but not too much or they won't bloom.

The Garden has purple, white, and all shades in between of Iris cristata. I have a purple one that I got from Niche and this one from the Botanical Garden which grows in the bed on the east side of my house. It almost exactly matches the color of Phlox divaricata "Clouds of Perfume".

I already have Geranium maculatum here, but the one at the Garden is a bit different. The flowers
have smooth margins and are a brighter pink. It really does magically light up a shady corner.

This is the Geranium we found on the farm; it's paler and more of a lavender color.

I bought this Sweet Betsy as a plant. I wasn't able to buy it in flower but the leaves
were so aromatic that it seemed like a good bet. It was. It's deliciously fragrant.

Iris brevicaulis is the last iris to bloom in my garden, usually in June. One plant
will spread to 3 feet square and the powder blue/violet flowers are large with short stalks.

The rest of the plants I've gotten from the Garden I grew from seed.

I love growing plants from seed. I love the economy of it but really I love the process more than
anything else. The Garden has sent out its Native Plant Seed List this year, which is always a big
deal in my household. Choosing seeds from the Garden is a rite of early spring. Since none of the
seeds requires more than a month's cold stratification, receiving them in March or April is perfect
timing. Most of the offered seeds are from perennials with a few shrubs and annuals.
This list goes up to 50 and members get to choose 8, plus the 2009 Wildflower of the Year, which this year is Piedmont Batchelor's Button's (Marshallia obovata var. obovata). The list of 50 gets added to and rotated, so it's different every year.

The following were grown from seed from the Garden. There probably have been as many failures as successes but in my mind the practice has been a resounding success. :)

Eastern Columbine usually provides the first nectar for migrating
hummingbirds. This is a pale version of the typical red-and-yellow wildflower.

Our native Jacob's Ladder has been very successful here. Wet,
dry, sun, shade, it does very well. Like Phlox divaricata

This one is a bit more lavender than the normal pale sky blue.

Either Penstemon digitalis or laevigatus

Eastern Gray Beardtongue (Penstemon canescens)

Showing its magical bluish-purple color in shade.

Carolina bush pea (Thermopsis villosa), a plant native to mountain balds in the Appalachian range
but performs just as well in the Piedmont. The flower stalks of this legume can get up to 5 feet high.

To be continued...


  1. Such beauties! I am trying to get more wildflowers here like your trout lilies. Good advice on the seeds starting.

  2. What a great assortment. The second geranium is unusual. Love the leaves on the trout lily. This was a great post, I really enjoyed seeing these plants.

  3. I love plants that give small sweet flowers. You have some of those. And your last picture, lucky you, you got the bee...

  4. Tina I got into starting plants from seed after losing so many plants in our clay subsoil. When we first moved here the only place we had to garden were places that had been graded and cleared of topsoil. Talk about an uphill battle!

    With seeds, mass production, no need to mourn the loss of a plant. :)

  5. Marnie I really like the second geranium too. I love both geraniums and I love that they look quite different. My husband found that geranium next to one of the pastures. It has since been divided about 50 ways.

    The marbling of the leaves on the trout lily is very decorative. It goes so well with fallen leaves on the floor of a hardwood forest.

  6. Blossom I love the decorative legumes, like Carolina Bush Pea and Baptisias. Bees like them too. :)

  7. You have some real beauties there. I've seen the trout lilies in our woods here. They're so sweet.
    I'd like to try growing penstemon here.
    Botanical gardens are wonderful places. I wish we lived nearer to one.
    Last March we visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in NY City. What a fantastic place!

  8. Kerri we're lucky to live within an hour's drive of our Botanical Garden. It is a special place.

  9. I don't know if I've seen trout lilies before. They are sweet. I love your other flowers, too. I can't remember what the yellow blooms are, but they may be my favorite.

  10. Keep the tour coming Sweetbay...I am in Wildflower and native heaven! Aren't penstemmons just about perfect! The bees think so, too. Nice capture on the thermopsis! Thank you,



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