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

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday 2021 Wildflower Roundup

Welcome to the Wildflower Wednesday December 2021 Roundup!


There's still color in the garden thanks to the Hypercolored Hypericum's December color and while I'm here I want to thank the beige colored stalks of wildflowers, grasses and shrubs for brightening the gray days. Also present are our brightly colored winter garden residents~Cardinals, Robins, Titmice, Chickadees, Nuthatches, house finches, Goldfinches, and woodpeckers....Many feasting on seedheads left standing just for them. 

Gardening in the Middle South is mostly a treat, we have four seasons, but our winter is mercifully short and spring and late autumn make up for the steamy hot summer weather. It won't be long before the earliest spring ephemerals will break dormancy and the gloriously long bloom of wildflowers will begin.

Without further ado here are the 2021 stars of Clay and Limestone's wildflowers.

 

January 2021: Wildflower Wednesday: Panicum virgatum

My Panicum virgatum is still standing tall in the garden, I hope yours is, too.
It dances all winter in the wind...

Panicum virgatum or switchgrass as it's commonly known, has a long history on this continent. It's native to the tall grass prairies of the Great Plains from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean (including Tennessee and other southeastern states)* Grasses like switchgrass, big bluestem, little bluestem and Indian grass dominated the tall grass prairies and were grazed by bison, deer and elk. It’s an upright, warm season bunching grass that can still be found growing in ‘remnant prairies’ and along interstates. These grasses are sometimes called "The Four Horsemen of the Prairie". (source)   

Would you forgive me if I say that Panicum virgatum is a work horse in my garden? Keep reading to find out why I love this plant and value it as a hard worker.

Despite its long historical association with most of the United States, it's rather ironic that it took European plant breeders to open our eyes to the versatility and beauty of Panicum virgatum. They've brought us lovely cultivars and spurred American breeders to get on the native grass bandwagon. It seems that each year a new cultivar is introduced to gardeners. I look at them and hope that their best wild characteristics haven't been bred out of them. I love a good looking plant that also has great wildlife value.

 

February Wildflower Wednesday: An exceptional Carex

Carex plantaginea/Plantain leaved sedge/Seersucker sedge is a wonderful addition to a woodland garden, you might even say it's an exceptional sedge.

Carex plantaginea

 I've planted it along the stone path to the front porch with Blephilia subnuda, Camassia, Christmas fern,  and Trilliums. Planted close together means they provide an attractive mulch beneath the grassy Chasmanthium latifolium and Hydrangea arborescens. I like how the different textures intermingle. What would you think about planting it with native Sedums, wild geraniums and other finer leaved sedges? I'm going to give that a try this spring.

 Carex plantaginea is one of the easiest sedges to identify with its shiny, wide deep green leaves that are puckered like seersucker. If you look closely at the photo above you can see that each leaf has three prominent longitudinal veins. Like most sedges it is semi-evergreen.

 


March Wildflower Wednesday: Corydalis flavula

Our Wildflower Wednesday star is a delicate and inconspicuous beauty that blooms early and disappears completely by mid-summer. It is easily overlooked in the decaying leaves of the forested woodland where it thrives. I think you'll be as excited as I was to discover it growing so near my own garden.

It's been on my want list for years. There's now a small clump in my garden thanks to the generosity of my son who found some growing on the slope in his way back backyard. The leaves look a lot like Dutchman's Breeches and it wasn't until the yellow blooms opened that we were sure of its id.  

Yellow fumewort has been described as a small sprawling annual. Indeed, it was sprawling all over his yard on a slope with years of decaying leaves and fabulous drainage. It appears to be happiest in floodplains, woodlands, ridges and ravines, but, I've seen it on a dusty trail in a local natural area.   Some sites list its habitat as being sparse with no tree canopy and slightly calcereous soils. My take away from the various described growing conditions is that it needs good drainage and good fortune in it's reproduction process.

 

April Wildflower Wednesday: Entireleaf Western Daisy

Some plants are charming and Entireleaf Western Daisy is one of them. 

