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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Bear's Foot and a walk on the wildside

We walked the Richland Creek Greenway with our toddler granddaughter this past weekend. It's a 4 mile loop around a local golf course and is frequented by runners, walkers and bikers. We love the greenway and often use it to access favorite coffee shops and restaurants, but it's also a fantastic way to connect with nature. It's exciting to see so many parents and children there each time we go.  I imagine that for a lot of urban children greenways are their first introduction to nature. It's a pretty cool resource and it's exciting to see that Nashville is continuing to expand its greenway system.
Bear's foot/Hairy leaf cup leaves are giant sized
The greenway has a wide asphalt path that crosses Richland Creek several times and since we've had a lot of rain this spring the creek was flowing. We were excited to show our granddaughter the turtles basking in the sun and minnows in the deeper water, but, the biggest excitement came when a black snake crossed the path in front of us on its way to the water's edge. There are several open fields where we saw bluebirds, cardinals and other familiar birds. There's plenty of wildflowers like our Wildflower Wednesday star, Smallanthus uvedalius, along the path to attract butterflies and other pollinators. It's a good place to connect with and watch nature.
Hairy Leafcup/Smallanthus uvedalius grows along the greenway path
Our cities need to make sure there are greenways, parks and woodlands. Wilderness is disappearing and human-dominated landscapes of houses, businesses, parking lots and roadways are expanding and displacing living/nesting spaces for butterflies, bees, songbirds and other creatures. This is not good for the critters or for us.

I want a world where my granddaughter and other children don't have limited opportunities to connect with nature. Too many children already are nature deprived. Children spend more time viewing television and playing video games on computers than they do being physically active outside. Richard Louv called this phenomena, ‘nature-deficit disorder’ in his book, The Last Child in the Woods. He wrote about how significant the developmental effects of nature are for children. Although, it's not a medical term, he said it's "a metaphor—to describe what many of us believe are the human costs of alienation from nature: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, a rising rate of myopia, child and adult obesity, Vitamin D deficiency, and other maladies." (source)

Researchers are discovering all the different ways that nature benefits our well-being, health, and relationships. Those benefits will be irrelevant if we cannot get people to reconnect and value nature. You don't have to take my word for it...Just do a little research and then get out there and push to make sure there are parks, greenways and school programs so that everyone can connect or reconnect to nature. The future is at stake.
The number one reason I garden for wildlife is to make a difference. The number one reason I continue to blog about my beloved wildflowers and critters is to demonstrate to others that we can make a difference. I believe that with all my heart...It's what keeps me going despite the assault on nature that is happening all around us.
Without further ado...Here's our Wildflower Wednesday May star, Smallanthus uvedalius, it was showing off all over the greenway this past weekend. You may know it by one of its common names: Bear's foot, Hairy leaf cup and Yellow flowered leaf cup.

it's hairy

The first time I saw Hairy leaf cup the giant leaves made me think of an Oakleaf Hydrangea.  Smallanthus uvedalius is a perennial, not a shrub, although, it can get almost as large as a small understory shrub. The plants along the greenway average about 4 to 6 feet tall, but it's not unusual for them to get even taller. It has stout stems with opposite leaves that form a small leafcup. The leaves are palmately lobed and green with fine hairs scattered across the veins and both leaf surfaces. Leaves are 4 to 12 in long and are the most striking thing about this yellow flowered aster! Each flower head has 7 to 13 yellow ray flowers to the outside and 40-80 yellow tube-like disc flowers to the inside. The ray flowers produce seeds and from my observations, this wildflower does a nice job of reproducing.
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/

This large wildflower grows best in moist, part shade. It is found naturally occurring in moist to dry, lightly shaded, open woodlands, savannas, thickets, fields and bottomlands.  If it's happy it can become tall (up to 10 feet) so plant it in the back of a perennial border or woodland garden. This species is found from Michigan southwest to Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, south to Oklahoma and Texas, east to New York and New Jersey, and, south to Florida. It is beginning to flower in middle Tennessee and will continue to bloom until late summer keeping bees and wasps very happy.
it can get tall~on average it's 4 to 5 feet but, I've seen it taller

The particulars
Smallanthus uvedalius/Polymnia uvedalia
Family: Asteraceae — Aster family
Common names: Yellow-flowered Leafcup, Bear's foot, Hairy leafcup

Range:  In the U.S., it is found from central Texas to southeastern Kansas to Michigan to New York, then southward to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts
Habitat: Moist soils in partially sunny thickets, woodlands and fields.
Leaf: Green with very large opposite petiolate leaves that form a small cup around the stem and hence the name leafcup.
leaves decrease in size and become less complex up-stem
Flower: yellow rayed flower
Bloom: Anytime from now to early summer in our neck of the woods
Propagation:  Seeds should be sown in fall or spring.
Comments: This is a big guy and needs room to spread. Might be appropriate for a naturalistic and woodland garden.The leaves really bring another dimension to a woodland garden. The flowers are pollen and nectar rich.

Some folks might think this is a course looking flowering plant, and it may well be, but, I still like it! I think it's an honorary rough and tumble wildflower!

