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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Clay and Limestone's Happy Trinity

Two of the special ingredients that flavor this garden

Much like regional cuisines have their holy trinity of ingredients and spices. C&L has three cornerstone plants that mixed together make the gardens colorful and tasty each spring~A trio of specific ingredients combined together to become essentially this garden's flavor base.

Columbine, Golden Ragwort and Downy Phlox are the Happy Trinity

All three are native to Tennessee and specifically to the Central Basin. The Basin is an elongated natural bowl that Mother Nature tossed and mixed Cedar Glade plants and other natives that thrive on the nearly neutral limestone soil. Clay and Limestone is a small side dish of this delicious mixture.

Golden Ragwort or Senecio aureus is a bright daisy with evergreen basil foliage.
It has been liberally sprinkled about in the garden
in all but the sunniest garden beds. It's a sweet surprise to see how it will compliment other plants.

The bright yellow may not be appealing to all appetites, but, I love it, and it loves this garden.

Speaking of yellow and red combinations~Columbine or Aquilegia canadensis is an interesting lantern like flower that has seeded itself in most garden beds including the sunniest Susan's Bed.

It's not unusual to find it growing in the cracks and crevices of the rock walls.
 There is plenty of limestone and shallow soil in this garden, but columbine is just as happy in the almost decent garden soil. I love the way it intermingles with the pinks and purples of the back garden....Not to all tastes, but a delicious presentation none the less.
The final member of the Clay and Limestone Happy Trilogy is Phlox pilosa other wise known as the practically perfect pink phlox~because it is!
If you see this plant massed in the GOBN you will flip for it~
It adds a bit of needed color and fragrance to the dish.

With any successful garden recipe there are always plants that provide additional flavor~The gardener tweaks the recipe a little each year...adding new ingredients, adjusting others; but, only when it will help the overall presentation and tastiness! Other wise, why mess with a success.
additional flavor from this pink double columbine

My friends, what's your garden's flavor base? Do you have a Happy Trinity or special combination that makes your garden your garden?



  1. For me it has to be the pink phlox you showed, gaura (white variety that has pink trim), and hidcote lavender. Long flowering and magical.

  2. Your garden is looking spectular, Gail! The mix is divine and so self sufficient! The columbines are beginning here as well, with color variations that are always a surprise. That is a plant that will grow anywhere! Now I would like to discuss with you why I have no PPPP.....HA :-)

  3. That was Don. He thinks since you have sent PPPP all over the country, you might bag some and slip it into the mail. Today. :-0

    Naughty Don.

  4. Gail girl you gardeners are so far ahead of us .. but my canadenses (spelling first thing in the morning eeekkk!) has set a nice mound of foliage, will be doing its "thing" soon too I hope .. we have had a hard frost from last night .. another eeekkk !
    I love your lush look and certain combinations do seem to be perfection don't they ?
    On ward and upward for all of our plants now ! ;-)

  5. Gail,
    You have an awesome garden so fulled in and blended to perfection. We have lots of columbine, one 3 foot tall and more than 100 blooms. Our garden is still in the filling in stage.

  6. Don, You have a right to be miffed...It's actually dug and ready, I have not made it to the post office!


  7. HA, and thanks.


  8. Gail......what a wonderful feast for the eyes...

    I must say yellow is not my most favourite colour in the garden UNTIL I saw your susan's last year.
    It changed my whole attitude to the colour yellow. Again today your garden is just a picture that brings joy to the senses.
    I love the colour combinations.....I am hoping my gardens will show much more colour this year.

    You are an inspiration to many people Gail, me included.

    Have a lovely gardening weekend....

  9. Gail, you're so right the golden ragwort looks fantastic with the PPPP! A very natural and stunning combination.

  10. I agree with you --"Why mess with success?" when you've got such a lovely thing with colors dancing through the garden.

    Dancing is what comes to mind as I see your trinity of ingredients. The intermingling is all the more lively and fun by how you've allowed the plant personalities to emerge as they wish.

    (PS I'm not all about purple and pink...I do love yellow, but it has taken me longer to work through the deer resistance varieties on that color. Much more yellow in my garden for summer.)

  11. The golden ragwort you gave us is very happy here! It has all kinds of little babies everywhere. I'll be transplanting some of them to my "mountain" pathway as soon as I can get it suitable!

