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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday~2014 Roundup

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday!

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers no matter where you garden~the USA, the UK, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration...It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!

Without further ado, here are the best and brightest of Clay and Limestone's 2014 wildflowers.

 Seersucker Sedge~January 2014
The blooms are an added bonus
 The best description I've read for this totally underused sedge (I find most native sedges are underused and under appreciated) is "puckered like  Christmas ribbon" and it is indeed puckered! This wonderfully textured sedge is perfect massed near a path with Christmas fern and other shade loving natives. It's semi-evergreen in my Zone7 garden.

 Shrubs in a wildflower garden~February 2014
Beginning to bloom with PPPP~the orange flower is Two-flowered Cynthia
Itea virginica is only one of several perfect shrubs for a wildflower garden. It's versatile~a stand alone plant or massed and it will grow just about anywhere except in a xeric garden. It's does best with regular water, and by best I mean covered with pollinator attracting flowers that have a sweet scent and marvelous fall color. Follow the link for more ideas for adding woodies to your garden.

False  Rue anemone~March 2014
Enemion biternatum
A member of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) this cutie patootie will make a sweet colony in late winter only to disappear in late spring.  It really is happiest in a leaf mold rich soil~which is another reason to let your leaves decay in place! I see false rue anemone in woodlands in Nashville area parks and it manages to thrive and not be smothered by a thick layer of fallen leaves! I was surprised to find out that it is a pollen only plant, so the earliest visitors don't get a nectar reward for pollinating the flowers.

Happy Flower Trinity~April 2014
 If you're a cook you know that creating a delicious stock, soup, or stew often starts with basic ingredients and builds from there. The French have their mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery; the Italians have their tomato, garlic and basil; and Cajun cooking has its holy trinity of onions, peppers and celery.  Each of these  flavor bases makes the food tasty and delicious and unique to that region. Clay and Limestone has its own trio of flowering beauties~Golden Ragwort, Columbine and Downy Phlox that make the garden a colorful and tasty treat each spring.

All three are native to the Nashville Basin. The Basin is an elongated mixing bowl of land where Mother Nature has tossed cedar glade and Tennessee native plants into a unique and delicious mixture. Our tasty dish is never the same year to year, like local cooking, the proportions all depend upon the weather and what nature makes available! (from Happy Flower Trinity)

Downy woodmint~May 2014
Do you know Blephilia ciliata? It's a delightful little charmer that will brighten a shady spot in your dry woodland garden.  I met Downy Wood Mint the first summer after we moved into this house. I was wandering around in my new yard when I spotted what looked like monarda growing in the lawn. Was I ever excited. It was definitely a mint; it had square stems, opposite leaves and whorled light lavender flowers at the top of the stalk! The only thing missing was the tell tale monarda fragrance, instead, there was just the tiniest hint of a minty smell when the leaves were crushed.

I wasn't disappointed for long. Downy Wood Mint is a beautiful flowering plant and it's happier in my garden than Monarda has ever been. It is tolerant of my dry shade, isn't an aggressive grower and was naturally growing here.

Talk about right plant-right place! It really is and it's so worth giving it a try!

A Mint You and the Pollinators Will Love~June 2014
The flowers of Pycnanthemum muticum might be small, but they are mighty!

Researchers at Penn State's The Pollinator Trial found that Clustered Mountain Mint was the best plant for flowering longevity; for pollinator visitor diversity; for sheer number of insect visitors (78); and, for sheer number of bee and syrphid visitors.

That's one powerful pollinator magnet and one powerful reason for planting Clustered Mountain Mint in your garden. As a side note, it was still a bit green after two deep freezes.

In praise of a rather tall wildflower~July 2014
Silphium perfoliatum is one tall wildflower!
Some would say that this beauty is a beast of a plant and I might have agreed several years ago when it stood 9 feet tall and 3 foot wide in my little sunny Susan's Bed! I've since learned to cut it back at the same time I clip the ex-asters. I suggest you do the same, because banning this beauty from your garden because it's tall and colonizing would be a shame.

What can I say about Cup plant!
Big plant,
good looking flowers,
spreads assertively,
a rough and tumble wildflower,
tons of happy pollinators,
great wildlife value...