It captured my heart many years ago when I found it by chance flowering its head off in the way back freedom lawn. What I mean by chance, is that we went out of town for several weeks and came home to see the entire lawn in bloom. Salvia lyrata, Sedges, Downy Woodmint and the cutest little Daisy were having a blooming party.

 

 I was enchanted. It did take me a few weeks to figure out the Daisy was Astranthium integrifolium, a winter annual native to the Central Basin, Cumberland Plateau and the Ohio/Tennessee Valley. I garden in the Central Basin, which is also known as the Nashville Basin. It's a hot, muggy place to garden and this little Daisy seems to love it.

 

May Wildflower Wednesday: Blephilia subnuda


 Cumberland Pagoda plant is our May Wildflower Wednesday star and not only is it lovely to look at, it's a favorite of the bumbles that live in the garden. If only it were more available to we native plant aficionados.


Blephilia, the pagoda plant or wood mint, is a genus of three species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. They are all herbaceous plants native to eastern North America. Blephilia are most often found in open areas, glades, and mesic forests. All species are considered threatened or endangered in some states. The genus includes only perennial species that spread by both seeds and through stem division. Small white to purple-lavender flowers occur in inflorescences that cluster in the upper leaf axils, often in several circular layers (hence the common name pagoda-plant). Leaves are generally lanceolate to ovate and vary in shades of green. Leaves are either petiolate or subsessile (depending on the species). Like many other members of the subtribe Menthinae, all parts of Blephilia are highly aromatic when crushed and have smells similar to menthol and spearmint.  (source)


B subnuda with Christmas fern, Hydrangea arborescens, Heuchera and Phacelia

 

June Wildflower Wednesday: Early Summer Pollinator Magnets for Pollinator Week

Bumble on coneflower

June Wildflower Wednesday has landed in the middle National Pollinator Week. What a great time for me to showcase my favorite early summer wildflower pollinator magnets. Follow the link to find out more about pollinators and the week long celebration. As the Pollinator Partnership has promised:  The continent will be buzzing with events that will be happening throughout the week.

Bumble on Common milkweed

As a wildflower loving, native plant fan who gardens for wildlife, the plants in my garden need to be more than just pretty faces, they must be helpful for the critters that visit and live here. The Wildflower Wednesday early summer pollinator magnets fit that description to a T. I hope you appreciate their pretty faces and great wildlife value. 

 

July Wildflower Wednesday: Downy Skullcap


Our WW star is a lovely member of the mint/Lamiaceae family. You can see it cuddling with Echinacea purpurea in the above photo. While it has many of the characteristics of mints, I've never found it to be an aggressive spreader. That's disappointing. I wish it would seed about and add its lovely lavender to the shadier parts of the garden.

 

August Wildflower Wednesday: Euphorbia corollata

I am crazy about our native Euphorbias and have several in the garden that I hope always to have. My favorite is our Wildflower Wednesday star, Euphorbia corollata.

 
It's a wonderful white flower addition to a late summer garden that is filled with yellow composites.

Flowering spurge is special. It has small white flowers with yellow centers with a touch of green that are held above dusty-green foliage. It's almost unnoticeable in the garden before it blooms and  I often forget it's there until the tiny white blooms grab my attention in early August.

 

September Wildflower Wednesday: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

I wouldn't have a fall garden without the Asteraceae family members!

That doesn't mean that there aren't Asteraceaes blooming in the Spring or Summer. Of course there are, but, come September New England asters and other beauties take center stage as they step up to the job of feeding the visiting pollinators, birds and mammals as they prepare for winter.

One of my personal favorites is our Wildflower Wednesday star, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae.  Ever since taxonomists placed New World Asters in two new Genera, I've affectionately referred to them as Ex-asters. You've got to admit that's easier than trying to pronounce than Symphyotrichum or Eurybia (the second Genus for New World Asters.)

