Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday: Fifth Anniversary!

 I can hardly believe that 5 years have passed since the first Wildflower Wednesday meme post. I want to thank each of you for joining me on my continuing journey to create the best wildlife garden possible.
Verbesina virginica
 At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do to celebrate this anniversary and then it occurred to me that I could share that first official Wildflower Wednesday post with some updated text and photos. So that's what I've done. If you like you can link back to earlier Wildflower Wednesday posts by clicking on the plant name.
Panicum virgatum

Here it is~a trip back in time to February 2010, with a bit a lot of tweaking!
Rusty Blackhaw/Viburnum rufidulum
Almost thirty years ago we moved to what has since been christened Clay and Limestone Garden. Long time readers know that the relationship between gardener and garden has been a passionate affair, filled with moments of deep love and equally deep despair.
Hamamelis vernalis
It was a long time before I was able to accept the limitations and gifts of the shallow, clay soil that is as dry as concrete most summers and wet and sticky all winter. (here for more of the story)
Even in the face of over whelming evidence that wildflowers naturally occurred and thrived here, I tried to create an English cottage garden, a Mediterranean garden and a New England woodland. They were failures and I despaired that there would ever be a garden.
Tradescantia virginiana
In my haste to create these idealized dream gardens I had over looked the native ex-asters, mistflower, columbines, trout lilies, trilliums, mayapples, downy woodmint, Blue-eyed grass, False garlic, penstemons, dicentras and a host of other beauties that were already growing here.
Green Dragon/Arisaema dracontium
It was a wonderful day when I stumbled upon Thomas Hemmerly's Wildflowers Of The Central South.

 Harbinger of spring
I've never had the honor of meeting Dr Hemmerly*, but, he became my garden mentor and helped me  understand and appreciate the special native plants that grow in Middle Tennessee. He introduced me to concepts that were important to know if I were to have any success at gardening. I learned that Middle Tennessee was part of the Central Basin, that it has very interesting wildflowers that grew nowhere else, and that the rock in my garden is an Ordovician limestone bedrock overlain with thin soil. I finally understood that plants have to be rugged to survive in my garden and that planting native wildflowers made the most sense, after all, they had evolved and adapted to our wet winters and dry summers.
Golden Ragwort
Once my eyes were opened, it was easy to see that on the edges of the garden, beyond, the weedy lawn, were wonderful wildflowers and abundant wildlife.
My head and heart were quickly filled with all things wildflower. I devoured articles about native plants, visited cedar glades, read botany articles and every book I could lay my hands on that discussed gardening in the Central Basin.
Joe-pye weed
Before long, it became clear to me and my gardening friends, that wildflowers had become my garden soul mates. Of course, when you have a relationship like that you want to share it with the world!
False Dragonhead/Physostegia virginiana

Wildflower Wednesday started out as a regular post to celebrate the wildflowers in my garden. I was hoping that there were other gardeners who also felt that wildflowers were special and wanted to share them. There are and you're all delightful.
Danthonia spicata and Asimina triloba two garden experiments
Many years later~I've met wonderful gardeners, made new friends, learned to write a little bit better, and have learned a few valuable gardening lessons. If there's one thing I would like to pass along to new gardeners, it's this: What ever you do, don't fight your garden's unique characteristics or ignore its plant communities. Embrace them. If your garden is rocky, sandy, slow draining, fast draining, acidic or alkaline, a desert, a cold climate or even tropical, what ever climate, where ever in the world, there are native wildflowers, shrubs and trees that will be perfect for your garden. They will not only survive, they will thrive. Trust me, you will be a happier person and have greater success at gardening.
Practically Perfect Pink Phlox Pilosa
Finally, here's my promise to you~ If you plant wildflowers the critters will come! Your garden will be filled with buzzing bees, singing birds, fascinating insects and spiders and fluttering butterflies. You'll also be a host to snakes, raccoons, squirrels, turtles, chipmunks, hawks, owls, and rascally rabbits and who knows what else!

Native wildflowers are good for the earth and good for its inhabitants. Now kick up your heels and dance with The Dancing Tree! Happy anniversary to all of you and let's continue celebrating our wildflowers.


Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share 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!

*BTW, I have finally gotten to meet Dr Hemmerly!

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.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

They called the winter storm Octavia

 She's blew into town and left a frozen world in her wake.
ice not snow
I hoped the snow that was forecast would arrive and protect the garden from subzero temperatures that threatened. We got ice instead. It looked like snow, but, it was ice. A dangerous ice that brought the city to a halt, closed schools and downed power lines.
It sparkled and beckoned me to explore, so I bundled up, grabbed my camera and ventured out.

Ice coated everything.

Trees, shrubs, grasses and power lines.
Itea virginica

Panicum virgatum

It was stunningly beautiful.
 I was shocked to find perfect Hamamelis vernalis/Ozark witch-hazel blooms under the ice.

They appeared to be waiting until the sun would release them from their winter prison!
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I could relate to feeling like a prisoner trapped in winter ice!
heart warming blooms under the ice
But, what a delight to see those witch-hazel blooms on my Mom's memory tree! The promise of warmer days in those ice covered blooms was enough to melt my resentment towards this mean winter weather!  Yes, I will lose plants, but, others will endure, that's what life is like in a garden.
Soon the ice will melt and the witch-hazel flowers will unfurl their spidery petals and send their spicy sweet scent wafting through the garden.

That's enough for right now!


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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