Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: Fill Your Garden With Native Plants

You'll never be sorry! Especially, if you're experiencing a challenging summer like we're having here in Middle Tennessee. 
Echinaceas never fails to attract pollinators

My garden is a Central Basin plant community with plants native to cedar glades and the adjacent oak-hickory-red cedar forests. Anyone who has gardened near here knows we have heavy, nearly neutral clay soils that sit atop a limestone bedrock.  It's shallow and sticky wet all winter and dry as concrete all summer.  It took me awhile, but, I eventually figured out, that in order to have a garden that was beautiful and thrived, I was going to have to plant natives. Tough natives!
Sure, they have to be tough, but we like them good-looking and useful, too.
Pycnanthemum muticum is not native to the Central Basin, but, it's a pollinator magnet 

Plants that come to live at C and L need to contribute to a habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. (Gardening For Wildlife)
natives greet visitors as they walk the path to the front porch.
Plants like Phlox paniculata and Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' fit the bill. Bonus points are awarded because they can take a half day of sun.
If you think you can't grow colorful natives in the shade, give species phlox a try. 
Summer phlox is my go to native plant for colorful blooms in the shade. Although, there are still a few modern cultivars in the garden, most has long reverted to the species. It might not bloom as floriferously as those full sun cultivars and hybrids, but, you won't be disappointed by its lovely flowers.  If you allow some to go to seed, you'll be rewarded with offspring that shows some very interesting variations.  Just check out the very charming offspring of P paniculata 'David' and P paniculata sps. (above photo). They are drought tolerant but, happier with weekly rain.

Although, I almost always choose the species when adding plants to my garden, I really flipped for 'Peachie's Pick' stokesia. Unfortunately, some hybrids and cultivars have lost their wildflower vigor and hardiness on the way to being made more beautiful, but, that's not the case with this stokesia. She's a tough beauty. The skippers, small butterflies and little bees love Peachie, too.  (I pinky swear I don't mind that she needs supplemental watering this summer and to be perfectly honest, every summer!)


The dry searing heat and no rain for two months has been especially hard on even the toughest natives growing in shallow soil in full sun!

 But, the Gaillardia is not bothered by the heat.

something loves to nibble on the petals Echinacea tennesseensis
Neither are the Tennessee coneflowers or their offspring.  They are summer troopers. They ask only for sunshine and sharp drainage. Established plantings can survive in a cedar glade with temperatures near 110F, so my garden is no challenge to them!

The heat and drought are a challenge to this gardener.  I worry about my garden and the effects a long term drought will have on it.  Even the toughest drought tolerant native plants need occasional rain!  No matter what, I'll continue to plant Central Basin natives because it makes sense. They have the best survival chances in the long run: they've adapted to a climate of extremes, tolerate our shallow clay soil and support wildlife.  

They make me happy, too.


xoxogail

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.

31 comments:

  1. What a beautiful butterfly in last photo!

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  2. Our dry season is also getting worse, last year we had some trees that died. Those plants under trees are non-existent during our summers, i wish we can have these views even in our dry season. And they say hot places will become hotter and cold ones colder! OMG, this is a vindictive world.

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  3. the flowers in your garden is very beautiful, they are full of live

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  4. Gail I became smitten with natives because of wildlife, crazy fir them because of their benefits and the lovely blooms and over the top because they can withstand the weather here as well...when I pick up new plants, they must be a native although not a purest and definitely I have cultivars as my recent post shows. wonderful post!

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  5. A similar message on my Wildflower Wednesday post. You'll never be sorry with native plants.

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  6. As I walked around the garden last night moving the sprinkler, I was thinking the same thing, Gail. The natives seem unaffected by the lack of rain, while so many other plants are looking wilted and pretty puny right now. All I have to do, too, is follow the bees and the butterflies--they prefer natives as well! Love that cross between the 'David' and species phlox.

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  7. It's been a brutal season so far here too, Gail. I do hope we all get some rain soon, and some milder temperatures. Love that blushing 'David' offspring - such a pretty color. Happy WW!

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  8. I don't know what I'd do without tough natives here too. The prairie natives really take over when summer hits, and I'm glad to let them. I do love 'Peachee's Pick' too. I've bought several over the years. Great little plants. I also like the large perennial hibiscus. They are bumblebee magnets at least when I have bumblebees.

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  9. I am enjoying my Hairy Sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus) which grows in the dapple shade. It provides a brilliant yellow backdrop for the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I just love Native flowers!

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  10. Hi Gail, I had thought I had rescheduled my post to come up later today, because I had a few people say they had warnings about possible harm coming to their computers if they entered my blog. When I got back on just now to see if I could find anything else that needed to be taken care of, I saw that the post was up. Freda helped me figure out it was a blog in my blog roll that had the bad link. I removed that, and all of the comments on my last post, like she said to, and the ones that were getting the warning are no longer getting it, so everything must be OK now. Anyway, thanks for hosting this. I hope you get some rain. I enjoyed seeing your blooms. I've been a lover of stoke's asters for a number of years, but don't remember the names of mine. I wish they held onto their blooms a little longer than what they do. It's fun seeing all of the pollinators enjoying our blooms, and don't you feel kind of special, that you can get close to them without being afraid of them?

