Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday: Some Plants Like to Challenge the Boundaries!

At Clay and Limestone we call several of them good friends.

Physostegia virginiana, aka, False dragonhead is a good friend of my garden. It's one of the rough and tumble wildflowers that makes gardening on my shallow, often dry garden soil worth the effort!

It's an enthusiastic grower, but, I decided years ago that a lovely lilac river of spiky flowers that attracts bumbles, small bees, skippers and hummers was worth having to pull out a few errant plants. (go here for more on this plant)
This mint can get a root hold in your moist, rich garden soil
Successful colonizers like False dragonhead do create work for gardeners. I've even heard several gardenblogging friends say they've banned them from their gardens! My dear friends, it's your garden plant what ever you want, but, please, don't call them invasive! They're colonizers! They're thug. They're highly competitive, but, they are not invasive species. Let's not scare off gardeners who may be considering planting more natives!
the first flowers open from the bottom
As many of you may know, my mostly native garden has its fair share of colonizers. I let them duke it out all summer and I am never disappointed by the fall show!

I do have to step into the fray occasionally to stop some of the more highly competitive plants like the  Solidagos from taking over. Goldenrods are the king of colonizing wildflowers, some more than others! Don't let that stop you from adding them to your garden, they are quite possibly the best wildflowers for critters and there are many delightful cultivars that are NOT thugs!
A Locust borer stops by for a snack
Goldenrods have great wildlife value. Native bees rely heavily on Goldenrods for both pollen and nectar to provide food for the winter brood's survival. Migrating butterflies stop by for the nectar to help them on their long flight and the seeds are needed by chickadees, finches and pine siskins during the winter. Goldenrods are also important attractors of beneficial insects like soldier beetles, hoverflies and pirate beetles.

We need those predators in our organic gardens....so plant goldenrods! Trust me, there's a perfect one for your garden!
This is the famous Frostweed in flower. It's a favorite of bumbles.
Verbesina virginica is another assertive native plant! Seedlings have germinated far from the parent plants thanks to wind and birds! That doesn't mean I would ban it from the garden, but, I am ruthless about removing seedlings of this biennial!
Buckeye butterfly visiting Verbesina
Verbesina is another good wildlife value plant. Bumbles, carpenter bees, beetles, butterflies and moths are frequent visitors. It's also the host plant for the caterpillars of the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is another healthy colonizer, for which I am very grateful! After a long summer of Black-eyed Susan's I am ready for a big show!
New England aster with Helianthus salicifolius 'First Light'
A big lavender show is exactly what I have...This ex-aster spreads by seed, but this gardener is the one who has transplanted it to a dozen spots in my small sunny border! It's the perfect purple! It looks beautiful from across the garden and it is the perfect partner for one of my favorite late summer blooming asteraceas, Helianthus salicifolius 'First Light'.

You'lllove this flower massed in the garden
The same applies to this fantastic mist flower! If you have the space and temperament to let this plant go, please do. Conoclinium coelestinum is a plant that looks its best when allowed to naturalize. Cut it back in mid summer to keep it looking bushy and beautiful, and then let it do its beautiful thing. (go here for more on this wildflower)
Butterflies, skippers and bees are drawn to the nectar-rich flowers, while birds eat the seeds. If you want more, and once you see it massed you will, it's easily propagated from seeds or divisions. It can spread quickly if happy, but is pulled out just as easily. It grows in any soil except extremely dry. If you want easy care this is a great wildflower.
Thanks so much for stopping by to help me celebrate a few of my favorite boundary challenging native wildflowers! I've used words like colonizing, aggressive, thuggish, assertive, highly competitive, naturalizing, rhizome spread, and rough and tumble to describe them. But, don't let that scare you, colonizing plants make good garden friends.

Trust me, I'm a gardener!

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not, and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Choice Later Blooming Susan

I am a here and now person and Rudbeckia fulgida var fulgida is my blooming here and now favorite!
I wish that you could see it's charms in person,  it's not just another orange coneflower!
If you've chanced upon it in a local native nursery and passed it by as just another Susan, let me disabuse you of that notion!

Trust me when I say that this Susan is choice, with smaller flowers on tall straight stems, shiny green foliage and a longer bloom than Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'.

Plant this Susan with meadow and prairie plants like the ex-asters, Amsonia hubrichtii, and native grasses for a lovely late summer early fall display.
She's a petite flower on a tall stem.Like other rudbeckias
Like other Rudbeckias, this plant has good wildlife value, pollen for bumbles and little bees, nectar for butterflies from late summer through frost and seeds in the winter for birds. The tall stems and cones make a pretty winter picture in a snowy garden.

One more thing that may help tip the scale towards your adding this pretty to your garden~it's going strong while my R 'Goldsturm' is browning up!


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


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