Friday, May 24, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday

Happy Wildflower Wednesday, er Friday! Late as usual. Better late than never though, right? I have been so busy working in the garden that I've been too tired to blog at night.

Gail's right, Phlox pilosa is practically perfect. This is Ozark Phlox, P. pilosa var. ozarkana. Beautiful candy pink flowers with a sweet fragrance. For something with "prairie" in the name it can handle quite a lot of moisture, and needs some moisture to thrive. Not a dry prairie kind of phlox.

Goldflame Honeysuckle, so colorful, so polite, and fragrant if you catch
the perfume in the morning before it has burned off. The scent doesn't have
the strong coconutty notes of Japanese honeysuckle; it is refined and sweet.

I don't know the name of this Lousiana Iris but I love its rich royal purple color. I don't think it's 'Black Gamecock'. I think that's a deeper blue purple than this one.

I wish I'd gotten a picture of Lyreleaf sage while it was in bloom, but here it
is looking striking even while going to seed. I dug some starts of this from the
floodway fields. Give it some room and it's actually quite showy, with its bunch
of light lavender blue flowers. The wild ones here have burgundy veining but
it's not overdone, as with a couple of cultivars I've seen in nurseries.

I love spiderwort this time of year. Mine don't run around, just seed around a little, and in a wet year they will bloom from April until a freeze cuts them down. In a dry year they just fade into the background or literally go underground to wait the drought out.

Clockwise from top left: spiderwort with Verbena 'Homestead Purple'; pink primrose; more spiderwort; and Amsonia (Willowleaf/ Hubricht's hybrid).

I used to read about Amsonia in garden catalogs and wonder what the fuss what about. I thought the pale blue flowers looked rather anemic and just didn't get it. Then one day I was walking along a path at the JC Raulston Arboretum and saw a big billowy Hubricht's Amsonia, no flowers, just summer foliage. It looked soft, it even felt soft, and had the same sort of movement as grass but with more substance. What a nice foliage plant, I thought. So I got a couple from Niche Gardens. They didn't get very big until I put them in a low spot in front of the big perennial bed. Even so, they took a few years to size up, and in spring when they bloomed, looking like flowers stuck atop a bristly cock's comb, I waited impatiently for the flowers to be over and the plant to fill out for the summer. Now that they are a mature size and covered with flowers in spring I love them then too. The flowers are fragrant, with delicious vanilla notes. I finally discovered this a few years ago, when I could smell the white iris even though I thought I was too far away even for those to waft. The Amsonia and white iris have a very similar delightful scent. Hubricht's even colors in fall, although that too, took time. They didn't do that when they were young. A plant that requires patience, like baptisia, but very much worth the wait.

Hubricht's Amsonia with Baptisia alba and australis

And my very favorite May natives of all, Baptisias.

Baptisia alba

Most of my Blue Baptisias are lavender and purple,

although some are bluish-purple like the one below and there are even a few true blue ones.

'Carolina Moonlight' and 'Twilite Prairieblues' are the only two baptisias I've ever spent over 20 bucks on, that came in 5 gallon pots, and I should have bought more like that, because these have been miles ahead of my seedlings.

'Twilite Prairieblues' has been more pretty and less strange this year. The flower color is highly changeable, responding both to light and flower age. This year I noticed the flowers at twilight actually being ageratum blue. I've wondered about the popularity of this plant. It is both very fertile and very robust, but also just kind of weird. I've always liked it as a specimen plant. I wouldn't want a whole garden full of them.

I would like a whole garden full of 'Purple Smoke'.

Thank you Gail for hosting Wildflower Wednesday and highlighting our wonderful natives.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Celebrating the color green

As the spring flower season is cranking up, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the color green.

Red Maple


Oak-leaved Hydrangea

Young red maples, loblolly pines and river birches along path to the creek.

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