 

October Wildflower Wednesday: Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium


I am challenging you to say our Wildflower Wednesday star's name 5 times....very quickly! I could barely get three out before I was dropping consonants. Here's the phonetic spelling soo-doh-naf-FAY-lee-um ob-too-sih-FOH-lee-um in case you aren't familiar with it.

Here's the story of how it became our star.

It was a beautiful day, with a clear blue sky and bright late morning sun overhead. We were taking a walk on a road near a house we rented for the weekend in Ellijay, GA and had stopped to visit with a very friendly donkey. 

November Wildflower Wednesday: Thankful for my wildflower habitat



Tomorrow is officially the day of thanksgiving in the USA, but I try to be appreciative and thankful every day about the good people, good things, good wildflowers and good garden critters in my life. Because the last two years have been especially challenging for me as a gardener, I am working extra hard at appreciating what is revealed to me every day in my garden. This Wildflower Wednesday post is in celebration of the wildflower and native plant beauty in the garden this month. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have in putting it together. xoxogail

November 24, 2021~what an aster!

After several freezing nights the flowers are gone from the garden, except a few of the last to bloom Willowleaf asters. They are a must have plant for me and I recommend that you add them to your garden, too. You need a plant that survives several frosts and deep freezes and this one does. If the temperatures were to rebound to warmer than 60˚ in the next week the bees would be back.

 See you next year when I will have some wildflower news to share with you. 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. It's the holiday and there's lots going on and people are busy, so no Mr Linky this month. Should you want to share a post, please leave a link in comments. 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, November 24, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday: Thankful for my wildflower habitat



Tomorrow is officially the day of thanksgiving in the USA, but I try to be appreciative and thankful every day about the good people, good things, good wildflowers and good garden critters in my life. Because the last two years have been especially challenging for me as a gardener, I am working extra hard at appreciating what is revealed to me every day in my garden. This Wildflower Wednesday post is in celebration of the wildflower and native plant beauty in the garden this month. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have in putting it together. xoxogail

November 24, 2021~what an aster!

After several freezing nights the flowers are gone from the garden, except a few of the last to bloom Willowleaf asters. They are a must have plant for me and I recommend that you add them to your garden, too. You need a plant that survives several frosts and deep freezes and this one does. If the temperatures were to rebound to warmer than 60˚ in the next week the bees would be back.


Hamamelis virginiana is also still blooming. The flowers furl when it's cold and unfurl when the day warms up. I can't imagine gardening without this understory tree. On warm days its honey scent wafts around the garden on the slightest breeze. It's been a Wildflower Wednesday star and will be again.

Can you spot the partridge pea seed in its pod?
Verbesina virginica's marvelous and magical frost flowers were blooming this morning.  I never tire of seeing them "blooming". All it takes is a warm winter day followed by a cold winter night. During the day, the roots draw water up into the stem and later that night freezing temperatures force the sap from the stems where they freeze into sculptural ice candy flower curls. When I see them on my early morning walk I am reminded that magic is still happening and that the garden is just resting.

Frost aster

Just a few days ago, along with the witch hazels and ex-asters, False dragonhead, mums, Frost aster, Pineapple sage and African Blue basil were in bloom. The resident bumbles and our neighbor's honeybees were visiting. The annuals were alive only because I was covering them up on frosty nights. When the inevitable winter weather came to stay I folded the sheets up and put them away ready for next April when late frost threatens my spring garden. Oh, in case you wondered, I made cuttings and saved some basil for salads.

Bumble on African Blue basil flowers

New readers may be wondering why I have non-natives in my garden, long time readers know that any plants added to this garden need to be more than just pretty faces. Our growing season is long; bees that are provisioning their nests for the winter and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds need all the pollen and nectar than can get. Basils and Salvias  provide that much needed nectar and/or pollen in mid/late fall when many native plants have gone to seed. My garden continues to be mostly native, but I believe that adding pollen and nectar rich non-natives enhances a pollinator habitat.

They also have very pretty faces and taste wonderful in salads.