  12. Gail, I think you've found the perfect ingredients--no need to tweak this recipe! Yellow normally is not one of my favorite colors, but I've been surprised how it actually goes with every other color in the garden. The golden ragwort brings such a cheery face to your garden. And I love the columbine--I'm hoping some of my little seedlings I started make it so that I can add more to my garden this year. I can't believe Frances, er, Don, doesn't have any PPPP! Don't tell her/him that I have some happily ensconced here in Illinois:)

  13. What an unusual columbine. I love both the color and the shape. Love the ragwort too but think it needs more moisture than we usually have here.

    The PPP you sent me has more than tripled in size. BUT, I'm afraid I planted it in too much shade. We will see in the next couple weeks if it will bloom there or if it needs to be moved to a sunnier spot.

    What is that airy looking white (or maybe pale blue) plant in the third photo?

    Your GOBN is perfect, you have found the best possible combination of plants.

  14. I should say it's a delicious combination -- but then, you know how I love your gardens. :) Your beautiful photos make me want to jump right in!

  15. You picked 3 perfect partners for your garden Gail. Mine would have to be Solomon's Seal, Hostas and Bleeding Heart (which I've spread in every shady to part shady spot). For sunnier areas it would Liatris, Phlox panniculata 'Robert Poore' and Purple Coneflowers. :)

  16. You always make me think Gail. I've never pondered the "base" ingredients of my garden. Your three look great together even tho the choices surprised me. I thought the "susans" would be in that trilogy but maybe the trilogy changes with the seasons??? (except for PPPP ~ which never fails, right?)
    Anyway, it works. Funny how I never thought red & yellow & pink to be so spectacular combined but looking at your photos, it is indeed so.

  17. Gail your garden looks just so enticing from the photos. I love the way you little plants self seed and that little ragwort is so effective in giving a little light to your shadier areas and the phlox just looks amazing. I've never thought of a trinity of plants before in my garden.

  18. I love your Happy Trinity, and that they're native to your region. What a colorful and happy-looking trio.

  19. Wow! You're in the mature Spring stage, I think! Everything looks so lush over there (and filled out!). ;-) We're about two weeks ahead of schedule here. We can have freezing temps any time in April... hopefully not this year!

  20. I love the basis of your garden! I'm not sure what the Holy Trinity of mine would be, but columbines are definitely a key part. I'm looking forward to adding some PPPP soon too!

  21. Gail, I really do like your recipe. I don't think it needs any changes. Looks delicious as is.

  22. I can see why you love that combination! They obviously love your garden too.

  23. Beautiful photos, Gail. I can't say that I have any trio combos in my garden. This would require a bit more design forethought.

    My PPPP is just about ready to bloom. I plan on posting a photo on my blog when it does.

  24. Gail your garden is looking fabulous. I am not sure that there are words to describe its beauty.

    The trinity in my garden right now consists of iris, baptisias, and roses.

  25. Marnie, it's foam flower and the other white fuzzy plant is a native sedum...I so appreciate your enjoyment of the garden!!! gail

  26. My dears, Thank you for your wonderful comments~it's a fun garden and the Happy Trinity is sorely missed when their time fades...But then the penstemon's arrive and soon after it's time for the Susans! Isn't gardening a joy! gail

  27. Oh I so much love phlox. Just love it love it love it in masses, and yours looks great. I planted some of the early spring bloomers(and of course it has mildew already here, and I don't care, next year I'm going to spray it like crazy), and I am crossing my fingers that the taller summer varieties remain as mildew resistant as touted.

  28. That's a hot combination, Gail. The columbines are awesome! I couldn't get my Rocky Mountain Columbine to germinate yet...
    Love your Phlox - they're such a superhit!

  29. They certainly go well together! I don't have a lot of luck with columbine, I have no idea why as I've grown it in other gardens... love it though esp. the native one you have.

  30. Yes, that is a delicious combination. I'd have to think about mine. I think the recipe changes with the seasons. Right now, I'm loving the hellebores, but this is their first year here.

    I used to have some wild columbine similar to yours, but when we moved, either I didn't bring any, or it didn't survive.

  31. The spring combos are softly delightful. I will have to think about this question on the Happy Trinity. Hmmmmm....

  32. Gail,
    Your delightful trio is totally wonderful! And your garden looks lovely in its spring exuberance. I love the Senecio and Phlox pilosa - and the columbine (we have it everywhere, too).

    I'm not sure that I have any key plants that characterize things in our garden- maybe Salvia -- it's more how everything blends together!



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