Mt Linky is not cooperating these days, not sure why, so put a link in your comment. Thanks.
Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday. This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

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, April 25, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Sedum ternatum

Sedums are a must have, hot plant these days. I've seen them for sale at local grocery stores and even at a chic furniture store. Yes, I agree, they're adorable and while, they may be a decorator's must have accessory, our Wildflower Wednesday star is the real deal. It's an easy peasy native wildflower you'll want for decorating your garden/woodland floor, not your dining room table!

Sedum ternatum, is commonly called three-leaved stonecrop or wild stonecrop. It slowly creeps to form an attractive green patch. It's happiest in average, well drained soil, in bright to filtered light and is naturally found growing in damp locations along stream banks, bluff bases and stony ledges. You can try growing it in full sun if your soil is consistently moist. I planted it along the front path with visions of it cascading over the limestone wall, but, the clay soil is too dry during the summer and it's never spread like I hoped.

Sedums are often touted as drought tolerant, because their fleshy leaves can hold moisture, but, wild-stonecrop needs moisture. Don't plant it in dry sandy soil and expect it to thrive. It's a woodland plant.

It's short, usually around 8 inches tall and will tuck nicely under shrubs and taller, leggy perennials. It has small, fleshy, succulent-like leaves that are arranged in whorls around the stems. It's even more attractive when in bloom. The flowers are small white stars with noticeably purplish stamens and a hint of scent to delight the gardener's senses and provide for early visiting pollinators.
blooming in my middle Tennessee (zone 7a) garden right now

I adore it and planted more, this time in moister soil.
The flowers are small white stars with noticeably purplish stamens.

Three leaved Stonecrop is a member of the Sedum/Crassulaceae family. Almost all family members have star shaped flowers and succulent leaves. They're enormously popular plants and propagate relatively easily. Propagation is simple: by division or cuttings. Sometimes little bits of the plants break off, fall to soil and root. Now that's easy.
kind of beat up after 3 inches of heavy rain

Plant it with Aquilegia canadensis, Phlox divaricata, Mertensia virginica, Iris cristata, Polystichum acrostichoides, Tiarella cordifolia or Heuchera Americana. My new planting is in a bed of moisture loving Phloxes and Sedges. The beds are mulched with leaf mold to keep the soil moist. It's going to look lovely at the base o Baptisia australis and cuddling up to the pink Phloxes.

My dears, it loves shade, doesn't take over, has attractive flowers, feeds the bees and looks good...This may be the groundcover you've been looking for!

The particulars
Sedum ternatum 
Common Name: three-leaved stonecrop, wild-stonecrop,
Herbaceous perennial, in warmer gardens it might be evergreen.
Family: Crassulaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States, has escaped in eastern Canada
Zone: 4 to 8
Size: less than a foot tall and might spread a foot
Bloom Time: April to May with a showy star flower
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium: which means it is not a drought plant, although, listed as drought tolerant, it does not thrive in a truly dry garden.
Maintenance: Low
Propagation: Division or cuttings. Seeds take a very long time.

The seed heads are pretty cool, too.

Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize, perfect in a rocky, moist spot. I have it planted with Phloxes that like it moist. Tuck it between rocks or  under leggy perennials.
Wildlife value: The flower nectar and pollen of stonecrops (Sedum spp.) attract various kinds of bees, including Andrena forbesii. Less often, wasps and flies visit flowers of these plants. Insects that feed on the foliage of Wild Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) include the Sedum Aphid (Aphis sedi) and the aphid Aphis acrita. The Eastern Chipmunk eats the roots of this plant. (Illinois Wildflower source)
Comments: Deer proof, but, chipmunks may eat roots. This sedum tolerates more shade than other sedums.

Where to find: Middle Tennesseans can buy them at GroWild a local native plant nursery this weekend (April 27-28) at their Native Plant Festival or, order them from Prairie Nursery.
I hope spring has finally arrived for my northern gardening friends. It's been a rough spring and soon, your wildflowers will be making your heart sing.


Welcome to Wildflower Wednesday and thank you for stopping by to see our April star. Sedums are popular plants known for their easy care, it's a too bad that growers over look our natives in favor of exotics. Sure they're lovely, but so are our local wildflowers, especially Sedum ternatum with it's star flower! Thanks for joining in and if you are new to Wildflower Wednesday, it's 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. 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.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pollinator Watch

I've been watching for pollinators on the Camassia and so has this crab spider. Flowers spiders, as crab spiders are also known, have short, wide, flat bodies with two pairs of over sized front legs for grabbing and holding their prey, and small venomous fangs for injecting a paralyzing poison.

That fast acting venom means they can catch grasshoppers and butterflies. As hunters they wait  patiently for an unsuspecting bee or fly to land near their hiding spot and then grab them. They are quick and like crabs can move backwards, forwards and sideways with ease. Masters of camouflage, they can change colors to match the flower they are hiding on.
Carpenter bee and Blue Orchard Mason bee early spring 2015
Although, they eat beloved pollinators, they are considered beneficial in the garden and also prey upon flies, mosquitoes, moths, and other insect pests. Crab spiders are not immune to being preyed upon, they're often a tasty dish for wasps, ants, large spiders, lizards, birds and shrews.

The food chain in a garden is so dramatic. It's better than most TV shows!


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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