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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday

Hamamelis vernalis
Witch hazels are blooming right now and filling the air with their sweet vanilla fragrance whenever the sun warms up the garden. It's no accident that most winter blooming plants have some fragrance...Nature had to insure that insect pollinators could easily find their way to a plant that blooms when most of the garden is fast asleep. Those lucky enough to catch a pollinator visiting in the deep of winter describe seeing small flies and gnats...perhaps even hoverflies. Just last week when the temperature reached 60° there were honeybees nectaring on the flowers.

But, our Wildflower Wednesday star of the month, Crossvine/Bignonia capreolata is not blooming and won't be for several months. It doesn't matter, it still has much to show for itself~ the evergreen leaves take on a reddish, even a deep burgundy hue in cold weather that's quit attractive in a mostly brown winter garden.
climbing on an old twin headboard in my garden
Bignonia capreolata is a vigorous, vine that climbs by branched tendrils and has attractive trumpet shaped flowers in early spring and summer.
the cultivar 'Tangerine beauty' is a beauty!
Hummingbirds prefer trumpet shaped flowers that are rich in nectar and Crossvine flowers fits the bill! The species is a lovely red and yellow trumpet bloom. It's native to my garden and I planted the cultivar 'Tangerine Beauty'. The Crossvine blooms are very like Trumpet Creeper/Campsis radicans, both are Bignoniaceae family members and both bloom early, just in time for returning Hummingbirds, but, you'll find that Crossvine is the better behaved vine.  Plant it where you can see the blooms and the hummingbirds.

It can be trained on a trellis, a tuteur or


you can plant it to climb a wall like Cindy Tournier/My Corner of Katy has done at her house.

In my neck of the woods, it is more often seen scrambling 30 to 50 feet up the trunk of a canopy tree on its way to the top and sunshine. You might not notice it during the summer, it has deep green leaves that get lost, but, if you see a trumpet shaped flower lying on a path~stop and look up. The flowers will be blooming at the top of the tree.

Right now is a good time for you to spot the reddish leaves and vines. They're native to the Central and Southeastern US, so walkers and hikers be on the lookout and make a note where to find them early next summer!
Look up to find them
It tolerates a wide variety of growing conditions, but prefers an organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun (what doesn't). Trust me, if I can grow this beauty in my shady conditions, you can, too. If you're concerned about its vigorous growth, you can prune it in the spring after it blooms to control the size and shape.

I think Crossvine is the perfect early flowering native for anyone who gardens for wildlife....and it's good looking all winter!

xoxogail



from Briton and Brown Illustrated flora 2ns edition 1913



The Particulars:
Family: Bignoniaceae
Common Name: cross vine
Type: vigorous, woody vine that climbs by branched tendrils with adhesive disks.
Native Range: Central and Southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height and Spread: 35.00 to 50.00 feet by 6.00 to 9.00 feet
Bloom Time: April/May to June (depending upon where you garden)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Flower: Showy, orange red tubular flowers
Ecological and landscape function: Hummingbirds, some bumblebees, evergreen with good winter color, screening
Tolerates: Heavy Shade, will climb up canopy trees and shrubs to reach the sun.

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. Please add your url to Mr Linky and leave a comment.



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.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter Interest

In the Middle South winter interest hardly ever means snow!
To keep our otherwise brown gardens interesting all winter we concentrate on the hardscape, we plant evergreens, shrubs with four seasons of interest and even add colorful art pieces. We create gardens that we love and we hope others find pleasing. And we still dream of snowy days that will show off the seed heads and billowing grasses that we've left standing for the critters that live in and visit our gardens.

Every once in a while our snow dreams come true!
It happened this past weekend 
  Middle Tennessee woke up to a winter wonderland...
 Wet, heavy snow fell and covered every thing.
The seed heads stood proudly under the heavy snow.
The grasses bowed to its beauty...
 The four season shrubs were covered in white
The Dancing Tree had a new partner.

Above it all the sky glowed until it was a brilliant blue and then it all began to melt.

Sweet Middle South winter, I love you!

We got the perfect snow fall. It stayed just long enough for kids to play, for folks to enjoy its beauty and for gardeners to take photos, but, not so long that we tired of the inconvenience.

Perfect!
xoxogail

 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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