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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday: Zigzag Goldenrod

Our Wildflower Wednesday star is Solidago flexicaulis also known as zigzag goldenrod or broadleaf goldenrod. It's a rhizomatous (creeping rootstock) perennial that is native to rich woods and thickets from Nova Scotia to North Dakota south to Georgia and Arkansas.

Zigzag goldenrod is my favorite goldenrod. As regular readers know I love take care of themselves, rough and tumble, colonizing wildflowers with great wildlife value and this goldenrod fits the bill! Plants are tough and adaptable prospering in part sun or part shade and in moist well drained soil and more importantly, they're superfood for insects.
woodland ex-asters are great companion plants

According to the Wild Seed Project (wildseedproject.net) “Asters and goldenrods attract loads of late season pollinating insects. In the wintertime, they provide food and habitat for many birds and small animals that feast on the seeds and find shelter in the dried stalks."
the little bees rely on goldenrods, too

Research by entomologist Doug Tallamy of University of Delaware lists asters (Symphyotrichum) and goldenrods as the wildflowers that support the most species of butterflies and moths. That's why I have a lot of them in my garden.

It really is a perfect plant for all our woodland gardens. In spring and summer the finely-serrated oval leaves and zig zagging stems jazz up a shady garden.
By late summer the brilliant golden flowers that emerge from the leaf axils are glowing.
bright yellow ray and disk florets
As mentioned earlier, they're blooming just in time for the hardworking bees that are provisioning their nests for winter survival or for Monarch butterflies gathering nectar for energy on their migration south.
landing pads of deliciousness 
Named for the way the stems zig and zag, this is a great plant for adding color and interest to the late fall woodland.
wind dispersed seed
After all that pollinator action the flowers give way to seeds, which are fluffy achenes that are easily   distributed by the wind or mammals passing through the woodland. I've dispershed my share of them, too. Please don't cut those seedheads off; the seeds are needed by chickadees, finches and pine siskins during the winter.


By mid to late fall the leaves and stems turn a brilliant deep burgundy. The leaves persist until the winter winds blow them away.


There are many good reasons to NOT shy away from this delightful woodland goldenrod. For one thing it is not the cause of hayfever. The pollen grains are heavy and not wind dispersed, so nothing from this plant is going to get into your nose. The most important reason to add this to your garden is for it's fantastic wildlife value. It's so important I've mentioned it over and over again in this post. If you need more reasons, consider its good looking flowers, the zig-zag stems and its delightful bold fall color. Now, contact your local native plant nursery and put your order in for seeds or plants! You won't be sorry and the bees and other critters will thank you by showing up in your garden.

xoxogail


The Particulars

Solidago flexicaulis
Common Name: broad leaf goldenrod, Zig-zag goldenrod
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Eastern North American
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October depending upon where
Bloom Description: Bright golden yellow
Sun: Part sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Soil: acid, neutral, rich, average, loam, clay
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy Attracts: Butterflies, bees, other pollinators
High wildlife value: For a complete list of bees, moth and insects that visit this plant go here
Tolerates: Deer, Heavy Shade, Clay Soil
Comments: Can colonize/naturalize to make a nice ground cover in moist shade. Naturalize. Excellent for shady wildflower garden
Companion plants: Woodland ex-asters, Solomon’s plume, wild geranium, Pennsylvania sedge, hepatica, trillium, violets and Hydrangea arborescens

Thank you for stopping by and 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 your wildflower is 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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Salvia elegans is delightful in a pollinator garden


 I believe that adding pollen and nectar rich non-natives enhances a pollinator habitat...especially the ones that bloom in mid fall. Our middle south growing season is long; bees that are provisioning their nests for the winter and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds need all the help that they can get in blooming plants. Pineapple sage is especially valuable at this time of year. This fabulous native of South America blooms in early fall just when the garden needs a jolt of delicious red and the hummers moving south need nectar to fuel their flight.

Salvia elegans was planted in 2009 and survived a mild winter with only leaves for mulch, but, a normal and wet winter killed it and now it lives in containers from spring until the first killing frosts. I say killing frosts because I protect all my blooming plants, annuals and perennials, with old bed sheets if we are continuing to have warm days and only an occasional fall frost.