 It's not all about the Susans~August 2014
Rudbeckia fulgida is mainstay in the garden, but, easily over looked until mid July when Mother Nature turns on the switch and overnight the garden is a field of golden yellow. They're pushy and would take over if I let them and truth be told some years I haven't had the heart to rip out all that I should/could have! When visitors stop by and comment on the abundance of Susans in the sunny and shady garden areas, I secretly feel like the adoring mother of that unruly, but, delightful child, who's been running amok at a party. "He did what? Really! Isn't he adorable!",  I exclaim as I ignore notice that several salvia have been overrun and the verbena has disappeared. 

I hope you're not turned off by their brilliant yellow color or their lack of a sexy pedigree; the Susans rock and are especially helpful in a garden that has harsh summer sun!

 Some plants like to challenge the boundaries~September 2014
just one of the many colonizing flowers at C and L!
If you like a well behaved plant that never, ever trespasses into another plant's space then forget about Physostegia virginiana, aka, False dragonhead, it will make you crazy. Its colonizing ways don't bother me, I love rough and tumble plants that don't need special care and I find it quite easy to transplant them to other spots in the garden.

Follow the link to read about other colonizing beauties, I know there's one or two you might like.

The Charming Indian physic~October 2014
Porteranthus stipulatus in flower
I am not sure why Porteranthus stipulatus isn't in more gardens. It's really lovely and not at all difficult to grow. It is found naturally growing in rich woods on calcareous soils in a good portion of the Eastern US and can take full sun in northern states. I recommend half sun in gardens that are on the hot/dry side.

For the greatest impact, plant it along a shady path where the small flowers would be seen by anyone walking by. Be generous, plant several for the biggest impact~remember, these are small flowers and you want your garden visitors to appreciate their subtle beauty!

Paw-paw the experiment~November 2014

Everything I knew about Pawpaws I learned from Captain Kangaroo...sort of
Back in TV land in the mid-fifties the Captain invited us to sing along and mime picking up Paw-paws and putting them in a basket! I hadn't the faintest idea he was talking about a fruit, actually a giant berry, but, I remember loving the game.

That was the last I heard about Asimina triloba or Common Pawpaws until I became a native plant gardener and began learning to identify native wildflowers and trees. I began to get interested in learning more about them when a small patch was pointed out to me on a trail at Edwin Warner park. Paw paws are not only a charming looking understory tree, but, has good wildlife value for critters. It's a favorite host plant (larvae feed on the leaves and flowers) of the zebra swallowtail butterfly in the southeastern states and the only host plant for more northern locations.

A plant like this had to be in my garden~follow the link to read about the experiment...

 My dear friends, Thank you for planting more wildflowers, thank you for taking care of the bees and all the other pollinators, thank you for tolerating what others consider pesky wildlife, and thank you for another year of your friendship, visits, comments and for joining me in celebrating wildflowers all over this great big wonderful world. 

You are the best and having you in my life has enriched it beyond measure.
See you next year!

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.


  1. Loving the April 2014 especially Gail. Merry Christmas!

  2. What a delicious post. Merry Christmas and a happy flower/native plant filled new year.

  3. I need to remember to do a wrap up next year....love learning so much about wildflowers and I'll link up Monday with another native plant!

  4. Thank you, Gail, for introducing me to so many different wildflowers over the years! I am happy to say that I now have several of these growing in my garden--some thriving a bit too much:) But there are several that I don't have, like the clustered mountain mint--something to think about for the coming season. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Gail and a bee-utiful New Year!

  5. Great roundup! You're worlds ahead of most gardeners (yours truly included) in terms of making your garden a wild, beautiful and supportive place for wildlife. I'm grateful that you continue to share your wisdom with us all. Happy Holidays!

  6. Lovely, lovely wildflowers!
    Merry Christmas!

  7. I really enjoyed your posts over this past year and look forward to sharing your thoughts in 2015. Have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the New Year...May each day bring you special moments.

  8. I'm going to look for that sedge. It looks like a delightful little plant.

  9. I love learning about more native plants! I really wish I could identify all the native plants around my yard. And of course, for the wildlife, I enjoy planting more. Your posts are always so informative and delightful, and I really enjoy them. Have a wonderful New Year!

  10. Lovely post. Love the bottle tree! ;)

  11. Oh how lovely it was to stroll through your garden with you! Thank you Gail.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson