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

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sun Over The Glade

It's been too long since I visited the cedar glade... well over a year....The weather was perfect. Blue sky, fluffy clouds and temperatures that never went above 70 degrees. Unusual weather for mid-July and especially unusual weather for a glade, where the ambient temperatures can soar 15 degrees or more above the day's temperature.

For those of you who might be new here and don't know a glade~~ The Cedar Glades of the Central Basin of Tennessee represent an ecosystem unique in the world~an extremely fragile habitat.

Flat land covered with exposed and broken limestone and grassy areas with a thin layer of soil form open areas~~glades. It's very wet in wet weather and very dry in dry weather! The only large trees that have a chance of gaining a foothold here are Eastern Red Cedars, Junipers virginiana and they are mostly confined to the edges... forested areas that often surround the glades. ERCs are a taprooted tree, thus are able to find cracks and fissures in the limestone to gain a toe hold. (2bNTheWild.com)In those wooded areas growing in the deeper soils are early succession tree species and later the oaks and shagbark hickories arrive creating Red Cedar/Oak/History forests. The areas where the glades are found are karst, riddled with caves, so except in very wet weather the streams mostly run underground leaving the surface parched much of the year.

The glades are the home to many unique and sometimes very rare species of plants that have adapted to the harsh conditions. Plants that are found growing naturally in only a few places.

Like our Tennessee Coneflowers (Echinacea tennesseensis)! Which happily grow in the severe gravelly glade conditions. If you visit during the winter~~these gravel paths are often covered in standing water (winter photos here).

TCF loves the sun...
coneflowers growing in poor soils over exposed limestone gravel

and like sunflowers turns its face toward the it all day long in a

delightful Sun Salutation.

Nature is ever amazing, don't you think!

You can grow Tennessee Coneflower~~most garden centers sell Rocky Top, a cultivar of the native coneflower. Just be prepared to provide it with similar conditions: full sun and a leaner soil. Planting it in gravelly limestone soil will help. Don't worry, TCF has a taproot and will find its way to the soil below.
Unlike other echinaceas that make do with partially sunny conditions...this coneflower needs full sun!
I mean all day sunshine or you will get Downward Facing Coneflower (photos)

To me the cedar glade is a place of stark beauty.
An acquired taste you might say.
Historically they have been unappreciated and used as quarries, parking lots and
dump sites.

The flowers seen there are familiar
like the Rudbeckia triloba and the unfamiliar!
Like this cutie pie Sabatia angularis or Rose Pink.
A biennial beauty that I have missed on my other visits.
It prefers rich soils in open woods, clearings, fields and prairies.

What is it about the glades, with its stark scenery, extreme conditions and unusual plants that so attracts me?

What do you think;)

I hope you all had a delicious weekend and are refreshed and ready to face the week ahead!

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. Gail,
    Love that glade. And, those coneflowers....beautiful.

  2. It is SO beautiful. An acquired taste for sure but one that is easy to acquire.

  3. I didn't know coneflowers grew wild! I guess all plants have some form that's native. They had to originate somewhere.--Randy

  4. I don't believe I have ever seen a real glade. Not only is this post educational it is interesting. Thanks for the tour.

  5. Very interesting with some great information...Thanks for sharing..

  6. Wow, so many beautiful flowers. I love that little crushed can garden, it reminds me of a diorama. Nature taking back what is its own. It's sad to wonder how many glades were destroyed by developments, cattle, etc.

  7. What a great place to profile! Thanks for truly appreciating it enough to share with the rest of us.

  8. Is it the combination of wildness and tranquility in the glades that beckons to you? It was a beautiful presentation, thanks.

  9. Is it the combination of wildness and tranquility in the glades that beckons to you? It was a beautiful presentation, thanks.

  10. Is it the combination of wildness and tranquility in the glades that beckons to you? It was a beautiful presentation, thanks.

  11. I think it's a symbol of determination to prevail and thrive against difficult odds that draws you to the glade. Then again, it might just be the simple beauty of the place and those great Coneflowers.

  12. Very arty pics Gail and lovely to see all your coneflowers.


  13. I find these plants very appealing too. Plants that eke out an existence from very difficult conditions and bring beauty to those places. I love our local prairie plants. They survive drought, fire, bitter cold and go on to bloom beautifully every year.

  14. I feel like i have just been on a walk with you and have learned something along the way.

  15. Hi Gail....what a beautiful place...I can understand totally why you like to visit. It is unique...

    The coneflowers are so pretty......I love the way they stand upright and are dotted here and there....reminds me of the painting 'sunflowers'

    Such an interesting post.....thank you for sharing the info and your lovely photographs.......

    BTW is it not infuriating when people throw litter.....it is one thing that really really irritates me......

  16. Glade - now that is a nature word that I've come across so many times and never really knew what it was. Thanks for telling and showing! Those coneflowers look very happy.

  17. Perfect, Gail. Just perfect. Just wish I could grow the Tn. coneflower here. That way I could have a piece of home.

  18. I've never heard of a glade before. It's so beautiful there with all the wild flowers. Thanks for sharing! -Jackie

  19. A lovely and interesting post. Love the sky scape

  20. I have never been to a glade; thank you for sharing your knowledge about these unique ecosystems! It's great to learn about native landscapes, especially misunderstood ones.

  21. My dear friends, Thank you for stopping by...the hand is still not cooperating enough to type individual comments~~but soon! Have a great day gail

  22. Gail,

    What a wonderful and unique place!

    Your coneflower is a beauty. I could probably fulfill that sun requirement - do you think 10 hours of sunshine a day is enough? LOL I could probably plant those in edges of my gravel driveway to make sure the environment is harsh enough.


  23. Cameron...Yes, I think you have enough sunshine and yes you must get a few plants...if you can't find Rocky Top on line or let me send you a seed head! It might not be genetically pure...the bees visit purpurea and cross pollinate it. I can promise that it will be a lovely offspring! I think the key is also sharp drainage. gail

  24. What an incredible place! you are lucky to have it.

  25. trilliumgrovefarmJuly 20, 2009 at 7:07 PM

    I have never seen a coneflower with upward facing petals!
    Plant Lady

  26. Our native plant communities are totally delightful, and what a wonderful piece in appreciation of cedar glades!

    I wish that more gardeners had an appreciation of where so many of our garden plants come from (here and all over the world) -- it makes gardening so much more fun, in my opinion.


  27. Quite a pleasant visit with you to the Glade! Thank you for sharing!
    Can man just STOP the littering!

  28. Isn't it amazing how some plants will grow where nothing else could survive? What a lovely spot, thanks for taking us along. :)

  29. I think in both words and lovely photos you have captured the essence of this lovely spot, Gail. You certainly have a gift for extracting the most out of each moment.

  30. Gail girl ... I love that sky shot ! I was trying to catch a decent sunrise this morning and some how we still don't have enough particles in the atmosphere to create those red sunrises .. I have been watching for "your" coneflowers to bloom here .. I think they may have faded out becuase the other coneflowers were gaining ground .. I'll keep my fingers crossed they pop their heads up for me.
    Great pictures .. except for the "can' .. people ... what can you do with them ?? ;-)

  31. I wasn't aware of the glades in Tennessee. You certainly make them look quite beautiful. I suspect it's the hearty constitution in such extreme growing conditions that may be the attraction.


  32. This is beautiful, Gail! No wonder the Tennessee coneflower seeds you sent me didn't grow here--I babied them and then planted them in rich soil:) They remind me in appearance of the Prairie Coneflower, echinacea pallida, but the two require very different growing mediums, it seems. Isn't it amazing to see how plants adapt to what Nature gives them?

  33. Thanks for the tour. As you said, an ecosystem that is entirely new to me.

  34. Hi Gail, it's so interesting visiting ecosystems found outside one's one backyard. Thanks for taking us along. I thought glades were always misty/swampy; didn't realize they dried out. Before I was blogging, I visited a local bog and that was really cool!

  35. You, my dear Gail, have a unique connection with all things beautiful and created by nature. With that in your heart I imagine you go to your glade and breathe in the starkness with its jewels popping up and out of it to color your day and fill your senses. Thank you for sharing it once again with words to draw me in and want to see more.

    side note: I'm pretty sure my ordinary echinacea is not happy about my rich soil. *Sigh*... I REALLY keep trying with them and the Rudbekia but I'm thinking neither likes our soggy afternoon rains??? I've moved a couple of the Rudbekia around to the new front planting... on the incline where they will get a good dose of afternoon sun. Maybe that will be their happy place??? Time will tell. If you have any pointers for me... I'm all ears... Oh, Queen of the Susans. :-)
    Have a beautiful day... still praying for your hand.

    Love the Emerson quote today. It is certainly something you live.

  36. Wow it's been too long since I went out to Tyler Alley Sykes memorial trail, and I'll have to go now that i see you've found rose pinks!Beautiful photos! There's always something surprising in a cedar glade , Thank you for helping to spread awareness on these rare and fragile ecosystems that so few have come across!

  37. I love the word 'karst'. Thanks for taking us along on your trek. Love that picture of the coneflower facing the sky. Great one.

  38. Gail, thank you for showing us the glades again. I had forgotten their simple beauty. Of course all the cone flowers are just beautiful. I wish we could grow them here, but I fear the soil is just too rich. Maybe as you say we could gtow them along side the gravel roads though. :0

  39. Love the shots of the Tennessee Coneflower, especially the one titled "TCF loves the sun..."

    We have a species of Sabatia here and I love it. The fragrance is heavenly.

  40. Hi Gail,
    I don't expect to go there on my own, so thanks for taking me there with you. I enjoyed learning about the glade from you.

  41. Gail,
    What a glorious ecosystem. Your photos are captivating.
    Shirley Bovshow

  42. Oh, I am so happy to have found this site! So pretty, and you write very well. Thank you for sharing it with others.

    I am from middle TN too, but living in Boston now. Someday I hope my garden here is as full of flowers as yours. Looking forward to being inspired and cheered by your blog!

  43. Gail, someday I hope I can stroll that glade with you! It's just lovely and I'm glad you finally got a sunny day to enjoy it. That Sabatia speaks to me. I think it grows here in Texas, too.

  44. Gail -- I share your love of living things growing in stark places under the harshest of conditions. You captured it beautifully and I can just imagine what it would be like to walk through there. It reminds me of South Texas. Many find it full of scrub brush and dead things, but if you look carefully, there is beauty there, and it's amazing what will grow in those conditions. It makes me appreciate it all even more.

  45. Your lovely photos and words make me want to love places like glades and the scrubby parts of Texas that Diana mentions, but I can only give them appreciation for their tenacity and admiration at the way they bloom in such circumstances, Gail.

    I like coneflowers, but the cooing, emotional kind of response to wildflowers only comes when I see stuff like Mertensia/Virginia bluebells, Trillium and Lobelia and Harebells. This can be a big problem when one lives in Central Texas!

    The cedar glades are lucky to have a wonderful champion like you ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. Doug Tallamy