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  11. Gail - how fierce about the weather. I remember reading about all those folks in Texas last year who just had to put their garden gloves away and wait until the rain started again. Do hope you get a nice gentle, long soak soon. In the meantime, I do so enjoy your bug and blossom shots. Am thinking about putting glue on my plants so that I can improve to your standard. Happy WWW.
    Barbara

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  12. It is in times of drought & extreme heat that the native plants really show their worth. And they're really beautiful too.

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  13. This weather is really trying the vigor of even the natives, Gail. Your garden looks beautiful, still. I am on board with natives, having a garden of nothing but them in the North Carolina Fairegarden. So far, they are doing well with next to nothing in the way of human gardening intervention. Thanks for turning me on to natives!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  14. as always your garden looks beautiful Gail, that phlox is a lovely delicate colour and I like the stokesia beautiful,
    after 10 months of almost constant rain we have had a dry couple of months acompanied by cold north and east winds, there was a bit of rain today but it barely wet the surface, our weather is changing so some natives are having trouble coping, it all seems topsy turvy weather, I wish you rain soon,
    thanks for hosting wildflower Wednesday, Frances

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  15. What a bummer that your summer is again turning out so hot and dry. It's great to see it still looking so lush and green. Hope you don't have to haul too much water this summer, that can be so exhausting!

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  16. I might be able to put a post together late, love this meme in that I really do learn a lot of natives. I know you all are having really high temps, they are headed my way.
    My Panicum is really a strong plant....up by the street in rock hard clay and no water....Growing and blooming now.

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    1. Janet, This will be up all week; so join in anytime!

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    2. Up!! Now I need to get back to reading other's postings. :-)

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  17. Hardiness is one reason I really want to learn more about our natives - they can take the tough clay and weather conditions so much better. I know natives are best for native wildlife as well.

    I love your phlox volunteer! I hope you get some rain!

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  18. Thanks for your posting and hosting... I'm appreciating more and more that the pollinators that are attracted are also a highlight of gardening.

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  19. More gardeners should be listening to your advice, and planting natives. I think it's human nature to try and push the boundaries, but those lush green lawns are taking a heavy toll on our environment.

    I inherited many plants here in my new garden, some will stay, and some will most likely move on to the big compost heap in the sky, lol. But I would rather have my Hosta's then a lawn....we all have a soft spot I suppose.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  20. I added my first two plants of Summer Phlox recently! I hope they survive this heat and our drought conditions. I am watering them until they establish. I hope they do well and produce more in the years to come! I regret passing on a white one. Sigh, oh well, live and learn….

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  21. I bring wild flowers, not from my garden, but truly wild fynbos, up on our mountain!

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  22. Your wildflowers are always so beautiful and lush. Even the wildflowers and natives I have that are getting once a week water (under restrictions) are struggling. I sure hope the heat and drought break soon.

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  23. Your stokesia is so charming--and worth the pampering! I agree with you about planting what is going to not only survive, but thrive. I let my hybrids self-sow to natives as well. For my meadow garden, I've started buying US natives of the prairies as this climate now doesn't resemble the North Carolina that I grew up in...and gardened in. I've really had to adjust everything that I thought I knew about gardening and moved toward handling drought and high heat with gravel gardens instead of wood mulch. Tough lessons!

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  24. Very cool meme!! There is such an education - learning about local native plants. I still have quite a ways to go. There is much to glean from your post AND blog - thank you for sharing.

    That "clay is like concrete" is near & dear to my heart, living in the Midwest (IL). The neighbor calls my yard "the field of dreams", primarily (I suspect) because the lawn doesn't look like manicured carpet like hers. On the other hand, the bunnies like it & snack on the clover in the lawn instead of most of my plants in the gardens.

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  25. Enjoyed the meme and searching though the links above. great idea, will be back next time!

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  26. Hi Gail! I just wrote a blog post about Aster Yellows and talked from the perspective of my (mostly) native Echinacea. I decided to include it here...even though it's late! Hope that's ok! I keep forgetting to join in at the end of each month!!! Maybe in time I'll get better at scheduling!!

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  27. The Echinaceas are lovely, and I wonder how long it takes you to get the bumblebees to pose, mine are terribly skittish when I get close. I have an assortment of wildflowers blooming now.

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  28. Is there any special secret to growing Gaillardia? I've heard they can be short-lived on clay soil like ours? Or do they just self-sow? And I know there are lots of different varieties of Gaillardia? Do you recommend any in particular?

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    1. Gaillardia requires a sunny, well drained site and occasionally reseeds here. If you have clay soil that doesn't drain try adding a product like permatil to the area...It sure helps drainage. I've planted some this past fall and hope it set fertile seed and shows up next summer.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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