Salvia elegans is culinary plant that I don't even think about eating. Even if they are said to be tasty in a salad, I won't be picking the flowers, not after waiting all season for them to bloom.
The Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae nectaring on Salvia elegans
 Once they bloom the Cloudless Sulphurs are all over them. That's one reason they're in my garden. The other one is that they are attractive to hummingbirds and are blooming when they migrate through middle Tennessee.
I think of Pineapple sage as a hummingbird and butterfly plant and was surprised to see this bee nectaring.
Pineapple sage is fast growing, but slow to bloom. I tuck them into containers and patiently wait for the fall show. The 3 inch plants I planted in spring are 3 foot tall and 2 foot wide with bright green leaves that are a foil for the scarlet red flowers. In a sunnier garden with moist soil they can reach sub-shrub size.  Already this season there have been butterfly, hummers and bees nectaring on the scarlet blooms.
Critters beware! A Crab spider is lurking.
 It goes without saying that its best in fall when it sends up those vivid red flowers. If you want gorgeous summer color plant S elegans ‘Golden Delicious', the fire-engine red blooms and chartreuse leaves are incredible and look smashing with the purple blues of the ex-asters.


 The Particulars in case you wanted more info!

Family: Lamiaceae with typical characteristics of opposite leaves and square stems.
Genus/species: Salvia elegans
Common Name: pineapple sage
Type: Herbaceous/shrubby perennial
Zone zones 8 to 10:
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Leaves: ovate, soft-hairy, light green (to 3” long).
Flower: Two-lipped bright scarlet red flowers (to 1” long), in loose whorls, bloom on terminal spikes to 8” long from late summer into fall.
Bloom Time: August to October
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium, well draining
Comments: An easy peasy plant for middle south and southern gardens. Folks gardening further north might have to move it inside to appreciate the bloom. They may bloom too late for hummers, but, you can enjoy the beauty and add the flowers to your salads. I have been known to cover them when a frost is forecast and warm weather is expected to return.  
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies and bees


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, September 25, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday: Euonymus americanus

Euonymus americanus is displaying its gorgeous ripened fruit in my garden. The stems and leaves are deer candy and I count myself lucky to have any of the brilliant red fruit on the shrub this fall.
photo taken at Edwin Warner Park

 Strawberry bush/Hearts-a-bustin' is a delicate, airy deciduous shrub that can grow to 10' tall under ideal conditions. Which means it's closer to 5 foot in my garden. It is native to wooded slopes, moist woodland and creek or river areas, and is found in a variety of soil conditions ranging from sandy to clay. The typical range is from New York coast all the way south and across Texas and inland to the midwest from all those points. (source)
 5 green petals which frequently have a reddish tinge

If a plant were to be chosen just for its bloom, Strawberry bush might not make the cut. Most people are under awed by the Spring flowers, in fact, they might even miss them. They are tiny and pale with 5 green petals that have a reddish tinge. In order to see them you are going to have to get quite close, which might mean getting down on your knees, since they're only 1/2 inch wide! I think they're worth crawling around on the woodland floor to see.
as they ripen they look like strawberries and give rise to one of its common names~Strawberry bush. 
The flower which is pollinated by small flies, ants and other pollinators produces  gumdrop-sized, bumpy green fruit that ripens from green, to pale pink and finally to a rich red in late summer. The  deep red fruit are thought to resemble strawberries.
MOBOT photo

As they open to reveal scarlet seedheads, the capsules split into heart shaped segments thus giving rise to another common name, Hearts-a-bustin.
Day-Glo orange arils dangle like bright ornaments
The understated and too often underappreciated Euonymus americanus is not invisible once those dangling dayglo seeds burst into the spotlight and when its leaves take on their fall coloring, a  translucent white, washed with shades of red and orange.
The inconspicuous flowers attract small bees and flies.

I love this marvelous semi evergreen native with its spindly branches, its unusual spring flowers, its developing strawberry fruits, and its gorgeous hearts-a-bustin' open ripe fruit.

...and I appreciate its wildlife value. The inconspicuous flowers attract small bees and flies. The foliage is eaten by moth caterpillars. The aril covering the seed is very attractive to birds and small mammals and is a great source of fat and sugar for these animals (source). Birds that have been observed include the Northern Flicker, Brown Thrasher, Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Cardinal, and Eastern Towhee. (Source: Morton Arboretum). Visiting birds help spread the seeds to new locations. 



This gardener thinks it's time for more nurseries to offer this striking native shrub to gardeners who appreciate the different and unusual.
xoxogail

The particulars
Botanical name: Euonymus americanus
Common Name: strawberry bush, hearts-a-bustin
Phonetic Spelling  yoo-ON-ih-mus a-mer-ih-KAY-nus
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Celastraceae
Native Range: Eastern United States. The typical range is from New York coast all the way south and across Texas and inland to the midwest from all those points.
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May (Zone7a)
Flower: Not a flashy flower, Green to greenish-yellow with purple stamens
Fruit: Showy in fall
Leaf: Pale fall leaf color. Looks great in a woodland garden
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Wildlife value: Birds, small flies and bees 
Comments: Will grow in clay soil, tolerates black walnuts, Deer candy. Poisonous, plant away from children who might be tempted by their strawberry looks.
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize. It will set seed and in ideal conditions could form a thicket.




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.

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