Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday: The Happy Flower Trinity

If you're a cook, you know that creating a delicious stock, soup, or stew often starts with basic ingredients and builds from there. The French have their mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery; the Italians have their tomato, garlic and basil; and Cajun cooking has its holy trinity of onions, peppers and celery.  Each of these  flavor bases makes the food tasty and delicious and unique to that region.
Clay and Limestone has its own trio of flowering beauties~Golden Ragwort, Columbine and Downy Phlox ~ that make the garden a colorful and tasty treat each spring.
Clay and Limestone is a small side dish of this delicious mixture (photo 2011)
All three are native to the Nashville Basin. The Basin is an elongated mixing bowl of land where Mother Nature has tossed cedar glade and Tennessee native plants into a unique and delicious mixture. Our tasty dish is never the same year to year, like local cooking, the proportions all depend upon the weather and what nature makes available!
 The Happy Trinity have been liberally sprinkled about the garden
Let's take a look at these special plants that combine wonderfully to make this garden's flavor base for Wildflower Wednesday.
notice a few aphids~I leave them for the beneficial insects to gobble up
Golden Ragwort or Packera aurea is a bright daisy with evergreen basil foliage. It makes a wonderful groundcover if the conditions are right~even moisture year round. Strangely enough, that may be why many people don't add it to their gardens~fear of a plant making too big a statement. I like big statement plants, after all, this is the home of rough and tumble wildflowers!

I think it's absolutely beautiful. The small daisy like golden flowers on tall stems are chock full of pollen and nectar for small bees, flies and butterflies. Occasionally, aphids show up on a few plants, but, I leave them for the ladybugs. There are no cultivars of this beauty, the straight species is perfect!

Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Eastern North America to Texas
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 2.50 feet Spread: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April Bloom
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Pollinators: Small bees and butterflies
How does one describe Aqiulegia canadensis! I think of it as bright lanterns that sway in the slightest breeze sending a signal to pollinators that there's nectar in those spurs!  Here's a good reason to plant more Columbine! "Ornithologists have discovered that the ruby-throated hummingbirds tend to follow the blossoming of Aquilegia canadensis on its journey north in spring, since the flowers are the first to provide nectar for the birds." (source)

Columbine thrives in part to full shade, in any well-drained soil. I find it happiest in cracks and crevices, really, it grows anywhere a seed falls and the drainage is good! Plants tolerate full sun if temperatures are cool, but they grow better in my garden in partial shade. Red columbine is found in rocky woods from Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territories south to Florida and Texas.
growing between the flagstone in the Garden of Benign Neglect
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Bloom Time: April to May (even earlier after a gentle Middle South winter)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Pollinators: Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and hawk moths feed on columbine necta

...and finally
Practically Perfect Pink Phlox Pilosa

Long time readers already know about her charms...PPPP has an exceptionally long bloom time (six weeks or longer), fantastic pink flowers, grows in sun and part sun, tolerates clay soil that's wet all winter and dry all summer, has a marvelous ground covering effect, and has the sweetest fragrance that wafts all over the garden on warm days. You'll have to agree, a plant like that is practically perfect!
P pilosa is a stoloniferous, semi-evergreen native wildflower found naturally growing in open woodlands, meadows, prairie remnants and limestone glades through out the central and eastern US and Canada. Although, I've never heard anyone call PPPP a thug, some gardeners may not appreciate how quickly it can spread in rich soil. Colonizing is a plus for me and unlike some colonizing plants, it's easy to lift and transplant. I am especially pleased at how well it's growing in the shallow soil over the bedrock in the Susan's Bed....That says a lot about a plant.

PPPP with River Oats
Family: Polemoniaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central United States (also Canada)
Zone: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: April to June (in my garden)
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Pollinators:  Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees, Flies

So what do you think? Is this trio a tasty and delicious treat?

Welcome to Wildflower Wednesday! It's time to share your wildflowers no matter where you garden~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration..It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!

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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Few Favorite Flowers For Friday

Aquilegia canadensis
Columbine is found in rich rocky woods, north-facing slopes, cliffs, ledges, pastures, and roadside banks. Native to all states east of the Rockies, except Louisiana. A Duskywing skipper feeds on the leaves and hummingbirds seek out its nectar.
Phacelia bipinnatifida 

Purple Phacelia is common biennial wildflower in Middle Tennessee where it's found growing in moist woodlands and rocky slopes. Phacelia is all about the bees and that makes this gardener happy.
 Trillium luteum
Yellow trillium can be found in deciduous forests, open woods and along rocky stream banks in Eastern Tennessee, but, it grows happily in my Middle Tennessee garden.

 Phlox pilosa
The Practically Perfect Pink Phlox has just begun blooming~It has had a late start, which means that it might bloom into June! "Phlox flowers are the classic butterfly plant with their perfect landing pad (flared petals), a narrow tube that is accessible to the long proboscis of butterflies and fragrant flowers that occur in loose, rounded clusters.  The long bloom time means there's plenty of nectar for pollinator visitors from early to mid-spring. I've seen butterfly, skippers, bumblebees, Minor bees, carpenter bees and Flower flies visiting. I've read that Hummers visit as well and since it's blooming late here, they might stop by, too." It's happy in shade, sunshine, dry open woods, along roadsides and prairies. I am sad to report that the bunnies have discovered the PPPP and have taken a toll on the population~Not to worry, I bought new plants!
Hydrophyllum appendiculatum

Appendaged Waterleaf is a northern species of Waterleaf that is frequently found in rich woodlands in  Middle Tennessee. You'll recognize it and its near relatives by the mottled/waterstained leaves. You'll be able to tell this from the others by its maple leaf shaped leaves. Like its distant cousin Phacelia, it's a bee magnet.
Just a few of my favorite blooming wildflowers for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! Yes, I'm late, but, you can still pop over to Carol/May Dreams Gardens blog to check out gardens from all over this great big beautiful world.


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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