Cotinus 'Grace' and Cercis canadensis

 I am thankful for all the wildflowers. They have brought me so much joy. When I stop and think about it I have wildflowers to thank for helping me gain new knowledge, for great adventures and for meeting new people. Without wildflowers I might never have realized the possibilities for a garden with difficult growing conditions like I have here at Clay and Limestone. I would surely never have met the unique plants and trees that grow in middle Tennessee, I wouldn't have begun blogging and I wouldn't have met wonderful friends like you dear readers  or at Garden Bloggers Flings. Nor would I have become a Tennessee Naturalist.

Porteranthus stipulatus

 My love for wildflowers opened my eyes to pollinators and their importance to our gardens, to agriculture and to the earth. When I speak of wildflowers I include shrubs and trees.

 

Shagbark hickory

In the drama of a wildflower garden there are no bit players. The canopy, the understory, the herbacious layer and the ground cover are all part of a diverse ensemble. All the players are essential; all provide food, nesting and shelter for mammals and birds; they're host plants for a variety of insects that are a primary food source for birds, bats, small mammals, amphibians and even other insects that you want in your garden. 

Lindera benzoin

As I walk the garden I marvel at beauty of late fall colors.

Looking down I notice that the spring blooming biennials and annuals have germinated. Fallen leaves never smother them.
Phacelia bipinnatifida
 

The garden is a sea of browning leaves and seedheads. I think they're beautiful. 


The promise of spring is in every one of those seeds. It's everywhere if you look carefully. Take a close look at your native shrubs. Dogwoods and Viburnums show their flower buds at the tips of their stems and the buds of late winter blooming witch hazels and spring blooming spicebush line the stems. 

 

Panicum virgatum

Native grasses like switchgrass glow in many shades of brown and gold. Please don't cut them down in fall, they provide shelter for small mammals and birds, song birds eat the seeds and they're host plants for several skippers.

American Hop Hornbeam

By the first of December most of the American hop hornbeam, persimmon, ash, oaks, hickories, hackberries, elms, serviceberries, dogwoods, spicebush, paw-paws will have dropped all their leaves. I leave most of the leaves where they fall. Butterflies, bees and other insects rely on leaf litter for protection and I don't want to mow them or blow them away.       


Chokecherry offers miniature apple looking fruit if any critter wants to nibble. 

Understory trees and shrubs like Hydrangeas, Viburnums, hearts-a-bustin, witch-hazel, Hypericums, sumacs, Alabama snowwreath, leatherwood, Iteas, buckeyes, and Alabama croton add a lot of color to the late fall garden. So many more, all with excellent wildlife value and I haven't even listed the perennials/wildflowers. 

I am grateful that so many plants happily grow in my shallow, clay soil.

Euonymus americanus/hearts a bustin

I came to love wildflowers so much that I wanted others to appreciate them. That's why I started the Wildflower Wednesday monthly meme. Too many of our native plants are underappreciated and underutilized. They're also sometimes downright impossible to find locally. But keep on looking for them, each season more native plants are offered and there are wonderful online seed and plant resources.

Rhus aromatica an attractive sumac with great fall color

Blogging has changed since I began in February 2008, but, I still love sharing wildflowers with you all. Thank you for stopping by to read and thank you for commenting. After all these years your comments still mean the world to me. A special thank you for all of you who continue to plant natives and share them on your own blogs.

 Happy Wildflower Wednesday

This year, I am especially grateful for the health and well being of my family; for loving and supportive friends; for fall weather; and, for wildflowers that bloomed no matter how horrid the weather has been.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all, xoxogail


 

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. I am so glad you stopped by. 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.


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 27, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday: Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium


I am challenging you to say our Wildflower Wednesday star's name 5 times....very quickly! I could barely get three out before I was dropping consonants. Here's the phonetic spelling soo-doh-naf-FAY-lee-um ob-too-sih-FOH-lee-um in case you aren't familiar with it.

Here's the story of how it became our star.

