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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

GBBD: November 2017

Wishing and hoping can't stop winter's approach, but an old cotton sheet can keep a few annuals blooming!

We've had two frosty evenings and I knew the weather would rebound to the sixties and pollinators would be buzzing around looking for flowers. So, I covered my two favorites must have fall blooming supportive players, African Blue Basil and Salvia 'Mystic Spires'.

As you can see they survived the light frost and are blooming for all the late fall visitors.
Also, blooming today is Willow-leaf aster.

Symphyotrichum praealtum is also known as 'Miss Bessie'and she's a very, very, late blooming flower. Blooming in mid to late October, just as the Little ex-asters are starting to fade, Willow-leaf continues to bloom through much of November.

It always survives light frosts and is blooming in my garden today for any pollinators that venture out as the day warms up...As you can see they have!

Hamamelis virginiana is still lighting up the shady garden. Frost doesn't faze it and neither does a heavy freeze.

Fall blooms can't last forever, my friends, and sheets can't stop winter. I am going to miss all the pollinators when winter arrives, in the meantime I will enjoy each and every flower that is still making me smile.
xoxogail



 Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the blogosphere celebrate their blooms, so pop on over to Carol's and take the Mr Linky magic carpet ride to see what's blooming.

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, November 10, 2017

The witch-hazel is blooming and that makes me happy

That it's the best bloom in years adds to my delight.

Every branch is covered with fragrant spidery crepe paper flowers that never fail to charm as they furl on cold days and unfurl on warm ones!

It's a darn shame that it is overlooked by most nurseries in favor of the flashier non-native witch-hazels. Just step away from those Chinese witch-hazels and ask for Hamamelis virginiana! You won't be disappointed and that's a promise.


H virginiana is a great all around small tree/shrub for most gardens and those of you who garden for wildlife might consider planting it for the good wildlife value it adds to a shady garden.

In case you are still thinking non-native!
  • A tough, adaptable plant suitable for a variety of garden settings (Hardiness Zones: 4-9)
  • Tolerates clay soil and poor drainage  
  • Since it's often the last blooming plant found in most woodlands it's invaluable for providing nectar to late visiting pollinators
  • It's upright spreading branches are good nesting sites for birds. 
  • Some moth caterpillars predate on it
  • The dispersed seeds are eaten by birds and small rodents. Now don't turn your nose up at the mere mention of rodents, yes, they are pests, but, they are also extremely important critters for hungry owls and hawks.
  • Lovely fragrant, bright yellow flowers that bloom from October through November.
  • Great fall foliage color 
  • It's native to eastern North American, including Louisiana and Texas. 

 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.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wildflower Wednesday: Wild Poinsettia

Wild poinsettia is happy in a container in my wildflower garden.

I'm happy it's contained, too. Not because I wanted to keep it in check, quite the opposite, I wanted to make sure it survived. It's dry under the canopy of shagbark hickories and oaks and containers are one of the best ways I know to take care of special need plants. In my dry shady garden this is a special need plant.
Euphorbia cyathophora never fails to get a compliment and a second look when it begins to bloom in late summer or early fall. That's also when the innermost parts of each bract turn a vibrant red giving rise to the common name of fire-on-the-mountain. Those colorful bracts aren't to be confused with petals or leaves, although, they serve a similar function, to attract pollinators and protect the flowers.
The pretty leafy bracts with their fiddle shape and red bases give the plant its common names
Its tiny flowers are greenish-yellow and produce large, three-lobed green ovaries. Flowers are found at the top of the stem and grouped in a cyathia, which forms a cup like structure. You have to get really close to see the tiny nectary glands at the base of the cyathia, but ants and small pollinators have no trouble finding them. The alternately arranged leaves can vary in shape from linear to oblong to fiddle like, and may be lobed and/or toothed! (There will be a quiz at the end of this post;) The stems are thin, but, sturdy and like other Euphorbia family members contain a milky sap that is toxic. 
This under appreciated native's flowers are a siren call to small pollinators like this green bee.
If you garden for wildlife, you'll love that small insects, bees, butterflies and moths are attracted to the nectar and/or yellow pollen found in those small flower clusters. If you want to see some lovely photos of pollinator visitors check out Florida Wildlife Garden Tails.
Plants have to have more than a pretty face to be asked to live in this garden and Euphorbia cyathophora meets that requirement....it also has pretty foliage and a pretty flower face.
Nectares are a part of this flower
You won't be surprised to know I think it's far superior to those over bred Christmas poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima). But, I see the flowers through my wildlife value screen!
I love this simple plant

I like Euphorbias. There are at least a dozen species in my neck of the woods. Some have more ornamental appeal like Euphorbia corollata, our Wildflower Wednesday star last August. Wooly Croton, Spotted Sandmat, Prairie Tea, Toothed Spurge and Cumberland Spurge, all Euphorbias that might show up in our gardens, aren't without their charms, but, most gardeners would call them weeds.

I don't know if you'll want to invite wild poinsettia into your garden, but, I hope you'll consider it a wildflower and not a weedy plant.

xoxogail

The particulars

Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Euphorbia cyathophora
Common names: dwarf poinsettia, fire-on-the-mountain, Mexican fire plant, painted leaf, painted poinsettia, painted spurge, painted-leaf spurge, poinsettia, summer poinsettia, wild poinsettia.
Type: Annual

Native range: AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NM, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI
Hardiness: Zones 4-10
Bloom: Late summer/early fall
Bloom Color:  Red-Orange  Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)
Soil: Moist to dry, well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Cultivation: sandy prairies, rocky glades, open or rocky woodlands, gravel bars along streams, fields, eroding banks, roadsides, areas along railroads, and waste areas. Wild Poinsettia prefers habitats with a history of disturbance.
Growth habit: 1-2+’ tall (possibly taller)
Propagation: Self-seeding-I let the seeds fall into the container, have not tried to collect them.  Comments: Wild poinsettia's interesting foliage provides a nice accent in a wildflower garden or native plant landscape. It looks best when massed and in bloom. It can be very aggressive as it readily self-seeds. Plant in container to control it.
CAUTION: The milky sap is toxic and can irritate the skin. Please keep children away from Euphorbias. Mammals don't browse it!

 
Welcome to Clay and Limestone's monthly celebration of wildflowers. Everyone knows that  I celebrate wildflowers every day, but, I wanted to have a big celebration every month, so that my wildflower loving friends from all over this great big beautiful planet could join in.

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers from your part of the world, they don't have to be in bloom. 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.

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