It was a beautiful day, with a clear blue sky and bright late morning sun overhead. We were taking a walk on a road near a house we rented for the weekend in Ellijay, GA and had stopped to visit with a very friendly donkey. 

 

the very friendly donkey

Across from the fenced in donkey growing among a hodgepodge of weeds, grasses and pine tree seedlings were flowering plants that looked like they needed a second look. One plant caught my eye. The silvery stems, leaves and the unusual white, tubular clusters of flowers with a bit of yellow that were still in bloom stood out among the weeds. I recognized Rabbit tobacco immediately and wondered how many people passed by it and never realized what a cool wildflower it was. That's when I decided to make it the Wildflower Wednesday star.


Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is  known by a variety of common names including, Cudweed, Fragrant Cudweed, Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco, Blunt leaved sweet tobacco and Sweet Everlasting. I've only known it as Rabbit Tobacco and was introduced to it a few years ago by a dear gardening friend who shared it on her blog. Although, it's native to Tennessee, I've never seen it available for sale locally, nor do I have it in my garden.

This sweet little composite family member supports American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) butterfly larvae and attracts bees, butterflies, pollinators and predatory insects. As my friend said in her Wildflower Wednesday post over a decade ago: " I just wish there was more of it! The American Painted Lady butterfly is said to favor it for egg laying, reason alone to have a field of it."

Rabbit tobacco growing in the 'weedy' roadside

Sweet Everlasting is a summer annual or biennial plant that's about 3 foot tall with narrow/elliptical silvery-green stems and leaves. The underside of the leaves, stems and base of bracts of this plant are covered with dense white woolly hairs that one source described as cottony. The silvery white makes a good impression even in the bright sun. The leaves and stems are aromatic when crushed. One source says the crushed leaves smell like maple syrup. I did not crush any leaves to test for fragrance since it was on private property! Oh, but, I wish I had!

 I liked its looks and ordered seeds when I got home. 

The Particulars

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (formerly Gnaphalium obtusifolium)

Family: Asteracaeae

Common Name(s): Cudweed Fragrant Cudweed Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco Rabbit Tobacco Sweet Everlasting

Life Cycle: Annual and biennial

Range: Alberta east to Nova Scotia, south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Nebraska and Minnesota. 


 Cultivation: Woodlands, coastal dunes, sandy pinelands, roadsides, and disturbed area. Needs some sand in soil to drain well.

Maintenance: Low, although, it doesn't like wet roots

Light: Full sun, partial Shade

Soil Drainage: Good Drainage appears to be a must.

Plant: 12 inches-3 feet

Flower Color: White with a touch of yellow

Inflorescence: Corymb, Panicle The flower head has disk flowers only.

Fragrant: Flowers and leaves when crushed

Bloom Time: Summer into fall

Flower Shape: Tubular (photo source)


 

Flower Description: Branching panicle of corymbs of yellow or brown buds that emerge to white tubular flower heads on 1-2 ft. stem. Flowers are 1/4" 

Propagation: Self seeding, wind born seeds. Seeds need light to germinate.

with long tailed skipper (source)

Wildlife Value: Supports American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) larvae.  Visited by short-tongued bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers and flies for nectar. Wild turkey eat the foliage and deer browse the foliage. (source)

Comments: With fabulous wildlife value, Rabbit tobacco is a good addition to a pollinator or butterfly garden. It is also a wonderful plant for a naturalistic planting and to enhance your native plant/wildlife friendly habitat. The unusual flowers and silvery leaves and stems are especially attractive in winter because they stay standing until the following spring. Ethnologists have documented the use of Rabbit Tobacco for treating asthma among the Rappahannock, Eastern Cherokee and other Native American groups. (source)

It's time for Cudweed, Fragrant Cudweed, Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco, Rabbit Tobacco, Sweet Everlasting or what ever it's called in your part of the gardening world to have the attention it deserves. It's time for this underappreciated native to shine. Should you want to add it to your garden you can order seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery.

Thank you for stopping by to meet our star!

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 your link in comments section.

 

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.